I just released a brand new podcast to my podcast site BGRLearning.com. “His Image Our Purpose” is a completely new version of the first podcast series I did for my podcast site. This time instead of it being 12 parts, it is one – one hour condensed podcast. I talk about the two most important doctrines in the Bible in this podcast – the doctrine of the Gospel first, and then the doctrine of Biblical gender roles.
I have made this part of the free area of my podcast site – you don’t have to subscribe to listen. You can listen for free to this podcast here.
Previously I have shown Domestic Discipline to be both a Biblical concept as well as a historical practice amongst husbands for thousands of years on my Instagram page @biblicalsexandiscipline and on my blog Biblicalgenderroles.com as well as podcasts series on BGRLearning.com.
This new 3-part podcast series is not a like any of my previous writings on the subject of Domestic Discipline. It is not a defense of Domestic Discipline. I have already done that in my previous posts like “The Biblical Case for Domestic Discipline” . This podcast series is about the practical application of Domestic Discipline. It is based on my real-world experiences doing personalized mentoring programs with more than 20 husbands over the past 4 years. Most of these husbands never believed their wives would ever accept CDD, but today the majority of their wives do.
How does a Christian man go about introducing Domestic Discipline into his marriage and what techniques actually work? What kinds of reactions can he expect from his wife as he introduces this into his marriage and how should he respond to his wife’s reactions? All of these questions and more are answered in this podcast series.
Not only do their wives accept the particular program of domestic discipline that I teach – but through this particular domestic discipline program these husbands have achieved 100 percent submission from their wives. In other words, they have achieved complete dominion over their wives as God commanded of Adam and all husbands in Genesis 3:16.
And let me be clear what I mean by “100 percent” submission. I don’t mean their wives are perfect and sinless. What 100% submission means is these wives have eliminated the phrase “I am not comfortable with that” from their speech to their husbands. And if they fail to submit or they fail in other duties as wives – they willingly accept Domestic Discipline.
Click on the image at the top or you can click here to go BGRLearning.com to subscribe and listen to this series as well as hundreds of other biblical gender roles related podcasts.
The unfortunate reality is that there are many Christian teachers out there who claim to embrace Biblical patriarchy, when in fact they are simply complementarians in sheep’s clothing. Doug Wilson is one of those teachers who claims to be a believer in Biblical Patriarchy but essentially, he is a Complementarian when it comes to marriage. I am not saying complementarians are evil people. I used to be one. And I am not saying Doug Wilson is a bad person, or even questioning whether he is a genuine Bible believing Christian – because I believe he is a good Christian man. But what I am saying is this. If you want to learn about the true and historic Christian views of biblical gender roles which are encapsulated in Biblical Patriarchy – do not use the writings of Doug Wilson as your source of what true Biblical Patriarchists believe.
But before I get into why I believe Doug Wilson is a counterfeit Biblical Patriarchist, I first want to review with you the three systems of Biblical interpretation we see in Christianity today as it relates to gender roles.
Biblical Patriarchy is a belief system which reflects the historic Christian view of biblical teachings regarding gender roles. Is derived from a natural and literal reading of the Biblical texts of both the Old and New Testaments. This natural and literal reading reveals that God has designed the family unit as a patriarchy or literally “father ruled” institution. The children obey their parents, and the wife obeys her husband as her earthly lord as the church obeys Christ. Also, Biblical Patriarchy accepts the Biblical teachings that men are to rule over women not just in the home, but also in the church and civil society.
Egalitarianism (otherwise known as Christian Feminism) is a philosophy which fully embraces everything secular humanism teaches, minus the atheism. Because of this, Egalitarians reject much of the Bible’s teachings on patriarchal order and they claim that Christ came to redeem us from the “evils of patriarchy”. Many Christian Egalitarians are honest in the fact that they reject the concept of Biblical inerrancy knowing their belief system is incompatible with a belief in Biblical inerrancy. Some attempt to say they still believe in Biblical inerrancy, but to do so they have to utterly mangle many texts in the Bible from their clear and natural readings.
