An increasing number of US Christian couples are implementing the principles of Christian Domestic Discipline (CDD) that recommends that husbands spank their wives as a way of fulfilling the biblical injunction that wives should submit to their husbands.
Jennifer Macon-Steele wrote a column in Yahoo! Voices in 2009 in which she identified CDD as a growing trend among some conservative Christians in the US. According to Macon-Steele, some of the CDD practitioners she spoke to see it as an aspect of their religious life: "They argue that they deserve to practice their religion in any way they see fit and to interpret the Bible in their own way. They also make it clear that women in these relationships have accepted and consented to the discipline."
A website Christian Domestic Discipline, quotes scripture to support the practice: "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." (Heb 12:11)
Learning Domestic Discipline (LDD) is a website managed by a couple Clint and Chelsea. The blog is dedicated to teaching the principles of CDD, although Clint and Chelsea place less emphasis on the religious elements of the practices they advocate.
They provide a "Beginner's Packet" (PDF), a 54-page manual that teaches the basic principles and practices to couples wishing to enter into CDD relationship. The manual describes CDD (PDF) as "an arrangement between two adults who share the belief that the husband is the head of the household and with that position comes the right to enforce his authority."
CDD recommends that husbands spank their wives as a way of discipline. According to the instruction manual (PDF):
Domestic discipline is the practice between two consenting life partners in which the head of the household (HoH) takes the necessary measures to achieve a healthy relationship dynamic; the necessary measure to create a healthy home environmental and the necessary measures to protect all members of the family from dangerous or detrimental outcomes by punishing the contributing, and thus unwanted, behaviors for the greater good of the family.
A healthy relationship from the perspective of CDD or DD involves practices that would appeal ordinarily only to members of the BDSM community. It includes spanking, lecturing, and other punishments adults normally mete out to naughty little kids, such as corner time, bedroom restriction, lecturing, and withholding privileges (such as TV and computer time).
Those into CDD are anxious to have everyone believe it is entirely a "Christian thing," and that the practices are not designed for the sexual titillation of either partner in any way imaginable. Proponents would also swear by their Holy Bibles that it isn't an adaptation of the bedroom culture that Fifty Shades of Grey has spawned. A Yahoo! group for CDD practitioners is at pains to convince that it is "not a typical 'spank' site. We are NOT a dating service, a list for personal ads, bratting, erotic stories, or alternate lifestyles."
According to The Daily Beast, Vera, a woman in a CDD relationship assures non-Christians that CDD isn't meant to foster and cultivate the flavors of kinkiness that BDSM practitioners cherish. She says: "The pure CDD people don't go there. A lot of folks think of Fifty Shades of Grey - but this is not that."
But Vera's description of the psychological symbiosis with her partner screams BDSM. According to The Daily Beast, she acknowledges that her partner is "not perfect, but it’s not my role to point that out. He self corrects... He enjoys seeing the person he owns, his property, become the thing God wants her to be. It might sound weird, but that works for me."
In spite of what practitioners would have us believe, the inordinate attention that CDD gives to spanking in that uniquely erogenous part of the body is revealing. And of course, the recommended tools for applying discipline don't help to alleviate our suspicions about its intrinsic kinkiness. According to Clint and Chelsea's Beginner's Package, a hairbrush, a wooden spoon or paddle are ideal feminine domestic implements for a husband suffering a divinely inspired compulsion to discipline his wife the godly way. And it gets kinkier still: Hubby's bare palm on wifey's behind.
Clint and Chelsea lecture on the risks of using a wooden spoon; It breaks easily. You sure would't want to interrupt the fun as it peaks. A hairbrush is "excellent for achieving the desired sting." A ping pong paddle, although sturdy and quiet, won't achieve the desired sting tang.
The first spanking can be quite awkward Clint and Chelsea warn would-be DD couples. But with the anticipated benefits you shouldn't mind the first blushing episodes.
CDD comes with some vexing issues that are tactical in nature. There is the problem of the best position for the wife when hubby dishes out discipline. Closely allied are the problems of the pros and cons of spanking over or under wifey's clothing: Which do you prefer for the best kink effects?
Coming to more serious concerns: Those of domestic violence and abuse. You don't need an expert to tell that the lines could be fluid. But as a way of safeguarding the boundaries, Clint and Chelsea stress that CDD should be practiced only by two consenting adults and that HoH (Head of the Household) should never discipline his wife when he is angry.
