For context regarding this series see this post. You can also see the whole series. We are now down to the final two questions. I’ve separated my final response into two parts, one (this post) for question 8, and another (already sent and coming soon in post form) for question 9. However, for context I’m including both questions here as well as Nathan’s note about the questions:
- I’ve seen more than one commenter in your archives say that a woman needs a good old fashioned spanking (or words to that effect). I see in your “comments policy” you ask people to refrain from discussing marital corporal punishment. I have several questions about that. First (just to get it out of the way): do you or any of your more serious followers support marital corporal punishment? Why or why not?
- Related to question 8, does work like yours attract misogynists? Why or why not? If so, is there anything that can be done to avoid it? If not, is there something an outsider like me isn’t understanding about the people that it does attract? Is it fair for me to ask the spanking question and the misogyny questions right next to each other? Are my biases making me see misogyny (for example, in the wife spanking crowd) where I should see something else? If so, what am I (and others like me) missing?
I hope those questions (particularly 8 and 9) don’t seem leading. I’d like to sincerely understand and present your point of view, even where our camp diverges.
Below is my answer to question 8. Nathan didn’t ask any followup questions and aside from some corrections of errors in the original text I only sent the one message.
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8. I’ve seen more than one commenter in your archives say that a woman needs a good old fashioned spanking (or words to that effect). I see in your “comments policy” you ask people to refrain from discussing marital corporal punishment. I have several questions about that. First (just to get it out of the way): do you or any of your more serious followers support marital corporal punishment? Why or why not?
I don’t support marital corporal punishment. I don’t think it is needed, and I also don’t see it as consistent with the instructions to husbands in the NT. I’m not sure exactly who my “serious followers” are, but I think the vast majority of my readers would be horrified if you told them they had an obligation to practice marital corporal punishment.
I added the comment rule because while the number of commenters who brought up the topic was small, when they did so it tended to derail all other discussion. This makes it both off topic and highly disruptive. Also, if I were going to troll the Christian men’s sphere this is exactly how I would troll it. It would be a twofer, as it would fit the stereotype and also be disruptive.
I don’t recall the specific comments you are referring to, but I do recall someone posting links to scenes from old John Wayne movies where the Duke spanked women. I don’t think they meant it as a how-to video, but more of an example of how radically cultural views of a husband’s authority had changed. In this regard, I don’t think the movies were advocating spanking, but using an outrageous scene to make a humorous point.
Along the same lines, I did include a youtube clip of “Lone Ranger, Man of the house” in a post a few months back. In that video a husband draws his gun and shoots his wife’s favorite china when she gives him sass. Then when she isn’t responding to his order to make him dinner, he pulls his gun again and tells her she’s going to look mighty funny without any ears. One of my readers (MKT) brought the clip to my attention, describing it as “one of the finest moments in TV history”:
It’s one of the finest moments in TV history, and would make everyone from radical feminists to self-proclaimed conservative complimentarians hysterical if they saw it. If you can’t watch the whole thing, just watch the first minute and last 2-3 minutes.
I don’t share MKT’s enthusiasm for the clip, but I don’t think he is advocating gunplay as a form of headship. My reader in turn had come across the clip on another Christian man’s blog. The blogger described it as a fond memory from his childhood:
On this privileged occasion, I recall taking in an episode of The Lone Ranger. The theme of this particular show was about that time when there was this mousy little man, hen-pecked to the outer limits of human endurance, and through a series of circumstances, the Lone Ranger adopted this poor man and made him something of a protégé. The end result of this crash course in masculinity was that the little man headed on home, and the happy ending to the whole saga was him pulling out his revolver and shooting his wife’s dishes off her shelves. It makes me happy just thinking about it. Fade to black, and with her thinking something along the lines of finally!
I don’t think the other Christian blogger really advocates gunplay as headship, either. However, if my opinion on the matter isn’t sufficient you could ask him. His name is Pastor Doug Wilson.
Like I said, I don’t think Wilson advocates gunplay, and he has stated that he doesn’t advocate marital corporal punishment. However, one reader we have in common does seem to advocate it, and I think Wilson’s presentation of marriage as a military unit helped lead my reader to that conclusion. Commenter Warthog wrote in response to my criticism of Wilson:
@Dalrock you’ve stated the problem, but not the solution. What sanctions do husbands biblically have when their wives rebel?
When children or slaves rebel, the head of the house clearly has the biblical sanction of the rod. Non-destructive spanking/beating.
Does the patriarch’s power of the rod also apply to his wife? If not, why not?
Not defending Wilson here, but you have failed to comprehend what he meant in the military analogy. There is a difference between being at fault and being responsible. To take the example of a ship captain, the USS Stark was hit by an Iraqi missile in 1986 or so. Due to a mistake by the gunnery sergeant, the Phalanx missile defense system had not been turned back on after the last maintenance. Due to this error, the ship was defenseless against the missile, resulting as I recall in the deaths of about 17 men.
The captain was held responsible, as was the gunnery sergeant. It ended both of their careers. The captain was indeed responsible, even though it was the gunnery sergeant’s fault. Simply said, when you have command you are responsible for both the good and bad that happens under your command.
In marriage this would mean that if the wife starts misbehaving, the husband is responsible for the marriage, and should take corrective action on the wife. If the misbehavior metastasizes it is usually because it wasn’t nipped in the bud, just like cancer.
Wilson’s problem is not his recognition that the husband is responsible for the ship of the family. The problem is that Wilson does not acknowledge that the husband has sanctions over the wife for disobedience. Without sanctions you are not a covenant head. All covenants have sanctions.
A man who is held responsible, but has no power to make the people under his headship obey should walk away from that job.
I disagree with Warthog’s conclusion but there is something to his logic. If husbands are to be measured as if they were military leaders, then should they not practice military discipline? As I wrote in response to Warthog’s comment, A naval captain’s mission is different than the mission of a Christian husband and father. Likewise the husband’s role is different than the role of a military commander. Part of the problem here comes from our twisting what Scripture teaches. Scripture doesn’t tell husbands they must lead, it tells wives to submit and declares that the husband is the head. But if the husband is in charge, we reason (properly in my opinion) that the husband must have some obligation to lead. So far, so good, but then we take that and run it backwards, erroneously declaring “If the husband leads well, the wife will submit”. Therefore a wife who is in rebellion is proof that a husband didn’t do enough to make her comply. And if the husband is responsible for making his wife comply, then you can see where some would start seriously considering corporal punishment.
But like I stated, I don’t think the husband is responsible for making his wife comply. There is another bit here that gets at the insincerity of the complementarian position. The same folks who claim the husband is responsible if his wife does something wrong also are adamant that husbands must never tell their wives to submit. This is especially strange because husbands are to wash their wives with the water of the word, but here we are telling husbands they are forbidden from telling their wives what Scripture plainly says. For example, in Wilson’s 21 Theses on Submission in Marriage thesis 11 is:
The Bible does not teach husbands to enforce the requirement that was given to their wives. Since true submission is a matter of the heart, rendered by grace through faith, a husband does not have the capacity to make this happen. His first task is therefore to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He is to lead by example.
I’ve never once said in my entire life that a man should tell a woman to submit- ever.
We don’t need marital corporal punishment, we need to take away the tools the church and state have put in place to weaken the position of husbands (divorce, etc). We also need to stop blaming men for women’s sins because we are too uncomfortable holding women accountable.
Note: This takes us back to the ten examples I provided in the other thread of conservative Christians blaming men for women pushing to take over men’s roles.