Do you need some Domestic Discipline?

You know that feeling when you’ve clicked on a website and as it comes up you aren’t sure whether or not you’ve just stumbled onto a porn site? Well, I had that feeling recently when searching for something I had never heard before: Christian Domestic Discipline.

My first thought was that this must be some kind of 50 shades of grey, Christian style. Maybe Bible verses get recited while securing the restraints or prayer is somehow involved as the butt-slapping ensues. Whatever, Melanie and I have been uncovering this stuff long enough now that I’m less surprised when we find this kind of “Christianizing” some cultural practice or idea.

But, I was wrong. Christian Domestic Discipline is (mostly) not a form of erotic play but rather a movement where women submit to their husbands for spanking when they have disobeyed or dishonored or disrespected their husbands. In such cases, it is apparently necessary for a husband to do his manly duty: to spank his wayward wife. While spanking is the common denominator in the CDD (they use acronyms a lot, by the way) sites I visited, some groups also use other forms of discipline such as having the wife write several lines to reinforce her submission (I imagine something like: I will always obey my husband because he knows best); some use sitting in a corner (time-out for a wife, I guess); and some use taking away something a wife enjoys such as time on the Internet, reading a book, or watching television. You get the idea: treat her like a child.

This is not to say, however, that one size spanking fits all. There are important nuances to these sorts of things. For example, one type of spanking is—obviously—when the wife has broken her man’s rules. A second way spanking is not tied to wifely disobedience but rather is to remind the wife that her husband is in charge. This endearing practice is called “maintenance spanking.” And—wait for it—on some websites, there is a category for “play” spanking: the Christian equivalent of 50 shades of grey, I imagine, had I read the blockbuster series.

Not surprisingly (because I’ve come to expect this after my first foray into teaching the Bible to conservative students and found women more often than men sought to justify female submission and subordination than their male counterparts) the websites I found supporting CDD hailed many testimonials by women, touting, of course, its manifest advantages for creating godly marriages.

Take for instance, Mrs. K who writes on christiandomesticdiscipline.com that her marriage was in shambles because she had all but destroyed her dominant-leaning man, making him over time less of a man while she did her own thing. At rock bottom and with the help of the Internet, she decided to mend her mess of a marriage by submitting to her husband so that he would become once again the strong man of her dreams. Mrs. K writes:

He found it strange at first, but since he recognized a real need in me, he implemented it in our marriage. It wasn’t until later that he learned the value of it in helping me become more disciplined and focused. Once that realization set in, life improved dramatically for Mr. K. and the kids, as well as me myself.

What is it, you may wonder, women gain from being spanked by their husbands? Several of the CDD sites are clear women are not being punished necessarily for their transgressions against their husbands but rather the spanking is intended to alleviate guilt women have for being bad wives. This guilt, obviously, is so problematic that the only way to get rid of it is to experience physical pain, to cry, and thus to finally let go of the gut-wrenching culpability.

If this discovery of Christian Domestic Discipline has you feeling a bit squeamish about its biblical viability, trust me, you do not need to worry here. As you might imagine, the practice of CDD is completely in line with biblical mandates and it is only our secular and progressive culture that has kept us from understanding its true family value. There are many, many biblical verses to be used to support spanking your adult wife but perhaps a couple will give you some sense of how these arguments work.

Jesus, as we know, drove the temple administrators out of the temple using a whip in the account we call the “cleansing of the temple.” Clearly, these adults were in need of being whipped, so why wouldn’t a sinful wife? Or, if you are more of a fan of the Old Testament (Howard?),  may I suggest contemplating Proverbs 20.30 which states (KJV), “the blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of a belly.” Or, if you would rather see the NIV—both renditions were provided by christiandomesticdiscipline–: “beatings purge the inmost being.”

I have to say, this has opened up an entirely new area of biblical womanhood. And while my hesitancy for whole-heartedly embracing what I’ve just learned stems, I’m sure, from the devil’s hold on my heart, I’m almost convinced CDC is totally cool and in no way fosters unhealthy and violent relationships.

I’m probably going to wake up now and realize all of this is a farce, right? If only that were true.