Well, this is a load of holy crap.
Here’s a glimpse from The Daily Beast into the farce known as “Christian Domestic Discipline”:
On a pain scale of one to 10, Chelsea ranks the epidural-free birth of her child as a six. Her husband’s spankings? Those are an eight.
First, he uses his hands for “warm-up” slaps. Then comes 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 (“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.
But this isn’t domestic abuse, Chelsea says. This is for Jesus.
According to devoted practitioners, Christian Domestic Discipline (CDD) offers a “loving approach” for couples who wish to live the only lifestyle endorsed by God: a male head of household ruling his submissive wife. This takes the form of the husband creating a “quality home environment” by infantilizing the woman he married, and treating her to a healthy dose of corporal punishment whenever she displeases him. (The sarcasm in that sentence is mine; for believers, this makes perfect sense.)
In this “discipline,” the man is the supreme being. He is infinitely wiser than the woman (obviously), and he’s also closer to God. The party line is that both spouses will make mistakes in their marriage, but the man is never punished because he can “self-correct” through prayer and contemplation. Women, however, can’t evolve without help. All wives – clearly inferior; adorable but thick-skulled – require their husbands to guide them toward purity of soul through lectures and physical pain.
One participating couple has published a “Beginner’s Packet” for the practice, which is 50 pages long and advocates that the husband address minor infractions by sending his wife to “corner time” (yes, just like in kindergarten) or making her write lines (think, “I will not disobey my Master.”) These consequences are appropriate for misdemeanors such as “speaking out of turn” and “having a bad attitude.”
If a woman commits a more serious offense (such as failing to provide dinner on time), the recommended response is to restrict her privileges, including driving, cell phone use, and socializing. (Is it just me, or is that a recipe for disaster? “Honey, you’ve angered me. Don’t reach out to anyone, or I’ll hit you even harder.”) The most dire mistakes (such as arguing a point too forcefully) require a severe spanking, and the packet includes a handy list of tools for that purpose (plus the pros and cons of each!):
Well, I sure am glad to know this tool will “protect the spanking hand from pain”! We certainly wouldn’t want Master to suffer while he dutifully makes his wife cry. Additionally, the packet warns against offering any sort of comfort post-spanking, as aloe or ice could lessen the impact (sad pun) of the punishment. Cuddling is encouraged, though – because who doesn’t want to snuggle up to the person who just beat them?
Many skeptics think this entire exercise is just BDSM in disguise, wrapped up in extremely conservative Christian-speak to avoid shame caused by the moral restraints of the church. Other call it abuse, plain and simple. Several women who previously practiced CDD have denounced the lifestyle post-divorce, saying they left their marriages because they couldn’t stand the physical or emotional pain any longer. One woman recounted the abject shame of being disciplined in front of her (male) children, who had higher status in the household than she did.
I usually say to each their own, and in the word of Gunmetal Geisha, I try not to “yuck anyone’s yum” no matter how foreign their beliefs appear. If CDD were actually about BDSM, I’d actually be much more supportive. But BDSM exists because of consensual kink, not a belief that one gender is inherently better than another. In contrast, CDD is a sick charade; an effort to normalize domestic violence with a positive spin. Abuse is abuse, and using religion to manipulate women into believing they deserve it only makes the crime worse.
This is a topic that could easily lend itself to jokes. (I’m tempted to ask whether Jesus spanked Mary Magdalene). But it’s hard to get too jovial when I read this earnest quote from committed practitioner “Vera.” When asked what a man gets out of CDD (besides a woman who obeys his every command), she responded: “He enjoys seeing the person he owns, his property, become the thing God wants her to be.”