Christian Domestic Discipline: Old-Skool Romance Come to Life?

I’ve had these links open on my Firefox browser for a couple of days now, since Caitlyn sent them to me.

Honestly, I’m not sure what to think here. It’s like the scary answer to the question, what if you crossed BDSM with a thread of Fundamental Christian ideology and rhetoric, wherein spanking became God’s will?

According to the tenets of Christian Domestic Discipline, the husband is the head of the wife as “Christ is the head of the church,” and because of that, discipline in the form of spanking and related forms of corporal punishment are a necessary inclusion in a marriage. The site cautions that husbands should warm up with lighter, less intense spanking, though the explanation doesn’t seem to preclude any pain or injury to the woman:

After a sufficient warm up you will be able to spank her with great intensity and a longer period of time, hence enforcing a proper punishment and the tears that are sure to flow….

If you spank with fast, hard swats you will cause her to cry, that is true, but you have failed to take into account what is truly needed. She needs and desires to submit to you and your decisions as her HOH, and by taking time to slow down the spanking and thoroughly punishing her she will find solace and be happier.

So it’s not just spanking and physical contact, but enforcing a relationship of domination and submission within Christian precepts.

There are several individual accounts of couples who find this structure in their relationship to be a good thing, who enjoy exploring submission and domination within the rhetoric that doing so is God’s will.

As Caitlyn, who brought the links to my attention, pointed out to me, the position on whether this is punishment and domination or a form of erotic play is unclear. In some of the sections of the website, the woman is not at all meant to enjoy it, and should be crying at the end. The male section underscores the need for an “authoritative” man who dominates and leads through that domination. The store affiliated with the movement sells crotchless pants and historically-influenced undergarments with secret kinky spots.

The people writing in the guestbooks and on blogs for this movement all seem to be indicating that their participation is voluntary, making the arrangement, superficially speaking anyway, consensual. And hey, if this is what turns you on, more power to you.

What truly disturbs me is the insight provided by the fiction affiliated with the Christian Domestic Discipline store, specifically, the Christian Domestic Discipline Spanking Romance Short Story Collection by Leah Kelley.

Kelley writes in her Author bio that she was inspired by Woodiwiss, Lindsey, and Scott,  and enjoys creating “stories with strong heroes teaching and leading their feminine heroines as set up in the Bible. Men were never meant to be the wimps the world and the church have taught them to be. They were meant to lead their families, not be a joke to them…. That’s why I believe he has the right to spank his wife if need be.”

Book CoverSo based on a platform of inspiration that includes old-skool romance, spanking included, also potentially rape of the heroine, Kelley has written several short stories inspired by or operating within the CDD world. I’ll let the review speak for itself:

This book is not your average “spanking” romance; it is not a normal romantic, erotic, or Christian product, though it attempts to be all three. What this book is about is no more or less than men dominating women and beating them into submission, both spiritually and often physically….

The author claims the spanking of the wife is not domestic abuse, but it’s actually one of the worst kinds I’ve seen because it’s methodical and, worst of all, cloaked in a false cape of Christianity. In fact, if a man lost his temper and hit his wife (not punched her, but hit her) because he honestly forgot himself in the heat of anger, I’d find this LESS abusive than a man who methodically hits his wife because she displeased him. This author claims that the heroes in this book have “that edge, but it’s tempered with the knowledge that they love the heroines and just want what’s best for them”.

Clearly, this isn’t romance as I and many other readers have come to define it. The idea that the hero/husband must dominate the wife/heroine into accepting his world view, because he knows best and operates with total and complete authority over her, leaving her no autonomy and self-actualization… that sounds like an old-skool romance come to life, dipped in the glittery justification of Christianity and a literal interpretation of the Bible, and sold wholesale as a marital aid. My discomfort is immeasurable.


Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Quizzabella says:

    From the author’s comments on the amazon page:
    “Okay…this explains it all.  These people don’t even believe God commanded wives to submit to their husbands.  Instead, they have bought into the feminists’ attempt to justify their teachings.  These people believe in the ‘Egalitarian Viewpoint’ of marriage. “
    Yes. Yes I do.

  2. 2
    ms bookjunkie says:

    Don’t look now but the Dark Ages are back!

