Saturday, January 28, 2017

How NOT to Red Pill Someone

Gather 'round, chi'ren, it's story time.

A long time ago, I had a part-time job as a truck driver for a local mailing company. This required me to make stops at various businesses along a route. At one such business, the gentleman who usually met me in the mail room wasn't there, but had left me access to pick up the mail load. As I was getting ready, another older gentleman appeared. He had arrived to speak with the mail room employee, so I informed him that the man was gone. I recognized this gentleman from seeing him speaking with the mail room employee before, so I decided to ask casually, "How you doing?"

The man replied to me, "Let me ask you this - how much do you know?"

You need to keep in mind that, at this point in my life, I was far from red pilled. I was still a right-leaning (albeit soft) Libertarian, I was all about defending Israel, and held a host of GOPe-lite beliefs. I was by all means a "normie."

In response to the question presented, I said jokingly, "I know history, a little mathematics, that sort of thing." I then proceeded to leave, as I had to get back on my route. Despite this, the man followed me as I went to the elevator and started making my way up. As he followed, he kept talking. He told me about this thing called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and when I mentioned that it was considered a forgery, he said that someone was clearly following it. At this, I figured I was dealing with a conspiracy theory nutjob; I continued to make my way to my truck, yet the man continued to follow, continuing onward, and continued to talk. He went on about how Hitler was a British agent sent to start a war, and a host of other beliefs. He went on about this or that, much of which I don't remember. I just remember loading the mail into my truck, wondering when the heck this guy was finally going to leave. It was only when I gave a somewhat short farewell and leaped into my vehicle that I was finally free.

Looking back on this now, I can see a few mistakes he made here.

First, he had poor timing. The guy was trying to red-pill me when I was busy. He didn't have much time to begin with, and now that he was distracting me from my route, he was annoying me to the point that I didn't want to hear anything he had to say. This is the equivalent of an Evangelical trying to throw a Kirk Cameron script at someone rushing their way into the office.

Second, and perhaps the biggest mistake he made, was to jump to the conclusion without giving the build up. What I mean is he tried to jump right into things like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, without introducing me to why it might be possible such a thing would exist, or at the very least present some resemblance of reality. It's like telling the punchline of a joke without giving the set up beforehand - yes, it's the most important part, but you lose something when you take away its purpose. A lot of people make this mistake, and with many topics.

What did red pill me on things like racialism or the Jewish Question? It was actually getting on Twitter after I already lost faith in democracy, then being introduced to undeniable facts, figures, and studies which conflicted with my own view of reality. I didn't want to believe such things, mind you, but truth was staring me in the face demanding I acknowledge it. Much like my journey from unbelief into Christianity, there were historic realities I could not fight against. Furthermore, a lot of words, statements, and concepts that I had formerly been confused by were now clearer. For example, I had been familiar with the word "globalist" from my exposure with Alex Jones, but Jones uses that word so often that it loses all meaning, and I never understood what he meant by it. By my education from many in the dissident right, I came to realize what "globalism" meant, and why it was so dangerous.

It may be that, like Evangelicals and conversion, we expect normies to be red pilled in a great "Pauline moment." We expect people to receive one bit of information, be knocked off their horse, have a revelation, and instantly change their ways. While I won't deny that can happen, it rarely does. Education and the wearing down of the walls are what we must do. Appealing to personal experience or the reality of the world around us will help wake them up. Beyond that, there is nothing else we can do.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Thoughts on Nerd Culture

Some time ago, I was spending a daddy-day out with my daughter. As the local library's children area had (once again) turned into a free ghetto daycare, I took her to a nearby game store I had frequented. She was interested in some of the models, curious about the various colors in the painting section, and generally having fun doing some exploring as a toddler. As I hung out with her, the clerk there said to me, "Good job introducing her to nerd culture early, man!" Next to him stood a man who couldn't have been more than five years my senior, and yet was wearing a goofy animal-ear hat that looked like something a ten-year old would wear. I was utterly flabbergasted by this exposure, since I wasn't trying to introduce my daughter to "nerd culture" at all, and I was equally shocked by the exposure to a manchild close to the level of Chris-Chan. This got me thinking much more on the topic of "nerd culture" and how much it has become involved in our society.

It would be erroneous, and immature, to fall into stereotypes - after all, not everyone who throws themselves into the nerd culture spectrum is a basement-dwelling virgin. Many have families and are happily married. Many have stable jobs, and in fact some are quite successful. Some are lawyers, and some are in the military. In short, we shouldn't fall into the broad-brushing tactics of leftists, who like to paint all in the altright as hicks or rednecks. It's an intellectual dishonesty that ignores the larger issues.

Nonetheless, nerd culture has acquired a tight hold on their life. I recently went to the Facebook page of an in-law to see how his family was doing, only to discover nothing but pages upon pages of Star Trek and Star Wars stuff - and this is a man who's a lawyer. Someone else I know has a "man cave" filled with action figures and comics. Even people with a big family might be difficult to speak with unless you bring up something related to pop culture. With some people, you would sooner insult their mother than their favorite canon.

It would also be hypocritical of me if I said I didn't share any interest in anything found within nerd culture. I like science fiction books (especially the classics like Jules Verne or HG Wells). I love fantasy books (heck, I wrote a blog post on what Westeros can teach us about attacking society's traditional values). I like to try out roleplaying games with family and friends. I adore board games. I casually play computer and console games. At the same time, these are just hobbies for me, and not a definition of my lifestyle. It's often been aggravating when I meet self-professed "hardcore gamers" who try to talk to me about every new video game under the sun, when I can count on one hand the number of video or computer games I play per year. Most of the ones I do play are strategy-related games (eg., Crusader Kings 2), due to my love for military history and the fact they exercise my mind. It's like someone with a passing interest in sports encountering someone who has every player and coach memorized and could tell you the current ranking of every national team.

It became even more aggravating when so-called "nerds" would try to apply a love for anything as "nerdery." Having some knowledge of the Napoleonic Wars suddenly makes you a nerd on the same level as a Trekkie; being able to quote Shakespeare makes you a blood brother with someone who could quote every Marvel superhero film. Those who considered themselves part of "nerd culture" see themselves on equal with those who were part of historical, actual culture; the former attempts to lower the latter to their level, in order to give itself more legitimacy.

Semi-related to this, I once heard a comic artist lament on the over-fascination with manga among modern American artists. His advice was for Americans to stop drawing stories about Japanese school children with Japanese names, and start looking into their own culture and history. Thinking back on that now, and mixing it with what we've already discussed, I began to realize that it was really impossible for these people to do so. To have pride in any European, western culture is, after all, a sin. In a progressive society, being a prideful Hungarian or Briton is put on the same level as being a white supremacist. It's far easier for a person to LARP as a proud Vulcan or Westerosi than be who their ancestors wished them to be. It's far easier to take a side in the Rebellion or the Empire than take serious the conflict between western society and radical Islam. It's far easier to have knowledge of the entire Mass Effect storyline rather than a knowledge of classic works of literature. In short, it's far easier to be engaged in a culture of fiction than a culture of reality.

Over time, I came to realize that "nerd culture" is simply a code word for "no culture."

What I mean is that those within nerd culture have no real culture in which they can have pride. They can't be proud Americans, or look to their ancestors and fathers and seek inspiration from that. They've been deprived of it by a society that told them to never do such things. Why forgo a Japanese high school and instead write a story about an all white school in Russia when SJW's have warned that such a lack of diversity is pure evil? Why write about a traditional family when feminist readers will breathe down your neck about how evil the patriarchy is? You are not allowed to have pride in your heritage, unless you want to change it somehow to make it far more politically correct (eg., making all the Founding Fathers black). If you cannot have a progressively-tinted or leftist-approved culture, then you can have no culture at all.

Certainly the various elements within nerd culture, which I outlined a few chapters ago, are not in and of themselves harmful. Games and reenactments of every sort have been enjoyed throughout history, whether it was playing chess or sparring with wooden weapons. There's nothing wrong with some level of productive escapism. However, those various elements which originally offered a temporary escape, when placed within the mindset of nerd culture, then became a trap. A man without a god will find something else to worship; a man without a leader will find someone else to follow; and a man without a culture will find something else to cling to for identity. For many, nerd culture has become the very identity they sought. It provided them with languages, cultures, religions, and societal structures to which they could cling. I once encountered a man who claimed to be a Gorean. This title was inspired by the society of the planet Gor, found in the John Norman book series of the same name. He told me about how it modeled his sexual life, his philosophical life, and the like. What had simply been world-building and storytelling for John Norman had become this man's entire world. Indeed, there is an entire Gorean subculture out there, with practicing members.

The danger in this is quite apparent. Real culture, even that which is peppered with legends and hagiographies, is still based on some element and truth directly identified with the person. For example, even if Dugovics Titusz (the hero who toppled the Turkish flagbearer at the Battle of Nándorfehérvár) didn't exist, one of Hungarian blood can still look to his story, and the very real struggle of the Hungarian people, for inspiration. There is not only an emotional connection between the man, his culture, and his time, but a genetic and spiritual one as well. To the person of Hungarian blood, these people are his people, his blood, and his nation. If some injustice was done to them, be it five hundred years ago or five minutes ago, then he feels the sting of indignation. Their identity drives their life because that is what they truly are.

Nerd culture replaces all this with a connection that is merely shallow emotionalism. What connection does a nerd storming a fortress in a first-person shooter have in contrast with a Pole reading about his ancestors charging the Turks at the gates of Vienna? How can one possibly compare a nerd learning Vulcan with an Irishman discovering his people's historical language? What does a person lamenting the cancellation of Firefly have in common with an Armenian lamenting the genocide of his people? There simply is no connection. Nerd culture takes the empty void left by a progressive society's hatred of western heritage and has replaced it with a stimulant. It's simply foam peanuts: meant for nothing else than to fill an empty void and absorb as much damage as possible.

There's been much talk among the dissident and alternative right about the "emaciating" of the male population, and surely this is one kind of deterioration which could be applied to the population as a whole. Again, we're not talking about having a healthy love for games, imagination, or reading; yet our culture is attempting to normalize an idea that having an unhealthy mania for such things is, in fact, healthy. It is no worse than the body image positivity which attempts to tell men and women that it's okay to be five-hundred pounds obese. Back in them ol' days, nerds were the hyper-obsessed, socially awkward outcasts like you saw on Saved by the Bell; now, they're the norm. It used to be that to say "I'm such a nerd" was self-deprecating; now it's a statement of pride.

