Does the Bible allow a husband to spank his wife?

What a crazy question right? Of course, we all know the answer is NO the Bible does not allow a man to spank his wife. Case closed. This is the typical way that many moral questions are answered today by Christians without them even cracking open their Bible. Wife spanking might be wrong – but if it is wrong we must prove that by looking to the Word of God and not to our feelings or our culture.

The Bible tells us:

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Romans 12:2 (KJV)

So, we are told that we are not to be conformed to what our world or our culture thinks is right but rather we are to renew our minds according to what God thinks is right.  But then how do we know what the will of God is? How do we know what is moral by God’s standards?

“10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Acts 17:10-12 (KJV)

“4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Matthew 4:4 (KJV)

The answer to the question of knowing what is the will of God is to look to his Word found in the Bible.  We need to be as the Bereans who searched the Scriptures daily for the truth of God’s Word and once we find that truth we need to apply it to our lives no matter if it conflicts with our cultural upbringing or not.

What does the Bible say about Wife Spanking?

The Bible does not specifically speak to the situation of wife spanking and some believe because this is the case then wife spanking is forbidden.

But we must be careful when we come to the Bible and it does not address a specific case of behavior with either a positive example or a command.  In these cases where we do not have a situation specifically addressed we must be careful of two extremes.  One is the extreme that we can do anything we want if it is not specifically addressed and the other is if it is not specifically addressed than we cannot do it. Both extremes are wrong.

Instead we must look for general principles the Bible does teach that we can then apply to specific situations the Bible may not speak to.

For instance, the Bible does not say anything about phone sex and web cam sex.  So, would we say it is ok for a man’s wife to have virtual sex through a web cam or phone with another man because the Bible does not address this specific situation? Of course not.

Instead we would look to this general truth taught in the book of Hebrews:

Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”

Hebrews 13:4(KJV)

God only honors and allows sexual relations between a man and woman within the covenant of marriage.  We don’t have to physically touch one another to sexually relate to one another.  We can sexually relate to one through things like web cams, phones, texting and emailing as well.  Any type of sexual relation that is not that of a man and woman within the covenant of marriage is not honored by God, but rather it is condemned.

Another area the Bible does not specifically speak to is physical abuse in the family.  We don’t see the Bible specifically condemning men punching their wives or children in the face but we have this condemnation of masters toward their male and female slaves:

“26 And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake. 27 And if he smite out his manservant’s tooth, or his maidservant’s tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth’s sake.”

Exodus 21:26-27 (KJV)

How would a person get their tooth knocked out or their eye permanently damaged? In most cases it would be their master either punching them in the face or shoving them to the ground where they knocked their head on something causing the injuring.  This tells us God does not approve of punching and shoving as acts of discipline.

So, while this passage in Exodus 21:26-27 does not specifically speak to marriage we can apply this as a general truth to marriage and the family.  If God condemns masters doing these things to their slaves then he certainly condemns husbands and fathers doing these things to their wives and children who have more rights under God’s law than slaves.

Now we need to apply this same method of searching the Scriptures to this area of wife spanking.

Two Biblical Principles That Allow for Wife Spanking

While the Bible does not specifically speak to wife spanking (either specifically allowing it or specifically condemning it) we must ask the question “Are there general principles of the Scriptures that would speak to this issue?” The answer is YES.

Principle #1 – Husbands Have a Right and Responsibility to Discipline their Wives

The Bible tells us that husbands are the head of their wives “as Christ is the head of the Church”:

“23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

Ephesians 5:23-24 (KJV)

Not only are husbands the head of their wives as Christ is the head of the Church but God created marriage to model the relationship of Christ to his Church.  Husbands are to model Christ’s headship over his Church by loving their wives as Christ loves the Church.  One of the primary ways in which Christ loves his Church is in his spiritual washing of her:

“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

Ephesians 5:25-27 (KJV)

This spiritual washing by Christ of the spots and wrinkles of his Church is discipline.  Christ alludes to this same concept in the book of Revelation after rebuking his seven Churches:

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”

Revelation 3:19 (KJV)

So, it is clear from the Scriptures that if a husband is modeling the relationship of Christ to his Church with his wife he has not only the right, but also the responsibility of spiritual disciplining his wife.

Principle #2 – God Allows Physical Punishment As A Form Of Discipline

The Bible tells us that God approves physical punishment as a form of discipline in the following passages:

“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”

Proverbs 13:24 (KJV)

“13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. 14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.”

