Today I'm going to post my third and final installment in the “Defense of Domestic Discipline” series I began a few months ago. I decided it would be best to write on the following topics:
A counterargument as to why Christians should be free to practice DD; how a DD dynamic can enhance, rather than inhibit, one's faith, and how DD has the potential to foster true sacrificial love. Here I also wish to explore the concepts of masochism, sadism, and a healthy respect for one another.
If you're interested in reading the first in the series, please find post one HERE and post two HERE.
My thanks to OSL, who has taken the time to thoughtfully respond to my posts respectfully. I do wish you the best as you continue in your own journey. My prayer is that you find the healing and peace you so desire. I hope everything I've written in this series has been viewed in the amicable light I intended.
Should DD be practiced by Christians?
Before I begin my exploration of why I believe Christians should be free to practice DD, I must clarify a few things. First of all, Jason and I are not a CDD couple. In general, Christian Domestic Discipline (CDD) teaches that husbands have the Biblical authority to discipline their wives. Some would even say it is a duty, as the Bible claims a wife's duty is to obey her husband, it therefore follows he has a Biblical basis for disciplining her.
Jason and I are a Christian couple. We embrace mutual self-giving, and the areas in which I am disciplined and he leads are heavily influenced by our Christian beliefs. However, we do not believe the Bible promotes Domestic Discipline. We do not believe it is necessarily a wife's duty to obey her husband. (Yes, I'm aware of the often-quoted scriptures used to defend the belief that a wife should submit to her husband, and will not quote them here. It is my personal belief that Biblical submission is somewhat complex, because although wives are instructed to obey their husbands, husbands are instructed to love their wives as Christ loved the church. A Biblical analysis of submission is not my purpose here; there are many well-written discussions on this topic elsewhere).
We do believe that if a couple agrees to give the husband authority, and if Domestic Discipline works for them, they are free as Christians to practice Domestic Discipline. We also believe that many (but not all) couples benefit from a traditional, male-led dynamic. We certainly do not believe (as OSL does), that the Bible in any way prohibits Domestic Discipline.
There is not a single aspect of our practice of DD that contradicts anything taught in scripture.
It is our firm conviction that a consensual, loving dynamic based on a husband having authority and exercising the ability to discipline his wife if necessary, is in no way contrary to our human dignity, God's purpose for our lives, or sinful. If we believed it was, we wouldn't practice it.
So first, let's take a look at why we choose to be married. What is the purpose of our commitment to one another? The obvious answer is that we love each other. Yes, of course this is true, but I also love my children, my family, and my friends. What is it about the marital commitment that is unique? Entire books have been written on this subject, and I only have a very small space here, so I'm going to give a very brief summary on my personal views.
Marriage was, from a Biblical perspective, the first relationship established here on earth. It is clear from an even cursory glance into Scripture that God intended for man and woman to be together for a two-fold reason: first, so they could be fruitful and inhabit the earth; second, so they would have one another's companionship. Ideally, a married couple should be a model of Christ's love for the church, by centering themselves on mutual self-giving and sacrificial love. What does sacrificial love look like? “Greater love has no one that this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13.
Companionship. Mutual self-giving. Sacrificial love.
Yes, all of that is paramount in my relationship to Jason. As we've embraced our Dominant and Submissive natures, as we've walked this road together, our relationship has flourished. Discord is a thing of the past. Of course we do still disagree, but we do not fight. There are rarely raised voices. He's granted the authority in our relationship, and respect is foundational, so I'm not allowed to raise my voice, speak rudely, or anything of the sort. I'm not allowed to go running to my friends about something he did that angered me, or criticize him to others. I am allowed to disagree. I am allowed to be disappointed, or even angry. I am always allowed an opinion. But when disagreement comes up – which is rare, but of course it still happens – we talk to one another. I yield to him, because I trust him as my leader and authority. And he never lets my frustration, hurt, or anger be buried. He always makes sure he listens and respects my opinion, and he puts my needs above his own. Our decision to grant him the authority in the relationship, and my pledge to obey him, is based on mutual respect and love. One reason we've chosen this dynamic is that it is a very effective method of conflict resolution that brings us peace, while encouraging open communication.