Clint and Chelsea's BeginningDD lectures: "If the HoH becomes angry, they must do whatever it takes to get themselves back to a calm, reasonable, rational, level-headed, and collected state before making any decision or carrying out any punishment."
In spite of the safety measures, it isn't surprising that CDD gets violent too often, especially for receiving partners whose kinks don't quite match with CDD practices.
According to The Daily Beast, a woman complains in a CDD forum: "I wanted the spankings to stop and my husband told me it was either DD and marriage or divorce. I chose divorce. I couldn't handle the pain of spankings anymore, emotionally or physically."
However, for those women whose personal fetishes match the recommended practices, CDD relationships would seem just perfect. Some women post questions on dedicated forums asking how to go about convincing their husbands to begin disciplining them, while some appear distracted by fears that their partners' interest in CDD ritual is waning, The Daily Beast reports.
A woman, Leah Kelly, shares her experience of a CDD relationship that ended in a divorce in 2010: "... those of you who've read Christian Domestic Discipline 101, you'll remember I said that CDD is NOT a cure for a bad marriage, and I'm sad to say that, indeed, it was not a cure for mine. My husband had some other issues that I believe are deep seated mental problems, but we won't go into that. Suffice it to say that I did everything I could to save the marriage but it failed regardless."
You would think that Leah has had enough of getting "spanked for Jesus." No. Two years after her divorce, she met another man whom "I think many of you would like. He is a good-hearted, tough-as-nails redneck that wears his dominance like a second skin, and he has asked me to marry him in the fall!"
An exasperated reader comments: "You are one miserable kinky bitch."
Chelsea, sharing her experience of DD, rates the pain of epidural-free childbirth as six and of her husband's spanking as eight, on a scale of 1-10.
According to Chelsea writing in the LearningDD website:
We use 4 main forms of punishment: grounding, corner time, spankings, and writing lines. We present other forms on our blog as options to those who are in domestic discipline relationships (or want to be)...
Spankings are the most severe form of punishment. There have been severe ones (for severe offenses) that I would rank at about an 8 on a 1-10 pain scale. For the very large majority of them (i.e.- all of them except maybe 3 I’ve ever had?) I would rank significantly less.
According to The Daily Beast, Chelsea explains:
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.
CDD and DD couples may deny their relationships are essentially BDSM in nature, but the reality is too obvious to miss from Chelsea's description of what goes on between her and her husband.
However, a XoJane writer Laura Rubino, who investigated the incidence of abuse as reported in CDD forums was surprised to find that she did not encounter "as many of those as I was expecting to." A fact which only further suggests that most women in CDD and DD relationships have BDSM sexuality.
Rubino writes: "Most of the women who write about their CDD experiences online are not complaining. Many of them report feeling extremely calm and relaxed after being disciplined, and believe it is an expression of their husband caring about them and their marriage, enough to help them modify their behavior."
Rubino speculates that it may be that for many of the women, the opportunity for controlled aggression in CDD provides an outlet that eases tension in the aftermath and prevents continuing tension and uncontrolled aggression after an incident of conflict.
Rubino was shocked to find some of the women actually raving about getting spanked.
She comments from her perspective: "Walking around my own home, conscious of the fact that any perceived transgression could result in physical pain and a surrendering of control of my body? That would stress me the f*** out. I don't find that sexy at all. Scary, yes. Hot? Not so much."
The Huffington Post reports that Jim Alsdurf, a forensic psychologist, and author of a book about abuse in Christian homes, said: "No fool in his right mind would but this as a legitimate way to have a relationship. A relationship that infantilizes a woman is one that clearly draws a more pathological group of people."
However, many conservative Christians aren't supporting the trend, a fact that strengthens the cynical view that followers of the trend are mostly those hiding their personal fetishes behind the convenient rhetoric of Christian teachings on submission.
A Christian radio host Bryan Fischer, told The Huffington Post that there are no biblical grounds for CDD. Fischer, a former pastor, said: "This is a horrifying trend -- bizarre, twisted, unbiblical and un-Christian. Christian husbands are taught to lay down their lives for their wives (Ephesians 5:25) and to treat them with honor as fellow-heirs of the gift of eternal life (1 Peter 3:7). God in the New Testament clearly asks wives to arrange themselves under the leadership of their husbands (in Greek, the word 'submit' means 'to arrange under'). But there is no place where husbands are instructed to make their wives do it or punish them if they don’t."