Proverbs 23:13-14 (KJV)

“If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked. 2 And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number. 3 Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.”

Deuteronomy 25:1-3 (KJV)

“Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.”

Proverbs 19:29 (KJV)

“A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.”

Proverbs 26:3 (KJV)

As we can see from these passages of the Scripture – not only is physical discipline approved by God for children but it is also approved by God for adults.

When we take these two Biblical principles together we see that God has given men both the right and responsibility to discipline their wives and God approves of physical discipline for adults.  Therefore, we can rightly conclude from these two Biblical truths that God allows men to spank their wives.

Objections to Wife Spanking

The primary objection to wife spanking is that such an action infantilizes women, or in other words it treats women as children.  I receive comments like this one I did today all the time:

“Women are no more sinful than men, no less intelligent and shouldn’t be treated like naughty children. If a husband has authority to discipline his wife than a wife should have authority to discipline her husband. They should treat each other with love and fairness. Both are adults; none is a lesser being. A marriage should be a loving partnership.”

There are several false presuppositions in the statement above.

Spanking no more infantilizes a woman than a speeding ticket from a police officer infantilizes a man. Adults can and do discipline other adults all the time.

But some will answer my police officer giving a ticket analogy with “a speeding ticket is a piece of paper and the officer is not bending you over his knee and spanking you”.  The reason for this kind of answer is because in our modern culture we look on any type of physical punishment with disdain.  We think physical punishment, especially toward adults is “uncivilized”.  But such thinking is at odds with the Bible.

Another problem we have is that we think wives are immune from discipline in the home because our culture teaches the false ideology of partnership marriage. Discipline in the home we are told is strictly reserved for children.  So it is easy to understand with these false beliefs about physical punishment and discipline how many people might think wife spanking infantilizes women.

However, the Bible makes it clear in passages like Ephesians 5:22-33 and I Peter 3:1-7 that marriage is not a “partnership” but rather a patriarchy.  It does not get any clearer than “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church” (Ephesians 5:23).

The fact that “both are adults; none is a lesser being” or in other words that both husbands and wives are fully mature human beings is irrelevant.

Does it matter that at my job my boss is an adult and I am adult? The fact is the owner of my company who is an adult has put my boss whose is an adult in charge of me an adult.  It does not even mean that my boss is necessarily smarter than me.  It does not mean I am less of a human being than my boss but rather it means I have a lesser POSITION than my boss.

And the fact is that the Bible is clear that as Christ is the head of the Church so too God the owner of humanity has put male human beings in charge of female human beings in marriage.  It really is that simple.

I also agree that “Women are no more sinful than men” but that is not why God has placed men in charge of women.  Read I Corinthians 11:1-16 and Ephesians 5:22-33.  Really read it.  These passages show it was no accident and it was not because of sin or God just rolling some cosmic dice that he placed men over women in marriage.  These passages show that God created women and the institution of marriage to help men fully image God as husbands and fathers.

Conclusion

God made man to image him and by doing so bring him glory (I Corinthians 11:7).  In order to help man fully image God’s attributes as a husband and father he created woman and by extension marriage for man (I Corinthians 7:9).  God created marriage to create a model of the relationship of God to his people and in the New Testament era of Christ to his Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). Just as Christ loved his Church by giving himself up for her to wash her spiritual spots and wrinkles with the Word of God so too husbands are called to wash their wife’s spiritual spots and wrinkles, in others words they are called to discipline their wives (Ephesians 5:25-27 & Revelation 3:19).

No Scriptural principle or command forbids a man from using physical discipline as method of discipline with his wife. In fact, the Scriptures show God allows physical punishment of adults as a form of discipline in Deuteronomy 25:1-3, Proverbs 19:29 and Proverbs 26:3.

I have received many emails over the years from Christian women who willingly allow their husbands to use spanking as a form of discipline. What they have in common is that they have told me this is a humbling experience for them and reminds them of two things.  It reminds them of their position before their husband that God has placed them in.  It also reminds them that their husband truly loves them as Christ said of his Churches in Revelation 3:19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”

I know a lot of other women who truly believe in Biblical gender roles and try very much to submit to their husband’s leadership and even non-physical discipline.  But they struggle with this concept of wife spanking because in our modern culture spanking is only associated with children so they believe it is a husband treating his wife as his child instead of his wife.

I would encourage such women to reconsider these thoughts and not conform their thinking to the culture they have been raised in.  I would encourage these Christian women to renew their minds according to the Word of God.