Egalitarians believe women should have equal rights with men, that that they should be able to be pastors and teachers of men in churches and that they should be able to hold authority over men in civil offices. They believe that marriage is an equal partnership between a man and woman, not a patriarchy.
“Complementarianism was started as a reaction to the false teachings of egalitarianism. The term “Complementarian” was coined by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) in 1988…
John Piper explains that complementarianism was designed to take the “middle ground” between what he and other Christian leaders saw as “two kinds of errors” in the churches…
In the complementarian view, a husband may only lead his wife by example or suggestions to her, but he may never lead her by commanding her or seeking to control her through coercive methods. And it is precisely because of the denial that male domination of woman is God’s command, that complementarianism teaches a hollow and weak form of male headship and female submission in the home.
When it comes to the doctrines of the Bible concerning gender roles, there is no “middle ground” and no room for compromise with egalitarianism. Complementarianism is a counterfeit doctrine of male headship and female submission.”
The “two errors” which pastors like John Piper meant to address with their new “Complementarian” approach to the Scriptures were Egalitarianism and Biblical Patriarchy. In other words, John Piper and many conservative Bible preaching pastors had come to the position that the historic Christian view of gender roles which Biblical Patriarchy espoused, was in error. That Christians had misunderstood the Bible’s teachings on gender roles for 2000 years and Complementarians finally got it right in 1988.
But the truth is that Complementarianism was simply a new way of interpreting the Bible to make it better placate our post-feminist society without fully going over to Egalitarianism. Oh, for sure Piper and many other big complementarian evangelical preachers will claim that they oppose feminism. But when you really drill down into it, they embrace a great deal of feminist values. And the truth is they believe they had to. For them to stay faithful to what the Bible actually teaches and what Biblical patriarchy espouses would have cost them dearly in terms of the membership and offerings.
And now that I have shown you the distinctions between egalitarianism, complementarianism and Biblical patriarchy I can now get to the heart of the matter regarding Doug Wilson.
Why Doug Wilson is a Counterfeit Biblical Patriarchist
In the Scriptures, God has established three main spheres of human authority and those are the family, the church and civil government. And God has granted the authorities in each of these spheres the power and responsibility to discipline those under their authority.
The methods of discipline which God allows are different for each sphere of authority. God grants civil government the power to not only use corporal punishment, but also the power to use capital punishment (Deuteronomy 25:1-3, Romans 13:4). God does not grant the power of corporal punishment or capital punishment to the church, but rather the church has the power of excommunication (1 Corinthians 5). God does not grant the power of capital punishment to the family, but he does allow corporal punishment within the family sphere of authority.
Many Christians, including Doug Wilson, would not disagree with parents disciplining their children, either through corporal punishment or other non-physical means. In fact, Doug Wilson encourages parents to spank their children as long as it done in a loving manner. In his article “Loving Little Ones 1” [Loving Little Ones 1 | Blog & Mablog (dougwils.com) ]Wilson writes:
“Discipline is corrective, and it is applied for the sake of the one receiving it. It is not punitive, and it is not rendered for the sake of the one giving it.
When you are spanking a child, you are either being selfish or you are being selfless—one or the other. You are doing it because you are exasperated, frustrated, beside yourself, and frazzled, or you are doing it as a fragrant offering to the God of your fathers.”
But then we come to an article written by Doug Wilson that was recently sent to me by one of my readers. The article is entitled “And Now a Brief Word for the Wife Beaters”. Below is an excerpt from that article:
“I am far from denying the biblical truth that a rod is for the back of fools (Prov. 26:3Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)). Nor do I deny that a woman could be numbered among such fools. But such a woman would be far gone in her folly, and the only fool bigger than that would be the guy who married her. So before we beat her for her uppity rebellions, I would suggest we flog him for being such an idiot. If he were to object that this is mean-spirited and unjust, I would reply that it sounds to me that he has been influenced by the spirit of egalitarianism. Must be one of those new softie men.