We also revel in one another. There is passion, and intimacy, on a regular basis. We kiss, hold hands, sit by one another, make love. We talk, laugh, and spend as much time with one another as we can. We are still raising our family, and the needs of our family are of high priority, of course, but we also believe a happily married mom and dad make for happy children, so we make our needs as a couple a high priority as well. For us, our decision to embrace D/S has only enhanced our companionship.
We regularly put each other's needs above our own. I serve him daily – cook him his meals, bring him his coffee, wash his clothes. In many ways I'm a fairly traditional house wife. I love to serve him. It pleases me to take care of his needs. I see this as my job as his submissive, to be sure he's well taken care of, happy to come home to us, to remove whatever stress from his life that's within my power. In meeting his needs, I fulfill my own desire to submit to him. In turn, he meets mine. He listens to me. He pays attention to me. He pays our bills, makes all primary decisions, works hard to keep a roof over our heads. He leads me, in every possible way.
When a couple's very premise is based on the principle “how can I meet the needs of another?” it only stands to reason that they will find themselves embracing mutual self-giving and sacrificial love.
Companionship. Mutual self-giving. Sacrificial Love.
How is it, then, that one can make the argument that our dynamic in any way runs contrary to scripture? One can argue that the focus becomes on one another, and not God. Certainly, that can happen – we humans are prone to making idols of other humans or objects, and how one balances devotion to one another and one's faith is a highly personal decision. Although it is clear from what I write here on this blog that I am utterly devoted to Jason, he is not my God, and I am not under the delusion that the sun rises and sets on Jason (sorry, babe ;) ). Jason's primary focus is to live a virtuous life, in which he lives out gospel values day in and day out, to take care of his family, and to ensure that he leads a virtuous example, in both action, word and deed. It is for this reason that I obey him. I love him; our values mirror one another. He leads me in virtue.
As one friend put it, if his primary focus is on living a holy life, and his primary focus is to help me to do the same, then it follows that our dynamic is iconic (leading one to God) instead of idolatrous (leading one away from God).
Jason's rules for me don't simply involve my safety or obedience to him, but how I treat others as well. He expects me to live as virtuously as I can. Although he is the one in authority over me and the one I'm expected to obey, he also expects me to treat others kindly. He absolutely would punish me for treating someone rudely, being dishonest, snapping at someone else, or something similar. His ultimate goal is not just to make me safe and happy, but for me to grow in virtue as well.
The second argument used to criticize the D/S lifestyle from a Christian perspective is the argument that D/S encourages sadism and masochism, or sexually perverted desires.
Although there certainly is a good deal of overlap within BDSM circles, Dominance and Submission, and even Taken in Hand dynamics, it does not necessarily follow that everyone who enjoys being spanked is a masochist, or everyone who enjoys spanking is a sadist. In fact, most of the submissives I know do not consider themselves masochists.
A masochist, simply put, is someone who derives sexual pleasure from physical pain, humiliation, or abuse.
Many sources agree that if someone were a true masochist – enjoying pain being inflicted on them, enjoying the act of being humiliated, welcoming the reception of physical pain – then punishment would not have the deleterious effect intended.
So, do I enjoy to be spanked? On some levels, absolutely. However, just because I derive pleasure from a situation in which pain is involved in some measure does not make me a masochist. There is a difference between enjoying how I feel after a hard, even painful, workout, and enjoying the fact that I'm inflicting pain on myself. I love the feeling of accomplishment, being challenged, the knowledge I'm growing stronger, and the physical high I get from a hard workout. I do not enjoy the pain. I am not sexually aroused by the hundredth rep with a barbell.
There is a difference between enjoying how I feel when I lie over Jason's lap, submitting to the man I trust with my very life, accepting his discipline, but mostly reveling in the act of submission, than taking a knife to myself, allowing myself to be humiliated, or welcoming the reception of pain.
