Have you ever seen steam coming out of someone’s ears?
Recently I was listening to a domestic violence expert describe the supposedly biblical practice of Christian Domestic Discipline. Righteous anger started lapping at my feet and slowly radiated throughout my body as I listened to how “true Christian husbands” are given license to hit their subservient wives.
It’s not often that I feel my past come rushing at me like a freight train. But as I squirmed in my chair my ears burned as the threats and taunts of cowardly men who used the Bible as a weapon briefly passed through my consciousness. I was furious that this was happening to other people knowing the pain and humiliation it can cause.
Many people reading this have experienced family violence. I grew up in a household that justified certain evils on the basis that those acts were “justified” by Scripture. The household atmosphere my siblings and I experienced as tweens and teens was one of psychological terrorism with splashes of physical violence called “discipline.” The psychological abuse continued into adulthood as demands for us and our spouses to “recognize the proper biblical authorities in our lives” continued.
I am not entirely opposed to spanking small children. I was opposed to being an awkward teen girl having welts going down the backs of my thighs that couldn’t be hidden by gym shorts in PE class. I was opposed to the surprise attacks from which my siblings ran away bleeding. Growing up we kids didn’t know that what was happening to us could be construed as abuse. But we knew in our hearts that the “punishment” was often irrational and based on perceived offenses rather than reality. It was mostly about satisfying someone else’s need for control rather than our Heavenly Father wanting us to travel the straight and narrow.
This so-called “Christian” Domestic Discipline walks the same narcissistic, misguided line as what we experienced. Christian wives are said to enter into consensual agreements with their husbands to allow the husband to discipline the wife. This means that the husband can inflict hands on punishment as if the wife is a bratty little kid– he can spank her, put her in time out, take away privileges, gag her, and indulge in various other ways of “keeping her in line.”
The Bible teaches that wives are to respect their husbands and the CDD movement uses that as justification for this thinly veiled form of domestic violence. Right after that verse, it says that husbands should love their wives as they love themselves, but hey, who’s looking at that, right? Shouldn’t husbands, as leaders, be empowered to do as they wish with their lowly, inferior wives?
Nowhere in Scripture is treating a spouse like a lower life form deserving of violence and disdain condoned. Nowhere. We are to love our spouse as we love ourselves– better yet, we are called to love as Jesus did. Did Jesus take a hairbrush to Simon Peter when he denied Him in the courtyard? Did He put His band of twelve into their time out corner when they didn’t understand His parables? Did he insult and chastise His mother when she told him that the wine ran out at the wedding in Cana?
No. Of course not. Jesus used the challenging moments to show people His truth, His grace, and His love. He didn’t pick up a stick and play Whac-A-Mole with them. He didn’t make them feel like less than they really are. Does He have moral standards? Absolutely. But it is against His nature to demean, belittle, and physically beat those who disagree with Him. How then can these “true Christian” husbands justify doing this to their wives?
This is not right. It is not moral. It is not Scriptural. They are taking snippets from the Manufacturer’s Handbook and twisting them into excuses for their problems with intimacy and feelings of inadequacy. Interestingly, while reading up on this topic, I found that some CDD sites claim that by engaging in this behavior that they are taking a stand against feminism. So it’s feminism or this, huh? That’s a logical argument (if you know me personally, you recognize the dripping sarcasm in my voice).
At face value, CDD might sound like it’s just light spanking and minor corrective actions. Visit some forums on this topic, however, and you’ll find that these “harmless” forms of discipline have escalated into full blown criminal assault.While I can’t guarantee that what I’m about to quote was written by people actually involved in the lifestyle and not those trying to sensationalize what a minority are doing, I was appalled to find that these comments were written by both men and women.
This was the original comment posted at the start of a discussion thread on a CDD forum:
When I misbehave or don’t learn my Bible lessons well enough, it’s the duty of my husband, Mr. ___, to discipline me, and I accept that. The Lord has ordered me to submit to my husband in all things, and that’s the way it should be (Adam wasn’t formed from Eve’s rib, after all). So when he strikes me, it’s for my own good. But it does hurt, so naturally I want to cry. He hasn’t said anything about it yet, but I want to do the right thing to make his life easier and not distract him from Jesus. Should I try not to cry at all, or wait until he’s done and cry in another room so as not to disturb him? Or should I cry right there to show that I’m learning my lesson? If I could get some feedback before I ask him, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, and God bless!
Here are some responses:
-I think Brother ___ has hit the nail on the head on several fronts Sister. Whether you cry or not isn’t important as long as it pleases your husband. Since asking him which he prefers may also cause him to be annoyed; I suggest you try them all on a trial and error type basis and accept any additional punishment you may receive as your duty for Christ. Remember, a happy home starts in the heart.
-Perhaps it would be best to silently Weep those big old tears big as horse turds so as not to annoy your Husband – very much as He Himself did!
-Sister, you must be completely unfamiliar with scripture. Does this passage from THE BIBLE not tell you what your long suffering husband is expecting from you: (he quotes Song of Solomon 2:3-4). Please, just go your prayer closet and get yourself right with God before your good husband loses all his patience with you.
-Sister ___, I can’t imagine letting your tears mess up a sparkling clean floor, so if you do cry, be sure to catch your tears, or you’ll be getting yet another spanking for not keeping his home perfect. Other than that, it seems that failing to cry will only cause the punishment to be more severe, something Jesus would surely approve of.
-Take the beating like a true woman soldier of God!