Since the difficulty was apparently found in my #11, let us discuss that for a moment.
“The Bible does not teach husbands to enforce the requirement that was given to their wives. Since true submission is a matter of the heart, rendered by grace through faith, a husband does not have the capacity to make this happen. His first task is therefore to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He is to lead by example.”
The key words here are enforce and make. No mortal can force such a thing. It does not come from right-handed power.”
Wilson makes it clear in the article above that he is completely opposed to a husband disciplining his wife in any way, whether it be physically or non-physically. He denies that a husband has the right to seek to compel his wife’s submission to him by any means and that he may only lead by example.
He is teaching exactly what Complementarianism teaches, that the husband is a figure head leader to his wife. As true believers in Biblical patriarchy, we would agree that husbands should lead by example. But husbands are also compelled by God to lead by disciplining their wives as well.
In Ephesians 5:25 the Bible commands husbands to love their wives “even as Christ also loved the church” and Christ said to his churches in Revelation 3:19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent”. A man that does not rebuke and chasten his wife is not loving his wife as Christ loves his church. That is clear teaching of the Scriptures. And that is why Christian husbands who ascribed to the teachings of the Bible for centuries had disciplined their wives both physically and non-physically.
The Bible may not mandate physical discipline for wives, but it does mandate that a husband use some form of discipline with his wife. And no Biblical principle or command would disallow a husband from physically disciplining his wife.
We have clearly established from Doug Wilson’s own words that he believes husbands do not have the power to compel the obedience of their wives and that they may only lead by example. A person who may only lead by example is not an authority at all, but rather they are just a figure head. Therefore, Wilson has reduced husbands to mere figure head leaders of their wives and not real authorities over them. And this teaching that a wife’s submission to her husband is voluntary, and may not be compelled from her husband, is a core tenant of complementarianism.
The Scriptures tell us that wives are to regard their husbands as their earthly lords (1 Peter 3:5-6) and to submit to them “as unto the Lord…in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-24). There is no other human authority where God commands those under them to submit to them “as unto the Lord” except the husband. The husband’s authority over his wife is far greater than that of a father’s authority over his children because the husband’s authority is lifelong and he also has sexual authority over his wife.
The husband’s authority, unlike that of civil authorities and church authorities, is a very personal authority. No other authority has such control over the personal day to day decisions of another human being. No other authority has such control over another person’s body. And that is why the true Biblical teaching of a husband’s authority over his wife is so threatening and scary to Americans and other Westerners who fully ascribe to individualism.
If you talk to Biblical Patriarchists online or in person you will find that a core doctrine they believe in is that of the husband’s responsibility to discipline his wife. Some might not believe a husband has the God given authority to spank his wife, but they believe that husbands have the right and responsibility to discipline their wives in some form or fashion.
Doug Wilson, and other complementarians, have taken the husband from being the greatest human authority God ever established (aside from Christ himself) to making the husband the weakest authority. And in truth, the husband is not really an authority at all, but merely a figure head leader.
I am sure Doug Wilson is a good Christian man just like John Piper is. But while he may be a good Christian man, Doug Wilson in fact a counterfeit Biblical Patriarchist.
For more on the Biblical case for and historic precedent of wife spanking (aka Domestic Discipline) I would encourage you to read these articles I wrote on the subject:
It is very common in post-feminist Christendom to hear pastors and other Christian teachers teach that men should make themselves fully accountable to their wives. Men are told they should share all their passwords for their phones, laptops, other devices, social media accounts and bank accounts. Of course women are told to do the same with their husbands as well.
The rationale for this recommendation is that it helps husbands and wives to to defend their marriage against infidelity and other sins that either the husband or wife may be tempted by. And this is not just about sexual fidelity, it is also about things like diet, finances and parenting issues.
While I have a lot of respect for Dennis and Barbara Rainey from Family Life Ministries, this is one area where he follows the modern Christian crowd which has been poisoned by femininist ideology. On his website under an article entitled “Accountability With Your Spouse” Mr. Rainey writes:
“The wise preacher declared, “Two are better than one because … if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up” (Ecclesiastes. 4:9–10). That Scripture shouts the value of mutual support or accountability in marriage.”