The question is where do we truly put our pride, and where do we become emotionally invested? Do we find a wife to start a family with, or we continue lusting after video game women? Do we go on Twitter and cry over the death of a character in a TV show, or do we lament the death of society's moral standards? Do we throw a fit if someone criticizes our favorite HBO series, or do we become enraged because foreigners are invading our lands and sexually assaulting our women? Do we label ourselves as members of a fictional world, or do we take pride in our own heritage and people?

Enjoy escapism every now and then. Enjoy having fun with family and friends. Just remember to be grounded in this world. Don't abandon who you are and where you came from. Play the man. Play the woman. Most of all, play the person that you truly are in your blood.

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Movie Review: War Room

Recently my wife and I watched the 2015 Christian film War Room, made by Alex and Stephen Kendrick. While viewing it, I live-tweeted about it on Twitter. If you want to read the entire session, you can start at the very beginning of the Twitter thread. Just keep in mind that, unless you've seen the movie, some parts will make absolutely no sense. Some of those tweets I'll be sharing throughout the body of this review.

Just the usual warning of any detailed review: there are gonna be lots and lots of spoilers here. If you haven't seen the movie, and you don't want to know how it ends, if there are any twists, etc., then don't read this review. If you don't care, continue on - just don't say I didn't warn you.

It should be noted that, before watching this movie, my wife and I were big Kendrick Bros. fans. We own Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous on DVD and Blu-Ray (depending on the availability). I'm not hugely fond of modern "Christian" films, but the Kendrick Bros. movies were the rare exception. Point is, we didn't go into this ready to bash it - while we had heard some questionable things about it, we both went in with an open mind, and a past experience of glowing opinions regarding the Kendrick Bros. work. As it turned out, watching this film was a completely different experience for us entirely.

In the DVD commentary, the Kendrick Bros. say that the point of the movie is to teach that we fight our battles in prayer before anything else. Does it live up to that? Does it live up as a movie? Let's talk about this...

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Book Review: The Civilization of the Middle Ages

Recently, I tried to read The Civilization of the Middle Ages, by Norman F. Cantor. I had come across it in a used book store, and, browsing through the middle, it seemed promising. Norman Cantor himself is a professor of history, sociology, and comparative literature at New York University. While he's written other works, this book in particular has been plashed with praise, both by the publisher on the inside flap and others on the back of the cover: publisher Harper Collins says the book "draws upon a century of research" and is "authoritative in its learning"; The New Yorker said that Norman Cantor goes "far beyond just knowing his period"; Hayden White, from the University of California, said it was "the best textbook on Medieval History"; The Historian calls the book "worth its weight in gold." At the time of this writing, Civilization has an average rating of 3.92-Stars on Goodreads, and 3.8-stars on Amazon. Point is, the book has plenty of praise lodged its way.

Was it that good? What did I think about it? Truth be told, I can tell you very little about the book...because I couldn't finish it. In fact, I quite reading some thirty pages in.

The first problem I had, as I read, was that Mr. Cantor very rarely, if ever, cites any sources, or quotes any original documents to back up his statements. In the first chapter, he goes at length to speak about the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics, and not once ever quotes Plato, Aristotle, or the Stoics. This is actually a pet peeve of mine with historians or scholars, for two reasons: 1) it's nice to know from where they're getting their conclusions, so I can go and look at those same sources, and learn more myself, or see if those sources are being used properly; 2) it demonstrates that they aren't simply making an empty statement, but are basing it on original documents. If you want to tell me Plato believed x, quote me Plato stating x. Even more annoying with the book is that there's no source index or bibliography for the book; the closest we get is a "recommended reading" list Cantor provides at the end.

The biggest problem I had was when Cantor begins to speak about the background of Judaism and Christianity. In fact, it's what killed any interest in the book for me. In the first page of his chapter dealing with the religious foundation of the Middle Ages, he writes:
The essential difference between Judaism and Christianity is the concept of the Incarnation. Christians believe that the Holy Spirit assumed human form... [pg. 29]
Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa wait wait wait wait wait WHAT?!

I literally read this part several times to make certain that I hadn't misread it, but yes indeed, Mr. Cantor tells his reader that the Incarnation - one of the foundational beliefs of the Christian faith - teaches that the Holy Spirit took on flesh. I encourage Mr. Cantor to walk in front of a room full of seminary freshman (not even scholars or professors, just 101-level students) and say that. The response will be something akin to...

The doctrine of the Incarnation is that God the Son, not God the Holy Spirit, took on flesh. Harper Collins tells us that Cantor "draws upon a century of research," and yet he makes an egregious error that could have been corrected by picking up the most basic of Christian books. A cursory introduction into the Church Fathers and the Christological debates could have refuted Mr. Cantor's point - heck, a Christian children's book could have refuted it. Not even the Modalists - ancient heretics who believed the three Persons in the Trinity are in fact three separate manifestations of one Person within the Godhead - ever argued such a thing.

Even more astounding is on page 33, when Mr. Cantor speaks on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He tells us that the Dead Sea Scrolls presented "new insights into Jesus' world and his message." Among these "new insights" include:
  • John the Baptist was a historical figure.
  • Baptism was a common rite in Jewish circles.
  • There were many apocalyptic feelings or beliefs among the Jews.
  • There were "hellfire-and-damnation preachers" during that time.
  • There existed groups like the Essenes.
In other words, the Dead Sea Scrolls taught us...things that had already been known by scholars for literally hundreds upon hundreds of years. One wonders if Mr. Cantor is even aware of Josephus, the famous Jewish historian from Christ's time who witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and who wrote extensively on John the Baptist, the various preachers and faction leaders, and had an entire section of his work dedicated to explaining groups like the Essenes, Pharisees, and Sadducees. Again, we are told that Mr. Cantor "draws upon a century of research," yet he makes errors that someone just stepping into a study of this field would be able to call out. By the time of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the things he lists as "new insights" weren't novel at all.

It's very rare that I don't finish a book...but this was one of those instances. I've been told by others that Mr. Cantor's treatment of medieval history seems okay (emphasis on seems), yet the awful scholarship with which he handled Christian theology and history casts a doubt on what I would actually learn from the book. It's not that I dismiss an author's entire work for being wrong on one point, but when a historian treats a matter with such a shoddy job, it tells me that they are inconsistent at best or lazy at worst. Furthermore, while I might be forgiving of a historian for getting one minor point wrong (we all make mistakes, after all), to get something so incredibly wrong like the doctrine of the incarnation is simply inexcusable.

What's more, much of the book comes across like Mr. Cantor is citing secondhand - or even thirdhand - sources, rather than doing any original research himself. He talks about the teachings of Jesus, but never once cites any verses, or commits any kind of exegesis - he pretty much just states things and expects the reader to believe him. This is compounded with the problem I wrote on earlier of Mr. Cantor's habit of not quoting or citing any original sources to back up his arguments. What you end up with is a lot of bold statements and assertions with no evidence to verify it, and a continual appeal to vague sources (eg., "scholars say..." without hinting who these scholars are). This sort of thing usually gets frowned upon, but here it's glossed over by those who praise the book.

All in all, I don't know how anyone in their right mind could call this work scholarly, or believe that it sets the standard for any sort of education on the subject matter. I highly suggest readers avoid this and look elsewhere.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Re: Corporal Punishment for Wives by Their Husbands II

This post is a response to Prez Davis's response to my last response to him, and which is entitled Corporal Punishment for Wives by Their Husbands II. I will be quoting Mr. Davis's post in full (save for the brief introduction), but I encourage those brand new to this conversation to follow the debate in order it was written. If you attempt to jump in here at this point, I'm afraid you will be quite lost. For the benefit of my readers, here are the posts in order:
Mr. Davis has said in his post: "I’m going to let this be my last reply on the matter as I doubt any further back and forth posting will be beneficial." That's perfectly fine, and of course I don't force anyone out there to respond to me. This will be my last post in our back-and-forth, which I hope will be edifying for those following. (Besides, I have some other blog posts, on other subjects, I do want to get to). On a side note, Mr. Davis refers to me as "DM" in the blog post, short for De Monarchia. (I'm not quite sure why, given my username is on this blog, ASKfm, and Twitter.) Also, because I'll be quoting other lengthy passages and sources, I'm going to make quotes from the rebuttal posts in bright orange, to visually assist the reader.

The Response in Full

Mr. Davis opens up his post proper with:
DM writes:
“I have never, ever, in all my life, argued against something with the blanket statement ‘If it’s not in the Bible, don’t do it.'”
Yet this is exactly what he seems to imply (without stating so explicitly) when he writes:
“Why would God’s word comprehensively speak on one subject, but not another, if both were of equal importance, or somehow related?”
Taking this sentence in isolation might indeed make it appear I am arguing "If it's not in the Bible, don't do it." However, what's ironic is that Mr. Davis is quoting from the part where I was clarifying my use of "this is nowhere in scripture." For my readers' benefit, I've quoted the section in full from the original post here:
Do I ever say in my original blog post "this is nowhere in scripture"? Certainly, but one shouldn't isolate that from everything else I said, which is what Mr. Davis has done here. What I did do in my original post was touch on key passages of scripture concerning the topic of husband and wife, and point out, in regards to connecting the punishment of children and wives, that while the scripture is quite clear (with several verses, in fact) that you must physically discipline your child, it nowhere states that you must discipline your wife, even in cases where that would seem to be logical to add it on (nagging wives, etc.). My point was not to simply shrug my shoulders and say, "I don't see it in the Bible, therefore I'm not going to do it." My point was that, in the context of a husband's authority, it nowhere included physical discipline, and while scripture was very clear in regards to the physical discipline of children, it nowhere speaks of physically disciplining wives. Why would God's word comprehensively speak on one subject, but not another, if both were of equal importance, or somehow related?

