Friday, November 20, 2009

The Biblical Case for Stay-at-home Daughterhood Part 2

*If you have not yet read the previous articles of this series, please click here to do so before continuing on.
We discovered last week that even if God had not, in His Word, provided for us specific passages relating to the roles and duties of unmarried young women, we still would see, through observing the roles God has fashioned for women, that it is only proper that a young woman live at home with her parents until marriage. After all, she is a female, so why not prepare for (in the case of the roles of wife, helpmeet and mother) and live out now (in the case of being under the leadership, provision and protection of a man) the roles and responsibilities given to females? So, our main discovery last week regarding the Biblical case for stay-at-home daughterhood was that God provided for us a foundation for the doctrine of stay-at-home daughterhood when He issued forth to us His teachings regarding the roles of women. Our gracious God has, however, provided us with numerous passages on the topic of unmarried adult daughters as well-one of which we will be studying in detail today. Through the course of the following few weeks, we will continue to come into contact with other passages relating to the topic of unmarried daughters and the subject of what pursuits, and in what sphere, they are to spend their time.

Numbers 30

The first passage of Scripture we will study is the beautiful one of Numbers 30. What a rich treasure of teaching on Biblical daughterhood (and Biblical family life, for that matter!) this chapter presents to us! Through the reading of this passage, we can't help but discover the reality of the special love and special place our great God has in His heart for women, the weaker sex. He has provided a gracious design of special protection and provision for them. This chapter of the Bible reveals that a female's protection and a father's and husband's authority and leadership are of paramount importance in the sight of God. I encourage you to read the entire chapter of Numbers 30; but for now, we are simply going to focus on verses 2-9 which proclaim:

"2 If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth. 3 If a woman also vow a vow unto the LORD, and bind herself by a bond, being in her father's house in her youth; 4 And her father hear her vow, and her bond wherewith she hath bound her soul, and her father shall hold his peace at her; then all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith she hath bound her soul shall stand. 5But if her father disallow her in the day that he heareth, not any of her vows, or of her bonds wherewith she hath bound her soul, shall stand; and the LORD shall forgive her, because her father disallowed her. 6And if she had at all an husband, when she vowed, or uttered ought out of her lips, wherewith she bound her soul; 7And her husband heard it, and held his peace at her in the day that he heard it: then her vows shall stand, and her bonds wherewith she bound her soul shall stand. 8But if her husband disallowed her on the day that he heard it; then he shall make her vow which she vowed, and that which she uttered with her lips, wherewith she bound her soul, of none effect: and the LORD shall forgive her. 9But every vow of a widow, and of her that is divorced, wherewith they have bound their souls, shall stand against her."

This passage of Scripture is one of the most eloquent and beautiful examples in God's Word of the fact that His design for the lives of unmarried daughters is that they live in their father's homes under their protection, provision and leadership until they are given in marriage. Some view this passage as one that simply proclaims that if an unmarried daugther in in her father's house, then he should exert authority over her, and that it is not expressly presenting a picture of stay-at-home daughterhood, or the precepts thereof. However, I think the truths of this passage are much richer and go far deeper than this notion allows. There are numerous points I would like to make regarding this chapter.

First, as you can see, a man is required by God to fulfill each and every vow and oath he has made, regardless of how unwise, detrimental, or rash it may have been. Our Savior in His abundant grace and mercy has provided a special blessing of protection and "a way out" for females, however. Women are, simply by nature, more gullible and rash (take the example of Eve, for instance), and so we sometimes find ourselves in uncomfortable and damaging situations due to our rash utterances, agreements, oaths and vows. The Lord is so gracious and forgiving, though! If a daughter or wife finds herself in an awkward or damaging situation due to some agreement or promise she has unwisely made, the Lord has so designed matters that her father or husband can reverse that vow-he is now responsible to the Lord for the oath or rash agreement, and the female involved is now mercifully released and forgiven, for her protector has overruled her-she is no longer required to fulfill that oath. The grace and mercy of the Lord shown forth in this beautiful passage amaze me! Women are more emotional beings, whereas men are more logical. This is how God has so designed us (these characteristics correspond perfectly with our roles!), and in so doing has provided women with a covering-a protection fashioned and ordained by the Almighty Himself! Why would any daughter want to be out from under the precious protection and authority that the Lord has lovingly placed over her and designed especially for her?

