Spanking for Jesus: Inside the Unholy World of ‘Christian Domestic Discipline’
Jun 19, 2013 4:45 AM EDT
What do you call it when a husband beats his wife with a paddle for disobeying him? Some would say domestic abuse. These people say he’s doing God’s work. By Brandy Zadrozny. [See The Daily Beast for the complete article]
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.
Chelsea and her husband Clint, who asked that I use only their first names, belong to a small subculture of religious couples who practice “Christian Domestic Discipline,” a lifestyle that calls for a wife to be completely submissive to her husband. Referred to as CDD by its followers, the practice often includes spanking and other types corporal punishments administered by husbands—and ostensibly ordained by God. While the private nature of the discipline makes it difficult to estimate the number of adherents, activity in several online forums suggests a figure in the low thousands. Devotees call CDD an alternative lifestyle and enthusiastically sing its praises; for critics, it’s nothing but domestic abuse by another name. …
This article goes on with more expose of the practice called CDD. It immediately presents me personally with a problem. My core beliefs allow that religious practices are personal choices (even though they are generally ludicrous). But if most religious practices can be seen as controlling and subjugating people to a higher power, how different is taking a stiff belt to your wife because she rolled her eyes at you from bowing down to an old man in a dress and kissing his ring (or feet)?
Later in the article there is an outside observation that helps me decide:
Jim Alsdurf, a forensic psychologist who evaluates and treats sexual psychopaths and is the author of a book on abuse in Christian homes, says CDD isn’t about religion—it’s an outlet for emotionally disturbed men with intimacy deficits.
“No fool in his right mind would buy this as a legitimate way to have a relationship,” Alsdurf says. “A relationship that infantilizes a woman is one that clearly draws a more pathological group of people.”
For Alsdurf, though, CDD sounds less like an act of violence and more like of an act of distorted sexual arousal. “If people want to spank each other, go ahead,” he says. “The problem of course, is if it’s done in a controlling and a mildly abusive way.” Like with all outer variables of sexual expression, he says, “If they’re not done in a healthy way they can become about abuse and control.”
Others are less equivocal. “It’s sick,” says Wendy Dickson, who runs an emergency shelter for women and children fleeing abusive homes in Evanston, Illinois. Women who receive beatings in the name God, she says, are no different than the women she sees every day in her shelter. Domestic abuse, which one in four U.S. women will experience at some point in their lifetime, often conjures scenes of thundering rage, broken bones, and black eyes. But the most dangerous kind, Dickson says, is the emotional kind, because it keeps people trapped. “The definition of domestic abuse is power and control over another individual,” she says.
It’s sick and criminal. The husband touting CDD belongs in jail and the wife who buys into this malarkey must seek immediate help.