What is Domestic Discipline? Is it a more politically correct term for “wife spanking”? Until recently, I didn’t know that this sort of lifestyle existed. I was shocked by the number of people who are practicing it, including Christians. One article described it as a movement in the Christian community. What is Domestic Discipline and why are so many couples engaging in it?
Domestic discipline is the practice between two consenting life partners in which the head of the household (HoH) takes the necessary measures to achieve a healthy relationship dynamic; the necessary measures to create a healthy home environment; and the necessary measures to protect all members of the family from dangerous or detrimental outcomes by punishing the contributing, and thus unwanted, behaviors for the greater good of the entire family. In addition to punishing the unwanted behaviors, the head of the household is responsible for reinforcing positive behaviors for the greater good of the entire family. The head of the household is ALWAYS to conduct themselves in a very safe, loving, healthy, controlled, and composed manner – Free Thought Blog.
Husband and wife Clint and Chelsea have defined Domestic Discipline as, “…an arrangement between two adults who share the belief that the husband is the head of the household and with that position comes the right to enforce his authority.” They see the husband exercising his authority when he disciplines his wife and this belief is shared by both. They have written Beginning Domestic Discipline, a 50 page packet and in it, they have stated that punishment isn’t exclusive to spanking. Other methods can be used such as lecturing, removing privileges, corner and bedroom time. These methods are what most parents use to discipline their children.
I read about a couple where the husband uses his hands for “warm-up” slaps. Then, he uses a combination of tools based on the specific infraction. The wooden spoon is the least severe; for the worst rule-breaking—like texting while driving. The wife says that it could killer her and (“It could kill me,” Chelsea admits) or moving money between accounts without his permission—she’ll be hit with something else: a hairbrush, a paddle, or a leather strap.
Then, depending on the infraction, he uses the tool that would best apply. Apparently, the wooden spoon is the lest severe of these tools. For worst infractions like texting while driving because as the wife admits that could kill her, or moving money between accounts without his permission she’s hit with a hairbrush, a paddle or a leather strap. She doesn’t see this as domestic abuse. “This is for Jesus,” she says.
Some believe that Christian Domestic Disipline (CDD) is used as a means to justify the fulfillment of a sexual fetish. According to Paul Byerly, who with his wife, run The Marriage Bed, a site dedicated to sexuality and religion CDD is a “distortion of what God intended” and believes that “women, particularly in the Christian church tend to be sexually repressed.” Domestic discipline, he explains, could be “a way around that”—a chance to explore sexual desires while still nominally acting in the name of Jesus.
Another woman in the same article, said, that abuse is all about intent. “He never punishes me when he’s angry,” she says of her partner. “He doesn’t yell. The worst thing I can do is disappoint him and I do that when I act on one of my character defects.” And what about his defects? “He’s not perfect but it’s not my role to point that out. He self corrects.” And what does he get out of their CDD lifestyle aside from her obedience? The satisfaction and enjoyment of seeing her, “the person he owns, his property, become the thing God wants her to be. It might sound weird, but that works for me.”
At what point does domestic discipline cross the line and become abuse? At what point does the husband go from exercising his power to abusing it? At what point do women realize that submission to their husbands isn’t something they should be spanked into doing? At what point are they honest with themselves and admit that this isn’t in harmony with God’s Word?
Very Well Mind gives the following comparison between abuse and domestic discipline:
|Signs of Abuse||Domestic Discipline|
|May use physical violence as a control tactic|
Isolates partner from family and friends
Displays a power imbalance in the relationship
Makes threats of physical violence to maintain control
Believes the abuse is justified or that the victim caused it
Engages in financial control
Denies abuse or violence happened and argues it was not as bad as victim claims
|Uses spanking to maintain order and control|
Sets rules about wife’s interactions with others
Provides all the power to the HoH
Threatens spanking if rules are not followed
Believes spanking is appropriate for mistakes or rule-breaking
Has control over all the finances
Denies that this lifestyle is abusive and argues that it is consensual and biblical
Even though there doesn’t seem to be much difference between abuse and domestic discipline, there are those who believe that women should be grateful when they are spanked. According to a blog supporting CDD, here are three reasons why a woman should be thankful:
- Firstly, she should thank him simply because he has done something for her and it is appropriate that she show her gratitude. After all, she is the primary beneficiary of the spanking, meaning that she is the main person to benefit from the spanking. She will learn better behavior, she will become a better person as a result of it. So it makes sense that she should be grateful for it.
- Secondly, she should thank him because she should practice politeness in her relationship with him. It may be that her disrespect for him is the original cause of her spanking, so it is all the more reason why she should behave politely to him afterwards.
- Thirdly, she should thank him for her spanking because it is a demonstration that she has learned her lesson.
The blogger then goes explain why exactly the woman should be thankful to her husband, the head of the household (HOH), for spanking her:
- He has helped her to overcome her negative behavior
- He has taught her something she didn’t know before she was spanked.
- He has given her the gift of learning, although the lesson she learned was painful. It’s better than leaning it outside the home. Getting spanked for careless driving or for being rude to her boss is better than vehicular homicide or a job loss.
- She should thank her HOH for bringing her to tears if she has cried during or after the spanking. This is an achievement for him because through patience, commitment and determination, he succeeded in making her cry. When a woman cries when she is being spanked, it helps with the disciplinary process. Tears are an important part of her discipline. And part of being brought to tears is the emotional release it gives her. It’s a form of stress relief.
- Spanking removes her guilt which could linger and remain indefinitely. For this reason, spanking is a gift.