The Grave Importance of Vows

Lest we begin to think lightly of vows and fail to understand just how amazing our Lord's teachings in this passage are, let us study for a moment the dire importance of oaths made unto the Lord. The teachings and implications of Numbers 30 are simply astounding when one studies Ecclesiastes 5:4-5:

"4When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. 5Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay."

Clearly, the Lord places a huge importance on vows and the keeping of them. Vows and oaths are very serious utterances which are not viewed lightly by God. When a person makes a vow, he is not only binding himself to the person to whom he has vowed, but ultimately to God Himself, as well. This is precisely why vows are so important and are not to be taken lightly-they are promises one has made in the sight of Almighty God. We read that it is better not to make a vow at all than to vow and then not pay. In fact, our God views the vow-maker as a fool who is not pleasing to Him if he fails to carry through with his promise. Yet Numbers 30 teaches us an amazing truth-despite the huge importance in God's eyes of vows being kept, there are two things of even greater importance in the eyes of God: 1) the leadership and authority of a father and husband and 2) the protection, care, and security of a wife and daughter. In God's eyes, these roles are crucial and of more importance than the keeping of vows. Is that not amazing? Does this not provide us with a glimpse into the heart of God as it pertains to the lives of unmarried daughters? This eye-opening passage shows that it is of paramount importance in God's eyes that a female be under the protection and authority of a man. Numbers 30 shows the importance God places on this. Christians, we must strive to obey and live out this passage! However, it simply cannot be lived out and obeyed as it should be if an unmarried daughter is off on her own, independent from her father. If our Lord's teachings, as presented in Numbers 30, are to be fully embraced and lived out in day-to-day life, an unmarried daughter must be in her father's home until marriage-she simply cannot be on her own. This chapter leaves no room for "in between time" where a daughter is on her own, separated from and void of her father's full protection and authority between the time when she finishes her secondary education and when she finally gets married.

Some would attempt to point out that when Numbers 30 refers to the daughter in her father's house, it uses the words, "in her youth", striving to imply that this means that this passage before us is only referring to female children and married women-not grown daughters. There are a few points I would like to make in response to this argument, as well as to the argument outlined above which says that this passage is not teaching that unmarried daughters are to live at home until marriage, but simply that if they are at home, their father is to exert authority over them. I pray that this presentation would be a blessing to you.

Various Observations on the Text of Numbers 30

1. Notice the Context

Knowing the context of a verse, rather than trying to take a word or phrase from its context, is crucially important. Notice verses 5-7 of Numbers 30: "5But if her father disallow her in the day that he heareth, not any of her vows, or of her bonds wherewith she hath bound her soul, shall stand; and the LORD shall forgive her, because her father disallowed her. 6And if she had at all an husband, when she vowed, or uttered ought out of her lips, wherewith she bound her soul; 7And her husband heard it, and held his peace at her in the day that he heard it: then her vows shall stand, and her bonds wherewith she bound her soul shall stand." Notice the end of verse 5 and the beginning of verse 6. This woman goes directly from her father's authority and protection to that of her husband. There is simply no in-between time between verses 5 and 6. This daughter is never autonomous or separated from her family. She is, quite frankly, in her father's home until she lives in her husband's home. This is precisely what is seen in the context and the wording of these verses.

2. The word "woman"

When this passage refers to the daughter under her father's roof, it uses the word "woman". Numbers 30 is clearly not referring to a female child, but rather an unmarried adult daughter-a woman. Our Lord does not desire for His Word to be mysterious and unable to be understood. He has laid out His precepts in a clear fashion and they are to be taken literally. The Scriptures mean what they say and say what they mean. Thus, our Lord could have ordained that this passage said "little girl", "female child", or "maiden" (a word which usually refers to a young lady) if He were speaking of young girls. That is not the word presented in this passage, however. Instead, the word woman is presented, thereby showing that it is expressly referring to an adult daughter. In addition, little girls would not have been making vows, which further illustrates that our Lord is referring to adult daughters.