Sorry Mr. Rainey, but no – that Scripture does not “shout .. accountability in marriage”. Ecclesiastes 4:9–10, while being widely read at weddings, is not a Bible passage specifically talking about marriage. It is talking about friendship. Now someone might respond to what I just said with the question “Do you think friendship is not part of marriage?” and I would answer that yes I believe friendship is a part of marriage. But there are different kinds of friendship – there is friendship between equals, like two men or two women being friends. And then there are friendships between authorities and those under them. The Bible speaks of this kind of friendship between those who are not equals in James 2:23 where the Bible says “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”.
God refers to a woman as the companion of her husband (Malachi 2:14), but it never refers to her as his equal. Instead, the Bible makes clear that the husband is head (Ephesians 5:23) and master (1 Peter 3:6) of his wife. Therefore the friendship between a husband and wife will be and should be very different than a friendship between say two men or two women.
The Bible does encourage Christians to keep themselves accountable to other Christians in James 5:16 where the it says “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”.
So, the question is not whether husbands should keep themselves accountable, because they absolutely should. The question is whether husbands should keep themselves accountable to their wives. And the answer to this question is absolutely NOT.
Christian husbands should find other godly Christian men to keep themselves accountable with but certainly not their wives.
The reason husbands should not allow their wives to be their accountability partners is because such an arrangement breaks the model of marriage that God has designed. God did not design marriage as a partnership, but rather he designed it as a patriarchy. God designed marriage to model the relationship between God and his people and Christ and his church. Is Christ subject to his church or his church subject to Christ? We know the answer from the Scriptures (See Ephesians 5:24).
Wives however, are accountable to their husbands as the church is accountable to Christ and it is also good for women to find other godly women to keep themselves accountable with as well (see Titus 2:3-5).
Am I Saying Husbands and Wives Should Not Communicate At All?
Affirming the Biblical the truth that a husband making himself morally accountable to his wife breaks the model of the headship of Christ over his church does not mean that husbands should not communicate with their wives about their daily lives. Husbands should try to communicate their work schedules with their wives so that their wives can plan meals and other family events around the husband’s work. And while a husband does not have to reveal the complete family financial picture to his wife, he should communicate on a regular basis how much money the wife has to work with as she manages the domestic needs of the home. Husbands and wives also need to talk about things going on with their children.
And a husband must remember that while he is not morally accountable to his wife, she is in fact morally accountable to him. And that requires him to communicate with her on a regular basis to hear what she has been doing in her daily life.
Am I Saying Husbands Should Not Ask Their Wives For Forgiveness When They Sin Against Them?
If I had a dime for every time a woman wrote me with the comment “You know husbands are sinners too!” I would be a rich man. Of course husbands are sinners. The Bible says in Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” and that “all” includes both men and women. The only person to ever walk this earth and be sinless was Jesus Christ.
But to you ladies who always write me that husbands are sinners too, do you not realize that God knew that when he told women in Ephesians 5:23-24 “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”.
God was saying to wives – “I know your husband is sinner just like you, but I want you to submit to him anyway. I want you to model the submission of the Church to Christ toward your husband, even though your husband is not sinless like Christ”.
I say all that to acknowledge the fact that yes husbands will sometimes sin against their wives. And when they sin against their wife, they need to ask God and their wife for forgiveness. A husband does not ask his wife for forgiveness of a sin against her because he is morally accountable to her, but rather he asks her for forgiveness because he is morally accountable to God and God wants him to seek the forgiveness of those he has sinned against.
In 1 Peter 3:7 the Bible says a man’s prayers may be hindered because of his mistreatment his wife and in Luke 17:3-4, Christ encouraged Christians to repent of their sins toward one another and for the offended party to receive that repentance and forgive the person for their offense.