Likewise, we must also remember that I was responding to those who claimed such a command was granted by scripture. "Scripture says we have authority," was the argument, "ergo, we can physically discipline our wives." What I did, therefore, was go to the sedes doctrinae ("seat of the doctrine") passages regarding marriage and the role of husband and wife, and demonstrate that they did not speak of physical discipline, nor allow room for it - more importantly, the "authority" they speak of is within a certain context, which Christ's loving, cherishing, and nourishing the church. To argue that all I was saying was "It's not in the Bible, therefore it's not justified" is to simplify my contention into a straw man.

Let me put it another way. Suppose someone said "Christian pastors should condemn those who eat popcorn." Now suppose I went through scripture, pointed out the various passages regarding the believer's diet in the new covenant (Mark 7:19; Acts 10:15; etc.), all of which affirm there are no spiritual consequences for what a person eats, and concluded with, "Scripture nowhere commands us to condemn Christians who eat popcorn." Now imagine someone responding to that with, "You're just going by the fallacious mindset that we need scripture to justify everything we say/do." It would be quite clear that this was really a non-argument. [Part quoted by Mr. Davis in bold]
In response to those who say disciplining our wives is a clear biblical doctrine, I point out that, while scripture speaks comprehensively on one subject, it nowhere speaks of another subject on the same terms. Likewise, I did so on top of other arguments to back up such a point. I even provided an analogy to clarify what I was saying. How Mr. Davis still does not understand whether or not I was "implying" anything, I am not certain.

Mr. Davis continues:
Besides, why would we count corporal punishment of children (CPOC) and CPOW as two separate subjects? They are the same in principle, only differing in the different levels of agency and stature between women and children.

DM seems to be making his case against CPOW on the claim that a man’s relationship with his wife is spiritually different from his relationship with his son or daughter. Even if true, this is a non sequitur. Without special evidence, it simply does not follow that a different spiritual relationship would necessarily mean that corporal punishment is forbidden by God. Given arguments in favor of CPOW, the onus is on DM to give an argument against it, not to simply state that the man-wife relationship is different from the man-child relationship. Indeed when it comes to the authority structure, they are the same as the man is the head of both, though by nature the child has lower agency than the woman which would warrant lower expectations and more supervision for the child.

In other words, I am making the case that CPOW is rooted in a man’s authority over his wife where it seems to me that DM is making the case that some other aspect of the man-wife relationship makes all the difference.
I quoted this in full to let Mr. Davis's points breathe, but I do want to cover a few key issues.

First, he writes: "DM seems to be making his case against CPOW on the claim that a man’s relationship with his wife is spiritually different from his relationship with his son or daughter. Even if true, this is a non sequitur. Without special evidence, it simply does not follow that a different spiritual relationship would necessarily mean that corporal punishment is forbidden by God." However, it's not a non sequitor when the worldview I was originally replying to argued that, just as scripture says we can physically punish children, naturally we can presume scripture says we can physically punish wives. Mr. Davis himself had, in his first response, and in order to verify this, divided up husbands, wives, and children, placing wives on a level between; I demonstrated, from the pages of scripture, that this wasn't the case. He calls this a non sequitor, for the reason that "without special evidence" this doesn't mean that "corporal punishment is forbidden by God." What "special evidence" he desires to show something is "forbidden by God" I'm not certain, given I originally argued from scripture itself - which he rejected, called a fallacy, then turned around and committed the opposite fallacy of "If it's not explicitly condemned in scripture, it's not bad." This latter point is something he's repeated here, with different phraseology, despite my demonstrating in my last post why such an argument proved problematic.

Mr. Davis likewise writes: "Given arguments in favor of CPOW, the onus is on DM to give an argument against it, not to simply state that the man-wife relationship is different from the man-child relationship." These "arguments in favor," however, were, as I pointed out in my previous post, more so arguments from pragmatism and appeals to common sense, with little to no evidence given as to their success or validity. Many of these contentions I even cited evidence against (eg., pointing out that electrical chords can break the skin). Contrary to what Mr. Davis claims, the burden of proof is not upon the person denying CPOW, but upon himself to further back up and validate his claims, especially in light of the original post he was contending against, much of which he has still chosen to ignore.

Mr. Davis likewise writes: "I am making the case that CPOW is rooted in a man’s authority over his wife where it seems to me that DM is making the case that some other aspect of the man-wife relationship makes all the difference." I would argue yes it does, because scripture itself makes such a case. I can do no more than repeat my argument from the previous posts, demonstrating from the verses of scripture. This Mr. Davis hasn't argued against, only to repeat that man is above woman and child, and hence woman and child can be treated one and the same. (I'll talk about this more in just a moment.)

Mr. Davis continues:
Given the logical argument for CPOW, it is up to the CPOW denier to give an argument against it, and I don’t think referring to man and wife as one flesh meets that standard. Is a man’s child not his own flesh also? What if the child is adopted? It is increasingly obvious that the use of CP is linked to authority, not in any other aspect of husband-wife, father-child, mother-child, police-citizen, or man-beast relationship.
Is the "man's child not his own flesh also"? Actually no. Scripture nowhere makes that connection. Husband and wife have that connection, as is repeated throughout the Bible (cf. Gen 2:24; Matt 19:5-6; Eph 5:31, etc.). Can Mr. Davis cite any place in scripture where father and child are said to be "one flesh" as husband and wife are? I'll save him the time: not one verse in scripture confesses as such. Part of this is because the "one flesh" aspect said of husband and wife is sexual in nature, hence use of "one flesh" against joining with a prostitute (1 Cor 6:16). This sexual nature is, quite obviously, absent in the relationship between parent and child, hence why it would be completely ridiculous to assert that father-child can be "one flesh" like father-mother can be "one flesh."

It is likewise ironic that he states physical discipline is linked to authority, not in any distinct aspect of husband-wife, police-citizen, etc. Ironic, because I elucidated in a previous post that, just as love has distinctions between roles, so too does authority. A husband, policeman, and manager all carry some level of authority - that does not mean each one of those authorities operate in the same manner, simply that they operate in ways distinguished from others by their position and relationship. This in no way attacks the concept of authority; it merely accepts the reality that authority operates differently. A manager at a job is not powerless in his authority because he can't write a ticket or charge a fine like a police officer can; a police officer is not powerless in his authority because he can't fire an employee like a manager can.

In relation to the commands of scripture, I am commanded to physically discipline and educate my children, and I am likewise commanded to nurture and cherish my wife like she were my own body. In both cases, I am exercising authority, but I am doing so in ways distinguished by the role in which I am serving. This is the importance of recognize the relationship of husband-wife and father-children as being different.

Mr. Davis continues:
In order to argue against CPOW, one would have to:
  • argue against patriarchy. 
  • make an argument (perhaps scripture based) for why a husband must only use alternative measures for enforcing authority over his wife while CP is still acceptable in so many other situations. 
  • deny that CP is acceptable at all, even in other situations, such as parent-child, man-beast, police-unruly subject, or judge/jury-duly convicted person.
Each contention falls into different errors, which I'll briefly cover here:
  • This is begging the question; to say we must argue against patriarchy while arguing against CPOW is like saying that in order to argue against excessive police tactics you must argue against law enforcement. Patriarchy can exist without physically disciplining your wives; nowhere have I ever seen a definition of patriarchy where physically disciplining your wife was a tenet, and neither has Mr. Davis presented any citation or quotation to verify his own personal opinion, either in this post or in his previous one.
  • This sort of argument was something I made in my previous posts, as well as (to some degree) a post I made in the past on Christian patriarchy.
  • This is a false dilemma which argues: either you must accept that you can physically discipline your wife, or you can't accept any form of physical discipline at all. This is like arguing you must either accept that a beat cop can perform an execution of a criminal on the spot a la Judge Dredd, or you can't argue that the State can execute a criminal. As I wrote in the previous section, identifying distinguishing features of different forms of authority in no harms or limits other forms of authority.
Continuing on, Mr. Davis quotes my criticism of his reductio ad ridiculum regarding my "own flesh" analogies, then responds with:
The point of my comments on the one flesh argument in this context was to point out how little sense it makes to liken CPOW to self flagellation. If my comments are absurd, then it is equally absurd to use the one flesh argument as an argument against CPOW. Obviously CPOW is more comparable to CPOC than it is to self flagellation. Medieval self flagellation is totally unrelated and irrelevant as it was based in (shaky) theology alone rather than common reason and was an attempt to get God to repent where CPOW and CPOC are attempts to get wives and children to repent, and are based in patriarchy, irrespective of religion. If medieval self flagellation were relevant to CPOW, it would be equally relevant to CPOC assuming the children in question were the man’s own biological children.
I hope the careful reader, especially those who have been following this dialogue from start to finish, will notice what Mr. Davis has done twice now: he has avoided dealing with any of the sedes doctrinae passages regarding the relationship of husband and wife. What I pointed out in my original post was that, just as he poked fun at my "one flesh" analogies, so too would he have to make fun of Paul for his words in Ephesians. (A contention which he has not even acknowledged, let alone responded to.) Instead of responding to that, Mr. Davis has in essence simply repeated his contention of "It doesn't make sense to me."

Likewise, Mr. Davis once again reveals he didn't understand the point of the analogy by arguing as if I were saying hitting your wife and self-flagellation were the exact same thing; again, I'm fairly certain those who read my original post would understand where I was coming from, especially in light of Paul's teachings.

Mr. Davis ends his blog post with:
DM has argued in his original post that husbands and wives form one unit (one flesh) in marriage where children and slaves are presumably treated separately. But it does not follow that that criterion alone makes all the difference in regard to CP. A husband/father and his household are treated as one unit when Paul writes that a man who does not provide for his own is worse than an infidel [1 Timothy 5:8]. Clearly here Paul counts a family as a separate unit, yet CPOC is explicitly condoned in Scripture. Using the one flesh (separate unit) argument, the onus is on the CPOW denier to point out cause to believe that matrimony uniquely prohibits CP where it is permitted elsewhere, including within the family unit. Merely claiming that God counts married individuals as one separate unit doesn’t meet that challenge.
If I was "merely claiming" husband and wife are equal, or that was my "criterion alone," I suppose that would be a valid contention. However, I believe those who have been following this debate would see that I argued far more than "husband and wife are one flesh - the end." Similar to his dilemma with the straw man of "if it's not in the Bible, don't do it," Mr. Davis is once again taking but one point of my more comprehensive argument, and ignoring everything else.