A Word of Caution to Christian Men Regarding Wife Spanking

But I want to close this with some words of caution on this subject of wife spanking.

Am I saying a man can do anything he wants to his wife and call it physical discipline? Absolutely not! See my article on “What Does The Bible Say About Abuse?” for more on that subject.

But even if wife spanking is not practiced in an abusive way we as Christian husbands need to exercise caution in this area. I have stated multiple times in this article that the Scriptures show that husbands have that right and responsibility to discipline their wives.  But as in many other areas in life there is more than one way to skin a cat.  The Bible does not command men that the only way they may discipline their wives is through spanking.

We as Christian husbands who are trying to being faithful to God by fully exercising Biblical gender roles need to realize there is a great persecution going on against God’s design of gender roles and those who would exercise them.  I believe that because of the “present distress” (1 Corinthians 7:26), in other words the persecution of those who would fully exercise all their rights under the doctrines of Biblical gender roles, that we should do as Paul did and forgo exercising some of those rights (1 Corinthians 9:1-15).

I am not in any way saying we as Christian husbands should forego exercising our spiritual headship over our wives including disciplining them. In fact, if we don’t discipline our wives in one way or the other we are failing to image Christ in his relationship with his Church.  Christ does not leave his church uncorrected or undisciplined and neither should we as husbands leave our wives uncorrected or undisciplined.  But there are non-physical ways that we can discipline our wives.  See my article “7 Ways to Discipline Your Wife” for non-physical ways that you can still exercise this right and responsibility as a Christian husband.

I think in this area of wife spanking that we as Christian husbands need to heed Christ’s admonition in Matthew 10:16 to be wise as serpents.  While we do not need our wife’s consent to spank her anymore than we need her consent to discipline in her in any other way we need to realize that the wicked culture we live in is completely hostile to the teachings and exercise of Biblical gender roles. If you were to try and physically force your wife to receive a spanking you may accidentally cause serious harm to her in the process of forcing her to receive a spanking. Even if you can physically force her to receive a spanking without bringing any harm to her the fact remains under our legal system you could be arrested and brought up on charges if she were to report you.

So, my final word on this subject is this.  Wife spanking is within the rights that God has granted to a husband as his wife’s spiritual head.  I would never condemn any man for engaging in wife spanking as long as he did not engage in truly abusive physical behavior toward her.  If wife spanking is done in a loving and controlled manner as all discipline should be done then this is holy and righteous before God.

Note: This article has been completely rewritten as of February 18, 2018 from it original posting on September 20, 2016.  Because of this I have removed the previous comments and invite new comments on this updated version of the article.

Is it wrong for my Christian husband to make me wear a chastity belt?

chastity_belt

“What are your feelings about a husband placing a chastity belt on a wife to prevent masturbation or fondling?” This a question I received in an email from a woman named Mary.

As I told her in my emails to her this is the first time anyone has ever written me about this.  I knew what a chastity belt is but usually we think of this as some medieval device long since gone out of use.

There is a great debate amongst historians as to if chastity belts were ever actually used in ancient times or if they were simply urban myths meant to scare women into guarding their sexual purity.

But there was an actual incident this year where an Italian woman had to call the fire fighters to cut her out of her own chastity belt because she lost the keys:

“Chastity belts might sounds as though they belong in the Middle Ages, but this week an Italian woman was forced to enlist the help of local firefighters after she became stuck in her own iron number.

The middle-aged woman, who can’t be named for privacy reasons, had lost the keys to her belt and asked firefighters to help cut her out. They investigated whether she’d been forced into wearing it – but it turned out she’d had chosen to wear the belt to prevent herself from embarking on a sexual relationship.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/chastity-belts-the-odd-truth-about-locking-up-womens-genitalia/

So with all that being said as a background here is Mary’s full story and then I will respond.

Mary’s Story

“What are your feelings about a husband placing a chastity belt on a wife to prevent masturbation or fondling?  Does he have that authority?  He believes that if I self-gratify myself, that I am taking away from our mutual pleasure.  The device is a belt, from which a shield covers my private parts and is locked on…allowing for urination, but not for fingers.  So, it works, but I always worry someone will find out, which would be highly embarrassing.

And I am grateful he cares so much for our intimacy.  But, it does have that medieval bondage aspect to it.  As I already stand out in my manner of dress, I feel like it is just another distinction I have from my friends and fellow Christians.  Then, I wonder if there are other Christian wives out there who have to follow rules like me, and I will never know because of their secrecy.  Make sense?