Your Husband Does Not Have To Ask Your Forgiveness For Sins Not Directly Against You
Many Christian wives today see themselves as their husband’s priestess whom he must come to and confess his daily transgressions. Ladies you are not your husband’s confessor! Your husband must confess all his sins to God and only those sins to you which are directly against you. And yes if he has a male accountability partner, he may confess his sins to them, but he is not asking them for forgiveness but rather keeping them informed so they can pray for him and so he can receive encouragement to do better.
Just Because You Think It Is Sin, Does Not Make It Sin
A lot of wives today try to turn everything they think their husband does wrong into a sin against them. Whether it be things he does that they think she shouldn’t do, or things he does not do that they think he should – wives have a bad habit of assembling lists of sins in their minds that they think their husbands are committing.
Ladies listen up and listen good. You are not the spiritual authority of your home. You do not determine what is and is not sin. But rather it is God and the human spiritual head God has appointed over you, your husband, that determine what is sin in your home. Let me clarify that last part so it cannot be twisted. I am not saying that if your husband commands you to murder someone or have a threesome of with one of his guy friends from work that he can say those things are not sin and you must do it. Nor am I saying he may not actually be committing sin when you think he is.
But when I say that your husband does determine what is and is not sin in your home I mean that God has appointed him the spiritual interpreter and applier of the Scriptures for you as his wife. In 1 Corinthians 14:35 the Bible says of wives “And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home”.
That means if the Bible does not directly speak to something, but your husband applies Scriptural principles and determines a rule against or allowance for an activity – his rule for you is law. And if you break the law of your husband, you break the law of God.
Wives the conclusion of the matter is this – butt of his business and leave your husband to God.
In Hebrew and Greek, the original languages of the Bible, there is no word for husband. Instead, the Bible uses two words to refer to husbands and these words can refer to men that are not husbands as well.
In the Hebrew of the Old Testament husbands are often referred to as “ish” which means “a male human being” and the New Testament also uses the Greek equivalent word for male which is “aner” to refer to husbands. In other words, one of the ways to refer to a woman’s husband in ancient times was simply to refer to him as “her man”.
The second word which the Bible uses to refer to a woman’s husband is very offensive to modern ears. The Hebrew word “baal” is used 15 times in the Old Testament to refer to a woman’s husband. The Hebrew word “baal” means “master/owner”. There is also an adverb use of “baal” which means “owned”. The word is used to refer to masters, home owners, a pagan deity and to husbands.
The following passage from the book of Exodus illustrates the use of baal where it is not a referring to a woman’s husband.
“7 If a man shall deliver unto his neighbour money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man’s house; if the thief be found, let him pay double.8 If the thief be not found, then the master [BAAL] of the house shall be brought unto the judges, to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods.
9 For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbour.
10 If a man deliver unto his neighbour an ass, or an ox, or a sheep, or any beast, to keep; and it die, or be hurt, or driven away, no man seeing it:11 Then shall an oath of the Lord be between them both, that he hath not put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods; and the owner [BAAL] of it shall accept thereof, and he shall not make it good.
12 And if it be stolen from him, he shall make restitution unto the owner [BAAL] thereof.”
Exodus 22:7-12 (KJV)
Notice in the passage above that baal is translated as “master” in verse 8, then as “owner” in verses 11 and 12. The reason for this that baal in the context of a house meant the head of household or literally the master of the house. But in the context of goods being held or exchanged, baal referred to the owner of the goods.
Now let’s look at the following passage refers to a husband’s mastery and ownership over his wife:
“If a man be found lying with a woman married [BAAL used as verb] to an husband [BAAL used as noun], then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.
Deuteronomy 22:22 (KJV)
The phrase “a woman married to an husband” is most literally translated from the Hebrew as “a woman owned by an owner”.