Many submissives avoid punishment because we truly dislike the pain of a hard spanking. To me, that's the difference between a punishment spanking and a stress relief or sexy spanking. A punishment spanking comes with the knowledge that I've done something to let him down, and a punishment spanking hurts like hell. I do not enjoy them. If I did enjoy them, I wouldn't work so hard on behaving myself.
And the same is true for dominance and sadism. The reverse side of the coin, a sadist is someone who derives sexual pleasure from inflicting pain, humiliation, or abuse on another human being.
Jason does not enjoy the act of causing me pain. He does enjoy spanking me. He revels in my submission, and the very act of my submitting does indeed arouse him because my submission and his dominance are irrevocably and erotically tied to one another. My knees hit the floor in the act of submission, or he fists his hand at the nape of my neck, and the atmosphere is immediately electrically charged. I'm in my role and he is in his.
He derives pleasure from my pleasure. He thrives on being the one in charge. It's a natural fit for him. Whereas I glean pleasure in the act of submitting, he derives pleasure from the act of dominating. But always, always, he is respectful of my human dignity, my comfort zones, and the trust I've given him. He does not abuse that trust by gratifying himself on whatever sadistic pleasures he may be tempted to indulge in. He tempers that, always, because it's not the infliction of pain he enjoys; it's the reception of my submission.
That said, I am not going to argue that there is no correlation whatsoever between Submissives and masochism, or Dominants and sadism. There is. Some submissives do consider themselves masochists. Some struggle with that. Some even have a past history of abuse or humiliation and learned to self-soothe sexually to deal with the pain of abuse (OSL writes freely about this being the case with her). Many Dominants readily admit they are tempted by sadism, but they recognize that as a Dominant who must cherish his Submissive's trust, he must temper himself by respecting the boundaries, trust, and needs of his Submissive.
But as in all things, it isn't always wise to look at one simple facet of a lifestyle and therefore condemn the lifestyle altogether. A black-and-white view says “sadism and masochism are perverted; submissives and dominants enjoy spanking; therefore, the D/S lifestyle is perverted and sinful.” A more logical approach is to recognize that the world isn't black and white, that our past history and experiences often influence how we perceive reality, and that just because there are some similarities in certain areas does not mean we need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is far, far more to a Taken in Hand or D/S relationship that the mere infliction and reception of pain; and many factors need to be taken into account to determine what is healthy in one's own personal relationship.
There were many issues addressed in this blog post. In conclusion, I'd like to assert my opinion that Christians should be free to practice DD because a DD dynamic can enhance, rather than inhibit, one's faith, by aiming to live more virtuously and by encouraging true sacrificial love, and that an honest, respectful approach to Dominance and Submission is not disordered or sinful, but rather loving and intimate.
In conclusion of this series, I'm going to invite any readers to post their own reflections, arguments, or thoughts here, but so many issues were discussed here, I'm not going to post specific questions. I welcome dissenting opinion, but as always, ask that dissenting opinions be respectful and kind.
Edited to add:
OSL has taken the time to respond to my post on her own blog. You can read her response here.
There is one important point (the one she focuses on most heavily in her response) that I wanted to address, as it's the one argument she relies on most heavily to emphasize her point that Christians should refrain from a D/S or DD lifestyle. Essentially, her argument states that the very fact that we hide our lifestyle choices shows that it is wrong, because Christians should be able to share with other Christians what they do because we are called to be members of a community of believers.
Not surprisingly, I disagree with her main point.
First, I do not hide my lifestyle choice. Everyone who knows me and Jason knows that he is my leader, that I obey him, and that we embrace a traditional, male-led relationship. They know I ask his permission before I commit to anything. They know he has my consent to (at the very least) correct me. He does this respectfully and subtly, but he does not hide the fact that he is in authority over me, and I don't hide it either. These are not select people. These are everyone we know. People in my family, all my friends, and people in my church (OSL recommended I join a church but that's not necessary, as I've been an active member in my church for decades).
Does this cause scandal? Are people shocked? If they are, I don't know it. In fact – I say this to emphasize my point, not to brag – I've lost count of how many people have asked us for marital advice. Over, and over, and over again, people we know comment on how happy we are together, how much we dote on one another, how well we get along, and I've counseled numerous women who've asked me how to submit to their husbands. I'm not talking about people online. I'm talking about people in the community we know.