I am sure the issue of consent will be raised by commenters.  I do consent (even though I cannot remove it, if I wanted) but the question is do I have to consent to such a request by husband as a Christian wife?”

An update from Mary

A couple weeks after Mary sent me the original email you see above she then sent me this update:

“I wanted to give you an update.  I have not been a fan of wearing the belt and shield, but I see the wisdom in it.  Since early July, Jim has had me wear it each day.  It is amazing to me how much I had been sinning by consciously or unconsciously gratifying myself.  Obviously, the belt prevents me from using my fingers or an object.

But, I found out that I had been sitting and leaning against things to evoke that same stimulus without realizing it—but the shield prevents that.  For example, when in the kitchen waiting on something to bake, I would stand on one leg and draping my other leg over a bar stool in the kitchen.  With the belt/shield on, I suddenly realized that I was, passively, doing this to give some light pleasure to myself.   Because, the belt/shield prevents this, I realized that I had formerly been doing this as a way of comfort, and that this posture made no other sense.

Make sense?

Our intimacy has been greatly increased when he unlocks the belt.  I still have mixed emotions about why I was so weak to necessitate him doing this.  However, I love that he jealously wants to protect our intimacy and relationship.”

I respond to Mary’s seeming acceptance of this practice of wearing a chastity belt asking her why she thought she had “been sinning by consciously or unconsciously gratifying myself.” This was her response:

“My thoughts were that gratifying myself can be wrong under the following circumstances:

  1. Hurts our spouse: Like you said, if I gratify myself often enough, then I do have much less sexual desire for my husband.  This did get to be a problem for us (not proud to admit it)

  2. Gratifying myself retrained my brain away from my husband: When I gratify myself, I have a couple or routine fantasies I dwell upon.  Well, those fantasies do not involve my husband, but other scenarios or people.  So, when I have sex with my husband, my body was not reacting to him like my body was reacting in my fantasies.  I guess I was training it to respond to a certain stimulus in my fantasy, and my husband is just not able to provide that same stimulus in real life.

  3. By dwelling on circumstances or people outside my marriage bed to feed my fantasies, would that not be considered mental adultery, and thus make it a sin?”

My Response to Mary and other Women who are forced to wear chastity belts

I think we really have two issues here.  The first is the issue of whether masturbation is Biblically right or wrong and the second is if chastity belts are an appropriate response to masturbation if in fact it is Biblically wrong.

Now what percentage of chastity belts are worn by women trying to guard themselves from sexual temptation and what percentage are from husbands who make their wives wear them? Who knows?  But in either case it is apparent there is some subculture no matter how small that is employing the use of these devices.

The first question we need to answer is about the morality of masturbation.

Is Masturbation wrong for a Christian?

This is a huge subject that could take a whole article by itself which is why I wrote an entire article dedicated to answering this question from a Biblical perspective entitled “Is Masturbation a sin” a while back.

The short answer is that masturbation is not a sin in and of itself and the Bible never condemns it.

Rather than repeat everything in the article I wrote on masturbation here I will just address the most popular argument that has been used to say God does not approve of masturbation.

“9 And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.  10 And the thing which he did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him also.”

Genesis 38:9-10 (KJV)

This story in Genesis 38 is about a man named Onan who was called upon to fulfill his duty to enter into levirate marriage with his sister-in-law after his brother had died and not left her a son to be an heir for his estate.  Instead of fulfilling his duty to give his dead brother’s wife an heir, he had sex with her and then pulled out at the end.

God did not kill Onan for masturbating.  God did not even kill Onan for pulling out.

Neither are sinful activities. Onan could have refused to take his brother’s wife as his wife. Yes it would have been a shame on him but this would not have been worthy of death.  What was worthy of death was the fact that he enjoyed his brother’s wife sexually “he went in unto his brother’s wife” but his intent was fraudulent and that is why he pulled out (“spilled it on the ground”).  This is the wickedness for which God killed Onan.

Can masturbation become sinful?

I have shown from the Bible that masturbation in and of itself is never condemned in the Scriptures.  However there are many things that are not sinful in and of themselves but they can become sinful if they become the central focus of our lives or if they cause us to sin by neglecting our duties.

For instance I play video games with my kids on Friday nights – that is family night for us.  There is no sin in playing video games during our fun time together on the weekend.  However if I were to play video games during the week to the neglect of my job or spending time with my wife and children in other ways it could become an obsession and sinful.