3. "In her youth"

Interestingly, the precise phrase that many attempt to pull out of its context in order to support their view, actually proves them to be wrong. Many take this phrase and say that it proves that only little girls are being addressed in the verses dealing with daughters. However, this kind of phrase is a common one in the Scriptures, and refers to the normative age of one who is getting married. In other places of God's Word, the terms "of his youth" or "in his youth" refer to the time of marriage or procreation. For example, consider Proverbs 5:18: "Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth" (see also Malachi 2:14-15). Likewise, Psalm 127:4 says, "As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are the children of the youth." Through study of these verses, we are presented with the true meaning of the phrase "in her youth" as presented in Numbers 30- an unmarried daughter who is of marriageable age is under the direct care and protection of her father until marriage. In speaking of the phrase "in her youth", in verse 3, Mr. Poole writes, "In her youth; and this clause is added not by way of restriction, as if virgins in their riper years were freed from their parents' jurisdiction, and at their own disposal, (which undoubtedly they are not,) but way of addition, or amplification..." (2)

4. "In her father's house"

Verses 3 and 16 speak of an unmarried daughter being in her father's house. Some, when addressing this passage, say that an unmarried daughter can be under the authority and protection of her father while living on her own somewhere. However, I beg to differ. This passage is not simply referring to a father's authority, provision and protection over his daughter. Even if it were, it would still imply that in order for a daughter to be fully under her father's care and leadership as outlined in this verse, she would need to be in her father's house-not somewhere separated from him and fending for herself. Rather, this passage shows unequivocally that, according to the law of God as presented in this chapter, an unmarried daughter is living in her father's house until marriage. Likewise, a father would not be able to hear his daughter's vows if she was separated from him in location, which further expresses that she is to be in her father's home. Speaking on the phrase "being in her father's house" in verse 3, Puritan Matthew Poole (1624-1679) writes, "Being in her father's house, i.e. under his care, power and government, which she is whilst she continues in her father's house, being a virgin, as appears by the opposition of a married woman, ver. 6, and of a widow, and divorced woman, ver.9, and by this phrase of being in her father's house, for when she marries, she is removed into her husband's house, Ruth i.9." (1)

5. The status of a divorced or widowed woman

Very noteworthy is the fact that the only women not under the authority of a husband or father is a divorced or widowed woman. A woman in this position is in charge of her own vows. Thus, the unmarried adult daughter is not to be on her own, for the only group of women that is to follow through with their own vows, no matter what, is the women who are divorced or widowed, as they are their own authority. The unmarried adult daughter, therefore, is not to be on her own fending for herself!

6. Adult daughters are addressed

If one holds to the notion that an unmarried adult daughter is free to be out on her own, autonomously fending for herself and being her own authority, separated from the direct authority, protection, and provision of her father, then why is this group of female not addressed in Numbers 30? If the verses pertaining to daughters are only referring to little girls, then why does God not address the group of women who are unmarried and have never been married? Did God forget about them? Here we have a passage addressing the roles of women who are in each stage of life. So, if one believes that the verses pertaining to daughters is addressing only little girls, then one comes face to face with a problem: God forgot to address unmarried adult daughters! However, I think it is rather clear that God did not fail to address this age group and status of women. Rather, He clearly addresses them in the verses speaking of daughters in their father's houses. According to Numbers 30, adult daughters who are unmarried are to be under their father's roof. This is what Numbers 30 is teaching.

"Yes, but that is Old Testament Law!"

I believe we have outlined and expressed the fact, from Numbers 30, that God's design for an adult, unmarried daughter is for her to live in her father's home until marriage. However, some, even if they do believe that this is what Numbers 30 is clearly setting forth, are unwilling to abide by this passage, as they view it as Old Testament law which no longer is to be obeyed, especially not by New Testament Christians. However, there are a few points I would like to quickly make regarding this argument, as well. First, the Old Testament laws pertaining to sacrifices are fulfilled in Christ, and no longer have to be obeyed by us, for Jesus Christ was the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our sins. Likewise, the ceremonial laws, laws pertaining to feasts, special days and celebrations, etc. are no longer binding either. Paul writes in Colossians 2:16, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of a new moon, or of sabbath days." However, the Old Testament moral law is still binding to this day. Included in this is Numbers 30 and its teachings, for this passage refers to the roles of men and women and to Biblical family dynamics-topics which are unchanging in God's Word. Second, there are passages in the New Testament itself (which we will study in the coming weeks) which speak of unmarried women living at home until marriage. Clearly Numbers 30 is a portion of Old Testament law which is still binding on the followers of God today and thus is to be obeyed.