I’m sorry; is this 2013 America or a Middle Eastern country on a fast track back to the Dark Ages that treats women like deaf and dumb slaves? What’s next, female genital mutilation? Unfortunately, some of the domestic abusers and rapists who might be given amnesty in our country could feel right at home with the misogynistic wife beaters in these circles. No, I will not apologize for that comment given the number of women who are discriminated against, beaten, raped, and murdered worldwide every day per _____ (insert divine authority here).
There is no excuse for domestic violence. God does not condone it. Saying that women should bite their lips and take their beatings for Christ is a lie straight from the pit of hell. Women in these environments can unfortunately be conditioned to accept this abuse as godly or normal– and as something they deserve– especially when they are raised in or surrounded by a culture that accepts it.
Calling domestic violence something else to legitimize it accomplishes nothing for God or His kingdom. It’s self-serving, not God-serving. There are plenty of other ways for couples to learn and practice love and respect. Hey, there’s even a great book by Emerson Eggerichs called Love and Respect that helps couples grow to a level of emotional intelligence in which they don’t need to scream, kick, or hit.
CDD should not be confused with the erotic spanking and role playing married couples might engage in. What those couples mutually agree to is between them, their groovy Pottery Barn quilt, and God. God designed marriage to be an ever-deepening adventure in intimacy. It’s supposed to be breathless, fun, and exciting. Having to endure pain and humiliation so that your husband can feel like he’s in control serves a different goal altogether, and it sure isn’t what God had in mind.
Surfing the web I’ve found a surprising number of websites condoning this behavior. Some include literature about how the husband didn’t want to have a CDD relationship but the wife convinced him it was in their best interest. Anybody have a bag handy that I can puke in? Yes, this is a free country, but I’m concerned that women are being lured into such relationships on the false premise that this is God’s will for their lives.
What are practitioners of CDD teaching their sons and daughters? I’m no feminist, but I am a strong, independent woman who’s been through the school of hard knocks. I believe that God gave me intelligence and talents for a reason. I’m not to hide those gifts under a rock and pretend I’m someone other than a daughter of the Most High. I’m to be the woman God created me to be and let those abilities shine for His sake. I can be both a lover and a warrior; I can love and respect my husband while at the same time doing the work God intended me to do.
CDD is telling our daughters that God wants them to be meek and servile, accepting violence whenever their husband decides to mete it out. It doesn’t let them be who God designed them to be, it forces them to be a shadow that cowers under the unpredictable wrath of the almighty head of the house. CDD teaches our sons that it’s okay to be arrogant, puffed up macho narcissists who can treat women like dirt in the name of “love.” I realize that not everyone who practices or promotes CDD fits this bill, but I maintain that the underlying premises of this movement are unhealthy and unbiblical.
Some CDD sites like to reference the original sin in the Garden of Eden. They point out how the wife was the first to fall for the forbidden fruit and that “disciplining” their wives reminds them of what happened there. Okay, guys who feel it’s their duty to keep putting Eve through the antediluvian wringer, let’s dance.
What was the original lie told by the serpent to God’s children? You shall be as gods. Who’s God in your household when you’re smacking your spouse with a wooden spoon for burning your tuna casserole? You are. You are being a god– a little g god– rather than practicing the principles of the one true God. That’s what we do when we sin (something I manage to do copiously every day), we act as little g gods, trying to satisfy ourselves rather than Him.
If your computer screen hasn’t begun to melt due to the flames flying forth from my fingers as I type this, it still might. I have spent a lifetime being told that as a Christian I should be more “forgiving” towards those who practice abusive behavior and simply tolerate “how they are.” I can think of few things more removed from the essence of the Gospel than asking victims to help enable their abusers. As Christians we are to maintain boundaries with evil, not lie down on the floor and let it stomp on us. Not calling violence what it is allows it to bathe each successive generation in dysfunction, pain, and shame.
CDD takes a godly premise– husbands and wives respecting each other– and twists it into a mangled wreckage of narcissistic thrill seeking. What do abusers want? Power and control. What does CDD give them? Power and control. What does God ask of husbands? To love their wives. What does God ask of wives? To respect their husbands. Where is the true love and respect in CDD? “Because I love you so much I’m going to hit you, a grown woman, with my belt because you disrespected me?”
You can believe the Bible and have a vibrant, healthy marital relationship without a soul-sucking toxic frosting of damaging legalism (manmade rules) slathered all over the top of your wedding cake. If you are in a violent relationship, please seek help from someone outside of your lifestyle. God does not smile upon your black eyes, bruises, and sense of unworthiness. Those are the marks of someone who’s turned away from Him and is more interested in their little g self.
This sister’s seen enough damage, death, and destruction done under the guise of godliness to fill several large volumes. False doctrines like CDD have driven some of the people I love most away from the Gospel instead of towards it. Using the Bible as a weapon, as a wise mentor in my life says, will only alienate the very people you try to convert.
Those of us who have been through family violence, as children, adults, or both, have often asked ourselves why God has allowed it. The why aspect is debatable, but I do know what we can do now. Collectively we are Archimedes’ death ray, survivors who can beam a blinding spotlight down onto the fleet of lies that cause family violence. CDD, consider your ship ablaze.
After what I’ve been through, and because of what I’ve seen others put through, yep, I’m the blonde over there kicked back in my recliner with my iced tea, daily devotional, and metal softball bat.
In other words, CDD practitioners need not apply.
God desires that we live in grace, not legalism imposed by the personal preferences of other people. We must be quick to discern if a person is pointing toward God’s Word or simply imposing his own mandates under the guise of spirituality. –Charles Stanley
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