We need to eat.  There is no sin in us desiring food and eating on a daily basis.  However, if we live for food and constantly over-eat simply for the pleasure of eating we commit the sin of gluttony.

Masturbation is actually much closer to us eating food than to us playing video games.  There is no biological imperative to play a video game.  There is however a biological imperative to seek sexual release.

Some say masturbation, sexual thoughts and sexual intercourse are not needs but simply wants.  After all – no one ever died from not masturbating or not having sex right?

What these same people miss is that while not having sex will not kill an individual – it will however kill a marriage and lack of sex if done on a consistent level worldwide would kill off the human race.

So in the same way that we are compelled as individuals to eat so we will not die, we are also compelled as spouses and as a human race to have sex so as to build intimacy in our marriages an ultimately to preserve the human race.

But can masturbation become sinful? Absolutely.  If we do it too often to the neglect of our other responsibilities then it becomes a sin to the extent that we overdue it. If we come to the point where as a married people we would rather masturbate than have sex with our spouse then we need to look at how often we are masturbating.

But as I have often argued on this site in other places I believe that as Christians our sexual fantasies, the use of SOME types of porn (not all porn) and masturbation can in fact be used in positive ways to increase our desire for our spouse or help us to understand our bodies better.  Masturbation can also help teens, college students and other singles to stay sexually pure and not seek sexual relations outside of marriage. Masturbation can also make up for differences in sexual desire between spouses.

So up to this point we have established three very important truths.

Masturbation in and of itself is never condemned in the Bible.

Masturbation when done in moderation can have positive benefits.

Masturbation can become sinful if it is overdone causing the neglect of our other responsibilities and especially if it causes us to neglect our spouse sexually.

Mary’s case is a prime example of masturbation impeding a person’s sexual desire toward their spouse.  She admits here that her masturbation was interfering with her desire for her husband.  Mental fantasies, the use of porn and masturbation can all become wrong if those things decrease our desire for our spouse.

But how should Mary and her husband handle her masturbating too much? Is a chastity belt the right answer to this problem?

Is the use of chastity belts by Christians wrong?

I believe the use of chastity belts by Christian women whether the use is voluntary by the woman or compulsory by the husband is in fact wrong and sinful.

It is sinful for two reasons.

Chasity belts are wrong because they remove free will and place people in bondage

“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

II Corinthians 3:17 (KJV)

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

Galatians 5:1 (KJV)

Bondage is the complete opposite of freedom and a chastity belt is a form of bondage. God wants us to freely choose to do what is right. Bondage takes away that choice.

Now are there consequences for wrong choices with God? Yes!

God gave Adam a choice regarding the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2:16-17.

God gave the Israelites a choice in Deuteronomy 30:15-18 to serve him or disobey him and he told them what would happen based on their choice.

Christ presents us with a choice to believe in him or not we are told the consequences of that decision in John 3:18 as well as many other New Testament passages.

There are few and rare times where the Bible allows for bondage or slavery.  In the case of prisoners who have committed crimes or in war captives may be taken.  If a person was born a slave, or sold themselves as a slave in order to pay their debts this would be allowed. Parents could sell their children as slaves and often times this was to bring their families out of poverty.

But nowhere does the Bible say that husbands can treat their wives as prisoners which is in essence what this practice of a man forcing his wife to wear a chastity devise does.

The practice of using chastity belts is a harsh and cruel treatment of the body

Here are several passages of Scripture which forbid us from being cruel to or harshly treating our bodies:

“Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.”

Leviticus 19:28 (KJV)

“For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church”

Ephesians 5:29 (KJV)

“20 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”

Colossians 2:20-23 (NASB)

What Mary and her husband are doing with her wearing a chastity is direct violation of Colossians 2:20-23.  It is textbook “self-abasement and severe treatment of the body”.

What should Mary do?

I have shown here why I believe Mary’s practice of wearing a chastity belt is wrong whether she does it by choice or is compelled by her husband to do so. Mary is not to submit herself this type of bondage and cruel treatment toward her body.

But Mary does have a problem with masturbating too much and allow her fantasies to get out of hand to the point that she cannot have good normal relations with her husband.

Instead of placing herself in bondage – Mary needs to exercise self-control and discipline.  She needs to choose do the right thing without having a chastity device to compel her choice.

“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

I Corinthians 6:12 (KJV)

Photo Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fomfr_chastity_belt.jpg