The major dilemma is in this: Mr. Davis, like many others, continues to argue that, just as husbands can punish their children, they can punish their wives; when you point out, from scripture, that husbands and wives are seen in a different light than parents and children, this is dismissed with "That doesn't matter, my argument still stands." Such a contention, however, is just a non-argument, especially when it does not deal with the wording of Ephesians 5 and how scripture sees the relationship of husband and wife, distinguished from other relationships. It's like pointing out how a corporate guidebook explicitly highlights the different roles and relationships between managers, supervisors, and lower employees, and simply dismissing it all based on a philosophical, personal concept of what authority must mean.

The fact is, scripture tells us husband-wife are like Christ-Church, then clarifies what that entails (Love/Nurturing-Submission). In like manner, scripture tells us the relationship of parents-children, then tells us what that entails (Discipline/Education). The burden of proof is not on the person who is simply pointing out that these distinguishing features exist and wishes to abide by them; rather, the burden of proof is upon the person who claims that, contrary to the plain reading of scripture, it is permitted for a husband to discipline the wife as he would a child, and hence wishes to add to scripture teachings which are not there.

Mr. Davis's appeal to 1 Timothy 5:8 is likewise problematic. Here is the verse in context:
Honor widows who are widows indeed; but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God. Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day. But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives. Prescribe these things as well, so that they may be above reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. [1 Timothy 5:3-8; part quoted by Mr. Davis in bold]
Mr. Davis references 1 Timothy 5:8 as if it is on par with a husband and wife being "one flesh." Such a connection, however, is completely erroneous. Paul is not tying in a family unit together like he does husband and wife versus children; rather, he is commanding members in the local church to care for "their own," whether it be distant relatives or "especially for those of his own household" - in fact, this is not said in context to fathers and their children (though it certainly can be used that way), but especially about widows and their children and grandchildren. It is not related to the individual relational units seen with husband-wife, parents-children, masters-slaves, etc. Attempting to put it alongside the passage from Ephesians is hence irrelevant and misplaced.

Concluding Thoughts

When I finally posted my response, I tweeted the link, tagging Mr. Davis, about noon. He tweeted the link to his response about six hours later. I cannot imagine that it was enough time to sit and ponder on the matter, or the post, enough (even if he was spending all six hours doing it). While I don't like second-guessing motives, I can't help but feel that part of the problem here may be somewhat related to that. There's no magical time to spend on a subject, of course, but if Mr. Davis wishes to ever continue this subject in the near future, I would ask that he spend a little more time and thought on the discussion.

It is even more interesting that, on Twitter, he argues his viewpoint "stands by both Biblical and secular standards." How this is I'm not certain; he hasn't presented any concrete biblical arguments, and the minor ones he provided were more drive-by references, and are shoddy at best (eg., saying a father and child can be "one flesh" like a husband and wife). At the risk of sounding snotty, his use of scripture demonstrates more of an ignorance of biblical teaching than any real knowledge of it. Furthermore, I reference the earlier point that he appears to have done everything to avoid the biblical passages which most contradict, or at least prove problematic, for his position (eg., Eph 5). As for secular standards, I repeat once again that little of what he's presented was given with any evidence to verify it, and a simple Google search contradicts much of it. If anything, such a claim as he made on Twitter is one of the biggest examples I've come across of whistling in the dark.

The ironic thing, insofar as scripture is concerned, is that Mr. Davis in essence argues for the simultaneous existence of two realities:
  • Physically disciplining your wife isn't supported in the Bible, but we can still do it.
  • Physically disciplining your wife isn't condemned in the Bible, so we can still do it.
In other words, he in essence simply argues that physically disciplining your wife is nowhere in the Bible, but, given whatever side of the argument he's coming from, still attempts to read his conclusion into it. He likewise condemns one method of forming Biblical doctrine, yet condones the other. How he can then turn around and say that his argument stands on Biblical standards appears further illogical.

It is also worth mentioning that Mr. Davis has admitted to me on Twitter that he is not married, and that, in regards to the question of whether or not he would use an electrical chord or a riding crop on his wife, he has "never thought that question through." (I will, in fairness, give him credit that, unlike others in this camp, when pressed with questions on what he would do or use, he at least gives an answer.) While him being married or not might be rightfully dismissed as an ad hominem, and no one should be ignored on the subject of marriage simply because they're single, I do find it interesting that Mr. Davis speaks on the subject of marriage, both on Twitter and on his blog, with an authoritative manner - yet he often precludes his opinions with what amounts to "I think" or "I believe," and rarely uses physical evidence, historical sources, experiential application, or biblical passages to back it up. Reading his argumentation, it comes across more like he's a young man in a philosophy class attempting to use what little he knows of the world to try to understand it better. As a man who is married, and who has struggled and worked through sin issues in his marriage (both my own and my wife's), Mr. Davis's attitude and handling of the subject comes across a bit like naive youth at best, or arrogance at worse. I do hope, however, that these discussions humble him to see the matter not only a bit more clearly, but far more biblically.

And once again, I hope this back-and-forth has been edifying for the reader, in regards to the subject of marriage, and I hope that it has been something of a debate on the subject.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Re: Corporal Punishment for Wives By Their Husbands

This blog post is a response to Corporate Punishment for Wives By Their Husbands, which was a response to my Husbands, Beat Your Wives. It was written by Prez Davis, who also runs the blog. On Twitter, he referred to this post as his "rebuttal." I had written this up a while ago, but sat on it, partially to chew over my wording, and partially because of real life affairs (eg., moving my family) which kept me from becoming too invested in other things.

As with the previous blog post, I am writing this presuming the reader has read both my original post, and the response Mr. Davis wrote. If you haven't, do so now, otherwise you might be confused at certain points. I'm not actually going to be responding to the blog post in full, not because I simply refuse to, nor because I didn't read the entire post, but rather because much of it doesn't cover my blog post itself. Much of it is purely philosophical, from personal judgment, or arguing from pragmatism. Some of it (such as the idea that almost every culture has some form of patriarchy) I even agree with. However, my original post was meant to come from a strictly Christian viewpoint, from Christian theology, since the very view I was responding to claimed to come from Christian theology. I will be responding to his Premise Four, which deals more directly with my blog post and what was said within it.

Mr. Davis writes:
The recent De Monarchia post argues that even though the Bible explicitly permits corporal punishment of children, it does not explicitly permit the husband to use corporal punishment on his wife. The fallacy lies in the false premise that we need scripture to justify everything we do. [emphasis in original]
Herein we are immediately met with a hurdle: this was in no way what I was arguing. I have never, ever, in all my life, argued against something with the blanket statement "If it's not in the Bible, don't do it." (I've even made fun of this concept, either in a Christian Hangout, or in a private conversation with those attending them - I forget which, unfortunately.) Therefore, for Mr. Davis to bring up counter-contentions like "Where does the Bible explicitly permit churches to have steeples?" is really a non sequitor.

Do I ever say in my original blog post "this is nowhere in scripture"? Certainly, but one shouldn't isolate that from everything else I said, which is what Mr. Davis has done here. What I did do in my original post was touch on key passages of scripture concerning the topic of husband and wife, and point out, in regards to connecting the punishment of children and wives, that while the scripture is quite clear (with several verses, in fact) that you must physically discipline your child, it nowhere states that you must discipline your wife, even in cases where that would seem to be logical to add it on (nagging wives, etc.). My point was not to simply shrug my shoulders and say, "I don't see it in the Bible, therefore I'm not going to do it." My point was that, in the context of a husband's authority, it nowhere included physical discipline, and while scripture was very clear in regards to the physical discipline of children, it nowhere speaks of physically disciplining wives. Why would God's word comprehensively speak on one subject, but not another, if both were of equal importance, or somehow related?

Likewise, we must also remember that I was responding to those who claimed such a command was granted by scripture. "Scripture says we have authority," was the argument, "ergo, we can physically discipline our wives." What I did, therefore, was go to the sedes doctrinae ("seat of the doctrine") passages regarding marriage and the role of husband and wife, and demonstrate that they did not speak of physical discipline, nor allow room for it - more importantly, the "authority" they speak of is within a certain context, which Christ's loving, cherishing, and nourishing the church. To argue that all I was saying was "It's not in the Bible, therefore it's not justified" is to simplify my contention into a straw man.

Let me put it another way. Suppose someone said "Christian pastors should condemn those who eat popcorn." Now suppose I went through scripture, pointed out the various passages regarding the believer's diet in the new covenant (Mark 7:19; Acts 10:15; etc.), all of which affirm there are no spiritual consequences for what a person eats, and concluded with, "Scripture nowhere commands us to condemn Christians who eat popcorn." Now imagine someone responding to that with, "You're just going by the fallacious mindset that we need scripture to justify everything we say/do." It would be quite clear that this was really a non-argument.

Mr. Davis likewise writes:
The writer at De Monarchia goes on to say that the husband and wife being one flesh means that a husband striking his wife as an act of punishment would be like striking himself, likening him to the flagellants of the Middle Ages. OK, so if a man inappropriately batters his wife, which one bears the marks? If a man goes on a trip and forgets his heart medicine, can he just call home and have his wife take it for him?
I hope Mr. Davis wrote this as a joke - otherwise, it's an amazing example of missing the point of an analogy. When I compared whipping a wife due to sin with the medieval flagellants, I wasn't saying that, if a husband kicks his wife in the behind, he's going to magically feel pain in his own behind. I was not making a literal anatomical equation. I think anyone who read my original blog post fully understood that.

Mr. Davis likewise writes:
On the other hand, if “one flesh” really does mean that striking one’s spouse is comparable to striking oneself then I guess the Bible actually does give me permission to buffet my wife’s body and make it my slave [1 Cor 9:27] – As long as I am in Christ of course.
Again, this is missing the point of an analogy. The ironic thing is that this analogy did not come from the theology of Henry Gloucester, but the apostle Paul. In one of the key passages of scripture I presented (Eph 5:22-33), Paul himself makes the statement that the wife is the husband's own flesh, and himself reasons that no husband hates his own flesh. In other words, Paul attached a connection between a wife and the husband's body/flesh long before I did. Paul's words in full:
So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. [Ephesians 5:28-30]
If Mr. Davis were consistent, he would have to laugh at Paul and argue with: "Oh, those who love their wife love themselves? So all husbands are narcissistic, I suppose. And oh, he who hates his wife hates his own flesh? So such husbands are like deformed people looking at themselves in the mirror, then?" He might even go on with: "Oh, we're members of Christ's body? So who's the arm? Who's the leg? Who's the foot? Is someone the left pinky toe? Is someone the spleen? Are schismatics the appendix?"

