Biblically backed gender hierarchy, combined with a perverse biblical authority to use violence against your wife to maintain “Christian marriage,” is apparently growing in popularity in very conservative Christian circles.
According to the website “Christian Domestic Discipline,” “A Domestic Discipline (DD) marriage is one in which one partner is given authority over the other, and has the means to back up that authority, usually by spanking.” In other words, violence is justified against wives in a “traditional, male-led, Christian marriage…set up according to biblical standards.”
In the “biblical standards” department, no Gospels need apply and Jesus of Nazareth is never quoted despite what these self-styled Christian advocates of this form of abuse would like you to believe. Of course, that is because there is nothing Jesus ever said or did that could even be bent or twisted enough to justify domestic violence as “Christian.”
Instead, the site turns to Ephesians and the Roman Household Duty Codes that became part of the New Testament as Roman and Greek understandings of hierarchy, authority and even violence were imported into Christianity.
The “Christian Domestic Discipline” website makes this clear with its biblical citation:
- The husband is the head of the household, whilst the wife is submissive to her husband as if the Lord Himself was her husband. See Eph. 5:22-24.
As I wrote in “Every Two Minutes: Battered Women and Feminist Interpretation,” Ephesians is a very difficult text for Christian abused women as the text seems to validate their husbands demands for “submission,” and the text makes the claim that submission by wives is God’s will for marriage. The physical and emotional abuse that often results from such unequal power relations therefore seems divinely ordained.
“In the pseudo-Pauline epistles, a shift away from the egalitarian ethos of the Jesus movement can be observed. Ephesians was written about the same time as Colossians, another epistle where the subjection of wives to husbands is emphasized.”
Women, I wrote, need to claim liberation from these “subjection” texts and move on to other more justice-affirming, egalitarian biblical texts.
When we #OccupytheBible, it is also always helpful to look for the economic “hook.” Even on ChristianDomesticDiscipline.com, sure enough, there it was. The link to the economy. Inserted below the biblical text bullets was an ad where a woman is being spanked by her husband for not testing to see if the coffee she purchased was fresh enough.
The “cultural values” represented in this ad and as cited by this website are very revealing. There isn’t enough in the pseudo-Pauline literature to justify abuse, so consumer culture is recruited to make the closing argument.
This is, without qualification, dangerous.
In my experience as a domestic violence counselor, many battering incidents have as the trigger a male’s sense of entitlement to the proper preparation of food as well as to the woman doing general household chores to his liking.
This “movement” called “Christian Domestic Discipline” is nothing more than yet another religiously based conservative effort to justify domestic violence and excuse it as “Christian.”
It is nothing of the sort.
It’s immoral, and it’s criminal.
[If you are being violently treated and need help, call the domestic violence hot line at (800) 799- SAFE (7233) or visit their website here. Keep in mind that computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. Digital or landline phones can also be monitored. If necessary, go to a safer computer such as at a library, or use a pay phone.]