The Morality of "Christian Domestic Discipline"?


I’m coming to you all with a very deep concern regarding something that has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. Even when I was as young as four, I was aware of my desire to be physically disciplined. At the time, all I knew was that it felt good on an emotional level (because my family life and parents were not supportive) and on a physical level (because, c’mon, it feels good). I’ve always known that I wanted this, but also that it was an extremely private and, to most people, extremely strange desire.

Here’s my problem: I’m fast approaching marriage and I recently stumbled across something called “Christian Domestic Discipline”, which is an alternative Christian lifestyle in which the husband holds his wife accountable for her actions and uses corporal punishment, usually spanking, if necessary. Many of the websites advocating this insist that it is moral, according to the Bible, and that when done in a respectful way, it builds intimacy and trust and, overall, strengthens a marriage.

I’ve been trying to convince myself for YEARS that this is a disordered desire that has no place in a Catholic marriage. I share an extremely pure, God-centered relationship with my husband-to-be and I would rather die than soil that. But, would it be soiling it?.. or is this lifestyle actually something that could help someone like me, who desperately longs for that kind of guidance and rarely feels that the privacy of the Sacrament of Confession is enough to repair the relationships (here on Earth) that are damaged by my sins. (I am not concerned about this lifestyle degrading the sacrament of Reconciliation for this reason-- spanking does not equal forgiveness from God.)

What does the Catholic Church say about this stuff? Nothing as far as I can tell, no one talks about weird fetishes… so, I need help. Does this sound weird to you? (Don’t answer that, of course it does…) Does this sound IMMORAL to you, or like it would harm a marriage rather than help it?

I have never heard of this one and I doubt you got this from Catholic sources.
One serious warning though–your wife could have you arrested and jailed for assult if you ever had a serious falling-out. In fact, “spanking” your wife could in itself cause this falling out.

Two things come to mind from a Catholic perspective:

  1. Such as relationship such as you describe is not Christian, where the husband and wife are ONE, where they are equal while having different roles in the marriage.

  2. Physical punishment for sins is not within the authority of the husband.

Yes, this sounds weird. You say you’re approacing marriage, meaning you’re engaged? If so, what does your intended think about this?

My psycology knowledge is limited, but my gut feeling is that while many marriages work that have a dominant partner and a submissive one, what you’re describing seems like a recipe for disaster. While some manage to incorporate such fetishes into their sex life, building a marriage on such a relationship is likely to fail, methinks.

Have you ever sought counseling to talk about this?

I do not think this is something that would be good…a wife is not a child.

Not going to comment on your personal desires. But this “Christian” Domestic Discipline thing has come up on another community forum I used to frequent (of independent fundamentalist Christians) and I can tell you that it ain’t Christian. Although some of the people who do it may be, or may claim to be. And may desperately hope that what they’re doing is “Godly”…

But what it is, in essence, is couples exploring their sexual kinks and dressing it up in Biblical language (submission in marriage, biblically “mandated” chastisement, etc.) as a justification. Is it sinful? I don’t know. But I know that deceiving yourself that this kind of thing is all about Biblical man/wife relations and legitimate discipline when it’s clearly about sexual wants and needs can’t be a good thing. And that’s exactly what most of these couples are doing. It’s not honest.

Just my $.02, and I really wish I dind’t know enough about this stuff to be able to offer it… :o

First - this is NOT “weird”. Every human being has a tendency to sin (concupiscience) in many areas, and sexuality is an area where concupiscience, and environmental factors emerge as a disordered desire. We all spend a lifetime overcoming our particular disorders, including sexual ones. St Augustine said that (almost?) every marital act involves some degree of “concupiscience” - in other words, we cannot escape some amount of selfishness or disorder in the marriage bed.

Second - as a “disordered desire”, this seems fairly mild. I won’t go into the more extreme alternatives, both sexual and personal, but they are certainly there. However, if it is unchecked, it could go turn into something more serious.