Part of the problem here is that Mr. Davis doesn't handle my exegesis of scripture, instead focusing on a straw man, then mocking the conclusions I came to from the exegesis of verses which, by his own logic, he would have to mock alongside my own words. As a result, he misses the larger point of the post, and, instead of tackling it honestly, chooses instead to engage in reductio ad ridiculum.

Mr. Davis writes:
Another question to ponder is that if corporal punishment is appropriate for children who are smaller and more frail than grown women, why then would it not be appropriate for grown women? The Bible even permits corporal punishment for men, so if women are in stature and strength between men and children, why would a form of corporal punishment of intermediate severity between that appropriate for men and that appropriate for children not be appropriate for women? If corporal punishment of wives by their husbands is unChristian, it seems the Bible would explicitly forbid it, but it does not. [emphasis in original]
Herein we have two problems:

First, I dealt with the idea of connecting the punishment of children with wives in my original post. As I showed, scripture treats them separately, therefore we cannot say "If scripture commands it for children, it logically commands it for wives too" without repeating the argument in the face of counterargument. In the same vein, for him to argue from corporal punishment for men by saying "women are in stature and strength between men and children" is to likewise forget what I showed from scripture in my original post: women are not "between" men and children, but seen as equals with the father in regards to children. Do women submit to husbands? Yes, within their roles of marriage. However, scripture, as we saw in my original post, connects husband and wife as one flesh, and treats the married couple separately from children, servants, and other groups.

Second, Mr. Davis ironically commits the opposite error of what he accuses me of, which is "If it's not forbidden in the Bible, it's not bad." I've had this argument used against me in regards to masturbation - after all, masturbation is not explicitly forbidden in the Bible, therefore how can it be a sin to do it?* Of course, most people would understand that the Bible condemns lust and adulterous thoughts, which inspire masturbation, hence why it's a sinful act. In like manner, just because physically disciplining your wife is not explicitly forbidden in scripture does not mean it is wrong, or at the very least ill-advised, to do it. Therefore, when Paul says husbands are to wives what Christ is to the church, then clarifies what he means in saying that, then someone takes that way too far, beyond what scripture entails to the point that it adds to the word of God, it stands to reason that we are doing something Paul would respond to with, "Whoa whoa whoa, that is not what I meant!" Likewise, if women should be punished as much as children, or with the same freedom of punishing children, then why would scripture speak extensively on disciplining kids, and never once wives? Why would scripture never make the connection between wives and children? Even if it is not explicitly forbidden in clear writing, clearly scripture did not see it of high or equal importance, let alone part of the role of husband.

I will give Mr. Davis credit in that, unlike others I have spoken with concerning this topic, he does not simply respond to the protest of potential abuse with "Don't put rules on rulers," or "Mind your own business." He has at least attempted to place limitations upon the physical discipline, thereby fighting against potential abuse. At the very beginning of Premise Four, he writes:
...few who approve of corporal punishment would say that a man should have the authority to punch his wife in the face, or that she should be spanked for going past her due date with a pregnancy.
And at the end:
So what forms of corporal punishment are acceptable for husbands to use on their misbehaving wives? This may vary a bit based on the individuals involved, but it is hard to argue that a small switch to the backside anywhere from the upper back to the backs of the knees would be too harsh for a wife in sore need of an attitude adjustment. It would be hard to imagine that any spanking implement commonly and judiciously used on children would be too much for a grown woman. I think it would be hard to go wrong with a smooth belt, a piece of small diameter plastic or rubber hose, a piece of electrical cord, an automotive spark plug wire, coaxial cable, or a horse riding crop. It is hard to imagine that anyone could do serious harm to his wife using any such implements on her torso, buttocks, or legs. No risk of broken bones or internal organ injury, no deep cuts, and very unlikely to even break the skin, even under extreme use. Of course a man might also use a bare hand, but it is remotely possible that a large enough man with big enough hands could accidentally inflict injury whereas with a switch type implement, even the largest, heaviest handed man would have a hard time accidentally injuring even the most frail woman or child.
So if your wife misbehaves, use the belt. Or a rubber hose. Or an electrical cord. Or a horse riding crop. That way, there's "no risk of broken bones or internal organ injury, no deep cuts, and very unlikely to even break the skin, even under extreme use." I assume that means deep welts on his wife's "torso, buttocks, or legs" are okay with Mr. Davis, as whipping someone with a rubber hose can lead to that. It's also untrue that these things can't cause cuts or are "very unlikely" to break the skin - electrical cords, for example, can very possibly break the skin.

I also find it funny that Mr. Davis advises against using hands, based on his reasoning that "with a switch type implement, even the largest, heaviest handed man would have a hard time accidentally injuring even the most frail woman or child." This seems quite hard to believe, and it'd be nice if Mr. Davis could cite some data on that. I don't claim to have a degree in physics or anatomy, but I'm fairly certain I'd much rather be hit with a baseball bat by a frail old man than by a professional baseball player doped up on steroids.

I'm not trying to mock the topic of domestic abuse, mind you. It's simply that Mr. Davis makes these statements, and others found in his post, with little to no evidence to back them up, as if they're simply an appeal to common sense. Much of his post, in fact, is like this, appealing to statements or presumptions with little to no evidence or sources to verify it, other than what amounts to "Sounds fair to me." Even a simple Google search shows that, speaking in terms of application, much of what he says either does not make sense or is simply false.

In all honesty, I am not quite certain how Mr. Davis sees this as a "rebuttal," as I am not certain what was actually rebutted against. Most of my original post he simply dismissed with a misrepresentation of my worldview; some of it he simply mocked; some of it he spent repeating the very arguments I specifically responded against. This is not to say that Mr. Davis is unintelligent or anything similar, as he's clearly done some thinking in his time; however, it is hard to respond to a counterargument when it really hasn't countered much.

In any case, I hope that this little back-and-forth has, once again, been very edifying for the reader.


* I'm well aware of the story of Onan (Gen 38:8-10). However, there's debate out there on whether or not what was "displeasing in the sight of the Lord" was Onan spilling his seed (ie., masturbating), or Onan disobeying the command to fulfill his role as brother-in-law. As such, when I speak on the subject of masturbation, I try to avoid debate by going straight to the heart issue behind it.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Re: What is Authority?

I was pointed recently to an article written in response to my Husbands, Beat Your Wives post, written by a gentleman who goes by the username @wraithburn on Twitter, and Spencer Rathbun on Google, and which is entitled What is Authority? Near the beginning, he calls my blog post "seems good," yet is "an insidious piece of heresy." This is certainly a very serious charge, and of course I want to take this with serious consideration. I don't want to be in the same ranks as ancient heretics like Arius or Sabellius, or even modern heretics like Kenneth Copeland and Joyce Meyer. I likewise don't see myself as infallible or all-knowing, therefore any and all possible review is, of course, welcomed.

Just as a note, I'm assuming that the reader of this blog post has read both my post and Mr. Rathbun's response. If they haven't already, I highly suggest it; otherwise, the reader might be a little lost in some parts. I do quote most of what Mr. Rathbun wrote, however I don't want to be accused of taking anything out of context, or leading the reader astray.

Initial Contentions

Mr. Rathbun responds to my conclusion from exegeting the passages from the epistles of Peter and Paul regarding marriage, specifically about the context of what authority means, with this:
Suddenly we’ve got another figure in this relationship. There’s a man, a woman, and the church. That’s really odd considering marriage existed since God created the world. (Genesis 2:24) What were all of these marriages doing before?
I'm a little confused as to what Mr. Rathbun was attempting to explain here. Nowhere did I argue "There's a man, a woman, and the church." The point I was stating, drawing from the words of Paul is that the roles of husband and wife are modeled after Christ and the church; the man is Christ; the wife is the church. Furthermore, there was a context to this role of man over woman: Christ's nourishing and cherishing of the church in the narrative of his crucifixion and suffering. This is especially confusing as, later on the post, Mr. Rathbun will affirm that husband and wife are said to be as Christ and the church. I'm not making any major contention here, merely stating I was unaware what he was trying to get across in this section.

Moving on, Mr. Rathbun cites the three dilemmas I touched upon (eg., the reality of domestic abuse), then writes this:
While these are perhaps interesting issues surrounding a husband abusing his wife within a marriage, they’re all red herrings. None of them matter to the core issue, does the man have the right to punish? [emphasis in original]
I would contend that they aren't "red herrings" at all. A red herring is defined as "a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to 'win' an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic" (source). I believe that most who read my original blog post will understand my flow of thought:
  • First, respond to the affirmative arguments made in favor of physically disciplining their wives, looking at the relevant passages of scripture.
  • Second, deal with two key issues that have come from this line of thinking. Namely, that forbidding any "rules upon rulers" naturally leads to abuse, and that blaming victims of domestic abuse for their suffering is factually callous.
Regarding "the right to punish," Mr. Rathbun does say immediately after that:
In conclusion, Mr. Gloucester asserts that a husband has no right to discipline his wife. Oh he gives a sop, but it’s about leading and guidance and listening to church councilors. [italics in original]
Here we need to establish a category definition: I specifically said, throughout the post, that a husband has no biblical command to physically discipline his wife. Do I believe a husband can't discipline his wife at all? Here we enter into a dangerous game of semantics. If a wife develops an alcoholism problem, a husband may decide to remove all alcohol from the house. Is this a form of discipline enacted upon her? Some might argue so, but it is not the same as treating her like a child and spanking, slapping, or hitting her. The point is, for Mr. Rathbun to state my contention is "a husband has no right to discipline his wife" is a complete misunderstanding.

