I have to be honest with you all. When my wife first told me about the “Spanking for Jesus” movement, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or be outraged. For those who don’t know, the “Spanking for Jesus” movement isn’t about corporal punishment for your children — it’s about punishing your wife. No, not your spouse. Your wife. As in, the good and submissive wife will heed to the Bible’s admonitions about gender roles and let her husband emotionally and physically accost her. Because you know, “God.”
I know it’s very hard for liberal atheists to speak about matters of faith without coming off as finger-wagging, Godless heathens trying to rob people of their faith. Let me state for the record that I grew up in a Christian church, and I am quite familiar with the biblical origins of this “movement.” The Bible was written at a time and in a culture where women were subjugated, so of course the texts of the religion will still bear those markings as well. In fact, the Christian Domestic Discipline (seriously, that’s the name!) website details that their marriage arrangements are created “according to the guidelines set forth in the Holy Bible, meaning the husband has authority over his wife within the bounds of God’s Word and enforces that authority, if need be, through discipline including but not limited to spanking.”
That’s right ladies, if you want to be good with God, you have to let your husband put you on time out from your phone, the Internet, your friends, and submit to physical punishment whenever you raise the hackles of your husband.
Here’s the problem I have with this practice. I’m a firm believer in the First Amendment, and I am not one of those atheists that go around telling religious people they’re wrong and/or stupid for practicing whatever faith they want to. I’m also well-aware that as the article says, most of these women seem to be completely willing to subjugate themselves to their mate. Many comment that they are fine with the arrangement in fact. So the truth is that there’s probably nothing that can or should be done about this practice, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t very legitimate concerns for those living in these kinds of relationships either.
What happens if the husband takes his power too far? What happens when a spanking turns into a beating? What if one of the “privileges” that the husband takes away is “food” or “drink”? These aren’t trifling concerns, but in the country we live in, the approach concerned citizens need to take is a “wait and see” approach. Let them have their sadomasochi-religious experience if they want, but the rest of us are also free to exercise our first amendment rights and call their “religious practice” a bunch of idiocy.
It’s “traditions” like these that further promulgate dangerous societal paradigms like “men are the naturally dominant species and therefore woman’s correct role is to submit.” It’s practices like these that make it very easy to excuse domestic violence and abuse because how dare we tell another American how to practice their religion? It’s practices like these that keep women earning 75 cents for every one dollar a man makes. So no, this practice isn’t evil by itself, but the potential damage it can do both physically and emotionally to the wife, as well as to any sons or daughters in the house who get the wrong-headed notion that it’s normal to berate, chastise or abuse your wife if she burns the cookies you forced her to make at four in the morning.
Ultimately, it’s groups like the “Spanking for Jesus” crowd that present Americans with their most unique challenges. We have to be able as a society to comment on religious practices that are truly repressive, and we also must strike a balance and allow for people to choose by their own free will what practices to get involved with on their own time. To be fair, there’s a mile and a half of distance between a sort of sexual spanking mixed with religious dogma — a concoction that I personally find a bit weird, but hey, it’s your thing — and an actual account of domestic violence. Liberals should be cautious not to cast so much judgment and scorn on those who wish to participate in these sorts of cultish things.
We live in a great country where people can live to be as cray-cray as they want to be, as long as it’s done within reason and doesn’t infringe on someone else’s rights. The best way, if you ask me, to handle these kinds of groups is to call out their behavior and let society’s natural judgment system do its work. Undoubtedly any of these couples that do spiral into an abusive relationship should be helped and the law should enforce our standards of how we treat one another, regardless of which person in the sky (or the pits of Hell to be fair to all you Satan worshipers too!) you call your own. So yes, these people may raise a red flag with their practices, and yes they may be doing something that perpetuates an awful way to treat women, but we have to let those women be free to make the choice to be subjugated all they want, as long as no lines are crossed into assault and abuse. We have ways of handling that in society that don’t necessitate ending all religion everywhere, or even making this particular brand of lunacy illegal. We should keep a cautious eye on these people and carry on making the world a better place.