Domestic Discipline is not seen as abuse but as an expression of the husband’s love for his wife. One CDD wife said, “When my husband whips me, I feel his love, his strength and his caring.” Another wife who is punished whenever she puts her health or safety at risk, said, “My husband says he loves me too much to lose me and [that] it is his job to protect me from things, even if he has to protect me from myself.”
I read a comment about a pastor whose wife insulted another wife when they were guests in their home. First, she insulted the woman’s cooking and then her husband. Finally, the pastor had had enough. He asked to use the library. He and his wife went into the library and everyone heard her getting spanked, pleading for him to stop and promising to be a good girl. When it was over, the pastor returned alone and told the others that his wife wouldn’t be joining them for dinner. When the hostess, whom the pastor’s wife had insulted went to check on her, she found her standing in a corner, completely naked and with a behind which looked like it was in really bad shape. She cried when the hostess went in but didn’t move or say anything.
Is it discipline to have your wife standing there in the corner, naked? If you spank your child, do you have him or her stand naked in the corner after a spanking? In spite of what the pastor’s wife had done, shouldn’t he have still shown her some respect? His treatment of her was abusive and degrading. And what I found shocking was that the hostess didn’t think that the woman very grateful for the beating she got but concluded that it had apparently changed her because after that incident, she was a different person.
There are faith leaders who are against CDD. Here is what Faith Trust Institute had to say on their website:
“As faith leaders concerned with issues of violence and abuse, we stand against belief systems that use religious language and misuse religious texts in order to justify harmful behavior. Christian Domestic Disciple (CDD) is an example of one of these belief systems and we believe that these kinds of behaviors have no place in Christian marriages, or in any intimate relationship.
“We support healthy and equitable relationships that practice informed consent, demonstrate mutual respect, and allow each person to exercise and be supported in their autonomy. The dynamic created by the CDD “lifestyle” is one of power and control where the husband acts as “Head of Household” and exercises total control and authority over the wife’s daily activities and decisions, enforcing strict “rules” that, if broken, result in corporeal punishment. In order to maintain control, the husband claims the rights to take away certain “privileges” such as the ability to see friends, use the internet, or watch television. In comparing these behaviors to those often associated with domestic violence, it is difficult to distinguish one from the other.
“Every individual deserves respect in their relationships and the ability to live without fear and coercion in their home, community, and place of worship. We urge faith leaders, advocates, and community leaders and members to stand against violence in all its forms, especially when it is masked by religious language or cultural norms.“
On another blog, CDD is defined as being “founded on the same principles as other traditional Christian marriages. The man is the head of the household and the woman submits to him in every way. But what is the husband supposed to do when his wife challenges his authority? That’s where traditional marriages fail. Women are naturally inclined to be defiant; it was Eve’s unwillingness to obey God that got her and Adam exiled from Eden. That’s bad enough, but add in the fact that our feminist society encourages women to be rebellious, and you have a disaster in the making. How does the husband remind his wife who’s in charge? Christian Domestic Discipline provides the answer to quieting disobedient wives. CDD empowers the husband (also called the Head of Household or HoH) to enforce his authority over his wife in whatever way he sees fit.”
Like most supporters of CDD, this blogger used Ephesians 5:22-24 to support it. However what about verses 25-29 where husbands are called to love their wives as themselves? Paul doesn’t encourage them to spank their wives when they don’t submit. The submission of wives to their husbands is equated to their submission to Christ. And the husbands’ love for their wives is equated to Christ’s love for the church which is a self-sacrificing love. Would Christ approve of DD? Absolutely not! Nor would Paul.
A clear understanding of Paul’s message would conclude that, “A husband is to follow this example, loving his wife, teaching and reasoning with his wife from the Scriptures, and nourishing and cherishing her as Christ does the Church, even to the point of giving himself up for her. Ephesians 5:28–29 goes on to say that husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. Unless a husband regularly inflicts corporal punishment on himself, there is no reason to use this passage to justify inflicting it upon his wife. If a wife is truly being rebellious against her husband, then biblical counseling is the next step, following the model of church discipline, as outlined in Matthew 18:15–20
“Domestic discipline is at best a strange, unbiblical practice and, at worst, an excuse for abuse. If couples mutually agree to engage in this type of behavior, they are certainly entitled to do so. But to use the Bible to justify it and call it part of the Christian life is not only ridiculous and scripturally unsupportable; it is antithetical to all biblical principles of love and mutual submission out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21)” – Got Answers
In all of my research on the topic, I couldn’t find posts or articles of women who were opposed to DD, except one woman, named Michelle. On a popular CDD blog, she wrote that, “I wanted the spankings to stop and my husband told me it was either DD and marriage or divorce. I chose divorce. I couldn’t handle the pain of spankings anymore, emotionally or physically.” What happened with this being consensual? Michelle was given an ultimatum. Either she continued to receive the spankings or leave. She chose to leave.
Are there women practicing this lifestyle who secretly want the spankings to stop but are afraid to speak up? Are women choosing to stay and suffer in silence to avoid the stigma of a broken marriage? In the Bible marriage is defined as a man and wife becoming one flesh. After the Fall, man became the head of the woman but he is called to love her as himself and to treat her as he would himself. Marriage is a partnership. Authority is to be exercised in love not in tyranny.
I personally believe that while parents have the God given authority to discipline their children, it is God and God alone who should have and exercise the authority to discipline husbands and wives. We know that He would never do anything contrary to His Word and all that He does if out of love and for our good.
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:5-11, NIV).