Third - I checked whether you are the man or the woman in the relationship (and saw that you are the woman), because, after you are married, the males sexual desires, will direct the physical relationship more than the woman’s. Put bluntly, if the male desires abuse, as either the agressor or victim, it is going to be a bigger issue than if the woman does. Of the permutations of male/female and passive/aggressive the one which would concern me most (with respect to marital relations) would be if you were the male, wanting to be abused.

So, that’s my reading of the issue of the desire for physical abuse. As an issue it ranges from mild, to potentially serious, depending on the TWO people involved.

However, my larger concern is the role this plays in your own psychology, and the dynamic with your husband-to-be. It seems that you are unusually self-aware, in being able to identify and discuss a mild sexual impediment to marriage - or is there is something more going on here? How deep is this desire? Does it manifest itself in other more significant ways? For example - does it manifest itself with a history of “passivity” in other areas, or on the other side, a history of “aggression” in other areas? I would like to shout this - if it does fit, it does not mean you are a bad person, or unfit for marriage. But it does suggest caution, and delaying or postponing a particular marriage. Marriage will not “fix” whatever problems are there, but magnify them.

When looking at “underlying issues” your very insightful and honest description of your unmet needs from your parents is ringing alarm bells for me. Please take some time out, and discuss this with someone other than your parents, and fiance (a priest you trust, would be my recommendation).

I suggest you look at this thread…

Marriage - if there’s any doubt - DON’T???

The overwhelming conscensus of the posters there was that “doubts” are not an impediment to marriage, but if I’m relying on something changing in myself, or the other person, for the marriage to succeed, then that is a big red flag.

Just repeating though, the actual “symptoms” you describe seem to be mild, and would be more of a concern in the male than the female. Perhaps you are just unusually self aware and thoughtful :slight_smile:

And, please, stop looking at those “Christian” websites, and consciously discard everything you’ve read there. You know that you are only looking at them for a thrill, and to rationalize your desires :slight_smile: As the other responders have said, this is contrary to Catholic theology of the nature and purpose of marriage.

Is this a sexual desire? Or a desire to be given rules/limits/punishment for failure.

You almost sound as though you might have been a child that was allowed to do anything she wanted. In that now you crave some sort of punishment for doing wrong. It’s common for a child to want their parents to care enough about them to correct them when they are wrong. To be injured however, no I don’t see how that is EVER ok.

I would also be concerned about passing on the idea to your future children that it’s ok to beat a spouse or a child for wrong doing.

Did you see the post earlier that shared this: This is a teenage girl being beaten for running away from her illegal marriage.

Perian-- one more thought.

I’m a newlywed, been married now for 9 months. My first instincts when I read your OP was that the sacrament of marriage is just so awesome, and rich, and wonderful in itself that I couldn’t imagine wanting to taint it or supplant the husband-wife partnership with more of a parent-child dynamic, which is what you’re describing and what some of these CDD websites describe.

Since you say you’re not married yourself yet, but you’re “fast approaching” marriage I take that to mean you’re either discerning your possible future vocation as a wife/mother or you’re already engaged?

You might want to consider doing as much reading as you can about marriage, specifically what the Church teaches about it as a sacrament. It’s so beautiful. Even just theoretically. But in practice, it’s even better. You’ll have a best friend and a partner to share your journey with for the rest of your life. One great book is Three to Get Married by Archbishop Fulton Sheen. You can actually read the book online at the EWTN library as well. I know there are more resources out there, that’s just my favorite and the best one I could think of off the top of my head.

You can still be submissive to your husband, as the Church teaches, without twisting the dynamic to "CDD". It seems that only false or tainted religions, like Islam and the independent fundamental protestant Christians I mentioned earlier, think that this kind of thing is godly. What the Catholic Church says about marriage is the Truth, and it never even approaches anything like this.

My basic advice in a nutshell is: don’t ruin a good thing before you even get started! :wink: Hope that helps some.

I am well-educated in a legal related field. I have recently become aware that I am CDD consensual. I am Pentecostal. I really don’t have too many qualms about it though it seems to be extremely controversial. Traditional heterosexual relationships are failing. This seems effective for us. My religion does not directly support it, but the concept that women are subservient, submissive is a contributor.:blush:

4 year OLD thread. We are not to bring such back to life.

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