  3. 3
    ms bookjunkie says:

    You think the audience who enjoys Spanking Romance Short Stories overlaps with those who enjoy the Enema-Birthday-Spanking-Love-Story?!

    *feeling ill, must lie down*

  4. 4
    Maggie says:

    Apparently this Leah woman has a different Bible than I do. In the Bible the norm was having more than one wife, and it was alright for a husband to beat their wife. I’m sorry but there’s nothing romantic about that. It’s abuse. And if my husband ever tried something like that to keep me in line to his view I’d probably hit him back. Sigh, people who use religion as an excuse to do something like this make me sad. Christianity is supposed to be about love, not control.

  5. 5
    Midknyt says:

    What.  The.  Hell.

    You know, I can think of a Lindsey novel at the top of my head that has the hero spank the heroine – Hearts Aflame.  It only happened once, the heroine points out that he “made up for it afterward” wink wink, nudge nudge, and it was after she kicked him to prove a point to his younger sister that he wouldn’t hurt her, since she was afraid of him (the younger sister, in case that got confusing).

    This is also a book set in around 900 or so, if I’m remembering correctly, and includes the heroine talking about how people die at their (Viking) celebrations from fighting and stuff.

    I don’t know why anyone would see it as a problem relating to how you should treat your wife today and all.  Do they mention anything about it being okay to force yourself on her, even if she says no, since she’s your property and all?

    -rolls eyes-

  6. 6
    Tabithaz says:

    Um . . . wow.

    Basically, I think that if spanking and other forms of domination/submission turn you on, more power to you.  Go for it.  But if my husband/lover ever hit me because “the Bible told him to,” I’d remove his ability to procreate.

    Huston Smith, a leader in the field of religious studies, once said that he thought one of the main problems with fundamentalist Christianity was insisting on reading the Bible as prose rather than poetry.  I mean, honestly, polyester is forbidden by the Bible, and the Old Testament God is significantly different from the New Testament God.

    And I really don’t care if you think the Bible tells you it’s okay.  If you ignore your wife when she says “no,” that’s rape in my book, and there’s a special place in hell for people like that.

  7. 7
    Caty M says:

    Much as I’d like to think that the people doing this are socially and biblically informed and freely consenting, such contact as I’ve had with the more fundamentalist end of Christianity suggests to me that it’s mostly otherwise.  Methinks whoever is quoting ‘the husband in head of the wife just as Christ is head of the church’ (Ephesians 5:23 for the interested) as a pattern for Christian marriages throughout the ages ought to be reading the next few verses that speak about husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church, with self-sacrifice and tender care.  However that Bible passage is supposed to be interpreted (and that’s a whole ‘nother argument), it certainly precludes abusive domination.

    I’m not sure whether I’m more annoyed about this as a woman or as a Christian – but as a Christian woman it makes me livid.  What a husband and wife do in their own bedroom is up to them, but any attempt to present corporal punishment and sexual domination as a good or necessary part of a Christian marriage is just plain wrong.

  8. 8
    lizziebee says:


  9. 9
    Michele says:

    My first though when reading the posting was that is some seriously sick shit. BDSM is one thing- if it’s practiced between two consenting adults with set limits then I’m more than okay with it. But this just sounds like wholesale abuse because hitting till someone hurts/cries is just that: abuse.

    And I never read any of the old-school historical romance classics because I could never get into them (too many pages of dense historical description is all I remember of those first attempts). Then when I heard about the rape in them I made a conscious decision not to read them. I was raised to believe rape is wrong no matter how it’s presented and that any attempt to cloak it is wrong too.

  10. 10
    Tea says:


    It would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic. So much of the lives of so many people who claim religious beliefs are thoroughly based on fear. This so has nothing to do with any aspect of the Divine.

  11. 11

    Add me to the uncomfortable column.  Both my husband and I are Christian, grew up in the church.  And I can tell you that if he ever attempted to ‘discipline’ me, he’d learn a whole new world of hurt.

    There’s a passage in the Bible about wives submitting themselves to their husbands-something that does make me uncomfortable, but then there’s also the passage that follows it:

    Wives, submit to your husbands as 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[a] 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. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

    If a man loves his wife as he loves himself, he’s going to put her above all, and he isn’t going to ‘discipline’ her for failing to please him. 

    Daggone it, Sarah, I was looking for something to make me laugh to start the day. 