In the Proverbs 31 regarding the virtuous wife, the Bible refers to her husband not as her “ish” (her man), but rather as her “baal” (her master):
“10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband [BAAL – master] doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil…
23 Her husband [BAAL – master] is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land…
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband [BAAL – master] also, and he praiseth her.“
Some Christians, unwilling to accept the Biblical teaching that a husband is the master and owner of his wife, have tried to claim that since “ish”(meaning man) is used more often than “baal” to refer to a woman’s husband that this is how God wants a wife to see her husband, as her man and not as her master. These Christian’s see a husband’s mastery over his wife as a result of sin and something God only temporarily allowed.
Some have even tried to point to the following Old Testament passage to say God’s preference is for women to see their husbands as their “man” and not “master”:
“And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali.”
Hosea 2:16 (KJV)
In the passage above God was not giving up his mastery over his wife, Israel. But rather he saying he wanted her to see him as BOTH her man and her master. Ishi was the tender and affectionate way that women sometimes referred to their husbands. In essence, God wanted his wife Israel to say to him “You are not just my master, but you are my man”.
The passage below from the New Testament, settles once and for all whether or not a husband’s mastery over his wife was a result of sin or his design from the beginning of creation:
“For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord [Greek KURIOS – “master”]: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”
1 Peter 3:5-6 (KJV)
The fact that the Apostle Peter commands women, Christian women, to follow the examples of Old Testament women like Sarah who called their husband’s “lord” (master) confirms for us that a husband’s mastery over his wife was God’s design from the very beginning of creation.
How Masters of Wives Became Husbands
Many centuries after the New Testament was finished, English, like other languages came up with a new word to refer specifically to the master and owner of a wife. Originally husband meant “master of the house”. So the early English translations of the Bible translated “baal” as “husband” instead of master as they believed it helped refer to a specific kind of master, the master of a wife.
In no way was the translation of a master of a wife as “husband” meant to weaken a man’s authority over his wife. English common law, following Biblical law, recognized a husband’s full ownership over his wife and children. When it came to his wife, a man could override any of his wife’s decisions and had complete control over her life, again in keeping with Biblical law (see Numbers 30, Ephesians 5:22-24:).
American Society Rejects the Mastery of Husband Over His Wife
The term “master” in our American society is seen as a very negative term and evokes images of slave masters acting cruelly toward their slaves. But in the Bible, the term master was not automatically associated with slavery or cruelty. It recognizes that there were just slave masters and cruel slave masters.
The Bible also recognizes a concept that we as 21st century Americans cannot understand. That to be owned and master by someone does not automatically make you a slave. In other words, while a husband is his wife’s master, meaning that he does own her and control her life, that does not make her his slave.
The Bible shows that husbands as masters of their wives have far greater responsibilities toward their wives than masters of slaves. In Ephesians 5:25-29, the Bible commands that husbands are to be willing to give their lives to protect their wives, they are to lead, teach, provide for and care for their wives as Christ does his church.
The Bible is clear that God wants Christian women to recognize their husband’s as more than their “life partners” or “friends” and even more than their leaders. God wants wives to recognize their husband’s as their earthly masters who have full control over their lives.
Full acceptance of the Biblical teaching of a husband’s mastery over his wife requires both a Christian husband and a Christian wife to reject the belief in the full autonomy of women. This modern belief that women have the same rights and freedom as men is enshrined in our American laws. But these laws giving women the same rights and freedom as men are null and void in the eyes of God and we as Christian husbands and wives must consider these laws null and void as well if we are to have marriages that are faithful to God’s design.
It will require great courage for Christian men to reclaim their birthright and responsibility of mastery over their wives in this post feminist era. And it will require great humility on the part of Christian women to fully embrace their husband’s mastery over them.
Let us pray for a courageous generation of Christian men and a humble generation of Christian women to return our society back to God’s design for marriage.
Complementarianism is a counterfeit doctrine, an unbiblical compromise between the false doctrine of egalitarianism and the true doctrine of Biblical patriarchy. The sad truth is that in many ways’ complementarianism is more dangerous than egalitarianism, because complementarianism proports to uphold the biblical doctrines of male headship and woman’s submission where egalitarianism unequivocally denies these doctrines.
