This post is for adults only. It’s not meant to be titillating and addresses a serious issue, although casual readers might laugh. For those who are offended, of a sensitive nature or who do not wish to read about Satan’s influence in Christianity, please skip this one.

There is a website by the name Christian Domestic Discipline, which you can search for if interested. Its margins contain New Testament verses from Paul’s epistles.

A close reading will show that the site is most likely a hoax. The syntax and some of the language appear to be British. (Why am I not surprised? In 2010, a spoof blog which carried my site on its blogroll appeared during the Edinburgh Festival. I have no idea if the two were linked as part of a comedy act playing there, but the ‘Baptist pastor’ from a plausibly named but nonexistent town in England was so theologically disjointed that I had to call it out after a few weeks. The author(s) kept it going for a few more months until the ‘pastor’s wife’ wrote the last post saying that her husband was being silly. I haven’t checked to see if it still exists.)

Back to the Christian Domestic Discipline site. Its apparent hoax value and the absurdity of the idea have not prevented a group of Christian women from opening a forum on this topic saying that the husband is the head of the home and must, when necessary, correct and instruct his wife through the use of corporal punishment. They say that this shows the man is a romantic and a true hero. Please read it for yourselves; they specifically request that copying and pasting not be done. The website is private outside of the home page (no, I won’t be registering).

Please be wary of these sites and of this heinous practice. There is no biblical evidence — despite what CDD advocates say — that a wife should be physically chastened or emotionally abused. Remember the sanctity of marriage — Holy Matrimony. Our marriages are supposed to mimic the holy bond between Christ and His bride the Church.

What follows are excerpts from ‘Domestic Discipline’ from The Marriage Bed:

Domestic Discipline, or DD, is a lifestyle which is quietly being adopted by a growing number of Christian couples. We have studied DD for a number of years – read books and web sites, talked to couples who practice (or practiced) it, and “lurked” on several “Christian Domestic Discipline” e-mail lists. We must acknowledge that some who have adopted this life style have found at least temporary benefit from it, but what is taught is at odds with the Word of God, and we believe it to be a distortion of what God intended headship and submission to be.

Let’s start with the basic premises of DD. There are some variations, but these seem to be the main beliefs:

  • The husband is in authority over his household and has the right/responsibility to discipline his entire household, including the wife …
  • Discipline is seen as a practical expression of love, a proactive way of helping a wife to grow and mature; motivating her to re-align her priorities so that she will not end up in mediocrity.
  • Discipline is expressed in loss of privileges, spanking, corner time, and writing appropriate sentences multiple times. DDers may include prayer, godly examples, and encouragement in their list of ways to discipline.

Those who practice it, extol DD because:

  • they believe it to be in obedience to God’s Word.
  • they see it as a part of God’s plan for protection of women, and the exercise of authority over her.
  • they see it as a way of motivating a woman to change/grow.
  • it helps women to not seek control or inappropriate leadership, and teaches submission.
  • it makes peace in the home, children will not see their parents fighting as the father has ultimate authority.
  • it specifies limits of physical discipline, so that there will be no physical abuse.

To some of us, especially Europeans, this will seem bizarre. However, before I continue with The Marriage Bed‘s article, let’s segue to a first-hand account from a commenter on a Salon article about the topic. Opinion was divided as to whether the CDD site was real or a hoax, however, bethanyb (page 5 of the comments) wrote in to say:

I use to be one

I can’t exactly say this was consensual. No, in fact, it wasn’t in any way consensual. But, I had a husband of 16 years who believed it was perfectly normal & “right” to discipline me when he believed I was out of line.

I use to be influenced by the desire to please others. I wanted to be “right with God and the leaders in the Church.” I wanted to be a good disciple, which included accepting discipline from authority. After years of feeling scared of what would happen to me if I didn’t do everything the way HE wanted it done, of trying to listen and adhere to the men who were leading our family in righteousness, of saying or doing the wrong thing at the wrong moment to or with the wrong people, I found myself in a deep dark tunnel with no light and no escape. I lost my desire to carry on. I had children to love and raise, but no sense of self to do the work. I realized I had lost my identity.

It was a year-long process to get out of my marriage alive, but I did. (He now denies that he ever threatened my life, even though he spent 2.5 years in prison for his behavior.) I had to let my children go for a time period, but they were all restored to me in time. I now have my sense of self identity restored and wonder how in the world I EVER let anyone take me down this path where I had lost myself. But, in writing this response, I realize it was due to my innate desire to please God, to do what is right, and to have a happy marriage and family that I gave all I could give.

The idea that a man/husband should discipline his wife is certainly one to which many good-intentioned women will fall victim, but in so doing, they will, I promise you, lose all sense of self. In the long run, this will destroy their strength and dignity if they don’t put a stop to it and just say no.