    And reading thru the comments just now, I see that Caty M said what I wanted much more efficiently.  So ditto on Caty M.

  12. 12
    Teddypig says:

    This does not sound like any “real” BDSM scene. Please quit using that word just because beating someone is involved here. I do not see anything safe or sane and the consensual part is highly questionable.

    There is no enjoyment presented in any of this for either party and they do not seem to promote anything but duty and responsibility.

    The authors are getting off on the BDSM dynamics sure but this is just whack. This is geared more towards some type of clinical abuse and fantasy creation not an “exchange of power” because they are not even admitting the woman have any power to begin with!

  13. 13
    tracykitn says:

    Oh, puh-leeez!!!! (aside: html makes it hard to type what I’m thinking, but I like the end result….)

    I’m hoping the only way women buy into this is if they’re vastly undereducated compared to their husbands. I personally have much more education than mine, and he knows that there’s lots of stuff I know more about than he does. And it’s not just us—my mom has a PhD and my dad just a BS.

    *grrrrr* I’m voting for involuntary sterilization for all these people—especially that “author.”

  14. 14
    GrowlyCub says:

    I think the author is referring to Lindsey’s three abominations (futuristic ‘romance’) in which the ‘heroes’ spank and sexually torture the women ‘for their own good’.

    I knew of two, and on a thread here a few months ago found out that she actually wrote a 3rd one in the universe.

    I was in my early twenties when I read those two books and I can remember being nearly incoherent with rage and thinking ‘what about the young women who read this who think it’s okay to be treated like an object rather than a human being?’, ‘who might end up staying with an abusive boyfriend or later husband because this ‘romance’ novel said it was okay and for their ‘own good’.

    I really wanted to write Lindsey how irresponsible I found the viewpoint portrayed there, but after the second book I decided it wasn’t worth my mental energy.  I read Lindsey for a little while after that, but she went on the do-notbuy list a couple of years after, not in small part due to those horrid books.

    As for the site, I did not even go look for myself.  Just the bits and pieces quoted and commented on make me sick to my stomach and since I have a preemie kitten that I’ve been feeding every hour or so and a momcat with mastitits I don’t need to be upset.  Baby’s still alive on day 2, but unless he start gaining we’ll lose him. We could use some good vibes this way, please. :(

  15. 15
    Joanne says:

    Bullshit by any other name is still bullshit.

    And Thank you Shiloh, that is the perfect answer to a whole lotta’ crap just to sell a few books and toys.


    historically-influenced undergarments with secret kinky spots

    hmmmmmm……. what that? what? what they do? the spots move? where they do it? on who/whom/which one? are batteries included? they activate on command? …… always more and more questions here in romancelandia.

  16. 16
    Sarah Frantz says:

    Rather obviously to my mind, part of the problem is that they’re BDSM-inclined (because it’s as much a sexual orientation for some as being gay or straight is), but that’s kinky and perverted and wrong and sinful, so they can’t admit to it, just as they couldn’t admit to being gay.  So they force it through this in-its-own-way perversion of the Bible and its message of domination/submission that has nothing to do with natural inclinations and everything to do, potentially, with force and non-consent. 

    On the other end of the scale, you’ve got Elise Sutton and her female superiority delusions.  Yes, you might be a femdom, dear, but that doesn’t mean that there are females who are just as happy to be submissive and to “worship” their male dominants.  Don’t try to force your kink on me, kthxbye.

    I find both of them equally reprehensible.

  17. 17
    SB Sarah says:

    This does not sound like any “real” BDSM scene. Please quit using that word just because beating someone is involved here.

    Hey Teddy: You’re right, and I mean absolutely no disparagement to the folks who enjoy their BD with a side order of SM. When I drew the comparison, I was operating from the point of view that ostensibly CDD is about two individuals consenting to a dominant/submissive relationship with Christian subtexts. Like folks above said, if it’s in your bedroom, and you’re not hurting anyone, I don’t care what you do.

    But the more I read the more divergent the two ideas, CDD and D/S sexual play, became, because within BDSM there is (as I understand it) a deliberate and acknowledged balance of power within that consent, with the added element of safety, boundaries, limits and respect for both parties.

    The more I read about the CDD idea, the more I saw little respect and more punishment without limitation.