In Conclusion

In closing, I pray that you have been blessed through this study of Numbers 30. This chapter is a wonderful, yet often overlooked, ignored, and misunderstood one. It is of just as much importance today as it was in the day it was first proclaimed. God has ordained by His wisdom, love and grace, that an unmarried, adult daughter remain in her father's home until he gives her in marriage. This design is not made in order to try to enslave her, treat her like a child, steal opportunities from her, or any such thing. Rather, it is made so as to strengthen the family (and as a result, the church and society as a whole, as well!) and to lovingly protect the women involved. Our God knows our weaknesses, knows our need for protection, care, and security, and so has fashioned our unmarried years and our roles so as to keep us in a sphere of great importance, safety, and productivity: the home! Blessed be the great name of the Lord!


1. Matthew Poole, Matthew Poole's Commentary on the Whole Bible Vol. 1: Genesis to Job, pg. 327 (Hendrickson Publishers, 2008)

2. Ibid.


  1. Dear Rebekah,
    I wanted to especially thank you for your loving comments you posted at Joyfully Home. I cannot explain how immensely blessed I was by them. (Wish I could give send you a hug over this :) The loving and caring way you put your words meant so much to me. I mean, you don't even know me, but yet I could sense the love and care that went into them. It touched my heart to know that you are praying for me too. I more than appreciate that.
    When I first asked the question, I never would have guessed what God had planned to teach me. It's amazing!! And, though I lacked faith in God being able to give me victory in this area, He has. I can honestly say that the last two days I haven't hardly thought at all about that guy. And when I did, I would remember the things you young ladies suggested to do and they worked! The thoughts would start to go away.
    I also wanted to let you know that I would love to correspond with you via email, but unfortunately, I can't do that. I do not have an email account and our family email is for my dad & mom. But, I so appreciate your would've been accepted without delay had there been a way. But, if you'd like, I can keep you updated and such via comments. Just let me know where you'd like me to leave the comments.
    Once again, thank you for your Christ-like love. I pray God will bless you as you serve Him.
    Your sister in Christ,

    P.S. I look forward to reading your posts...though I only quickly skimmed through this one, I detect another gifted writer.:)

  2. Where's part two? I can't find it.

  3. Miss Leah,

    I'm so sorry! This is part 2; that was a typo! I'm sorry for the confusion; it's fixed now. Thank you for asking about that, as I may not have catched the mistake!

    God bless you!

    Dearest Karenna,

    It was such a joy to hear from you! It really made my day; what a blessing! I would absolutely love to receive updates from you in the comments; please do leave them in the comment section of whatever post you would like to. I moderate my comments, and so read each one. If you'd like, though, you could just post your updates in the comment section of whatever post is the most recent. It's completely up to you.

    I'm just so thankful the Lord used us to minister to you and encourage you. And to hear that you're already experiencing great victory over your thoughts is so wonderful to hear. That is just so exciting. How great is our God! All things truly are possible with Him, and through Christ Who strengthens us, we can do all things. I'm just so glad you shared your testimony here with me. I really appreciate that (it's so wonderful to hear how God works!), as well as your sweet and encouraging words. Your comment was such a blessing. :)

    If you have specific prayer requests in the future, please do not hesitate to share them with me! It would be a great joy to serve and minister to you in any way possible.

    May the Lord richly bless you, dear sister in Christ! :)

    To God be all the glory!