Affirming the Position

Mr. Rathbun continues, entering into his affirmative argument: 
Now! We’ve gotten through the core bits, and we can get on to the explanation of heresy. By defanging men, Mr. Gloucester is denying the symbol of marriage. How so? It all comes back to authority. What is it? Well, lets go to the source of all authority. The classic is of course Isaiah 45:9, but for our purposes the book of Job is even better.In Job, God decides that He will allow Job’s property to be stolen and destroyed, his children and servants killed, and his body afflicted. In Job 40:8: "Will you also annul my judgment? will you condemn me, that you may be righteous?" Does the one underneath authority have any right to contend with the one over them? God is quite clear here.
He then ties this (naturally) with Christ:
But Christ is nice I hear you say. This doesn’t apply because it’s not a marriage relationship. And Christ loves the church. He would never be mean like that bad Old Testament God. Well friends, God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And also, Christ IS God. So why should Christ be different? Indeed, we see Him to be the same in Revelation 2:5: "Remember therefore from where you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto you quickly, and will remove your lampstand out of its place, except you repent." What’s this? Christ (the husband) is holding the church (the wife) accountable and laying out a punishment He deems fits. The next couple chapters all follow the same theme. If you have been given authority, it is within your right to punish.
Mr. Rathbun's contention therefore is this: Paul compares husband and wife to Christ and the church; God commands that none question his motivations, and Christ punishes the church, therefore a husband has supreme authority over his wife, a right to punish said wife, and the wife has absolutely no right to question the actions of her husband.

At this point in the discussion, it might be worth introducing a theological phrase: sedes doctrinae. It's a Latin phrase meaning "seat of the doctrine," and is used in reference to those passages of scripture which give the clearest teaching regarding a certain doctrine. The danger in formulating our doctrine is when we choose verses which are more vague, or have to be overly rationalized, before we can come to a certain conclusion. For example, 1 Corinthians 14:34 and 1 Timothy 2:12 are considered sedes doctrinae verses on why women can't hold church authority; however, Liberal Christians try to get around this by ignoring those prescriptive verses and jumping to descriptive incidents like the women going to tell the apostles about Christ's resurrection in order to make a much more vague case for female pastors.

In regards to our discussion, would any of the passages cited by Mr. Rathbun be considered sedes doctrinae? Do they lead to the conclusion he says they do? Let's examine his scripture citations, and their relevance.

In regards to Job 40:8, Mr. Rathbun believes that this authority proclaimed by God is naturally inclined to the husband, since Christ is God and God has authority. This, however, forgets the larger context of that verse:
Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm and said, “Now gird up your loins like a man; I will ask you, and you instruct Me. Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified? Or do you have an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like His? Adorn yourself with eminence and dignity, and clothe yourself with honor and majesty. Pour out the overflowings of your anger, and look on everyone who is proud, and make him low. Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him, and tread down the wicked where they stand. Hide them in the dust together; bind them in the hidden place. Then I will also confess to you, that your own right hand can save you." [Job 40:6-14; verse cited by Mr. Rathbun in bold]
A cursory reading of Job 38-41 expands on this further, and makes it clear: God is highlighting His might, His power, and His uniqueness to Job. Job had been questioning God's judgment regarding his life events, yes; God answers "Who are you to question my authority?", yes. However, Mr. Rathbun's error is in grabbing God's statements of authority and ignoring everything else spoken of by God, for verse 8 is but one part of God's train of thought. The point God is making is that He is responsible for all creation, is all-powerful, is all-knowing, and therefore He has such right to judgment. "You really want to accuse me of poor judgment, and act like you're innocent?" God asks Job. "Very well - let's see who truly has the power to review and execute judgment. Are you filled with eminence and dignity, honor and majesty, as I am? Are you able to humble the proud and punish the wicked as perfectly and completely as I can? No? Then how can you even begin to question my judgment?"

Hence, Mr. Rathbun's appeal actually contradicts what God is saying, for a husband cannot rightfully say that he can do all the things which God speaks of here. Indeed, no husband can rightfully say he has "an arm like God, and can thunder with a voice like His," nor that he can "adorn himself with eminence and dignity, and clothe himself with honor and majesty." Job 40:8 is not teaching us "Do not ever question authority," but do not ever question God's right to judge. A good rule of thumb in regards to exegesis is, whenever God uses personal pronouns, it is best we never apply it to anyone else.

In regards to Revelation 2:5, it is interesting that Mr. Rathbun cites one punishment and sums it up as "Christ (the husband) is holding the church (the wife) accountable and laying out a punishment He deems fits." What punishment, however, is this? It is in regards to "coming to them" (in judgment) and "removing their lampstand out of its place" (ie., removing their place as a legitimate church body). The glorified Christ is speaking from His majesty and power in regards to specific churches. The majesty and power of Christ is a theme found throughout the book of Revelation, especially in Revelation 4-5.

Mr. Rathbun likewise forgets the other punishments mentioned by Christ. For example, to the church in Pergamum he says:
But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth. [Revelation 2:14-16]
Christ warns those in Pergamum to repent of their error, and break away from the heretics, for he is coming to "make war against them with the sword" of his mouth. Are we to presume that husbands are likewise permitted to "make war" with their wives if they do not repent of adhering or associating with heretics? Not at all, for, again, this is the glorified Christ pronouncing spiritual punishments, both on those within the church and without. The power and majesty Christ deals with here is the same power and majesty he uses against "the woman Jezebel," to whom he states: "I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds" (Revelation 2:22). Husbands do not carry this spiritual authority to commit such acts - only Christ does. Again, to appeal to Christ's ability to punish churches and apply it to husbands punishing their wives not only forgets why Christ is able to carry out such punishments, but forgets what kind of punishments are discussed.

What we find here is that the two key passages appealed to by Mr. Rathbun are actually completely unrelated to this discussion. Job 40:8 is speaking of authority which God alone possesses because of His might. Revelation 2:5 is the glorified Christ pronouncing spiritual judgment and warning from his kingly position upon an individual church. What Mr. Rathbun did was take one out of context, then take another verse, simplify what it meant, and spiritualize it so that he could apply it to a completely unrelated passage (Eph 5:22-33). This error is similar to many megachurch or seeker aware pastors, who take passages out of context and attempt to tie them to us through some loose connection. (For example, I have heard pastors take Matthew 11:6 and teach from it that you shouldn't be offended by your pastors.) In short, these passages are not only not sedes doctrinae, but they are in no way connected to any authority a husband might have.

The Meaning of "Authority"

Mr. Rathbun continues:
But what about Mr. Gloucester’s examples of other authorities? How they were limited? There’s a very simple question we need to ask for that. Who does the limiting in every, single case? The authority from above! God has put a hierarchy of authority in place. In the marriage relationship, what is this chain? It’s Christ - Husband - Wife. So the wife and other’s have no place to demand that this punishment or that punishment is wrong. [emphasis in original]
The "wife and other's have no place to demand that this punishment or that punishment is wrong"? Therefore, if my wife makes my sandwich wrong, and I smack her across the face, I am fully within my right to do so unless Christ himself walks in the room and says "Brah, don't do that."

In truth, I really don't know how to respond to this, as Mr. Rathbun has not really responded to anything I said in my previous post which would have touched upon this subject. As I said before, I don't deny a hierarchy, but that hierarchy functions within a certain way. The "examples" of authority I gave were the police, my boss, and myself, and I did not speak on their limitations, but rather on their distinctions. If a policeman discovers I was late to work, do they have the power, in and of their own authority, to get me fired? No. If my boss finds out I went over the speed limit on the way to work, can he, in and of his own authority, give me a ticket? No. If my wife breaks the law, and (assuming I myself am not a policeman), can I, by my own authority, give her a fine? No. Again, there are distinctions within each authority. In the role of husband to wife, it's in the loving, nurturing, and cherishing of her spiritual state, as the head in the marriage.

I likewise touched upon how this thinking leads into abuse, and, within churches, has led into abuse. As we saw earlier, Mr. Rathbun did not address any of those contentions - he merely dismissed them as red herrings and moved on. Now he is presenting the same arguments found within as if I never responded to them.
Fundamentally, these passages and many more give the lie to the claim of authority without power. In Genesis, God states a Husband shall rule over his wife. Throughout the Old Testament, God punishes His people the Israelites when they stray. And in the New Testament, our example Christ warns of punishment to the church. Authority without power is mere responsibility.

By denying the God given authority of a husband, Mr. Gloucester denies God’s authority over him. He claims that he knows better, and contends with his Creator. But this heresy is wrapped within the feel good message of husbands not abusing wives. What husband wants to? Flesh of my Flesh and all that. It’s an exceptional edge case blown up to allow the stripping of authority to slip by.
It's amazing that Mr. Rathbun claims I am "denying the God given authority of a husband," when I have never done any such thing. Anyone who has read Wives, Beat Your Husbands, or its spiritual prequel Patriarchal Christian Marriage, will see I nowhere deny the husband's authority over their wife. I therefore reject such a charge, based on nothing more than I have stated scripture does not advocate physically disciplining your wife as you would a child.

I likewise reject the notion that, because of this, I deny God's authority over me. I wrote an entire blog post on Christ's absolute authority. However, just as a loyal soldier would not add words to his commander's decisions which are not there, so too would I not add to my King's words commands which are not there. Nowhere in scripture does it say I have a right to strike my wife; in fact, my King's words speak on marriage in a different light. On this basis, I submit to my King's authority and perform it to the best of my ability.

Mr. Rathbun attempts to distance himself from the issue of abusing wives by asking, "What husband wants to? Flesh of my flesh and all that." He accuses bringing it up as "an exceptional edge case blown up to allow the stripping of authority to slip by." Again, I have to wonder if Mr. Rathbun carefully read my original post, as I was responding to an opinion from some who advocate this view that domestic violence is generally wives receiving due punishment for their disobedience and hence "mostly justified." As for "What husband wants to?", that's not the point - the point is, plenty have. Who denies them that right if we say "the wife and other’s have no place to demand that this punishment or that punishment is wrong"? What gives Mr. Rathbun the right to say they're committing error if he has no authority over them?