Now, do they know he spanks me? Not all of them, no, but yes, some do. My two best friends in the entire world know everything – that I am submissive to Jason (and subject to be disciplined by him). These are not people online. One is my sister, and the other, my closest friend who lives nearby. Are they scandalized? Horrified? Not at all. Both are completely, thoroughly supportive of our D/S lifestyle. My friend who knows everything has called my relationship with Jason “enviable,” and “I don't know why anyone could criticize your lifestyle. It works so well.”
Even my mom knows he's in authority over me. She knows he tells me to behave, and that he calls the shots. She thought it was funny that he sent me to my room, because I was a brat! She said, “you've become a different person since you married Jason. You've never been happier.”
My mother-in-law told me “I know you submit to him, but it's also obvious to anyone who meets you that you two were meant to be with each other, and that this works for you.” She also once told me that I should be thankful Jason is willing to be the dominant partner in our relationship because “many women would give anything to have what you have.” I don't disagree.
Yes most do not know I'm disciplined. Why not?
It is certainly not because I am ashamed. If I were, I would not have this blog. My lifestyle choice is not sinful. It is not disordered. So why would I be ashamed? I am firmly convinced my lifestyle choice is healthy.
I do not share the disciplinary aspect of our D/S lifestyle, because not everyone understands. This lifestyle isn't for everyone. And I don't have the time and energy to defend a lifestyle that may seem out of the ordinary to just anyone; nor do I want to. It's about all I can manage just to spend what little time and energy I have writing to those who do understand. This is why I blog.
Sure, the Christian community at large may think that Jason's disciplining me is wrong. Maybe they don't understand the consent, or my desire, the eroticism, or how well it works. But many do understand. They seek other like-minded people. And guess what? A community is born. Yes, it's online, because these are the times we live in. But we're not a “closed, hidden, secretive” community because what we do is wrong. We are an anonymous community because there aren't very many of us, and it's much easier to find like-minded people this way than in real life. This is how we protect what is important to us.
It is foolhardy to denounce the very very real D/S community in the online sphere. They are real people, with real relationships. Real struggles are shared. There is community here.
OSL says that she once had another online DD blogger who likened sharing their DD choice with sharing details of their sex life with others. OSL says this analogy is “ludicrous” because the Christian community would assume one was having sex, whereas they wouldn't assume a husband was disciplining his wife.
I disagree with her. I think it is a very apt analogy. Keeping in mind that all analogy falls short, please allow me to explain.
Most would agree that DD is erotic. When spanking is between two adults who are attracted to one another, it's sexual. It takes place behind closed doors, typically in the nude, and the dominant and submissive acts trigger sexual arousal. It's no coincidence that those who embrace this lifestyle find themselves deeply sexually attracted to one another.
It is also very, very personal. Even the two people I know who know about our lifestyle don't know everything. They do not read my blog. I don't talk to them about every single instance I'm in trouble, and give detailed explanations about spanking, or Jason's expectations. We do talk about things, of course, and both are extremely supportive. It's been tremendously helpful having their encouragement at times. But how things play out are personal. Some things are meant to be kept between me and Jason.
So why on earth would I share what is both highly sexual and deeply personal with people in my church group? That would be like sharing details about our sex life. I have no more interest in telling my pastor that Jason spanks me than I do in discussing how good I've become at oral sex, or about the sexy little nightie I bought for vacation.
Again, it is not because I'm ashamed. Spanking is a very small part of our dynamic. Our overall power exchange is what fuels our dynamic, and that part is not hidden. As I've said, everyone we know is completely aware of our D/S lifestyle. It is the spanking part – the sexual, private part of our dynamic – that we do not share. I am a very active member of my church community and the community here where I live. What goes on behind closed doors in no way affects that. Yes, we are called to live in community. I do live in the community. But no, we are not called to share every personal and intimate details of our lives with one another.
And on that note, I've said my peace, and I'm signing off on this conversation. Again, others are free to respond. Thank you all for your participation in this discussion.