Christian Domestic Discipline

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So, I just discovered that Christian Domestic Discipline (“CDD”) is a thing. I’m not surprised it exists. Somehow, I’m disappointed. Not familiar with it? Here’s the least jarring description I’ve found, in a HuffPost article.

From 2013.

No, CDD is not some convoluted way for Christians to explore BDSM. It is, even by some Christian groups’ standards a form of domestic violence. The practice encourages behavior in men which asserts all power and control over everyone else in a family. Even if the behavior between a husband and wife (because this advice is for heterosexual marriages only) is consensual, there is a risk that it might normalize the behavior to children in the house.

Specifically, CDD appears to be a system of physically striking a spouse as a form of discipline. The treatment is by all accounts similar to what parents might do to children. In addition, the system appears to encourage husbands to take over things which limit a spouse’s personal freedom, like control over bank accounts, clothing, and giving a spouse chores to complete. All emphasis is placed on meeting a husband’s whims.

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Is that what a real man looks like?
As an atheist, I’m not sold on the divine privilege that a guy has to diminish the autonomy of someone in a loving relationship. In fact, even when I was a Christian, I would not have viewed this as signs of love. Some of this stuff would be illegal if a spouse doesn’t consent to it. Hitting someone without consent is battery, and could be chargeable under domestic violence statutes.

So don’t do it. Or, better still, don’t hit people to begin with. If relationships require violence to maintain them, maybe they’re not healthy. Just saying.

I’m amazed that this has to be said in 2020. Well, not 2020 in particular. The year’s pretty messed up. But the point is that people are actively trying to resurrect wife spanking as a thing. Not as a kink, but as a valid way to treat another human being.

But I understand that maybe some Christians might not be so sure. CDD proponents quote biblical passages, after all. What I can say is that Christian networks who support domestic violence survivors seem to argue against CDD rather than for it. There’s advice here and here on how to be a Christian and support women who are the victims of domestic violence.

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Hitting people isn’t okay.
The major problem with isolating a spouse is that it traps that spouse in an unhealthy arrangement. At that point, consent isn’t possible. There is a person who doesn’t have other options when it comes to leaving a relationship.

Women have that right. So do men. Nobody has to stay in a relationship if it harms them or even if they just don’t feel like it. There is no right for one person in a relationship to have complete and total power over another.

There is a practical reason why relationships have changed over the roughly two thousand years since the Bible was compiled. The world is a very different place. People have learned that domestic violence causes more problems than it solves. It’s dangerous. People can die if things escalate out of control.

If you are in an abusive relationship, you can get help by visiting this site in the U.S., or internationally by contacting one of the organizations listed here.

And as far as CDD is concerned, do it at one’s own peril. If a spouse that is being hit decides to end such treatment, that decision has to be respected. Domestic violence statutes and procedures will work to respect the autonomy and dignity of a victimized spouse. The Bible is not a defense or a license to hurt people.