In my article, “A Newlywed Husband’s Experience with Incorporating Domestic Discipline”, we discussed a newlywed husband’s experience with incorporating domestic discipline in his marriage. In this article we will give the other side of that experience with a testimony from his newlywed wife. Her name is Sarah.
Sarah grew up in a relatively conservative Christian home and as you will see from her testimony she was spanked as a child as is normal for conservative Christians. But even among conservative Christians today, wife spanking is no longer a common practice as it once was. So this experience was as strange and new for her as it was for her husband.
Like the first part of her husband’s testimony, this first testimony from Sarah will primarily deal with the introduction of domestic discipline into their new marriage from her perspective as well as the impacts it has made from a high level. In a follow-up testimony on Biblicalsexology.com, we will get a more detailed look at the changes in the sexual arena of their marriage. Below is Sarah’s testimony.
A Newlywed Wife’s Perspective on Domestic Discipline
“When my husband told me that he had located a mature Christian woman to mentor me as instructed in Titus 2:3-5, I did not know what to expect. The wife of the mentor team first took time to get to know me and my Christian background. Then she took me through a few weeks of learning the biblical doctrine on the role of the wife. There is a lot more all throughout the Bible about Biblical gender roles than I knew. Then came applying it to our marriage. You can’t just read it and learn it, you have to apply it, she told me.
I always believed in the value of parents spanking their children, but it was foreign to me to consider a husband spanking his wife. The mentor wife patiently took me through the scriptural support of it and she followed that up with the historical fact that the practice of wife spanking was fairly common until around 100 years ago. After that, I told the mentor wife that I agreed that my husband has authority to spank me, but I don’t think he will much because I am don’t do much wrong. I then told my husband that same day that accepted his authority to use physical punishment with me, in other words I consented to my husband spanking me as he saw fit.
It turns out, my husband was just not addressing everything that I did wrong.
The first time he spanked me, it was not physically real hard, but it was emotionally hard for me. It was a mix of feeling guilty for disappointing him as well as a blow to my pride to accept the spanking. It brought back memories of when I was spanked as a child too. The later spankings were physically more painful. But I can assure you, while they are quite painful in the moment, they did not physically injure me. Injure my pride, yes, physically no. However, I now knew he had this authority, so I submitted to his authority and I grew from it.
All this change has been hard and I am truthfully still adjusting to some of it. These changes have not only included learning new things, but also unlearning some old things. I don’t want to go into too much detail here, but there has been a great deal of changes in our sexual relationship too. Some of the things my husband requires that I do conflict with how I was raised. I had to learn to put away what I was taught in my father’s house and fully submit to my husband’s authority over me. The mentor wife also pointed me to an article on the difference between being what I saw as slutty to being sexy; it comes down to one word: Marriage.
The mentor husband had a number of exercises he suggested to my husband to help me become more sexually submissive. Many of these exercises conflicted with how I was raised, but I learned I needed to submit to my husband. I have also realized that I was turning my husband down too often when he initiated sex and I have corrected that.
One time I was struggling with a specific hurdle. My husband wanted me to do something sexual that I was uncomfortable with. The mentor wife worked with me for days and we discussed it in detail, it was not sinful, but I did not want to do it. Finally, the mentor wife really showed me how my disobedience in this was sinful and I needed to change. I was somewhat stuck. I couldn’t bring myself to do it, but I couldn’t live with the spiritual conviction either. Finally, I asked my husband to spank me to force me over this hurdle. I know this sounds really strange, but it worked. It was a huge blow to my pride to ask my husband to spank me like that, and then to submit to doing what he had requested.
However, looking back several months later, I see how this has been so helpful to our marriage. My obedience even when I did not agree was a critical step. Notice I did say obedience, not submission. By submission, I mean having my feelings agree with my obedience. At first, I learned to obey, then over time my emotions begin to catch up and I learn to truly submit. It is all part of the growth experience. I am glad I have the mentor wife working patiently with me as I go down this road she has already traveled. I am proud to say that every month I have stayed on budget too. That was the initial issue that brought my husband to BGR, but we have grown in so many ways beyond that one issue. Do I recommend this lifestyle change to other women? Yes. It is hard to change, but this more closely aligns with how God designed marriage. I trust that He knows what He is doing.”
What We Learn from This Wife’s Testimony
As with her husband, the incorporation of domestic discipline into their marriage has not been easy for Sarah. Obviously as the one receiving the discipline it has been much harder for her. The changes in being responsible with the money were easy compared to other changes that were required. The most difficult changes have been those in the area of sexual submission. This is an area that all the mentoring couples I work hit hard on. And there is a very important reason that they do this and that reason is a husband’s headship over his wife begins in the marriage bed.
Unfortunately, most Christian teachers today deny a husband’s headship over his wife’s body. Pastor Jonathan Parnell, lead pastor of Cities Church in Minneapolis–St. Paul, Minnesota, wrote a prime example of this all too common false teaching.
In an article he wrote entitled “When the Sex Should Stop” for DesiringGod.org, Pastor Parnell writes:
“The mutuality of sex seen in 1 Corinthians 7:1–5 is clear. The husband’s authority over his wife’s body is no greater than her authority over his. It is a terrible mistake to apply the pattern of gender roles to this issue of sex in such a way that the husband, by virtue of his headship, requires the wife to submit to him sexually…
The church doesn’t need Christian gigolos, but men who willingly lay down their lives, and when called for, their sexual desires, for their wives.”