You have to look very close at the teachings of complementarianism and biblical patriarchy, like two bills, to really see the differences between the two teachings.
Origins of Complementarianism
Complementarianism was started as a reaction to the false teachings of egalitarianism. The term “Complementarian” was coined by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) in 1988.
According to John Piper, who was one of the council’s founding members, complementarianism was born out of an effort to address the error of “the negation of gender differences” by egalitarians.
Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE), an egalitarian organization, lists these egalitarian principles on their website:
“We believe that women and men are equally created in God’s image and given equal authority and stewardship of God’s creation.
Patriarchy (male dominance) is not a biblical ideal but a result of sin.
Patriarchy is an abuse of power, taking from females what God has given them: their dignity, and freedom, their leadership, and often their very lives.
While the Bible reflects patriarchal culture, the Bible does not teach patriarchy in human relationships.
Christ’s redemptive work frees all people from patriarchy, calling women and men to share authority equally in service and leadership.
The unrestricted use of women’s gifts is integral to the work of the Holy Spirit and essential for the advancement of the gospel in the world.
Followers of Christ are to oppose injustice and patriarchal teachings and practices that marginalize and abuse females and males.”
So, as you can clearly see from the list of egalitarian doctrines above, egalitarianism was an all-out assault on the biblical practice and doctrines of patriarchy. Christian egalitarianism was simply a rebranding of feminism for Christian consumption.
While the CBE helped to organize and codify their doctrines in the late 80’s, these doctrines had already been spreading within churches long before that time and this is what prompted the formation of the CBMW.
The CBMW issued the famous “Danvers Statement” in 1987 which included the following key statements below in response to egalitarianism:
“Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart (Gen 2:18, 21-24; 1 Cor 11:7-9; 1 Tim 2:12-14).
Adam’s headship in marriage was established by God before the Fall, and was not a result of sin (Gen 2:16-18, 21-24, 3:1-13; 1 Cor 11:7-9).
The Fall introduced distortions into the relationships between men and women (Gen 3:1-7, 12, 16).
In the home, the husband’s loving, humble headship tends to be replaced by domination or passivity; the wife’s intelligent, willing submission tends to be replaced by usurpation or servility.
In the church, sin inclines men toward a worldly love of power or an abdication of spiritual responsibility, and inclines women to resist limitations on their roles or to neglect the use of their gifts in appropriate ministries.”
So, if you look at the two statements above, it is very easy to see two primary differences between egalitarianism and complementarianism.
Egalitarianism completely denies the biblical concept of gender roles, while complementarianism appears to affirm it.
Egalitarianism completely denies the biblical concept of male headship while complementarianism appears to affirm it.
But while complementarianism proports to be the genuine article when it comes to the biblical view of gender roles, upon closer examination we will find that complementarianism is actually a counterfeit doctrine of biblical gender roles.
The Complementarian Abandonment of Patriarchy
Egalitarianism was not the only reason complementarianism was formed. In an article entitled “God Created Man Male and Female – What Does It Mean to Be Complementarian?”, John Piper explains that complementarianism was designed to take the “middle ground” between what he and other Christian leaders saw as “two kinds of errors” in the churches. The first error which we have already addressed was egalitarianism.
But then there was a second error that complementarianism was designed to address. And that error, from their point of view, was male domination of women in society, the church and the home. They believed the terms “traditional” and “patriarchy” were linked with male domination and “the history of abuses of women personally and systemically”. And it was because of this, that the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood decided that a new term must be coined to replace “traditional” and “patriarchy” in regard to the discussion of gender roles. So, they coined the term “complementarian”.
Complementarians Limit Male Headship to the Home and the Church
If you look closely at the Danvers Statement from the CBMW, you will notice that they only speak of “headship” in the home and “limitations” on women’s roles in the church. In other words, the Danvers Statement only recognizes male headship in the spheres of the home and the church but it does not recognize male headship in society.