On one hand, Mr. Rathbun tells us not to tell husbands how to discipline their wives; on the other hand, Mr. Rathbun wants to tell husbands how not to discipline their wives. This is a great logical contradiction found within many Reactionaries who promote the physical disciplining of wives: on the one hand, they tell us not to "put rules on rulers"; on the other hand, to save face when confronted by people who grew up under abusive fathers, or lived with abusive husbands, they have to turn around and say that's essence, putting rules on rulers.
It’s a frightening relationship, but marriage is a symbol of Christ and the church! As God says in Job, He is an absolute ruler. Why would we think this would change in marriage?
God also said to Job that He laid the foundation of the earth (Job 38:4), formed the seas (Job 38:8), commanded the dawn (Job 38:12), commands the stars (Job 38:31), cares for lions (Job 38:39), gives power to horses (Job 39:19), can tame the mightiest of land creatures (Job 40:24), and can draw out the mightiest of sea beasts with ease (Job 41:1). Again, when God speaks of His might to Job, it speaks from within the power that He alone bears. To grab one statement from God, speaking about Himself and His unique power, and apply it to all husbands, is to in essence be like the serpent, who told Eve "you will be like God" (Gen 3:5). Obviously, I doubt Mr. Rathbun believes husbands are divine, nonetheless by erroneously applying such a statement from God to husbands, that is the exegetical conclusion.

As for the question "Why would we think this would change in marriage?", we must point out here that Mr. Rathbun nowhere, in his entire post, touches upon the passages cited in Husbands, Beat Your Wives, which actually did speak on the roles of husband and wife on marriage. Instead, he referenced my conclusions from them, then jumped to his own scriptural argument, in essence pitting scripture against scripture.

Earlier we touched upon the subject of sedes doctrinae. I would put forward to the reader that I have touched upon those passages which speak on the relationship between husband and wife the clearest, while Mr. Rathbun has merely cited a few passages and spiritualized them to apply them to husbands.
Thank God we know He is merciful and kind, far beyond what we deserve! A husband cannot be merciful, kind, and loving about withholding punishment if he never had the right to give it in the first place. But can a husband be indiscriminate? Is he a tyrant? God defined the hierarchy of authority, and placed a husband above a wife. But didn’t He also place the husband below Christ? Yes, and the same as those churches were warned, husbands are charged to care for and love what God has placed beneath them. The same as the parable of the talents, God will ask us men what we have done with the things He has given us.
I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Rathbun that Christ will hold husbands accountable. The problem is that making Christ the sole authority over a husband, both in heaven and earth, is both unscriptural and nonsensical. Certainly all Christians are told to "be in subjection to the governing authorities" (Rom 13:1) and submit ourselves "to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right" (1 Pet 2:13-14). Scripture likewise gives permission for fellow believers to confront one another over their sin, be it privately or through corporate church discipline (Matt 18:15-17; Gal 6:1).

Even if Mr. Rathbun wishes to contend he is merely speaking of accountability within marriage, the fact remains that nowhere does scripture tell husbands that, on earth, they will only be held accountable to Christ and no one else. It does not even permit room for such an extreme view.
I don’t know about Mr. Gloucester, but that causes me great fear. Husbands can’t abdicate from the position of authority God has given them just because they don’t like holding their subordinates feet to the fire, nor can they claim they have no one to answer to as they beat their wife. God will ask not only why the abused their wives, but also why they allowed their wives to run rampant. They have the power God has given them, and the question is whether or not they will hang themselves with it.
Again, nowhere have I ever advocated that husbands abdicate from the position of authority, let alone that husbands haven't received some form of authority from God - this is just a straw man argument. What I have said is that husbands are not scripturally commanded to physically discipline their wives like they would their children. If being able to strike your wife is the only way to show one's authority, then such a husband has no earthly idea what such an authority is.

As for "great fear," what causes me great fear is equating a husband's earthly authority to God's supreme authority, and giving a husband so much authority that he is accountable to no one but Christ. According to Mr. Rathbun's logic, if I and my wife are sitting at home, and we hear the neighbors arguing next door, and we hear the wife being slapped around, hear her sobbing hysterically, and hear the husband screaming all kinds of verbal abuse at her, and my wife says she's going to call the police, I must stop her, say "Don't worry honey - someday he'll answer to Christ!" and permit the abuse to continue. After all, husbands have the same supreme authority as God, and who are we to question that authority? And the only person the husband can answer to is Christ - not the police, not the local government, not us, not anyone else. Yes, I realize Mr. Rathbun does not advocate such abuse himself, however his theologically erroneous doctrine permits such a situation to occur.

I invite the reader to reread our two posts - my own original blog post, and Mr. Rathbun's response - and ask themselves which one truly gives them greater fear.

Concluding Thoughts

The biggest error Mr. Rathbun commits is this logical fallacy:
  • Husbands are said to be like Christ.
  • Christ has supreme authority.
  • Ergo, husbands have supreme authority like Christ
The problem, as I mentioned earlier, and as I outlined in my original post, is the comparison made between husband and Christ and wife and church is seen within a certain context, and with specific roles discussed. Mr. Rathbun's error is similar to those who read "God is love" in 1 John 4:8, and erroneously equate it with "love is God," while forgetting the apostle John is speaking of one trait of God. Similarly, Paul states that a husband is to the wife what Christ is to the church, then goes on to tell us exactly what he means by that - and nothing Paul says implies a husband has supreme, unquestionable authority over their wife. I believe that part of this problem comes from the fact that Mr. Rathbun did not deal with the passages I touched upon, which clearly covered the topic of marriage; instead, he jumped to other passages, in essence pitting scripture against scripture.

Another problem is that much of what Mr. Rathbun argues comes from that which I already responded to in my original post, be it the role of husband and wife in marriage, or the idea that a husband has no earthly authority to tell him what to do with his wife. Much of his response merely repeats the position I already responded to, albeit with a slightly firmer stance against domestic abuse itself, and an expanded version of the "Husbands have authority" argument.

At this point, I am unable to think of anything to add which I did not already cover within the blog post itself. I do thank Mr. Rathbun for his response, and hope that our little back-and-forth here has been edifying for the reader.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Husbands, Beat Your Wives

This post is something of a continuation of my post Patriarchal Christian Marriage, and touches on this question: is it within a husband's right, from a Christian standpoint, to physically discipline his wife as he would his children?

This is especially important as there is a trend, within some Christian Reactionary and Altright circles, that it is perfectly acceptable for husbands to physically discipline their wives in the same manner that parents physically discipline their children. Some have gone so far as to say that most cases of domestic violence are simply wives being put in their place, and hence the domestic violence is "mostly justified."

The Argument Made and Reviewed

There are two common arguments made by those who support this notion:

Argument #1: Husbands have authorities over their wives, therefore they are in charge of disciplining their wives.

This, however, is a philosophical argument in regards to what authority means, rather than a scriptural definition. Press someone who holds this view to prove it from the pages of scripture or the catechism/confession of their own church, and they may grow more hostile to you and engage in non sequitors and ad hominems. However, the fact remains that, if we are to call ourselves Christians, and claim our authority is scriptural, we should have an understanding of how God has outlined that authority. Some throw out the straw man that we are attempting to find an answer for every single problem in marriage from the Bible, which is completely false. The fact is, scripture is quite clear about the relationship between husband and wife in marriage, as God Himself sees it.

In my Patriarchal Christian Marriage post, I exegeted through Ephesians 5:22-33, one of the clearest explanations regarding the relationship of husband and wife. I'll reference the blog post again for those who want to read my exegesis of it in its entirety. The gist of Paul's point is this: the husband's authority has a context to it, and is complementary to the role that the wife plays. By "complementary" I don't mean it the way that Liberal Christians use it, but rather I mean that the husband and wife, being "one flesh" in marriage (Gen 2:24; Matt 19:5-6; Eph 5:31), unify with each other by their roles. The wives are to submit to the husbands as Christ to the church, yes; but the authority of the husband is within the confines of Christ "nourishing and cherishing" the church (Eph 5:29). The husband is to view the wife as his own body (Eph 5:28); to strike your wife for misbehaving or sinning is akin to being like the Flagellants of the Middle Ages, who dealt with their sin problem by whipping themselves. One might say that, in Paul's mind, a husband striking his wife for any reason is literally hitting himself.

The apostle Peter likewise touches on the relationship between husband and wife in 1 Peter 3:1-7. Verse 1 begins with Peter saying "in the same way" in regards to the wife's submission - in what "way" is he referring to? One must go back to the second chapter, where Peter commands Christians to be submissive to governing authorities, just as Christ was humble, even in the midst of suffering (cf. 1 Pet 2:21-25). "In the same way," then, Peter commands wives to be submissive to their husbands, even if they are unbelieving or disobedient, and to show them a spiritual and honorable life (1 Pet 3:1-4), living honorably as the women of old did (1 Pet 3:5-6). This doesn't mean Peter is commanding wives to be passive if their husbands are teaching heresy to children, or attempting to make their family immoral, any more than he was saying in chapter two that Christians should permit governing authorities to teach heresy or immorality to the church; rather, Peter is commanding wives to be as submissive as possible, and to maintain their own spiritual well being, in the face of even an unbelieving or false Christian husband. Peter then turns to husbands, saying: "You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered" (1 Pet 3:7). Hence, within the context of Christ and his suffering on the cross ("in the same way"), husbands are to treat their wives with understanding, as someone weaker who might require more assistance by their leadership. They are to honor their wife as another sister in Christ, and treat them with understanding, honor, and prayer.

The apostles makes it quite clear what the context of the husband's authority over the wife is: within the authority of Christ's salvific role over the church. Men do not rule over a woman like Saddam Hussein ruled over Iraq; men rule over a woman for the purpose of loving them, nourishing them, and cherishing them as if they were their own body because, in the context of marriage, they are (Eph 5:28-30).

The fault in those who make the blanket argument "husbands have authority" is that they take one part of Paul's teaching on marriage, ignore the rest, then proceed to read far too much into it from their own personal views on what "authority" means. The reason they grow hostile and are unable to give a clear answer when pressed to defend their view of "authority" from scripture is because, to be frank, there is absolutely no grounding from scripture for their viewpoint.

Argument #2: Scripture says fathers may discipline their children, and masters their slaves. Ergo, husbands can discipline their wives.

The contention by some is that if a wife acts like a child, she will be treated like one. They go to passages about disciplining children and masters, and read backwards into the relationship of husband and wife, and claim that this right naturally exists there too. To be fair, this argument isn't found in some Reactionary circles alone; various Christians have argued this sort of mentality before.

