How Biblical Gender Role’s Discipline Advice is Actually Abuse
This past weekend I may have caused some fine folks’ blood pressure to rise by sharing blogger, Biblical Gender Role’s “7 Ways to Discipline Your Wife” on the SSB Facebook page. I apologized for getting everyone’s Saturday mojo ruined, but I think we had some good discussion.
Since this is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I would like to tackle the seven ways Author (the author is anonymous, so we will call him “Author” ) claims wives can be disciplined. I question that idea. While Author claims that he does not condone Christian Domestic Discipline or physical violence, he fails to recognize how his examples of disciplining a wife are in fact, abusive. In reviewing these examples, I will reference the Duluth Model Power and Control Wheel. This Power and Control Wheel is the standard used by counselors and educators when dealing with domestic violence. While the Biblical Gender Role’s Author does not condone violence (as seen on the outside of the wheel), power and control are the key ingredients in abuse. Power, according to Author, is given to husband by God and it is the husband’s duty to discipline.
#1 A wife may be disciplined for disrespect.
If your wife is speaking in disrespectful and demeaning ways in public in front of others (whether this is toward you or others) this might require a public rebuke of her tone and actions.
Publicly rebuking your wife would fall under the category of emotional abuse. A public rebuking would show that you are attempting to make her feel bad about herself for her words or that you’re trying to humiliate her. If your wife is speaking disrespectfully about you or others in public, it is best to address this in private, and explain how her words affect you.
#2 A wife may be disciplined for overspending.
If your wife is spending money against your wishes – this may require confiscation of her credit cards and ATM cards…..This does not necessarily mean she would have no money, but you could give her a cash allowance each week.
Taking away a wife’s ATM or credit card and giving her an allowance would fit under the category of financial abuse. This is one way that an abuser may hold power over a victim. When the victim has to rely upon the abuser for financial support, it is often difficult for her to leave a domestic violence situation. The wife is held financially captive by her husband.
#3 A wife may be disciplined for “failing to take care of children” or for “contradicting authority” over children.
If your wife is failing to do her duties as a mother toward your children or she is continuing to contradict your authority with the children then perhaps you might put off buying that new car for her and have her continue driving her older car for a while as long as it is safe for her to drive.
At least I can give Author some credit for making sure the wife has a safe car to drive (insert long eye roll). This would fall under the male privilege category of abuse. Here, the husband is told that he can be “master of his castle,” and he can make big decisions such as when to purchase the next car or dishwasher. The husband is the sole person to determine if his wife is not properly taking care of the children, or if he feels his authority is being undermined.
#4 A wife may be disciplined for watching too much TV.
If your wife is watching too much TV you could cancel the cable or satellite TV and just have antenna service.
Again, this is using male privilege to make a big decision. I want to know how the husband is going to know that a wife is watching too much TV if he’s at work all day. Better yet, what if the wife feels like the husband watches too much TV and doesn’t help enough around the house. Does she get to cancel the cable or satellite?
#5 A wife may be disciplined for too much online time.
If your wife is spending too much time online (like Facebook or other social outlets or online shopping) then if she does not respond to your warnings about this you could change your internet code on your router so that her devices will not have access to the internet.
Uh-oh! I’m in trouble here! This is the first example where the word “warning” is used. Are we talking about a child or an adult? Is this husband a police officer? Unless a husband is warning his wife about a potential safety danger, this would fall under intimidation. There is also the issue of social isolation if the wife relies upon use of the internet to connect with friends and family. Removing social connections also prevents her from seeking help.
#6 A wife may be disciplined for neglecting the home.
If your wife is being neglectful of her duties to care for your home then you might put off that new living room furniture set you have been talking about or those new window dressings she has been wanting.
As far as I can tell, a husband who might be able to withhold a new car, dishwasher, internet, cable, furniture or window coverings sounds like he’s got some money. How about hiring a maid to come once a week to help out around the house? I’ll say it one more time, he is exercising male privilege (he wants that castle clean!).
#7 A wife may be disciplined for denying sex.
If your wife is un-submissive in the sexual arena and chronically denies your sexual advances (without legitimate medical or psychological reasons for doing so) then perhaps that upcoming trip you were going to take her on gets canceled.
Even though sexual abuse on the power wheel is on the outside (physical and sexual abuse hold it all together), not providing something because your wife is not giving you enough sex is sexual abuse. If a husband tells a wife that he will not take her on a trip because she’s not giving enough sex, that husband is coercing her to get what he wants. I haven’t done enough digging around on the Biblical Gender Role’s website, but I wonder if Author acknowledges that marital rape exists.
In the end, Author states:
God not only give husbands the power to discipline their wives, but he also gives them to the duty to do this. Men should not discipline their wives out some sort of power trip or prideful arrogance. Instead men should discipline their wives from a place of love in order to bring about holiness and order in their homes.
Abuse is all about power and control. And, no, God does not give husbands power or control (duty) to abuse their wives. He states that men should not discipline out of a “power trip,” yet he states that God gives husband this power! Which is it – power or no power? Author confuses the husband’s showing of love in order to bring holiness and order in the home and does not even see how this borders abuse.
Love does not need the excuse of power and control. Love is patient, kind, not envious, not proud, not dishonoring, not self-seeking, not easily angered, and does not record wrong doing (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
Image credit: Domestic Abuse Intervention Project
Please see SSB Helpful Resources for links and resources on Domestic Violence.