  4. You are a very articulate young woman and I know your parents are blessed by you. My question is not intended to cause a stumbling block but I am interested in your response. This is not from a woman trying to "explain away" or "justify" following or not following certain things; my heart cries out for truth and I want to please God more than anything else in life. This is my personal conviction, but I would like your thoughts on it:

    The OT law which includes the Numbers 30 passage you use for your basis of belief was written to the Jews before Christ, and before the Holy Spirit was given. In Acts 15 we read:
    24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment— 25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.

    These words are written to Gentiles who believe. I'm not suggesting OT is not important, by any means. And God might call some to do as you suggest, but in light of this passage about Gentile Christians, how can you prescribe something that was mandated to the Jews pre-Christ, without allowing room for the Holy Spirit to call others to something different?

    I ask this with a humble heart. God bless!

  5. Sister in Christ,

    I'm so sorry for just now responding to your wonderful question! This week has just flewn by in a blur! :)

    First, let me say that your comment blessed me so very much. To hear from a woman of God who so yearns for His truths was such a blessing to behold. If only more professing Christians had a yearning for God's Word as you do, rather than leaving their Bibles on the shelf all week long! Also, you're clearly not content to just take what someone says as truth, and that is great! You obviously want to know and study God's Word more and more, and want to discover for yourself what it says. That is to be praised! I so appreciate your example. :)

    Second, I really want to say that I so appreciate your humble spirit, as well. You wrote your comment in such a loving, humble manner, and that really was a blessing. You were not looking to pick a fight or anything like that, but simply has a concern that you wanted to see addressed. Thank you for your kindness! Receiving comments such as yours is such a joy.

    Now on to your question itself! :)

    It's a great one and makes evident the fact that you know what God's Word says. Having said that, I want to share my thoughts on this passage, and how it refers to Numbers 30 and the subject of stay-at-home daughterhood.

    Yes, Numbers 30 was indeed issued to the Jews prior to the time of Christ and prior to the giving of the Holy Spirit.

  6. When reading the entire chapter of Acts 15, it becomes clear that the issue that is being raised is: what is necessary unto salvation? Is salvation by God's grace through faith, or must one keep the law, be circumcised, etc. in order to be saved? This is what was being addressed by Paul, Barnabas, and the others in this account. There were Gentile believers who had come to Christ who were now being harassed by the Jews who were saying that they couldn't be saved, because in order to be saved one must be circumcised, keep the law, etc. This was discouraging the Gentile believers, some of whom, as a result of the words of the Jews, began to question their salvation. Paul saw the distress of these believers and commissioned men to write a declaration unto these believers to allay their fears. In it, they made it clear that to be saved, one need not be circumcised, keep the laws pertaining to feasts, certain dietary laws, sacrificial laws, etc. Jesus has fulfilled these laws (as I mentioned in this article)and is our ultimate sacrifice, thereby giving us great freedoms-we no longer have to keep these laws. The writers of the declaration, as you quoted, issued forth aspects of the Mosaic law that they certainly were still require to keep, however. The entire OT law was not made void, so to speak, at the coming of Christ. There are still OT laws which are binding upon Christians, and the writers pointed this out. Obedience to these laws was not binding upon one's salvation-in other words, in order to be saved, one need not obey these. But submitting to these commands did show the fruits of one who is saved. Not all of the Mosaic laws which are still binding are mentioned in this declaration. This does not mean, of course, that we are not to keep those other laws. Why did the men not address all of the ones we are to keep? Well, for one thing, perhaps the specific laws addressed in verses 24-29 were the very ones they were having a dispute over at that particular time. Other laws that are binding upon us are not mentioned (such as the law to not lie, the laws found in Numbers 30, the law to not covet, etc.). The fact that they are not mentioned, however, does not take away from the fact that we are to obey them. They are still binding upon us whether they are mentioned in this specific declaration or not.

    I hope that helps! I appreciate your question, and the opportunity to share with you.

    Thank you again so much for your kind words! May the Lord richly bless you as you continue to follow Him!


    P.S. I look forward to hearing from you again in the future, Lord willing.


Hi!! Thank you so much for visiting my blog! Please come back often. Thank you for your comment as well; your input is always most welcome! Even if you disagree with something, I encourage you to leave a comment; I just ask that you do so in a loving and Christ-like manner.

God bless you!

~Rebekah S.