The problem is that whenever scripture covers relationships within the home, husband and wife are seen as one unit, and one separate from children and servants. This is clearly seen in the Epistle to the Ephesians, where Paul treats the relationship between husband and wife (Eph 5:22-33) separately from children to parents (Eph 6:1-3), fathers to children (Eph 6:4), and slaves to masters (Eph 6:5-9). The same is seen in the Epistle to the Colossians, where he touches on the same issue (Col 3:18-25). Again, all authority is seen within a specific context, just as love would be understood differently depending on the the relationship of the two people (eg., the love between husband and wife operates differently than love between father and daughter). In the same manner, the authority that a policeman has over me is different than the authority my boss has over me, and the authority I have over my wife. In regards to the topic at hand, the husband has authority over the wife in the context of Christ and his work on the cross (cf. Eph 5:25-28), while the father has authority over his children with the responsibility of raising them in the Lord's training and instruction (Eph 6:4).

The reason husbands and wives are treated as one unit, separate from children and servants, is because the husband and wife are one in marriage. This unity in marriage is seen throughout scripture most notably by the very fact, as we established earlier, that husband and wife are one flesh in marriage (Gen 2:24; Matt 19:5-6; Eph 5:31). Likewise, Paul touches on the subject of sex within marriage in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5, where he makes it clear that sex is to be something enjoyed by both the husband and the wife. A husband is not to be the wife's personal erotica hero; a wife is not to be the husband's personal porn star. A wife is not supposed to "lie back and think of England," nor is a husband to shrug and say "Better do my husbandly duties." Paul even makes it clear that, if the couple does abstain from sex, it is through mutual agreement, not the unilateral decision of the husband or wife (cf. 1 Cor 7:5). Again, the husband and wife are individual persons, with individual interests and roles, but they are still united through the conjunction of their roles in marriage.

This argument regarding children and slaves, in fact, proves problematic when we consider that, while there are plenty of verses which do call for children to be physically disciplined by parents (Pro 13:24; 22:15; 23:13; 29:15; etc.), there is not a single verse which supports the physical disciplining of wives by their husbands. While contentious or nagging wives are certainly mocked and frowned upon in scripture (cf. Pro 19:13; 21:9; etc.), nowhere are we told to respond with physical punishment, even if by husbandly authority. Even in the context of an unbelieving spouse (1 Cor 7:12-16), Paul places both believing wives and husbands with the same responsibility, neither of which involves physical disciplining their unbelieving spouse; rather, they are called to holy living (similar to Peter's writings). One would think, if physically disciplining wives was as clear a teaching as physically disciplining children, that we would see it somewhere in scripture, especially in regards to wives who are unbelievers or disrespectful. As it stands, it is nowhere in scripture.

Therefore, to say that, because discipline against children and slaves are called for, we can likewise discipline wives the same way, is to completely ignore how scripture sees marriage, and what scripture says on the topic. While proponents of disciplining a spouse accuse the other side of cherry-picking scripture, it is actually they who are committing this fallacy. They are grabbing what scripture says about a specific situation, and reading it into another situation, while ignoring all that contradicts their point. The truth is scripture distinguishes wives from children and servants, and places them in union with their husbands in the bond of marriage.

Additional Problems

In addition to the question of scripture, there are other dilemmas, which I'll touch on here one at a time.

Dilemma #1: The vagueness of the rule.

Those who uphold this doctrine of physically disciplining your wife, when pressed to give limitations, rarely enter into any sort of even semi-cohesive definition. Even bringing up examples, or asking when something is going too far, is met with non-arguments and the repeated straw man of "You're asking for super specifics." Some within this camp seem to outright refuse to present any examples or limitations that might be used even as the simplest of guidelines.

While it might be granted it would be difficult to go into every single scenario, the fact remains that, with important familial doctrines such as this, limitations are important in attempting to explain the difference between abuse and discipline. For example, what separates me lightly tapping my daughter on the rump for not obeying me with another father who beats his son into a pulp for talking back?

This brings us into the next dilemma...

Dilemma #2: The removal of accountability

Perhaps most disturbing is the argument that people should stay out of the business of other husbands, and stop putting "rules on rulers." To this line of thinking, a husband should rule his family as his judgment demands, and if his judgment is poorly placed, who cares?

Why should anyone care? Perhaps because, when a husband's judgment is poorly placed, then that "discipline" quite easily becomes abuse. Perhaps because, if the husband goes too far, what some might shrug off as "discipline" easily becomes abuse. This sort of mindset, a kind of authoritarian version of the Non-Aggression Principle, seems to be one of whatever a husband desires to do to his wife is perfectly fine, so long as no one above him disapproves.

Precedent shows that any lack of some form of accountability naturally leads to abuse. The problem found in megachurches is one prime example of this, with their lead pastors who are grounded more on Fuehrer's Principle than any Biblical teaching on leadership. No one is permitted to question the pastor, his teaching, his doctrine, or his motives, and if anyone does, they are seen as being divisive and worthy of discipline. When pressed on what grounds they do such things, lead pastors and their cronies respond with every variant of "None of your business. Respect authority."

In like manner, this line of teaching removes any real accountability from the husband. According to this teaching, combined with the vagueness enforced by its proponent's refusal to present any clear guidelines, whether from scripture or common sense, if you hear a wife crying next door, the sound of physical contact, and the husband yelling, you shouldn't do a single thing to intervene, whether calling the cops or going over yourself. After all, she might have been disrespectful of his authority, and hence her beating is perfectly justified. For you to go over and tell the husband to stop whatever he's doing is telling a ruler how to rule, and violating his authority.

Even putting this aside, to say that rulers should rule as they see fit is something that others in the Reactionary camp have rightfully pointed out as foolhardy. Many a king have gone to the chopping block or the guillotine because they didn't listen to what their advisers said about their rule. Kings in the Old Testament were often judged or ended up dead because they forsook the wisdom of their counselors, inferiors, or fellow kings. To give a ruler absolute free reign in doing as he sees fit is not patriarchy, let alone hierarchy - it is tyranny.

Dilemma #3: Blaming the victim.

Again, it has been said by some that domestic violence is, for the most part, completely justifiable. To be fair, many who propose this argument add that the husband shouldn't do any "permanent harm." Even with this rule, however, we have problems.

Let's just forget that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men are victims of some form of domestic violence (source) - in other words, a sizeable number of those who are victims of some form of domestic abuse are men, not women. To put things in perspective, if you had 100 people in the room, split down the middle in regards to gender, then at least 17% of the women and 13% of the men would have experienced some form of domestic abuse from their partner. In one article, the contention was made that, in cases of severe violence, more men are harmed than women (1.8-million women versus 2-million men). Point is, it's not mostly women, let alone mostly wives.

Let's also forget that about 51% of female victims of domesticated violence are physically injured (source). By "injured" that figure includes "broken bones, internal injuries, being knocked unconscious, and any injuries requiring 2 or more days in a hospital." For a Christian Reactionary to say domestic violence situations are mostly justifiable, then add the caveat that the woman shouldn't be physically harmed too much, proves their ignorance in regards to the reality of domestic violence.

Let's also forget that, of all cases of domestic violence, only a little over half involve a spouse, while the rest include other relations (ibid). This means a little under half were other relations besides a married spouse, and not a matter of husband versus wife or vice versa. With domestic intimidation, only 41% involves spouses, the rest non-spouses, so in that case the number drops even further.

This isn't even covering the fact that, when we attempt to say domestic violence is mostly justified, we're basically second-guessing the motive behind domestic violence (ie., the victims were actually disrespectful and hence deserved it). This is done by those within this camp with zero evidence provided for it. How do we know such a case is true? For women who may have been the victim of abuse from their husbands, such a contention seems awfully careless at best, and incredibly crass at worse.

Are there cases when a man might be justified in striking his wife? Sure. If she becomes a zombie and tries to kill him, it might be time to strike. However, to say that most cases of domestic violence are justifiable and the wife's fault, is extremely reckless and factually untrue. It's in essence blaming victims of domestic abuse for the suffering they endure; even if the promoters of this doctrine do not mean it this way, this is how it comes across.

Concluding Remarks

From everything we've seen, it becomes quite clear that there is truly no scriptural foundation for physically disciplining your wife. Those Christian Reactionaries who support this, whether they call themselves Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, cannot, therefore, claim this is a command from God granted to them as husbands.

Of course, the question next comes on how couples do handle issues involving disrespect, sin, etc. Even great men of God throughout history have had to handle this dilemma (see, for example, the conflict between John Wesley and his wife). Obviously, it requires an entire blog post to deal with various examples and the proper handling of said examples, though many of the answers are probably easier resolved than we realized. The husband should, first and foremost, lead, but lead with the mentality towards his wife which Peter called on Christian husbands to have; if he isn't leading at all, then there are some larger spiritual issues on his own part. If the wife is struggling with sin, then she needs accountability and guidance, and the husband, being Christ to the church, should remember that Christ is not a high priest "who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin" (Heb 4:15). In some situations, advice from other godly couples, or pastoral counseling from church superiors, might be necessary. In extreme circumstances, church discipline might have be to utilized (cf. Matt 18:15-18). Whatever the case, nowhere in scripture is the husband commanded to resolve the issue by treating his wife like a child. According to the definitions and distinctions of scripture, she isn't a child, but his own flesh.

Even if it would be impossible to outline every single case, it is still possible to outline and give examples of abuses or erroneous understandings of a doctrine or teaching. In this case, to say that Christian men are given a right and responsibility by God to physically discipline their wives is absolutely erroneous and unscriptural. Even if those within this camp wish to give the caveat that a husband doesn't have to physically discipline his wife, the fact remains they make that option available at all, and do so with supposed justification from scripture, as well as the claim that "domestic violence" is generally nothing more than husbands performing this option. If they wish to make this argument from philosophy, let them make it from philosophy; but to claim it is commanded by God is to force their philosophy upon the word of God, and putting within the mouth of God commands to husbands which are simply not there.


July 28, 2016: I wrote a post in response to someone's counter-response to this post, which can be read here: Re: What is Authority?

August 20, 2016: Another response to someone's counter-response: Re: Corporal Punishment for Wives By Their Husbands

August 24, 2016: And another one, related to the same: Re: Corporal Punishment for Wives By THeir Husbands II