    So, long, uncaffeinated story short, initially I thought it was a comparison; it’s so, soooo not. Which makes CDD all the more disturbing to me, and reminiscent of the more rapetastic elements of old-skool “I know better get your fanny over here” romance.

  18. 18
    Sarah Frantz says:

    Michele, hitting till someone hurts/cries is just that: abuse. ….unless it’s consensual. It is perfectly okay to do this in a previously negotiated scene.  IMO.

    FWIW, Teddypig, Sarah didn’t use BDSM.  IMO, she was very careful NOT to labe this anything you or I would recognize as BDSM, and for that I am thankful.

  19. 19
    Sarah Frantz says:

    Oops, okay, sorry.  Missed that bit at the beginning in my reread.  Silly Sarah.

  20. 20
    SB Sarah says:

    When I started reading that site, my reaction was similar to your comment, along the lines of, “Huh. I wonder, to presume motivations for a moment, if this is one way that people who are kinky, but not at all comfortable with their kinkiness, can comfortably explore that side of themselves?”

    Then I kept reading and the, “Oh, no no no” continued.

    So yeah, not that at all. Verrrrry verrrry different.

  21. 21
    Teddypig says:

    I am not one for sugar coating crap.

    I was raised Four Square Ministry so I know Religious Whack Jobs when I see them and I have been involved in BDSM for a while and there are Whack Jobs running around there too.

    This is one of those “your chocolate in my peanut butter” groups that is such a prime example of screaming RUN, RUN FAR AWAY!

  22. 22
    Deb Kinnard says:

    This is just junk “dipped in Christian glitter (good phrase).” I’ve been a Christian since childhood and I’ve never heard this idea taught or condoned. I’m offended by its use of the Name in such a context.

    Please…if someone uses the “C” word when the content isn’t consonant with what you know of Christians’ beliefs and worldview, just take it as paint on the harlot and move on. Anybody can attach any word to anything, but that doesn’t make it so.

  23. 23
    Jennie says:

    Was it good for you?

    Um, well, no it most certainly wasn’t.

  24. 24
    Teddypig says:

    if this is one way that people who are kinky, but not at all comfortable with their kinkiness, can comfortably explore that side of themselves?

    Gor For Dummies?

  25. 25

    Either it’s a weird marketing campaign, or they really think that. Either way it’s disgusting.
    I agree with Teddy – it has absolutely nothing to do with BDSM. That’s consensual.
    Also, what bothers me is the drawing of the line between fact and fiction. A writer of fiction can set his or her own rules and has agenda to pursue, that’s fair game, and it’s my choice to read it or not. But when it’s advocated as a lifestyle, that’s well and truly crossing the line.

  26. 26
    Julie Leto says:

    Thank you, Shiloh, for quoting the WHOLE of the biblical text.

    This story made me sick to my stomach.

  27. 27
    amy lane says:

    uhm, ick?  I’m gonna file that right next to ‘Quiverfull’ and Proposition 8 under my list of religious things that make my stomach hurt.  (spamword—hes27.  I’m to icked out to even make a joke about that!)

  28. 28
    DS says:

    Raised fundamentalist—but this isn’t anything that the church I attended as a kid would have recognized.

    However, I have run into some hell fire and brimstone types who would take to this like a duck to water.  That and the “Spare the Rod, spoil the child” types who want to beat their children—I’m cynical enough to wonder why these types particularly find girls from 10 to 16 particularly needing of physical discipline involving beating with a belt.

  29. 29
    SamG says:

    I read something about this a while ago (at least it tickles my memory bank).  I was just as ‘oh hell no’ then as I am now.  Sorry, I wasn’t even ‘live and let live’.  I was judgmental and thought ‘those stupid women, falling for that line of BS’, and ‘shame on those assholes, beating their wives’.  But, as I told someone (a mean, gossipy old biddy of a ‘christian’) years ago ‘when did I claim to be Christian?’. 

    OT: The one thing I found funny was the HOH (head of household in that story).  I just remembered that my husband wrote ‘caution HOH’ on the water bottles in chemistry in high school.  So, as I read that my first thought was , as her water?? what?

  30. 30
    CATTB says:

    “Mercy from you (the husband) should be a rare treat that is to be savored and appreciated.”

    WTF??? Are you guys sure that’s a real website?

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