6/25/2011

Disciplining Your Wife








I get tired of websites that decry Christians being involved in BDSM or DD. I think when it comes to BDSM, other Christians are offended both by the kinky-sex element and the inequality inherent in D/s and power-exchange relationships. When it comes to DD, CDD, and Taken in Hand, other Christians are offended by the idea of power exchange, especially discipling your wife.

I've dealt before with the issue of being Christian and having kinky sex. I don't see a cognitive dissonance between the two. Within marriage, I don't think God dictates that couples only enjoy vanilla sex.

I'll deal today with the second issue common to both BDSM and CDD: wifely discipline. You can find this topic addressed in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious traditions.

Any site you'll ever read for or against Christians disciplining their wives will quote that all-famous and ubiquitous verse, Ephesians 5:21-27. If you don't know it, here it is:






Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.






Ephesians 5 clearly states that a woman doesn't need to submit to every man, but to her own husband. Yet advocates of egalitarian Christian marriages will try to invalidate Ephesians 5 by saying this means the man and woman are more or less equal, but perhaps he gets the final decision if they just can't agree, sort of like a 51/49 power relationship. While men and women are certainly equal in abilities, worth, and before God, this verse in no way makes them equal in power while on earth. A 51/49 relationship sounds nice, but it completely ignores that tricky quote, "wives should submit to their husbands in everything." Even the little stuff. Even if she doesn't want to. Even if they can't agree. So Biblically, I just don't think you can make a sound argument for a 49/51 power split. The man is in control, all the time. And with it comes a lot of responsibility to love your wife and create her to be a better Christian, "without stain or wrinkle."

Other Christians will try to explain away Ephesians 5 by saying that verse 21, "Submit to one another," means that God is looking for a 50/50, equal partnership. I argue that takes the quote completely out of context and ignores the following part. Rather, Paul is introducing his topic (submission). He then goes on to explain in great detail exactly how we are to submit: wives to their husbands in everything, children to their parents, and slaves to their masters.

What a lot of people don't realize is that Ephesians 5 is just the tip of the iceberg. There are other verses that clearly put the husband in charge of the wife. My Dom always says that troughout the Bible, God loves heirarchies. The angels are in heirarchies. The Israelite society has heirarchies. The Israelite army works in heirarchies. Families work in heirarchies. The chain of command goes like this: God, husband, wife, children.

Let's go beyond Ephesians 5 and see what other parts of the Bible have to say.

In Genesis 3:16, God said to Eve:





Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”




Other translations say, "he will rule you" (GWT), "he will be your master," (BBE) or "he will have dominion over thee" (DRB). The meaning is clear.


In Titus 2:4, Paul gives women many instructions, including "to be subject to their husbands."

In Colossians 3:19, Paul tells wives:


Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Like in Ephesians, he then follows it with a reminder of the man's responsibility to love her and treat her well. Nowhere in the Bible is submission a free gift; it does come with responsibility!


If you want to make the argument that Ephesians, Titus, and Colossians are all written by that misogynist Paul, I offer you a quote from Peter, another leader of the early church and Jesus' best friend. Peter 3:1-5 says:



Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands...For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord.



Paul here is referring to Genesis 18:12, where Sarah calls Abraham adon, the Hebrew word for lord, master, or owner. It's difficult for proponents of egalitarian Christian marriage to explain away how the words lord, master, and owner can be interpreted the same as husband--but they try because it's no longer politically correct to think of your husband as your master or owner.



I think it's interesting that in ancient Jewish culture, the endearment husbands used to refer to their wives, achoth and rayah, literally meant "sister" and "beloved female companion," respectively, while adon comes from a root meaning to rule, and can also mean a soveriegn, a Divine or human controller, or a lord, master, or owner. One clearly had the meaning of power and authority, while the other did not, though both were loving terms.





If you're curious what other religious traditions have to say about discipline, both the Jewish Bible (aka Christian Old Testament) and Koran mention discipline.


I've already quoted the Hebrew Bible when it comes to Genesis. It gives husbands the right to nullify their wives' vows or forbid them from fulfilling a vow in Numbers 30:6-8, a clear indication of their power in the relationship. In Deuteronomy 22:28-29 and Exodus 22:16, a man who raped a maiden had to pay her father a dowry and marry her; in essence, he bought her from her father and she became his. The Hebrew Bible also compares Israel to God's wife and shows Him disciplining her, both physically and emotionally. One example I love (because it speaks mostly of God's forgiveness and mercy) of God's metaphorical "marriage" to Israel is Hosea 2, where He disciplines her until she repents and returns to Him, and then showers her with love:



“Rebuke your mother, rebuke her,
for she is not my wife,
and I am not her husband.
Let her remove the adulterous look from her face
and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts.
Otherwise I will strip her naked
and make her as bare as on the day she was born;
I will make her like a desert,
turn her into a parched land,
and slay her with thirst.
I will not show my love to her children,
because they are the children of adultery.
Their mother has been unfaithful
and has conceived them in disgrace.
She said, ‘I will go after my lovers,
who give me my food and my water,
my wool and my linen, my olive oil and my drink.’
Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
she will look for them but not find them.
Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my husband as at first,
for then I was better off than now.’


These verses speak of God disciplining His wife, stripping her of privileges and punishing her until she has no choice but to return to Him, repentant. But the story ends happily; later in the same chapter, Hosea 2:14-19 says:



Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the wilderness
and speak tenderly to her.

...I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.
I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge the LORD.


Just like every CDD and DD site says, the point of discipline in this Judeo-Christian text is to rebuke and exhort, teach a lesson, get rid of the negative, sinful behavior, and replace it with godly behavior. It's not just abuse. The end goal is reconciliation with God and husband.

In the Islamic faith, the Koran clearly gives husbands the right to discipline their wives in although other verses also clarify that husbands must not be abusive and must be loving to their wives. Here's Sura 4:34:


Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more strength than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in the husband's absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them first. Next, refuse to share their beds, and last beat them; but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means of annoyance: For Allah is Most High, great above you all.
The theme of discipline in marriage is just one I've been exploring and researching lately. Just because people in these cultures follow (or followed) these traditions doesn't mean everyone has to, but it's worth taking a look at where these concepts came from and how they are practiced today.

4 comments:

DauntlessVitality said...

Very well written! Religion and it's interpretations are something that can be argued until the cows come home. Most of the time I find that those demeaning other's lifestyle choices need to be worrying about the issues in their own houses and not what others are doing.

DV

KissHerKitten@gmail.com said...

Please do not label all Christians as being in this camp. This viewpoint happens so often and is completely unfair it is like saying poor people are lazy or whites are racist certainly some are and certainly there may be large groups of those, but the comments do not reflect the population as a whole. Absolutes are a terrible thing. There are many, myself included, who do not see things this way. Rather, your comments reflect the view of the church as an organized body, which many Christians blindly follow without reading for themselves what the bible actually says. Direct your comments at the people andnthey will close off and become defensive. Direct your comments at the source and those who follow may reconsider the source.

All that said, you make valid points and I appreciate that you do.

Sexperts said...

@Kiss, you are absolutely right and I didn't mean to insinuate ALL Christians are against BDSM. I think my blog makes it obvious we're not. :) I specifically refer to the websites dedicated to explaining why Christians should be in D/s or DD relationships.

Sexperts said...

*should NOT be in D/s or DD relationships.

Le sigh.