The idea of CDD is insidiously clever for insidiously ugly men.

Now back to the views from The Marriage Bed:

DDers rest their case very heavily on arguments that explain the authority/submission structure of the home. They stress the need for the husband and wife to take their roles in obedience to God’s Word. So far, so good, but then they make a rather large intellectual leap in giving the husband the responsibility of “motivating” his wife to mature and grow through the use of domestic discipline. There are often strong implications that if you are truly submitted you will see DD as relevant and biblical, while those who reject DD are somehow being rebellious, or are immature in their understanding of submission and authority.

Though I thoroughly agree with the structure of authority and submission in the home, I am concerned with including the physical discipline of adults in the structure of a godly marriage, the minimization of the wife’s adult abilities, and the level of dishonesty in the explanation of DD beliefs.

Adult discipline:

I understand that God sees discipline as a good thing, but this does not mean that He validates every form of discipline. I can find no statement in scripture where God tells, or allows, husbands to physically discipline their wives (odd, because He doesn’t seem to have forgotten to tell parents to discipline their children). I also find no reference to Christ physically disciplining His disciples or followers (the Christ/church and husband/wife analogy). I do see that God uses hard circumstance to build righteousness in us (the “chastisement” of Hebrew 12:5-11), but it seems clear to me that any reference to physical discipline has to do with young children (including v.10 that speaks of fathers disciplining us for a short time (childhood) and, of course, Proverbs 13:24). If physical discipline is only for children the whole DD philosophy falls apart, so this is a significant battleground for the DDers. I think their arguments lack significant scriptural support, including the fact that a lot of the discipline scriptures are either not gender specific, or speak of the discipline of men (Proverbs 10:13b).

Additional problems:

Another serious problem with the DD philosophy is that if women need this kind of discipline, how do teens, singles and widows get what they need? The extension of this philosophy gets frightening pretty quick. Why would God meet this “need” in marriage and leave the rest without the “help” that they need? Or maybe fathers should discipline their girls until they are married, and singles/widows should be disciplined by the elders? Yikes!

Or perhaps we should discipline our children so that as adults they are capable of walking with the Lord, following the lead and direction of the Spirit?

Does it work long term?:

I’ve talked to a few men who got “burned out” on DD after a while. Their wife was “not behaving better” or “seemed to enjoy being spanked.” Some men report their wife seems more like a child to them, or that regularly spanking her “was tearing me up.”

Daily DD:

Some DDers practice what are called “maintenance sessions.” These sessions, usually done daily, consist of the wife listing all the rules she has broken, and the husband meting out what he considers appropriate disciple. Some DDers advocate that every maintenance session end with a spanking, even if no violations are reported by the wife.

The Marriage Bed contributors who have looked at various CDD sites say that there are pornographic pictures on them. So, could this be one of the reasons that Christian men testify on blogs to their porn addictions? One wonders.

The Marriage Bed posits that the name CDD gives a ‘godly’ excuse to couples with particular fetishes, that somehow a man can become a better Christian and a woman a more submissive wife who, as bethanyb said above, is pleasing to God. If so, CDD practitioners show a very confused line of thinking.

However, The Marriage Bed also says:

DD can also look good to a woman who wants to be free from having to make decisions, or taking responsibility in life. All responsibility falls on the husband and the wife is relegated to child status. If she does not live up to her responsibility she gets a spanking, and that’s the end of it. There is little effort or motivation to grow into a mature woman of God.

Many couples have grown tired of the kind of marriage our society advocates, finding it incomplete and empty. On the surface DD may seem to offer a better way of living as man and wife. DD does advocate headship and submission, both of which are biblical concepts, and there are those who say DD has improved their marriage. Upon close examination it’s become obvious to us that DD does not live up to the claims made for it, especially in the long term. Of far greater concern is that we see DD as contrary to what the Bible teaches, and counterproductive to developing the kinds of lives and marriages God has called us to have.

It’s very carnal. It should set off alarm bells.

I would also caution against the use of distorted language for sustained abuse. ‘Discipline’ does not necessarily have to be physical; it implies structure and order. A ‘spanking’ involves a short, brisk  slapping on the bottom by hand, yet a ‘spanking’ page on the CDD site apparently gives instructions on how to thrash one’s wife with a belt and leave no marks. You will also find that many Christian books on parenting talk endlessly about ‘spanking’ yet discourage a few slaps given by hand and say you must use belts, switches, dowels, rods and, worst of all, plumbing lines. Those are not implements with which to ‘spank’ — those are implements for whipping and flogging.

Therefore, call it what it is. If you thrash your wife (heaven forbid) or child (ill advised — is your pet better treated?), call it a thrashing. Or a whipping. But it is not a ‘spanking’.

CDD is diabolical. It is a carnal power play. It’s assault and abuse — both of which are illegal.