The statement above that this Pastor wrote is contrary to the teachings of the Bible despite his assertions otherwise. In fact, I have referred to the article above as “a treasure trove of heresy” in a three-part series that I did on this article for my podcast site, Bgrlearning.com where I cover many other false doctrines he teaches in that article.
The Scriptures are clear that the husband is the most powerful of all earthly human authorities as shown below in Ephesians 5:22-24:
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 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. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”
In no other human authority relationship, except that of the husband/wife relationship, is the one under authority told to submit to their human authority “as unto the Lord”. Wives are told to submit to their husbands “in every thing”. There is no exception given for the marriage bed nor would it make any Biblical sense for a husband’s headship to end at the bedroom door.
The Bible does teach mutuality in sex, but not in the way this pastor tells it as seen below in 1 Corinthians 7:1–5:
“Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.”
The passage above teaches us that it is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman if he has the gift of celibacy (1 Corinthians 7:7), but it is “better to marry” if one has the gift of sexual desire (1 Corinthians 7:9). It then tells us that sex is both a right and a duty in marriage for both the husband and the wife.
The only thing “mutual” about sex in marriage according to this passage is that neither the husband nor the wife has the power to deny sexual relations to the other and that they must mutually agree to cease having sex for a short period and then come together again soon so they will not be tempted to have sexual relations outside of marriage.
There is absolutely nothing in 1 Corinthians 7:1–5 that teaches a wife must mutually agree with her husband as to when or how they engage in sexual relations neither does it limit the husband’s headship in the bedroom.
Modern Christian teachers like Pastor Parnell ignore a central Biblical truth and its application to sex in marriage. In Corinthians 11:9 the Bible says:
“Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man”.
When we apply that truth to sex, we can rightly say that sex was not created for the woman, but rather sex was created for the man. Everything about woman, including her ability to give and receive sexual pleasure was created for man.
The Bible affirms this truth in Romans 1:27 when it calls sex “the natural use of the woman”. It never refers to sex as “the natural use of the man”. Why? Because man was not created for woman’s use, but rather woman was created for man’s use.
The Bible also explicitly tells men to have their wives satisfy their sexual desires in Proverbs 5:18-19:
“Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.”
The passages above show us that the Bible actually teaches the very opposite of what Pastor Parnell and so many other Christian teachers teach today.
A man’s headship does not end at the marriage bed, but rather the marriage bed is where a husband’s headship begins. A man who is not master of his wife’s body, is not master of her at all.
This is why I only refer newlywed Christian couples to Christian mentoring couples who not only fully embrace Biblical gender roles, but also those who understand that biblical gender roles begin in the marriage bed.
Often as couples go through these mentoring programs, they will update me on their progress from time to time. And I always smile when I see the same patterns of learning occur with these young wives.
It goes in stages. In most cases, it is not too difficult for young newlywed husbands to train their young newlywed wives in the first level of submission regarding finances, things around the home and simply saying yes to sex whenever he wants it if the woman is a true Bible believing Christian.
However, the difficulty emerges when the husband begins to ask for new things in the sexual arena, things the wife is not comfortable with. It is at this second stage of sexual submission that many wives will look for the escape hatch. They will say things like “I am doing what he wants with the finances and the keeping of the house and I never say no to sex anymore – why can’t he just be happy with that?”.
But the answer to these young wives is always the same. Ephesians 5:22-24 tells us that marriage was created by God to model the relationship of God to his people and in the New Testament of Christ to his church. In verse 24 of Ephesians 5 the Bible says “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing”.
Notice the Bible does not say wives should be subject to their husbands “in every thing they are comfortable with” but rather it simply says “in every thing”. Of course, we understand that wives should not submit to sinful requests of their husbands (Acts 5:29). But a husband asking his wife to do something sexually that is outside her comfort zone does not equal him asking her to sin.
And now a final word to newlywed husbands reading this. In 1 Corinthians 11:7 the Bible says “…woman is the glory of the man” and in Proverbs 12:4 the Scriptures state “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones”.
God meant for your wife to be your crown, your glory. And by bringing you glory; your wife brings God glory. So how does a woman bring glory to her husband? By both her inner and outer beauty. And the most important aspect of a woman’s inner beauty is her full submission to her husband in all things.
In Esther 1:9-12 we read the following story:
“Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahasuerus. On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on. But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s commandment by his chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him.”
Queen Vashti had an opportunity to bring glory to her husband by simultaneously displaying her inner beauty, her submission, and her outer beauty, her body, to her husband’s guests. But as she hosted her own party with the women, she was filled with pride. She may have had the same thought that many women both Christian and non-Christian alike have today. She probably thought “I am not his sex object to parade around for his friends to drool over”. And being filled with pride in the presence of her female friends she refused her husband’s command and in doing so she did the very opposite of what God created wives to do. Instead of being her husband’s crown, she became his shame.
My point to newlywed husbands is this. It is not selfish on your part for you to desire from your wife what God created her for, which was to bring you glory through both the inner beauty of her submission to you and the outer beauty of her body. And it is not selfish for you to discipline your wife to accomplish this purpose, to make your wife the glorious wife God wants her to be toward you.
But make no mistake, this work will require great courage on your part as a newlywed husband. It means having the courage to push your wife outside her comfort zones both inside and outside the bedroom. It means not letting her tears sway you from molding her into the wife to you that God wants her to be. It means being honest with yourself as to what you desire from your wife and as long as that desire is not sinful, bringing these desires to pass in your wife through washing her with the Word of God, rebuking and chastising her as Christ does his church.
And it also means being willing to stand alone against many Christians who will call you selfish for daring to fully exercise your headship in all areas of your marriage, including your headship over your wife’s body.