“My convictions about the implications of manhood and womanhood for political life are nuanced and rooted in Scripture. They are also complex and controversial. So they don’t fit blogs well. But I’ll try. The gist is this:
I think that the Bible summons men to bear the burden of primary leadership, provision, and protection in the home (Ephesians 5:21–33) and in the church (1 Timothy 2:8–15). Add to this that these texts (and others, like Genesis 1–3) build their case not on the basis of culture (which changes) but on the basis of God’s design in creation (which does not change).
Therefore, I am not able to say that God only speaks to the role of men and women in home and church. If our roles are rooted in the way God created us as male and female, then these differences shape the way we live everywhere and all the time…
These and other teachings in Scripture incline me to believe that manhood and womanhood are not mere social constructs. They are rooted in God’s design for creation. They are meant to shape culture, not merely be shaped by culture…
And I certainly do not think all of my conclusions should be codified in law. It should not be illegal, in this fallen age, for a woman to be President of the United States. Christ does not implement his revealed will in this age with guns and fines. But all human government (rightly) enforces its laws with guns and fines. So law is not the way to deal with this issue. Christians should not crusade in this fallen age to pass laws to forbid women from the Presidency.”
As you can see from the statement above, complementarians while holding strong to the fact that male headship is God’s design for the home and the church, tend to get a lot more wishy-washy about male headship outside the home and the church.
Look at the way Piper couches his language as if he is sorry that it appears that God’s design might prohibit a woman from becoming President or Vice President. But then of course he quickly states that he does not believe God’s design of gender roles should be “codified in law”.
Complementarians Dismiss Patriarchy as a Cultural Rather than Biblical Concept
In the Numbers 30:3-5 we read the following:
Complementarians deny God’s design of the social classes of men, women and children and instead embrace the false humanist social classes of “adult” and “minor” that were invented by John Locke in the 17th century. They believe that once young women reach adulthood, they have the same autonomy as men to determine the course of their lives and that fathers have no right to override the decisions of their daughters once they reach the social class of “adult”.
Complementarians dismiss Numbers chapter 30 and its prescriptions regarding Patriarchal order with fathers being able to override their daughter’s life decisions and husbands being able to override their wife’s life decisions. They see the commands of Numbers 30 as well as other examples of Patriarchal order in the Old Testament as temporary and “cultural” and only specifically apply to the theocracy of Israel.
Complementarians Fail to See the Moral Law of God in the Civil Laws of Israel
Exodus 22:16-17 provides a good example of the blindness of complementarians to the moral law of God found in the civil laws of Israel.
Complementarians deny that the right given to a father in Exodus 22:16-17 to allow or refuse his daughter’s hand in marriage to a man was lasting moral law, but rather they teach that it was temporary civil law which was done away with in the New Covenant.
The reason their interpretation of this passage is flawed is because they fail to see that many civil laws in Israel also contained the moral law of God. In other words, many civil laws of Israel handled the punishment or reparations to be made for violating God’s moral law.
Below is a breakdown of the moral law and then civil reparations to be made for breaking God’s moral law in Exodus 22:16-17:
God’s Moral Law: “And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her”
God’s Civil Reparation for the theocracy of Israel: “he shall surely endow her to be his wife”
God’s Moral Law: “If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him”
God’s Civil Reparation for the theocracy of Israel: “he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins”
So, if we separate the moral law from the civil reparation for breaking that moral law, we can see there are two moral laws presented by God in Exodus 22:16-17.
The first moral law presented is that God does not allow sex outside of the covenant of marriage.
The second moral law we see in Exodus 22:16-17 is that of a father’s right to allow or refuse his daughter’s hand in marriage. When a man and woman have premarital sex, they have both sinned not just against God, but also against the woman’s father. The woman has sinned against her father by giving away that which was not hers to give and the man as well has sinned against her father by taking that which was not his to take.
Complementarians Teach That Male Domination Was A Result of the Fall
Complementarians actually agree with Egalitarians in their belief that male domination was a result of the fall. In his article “Manhood and Womanhood: Conflict and Confusion After the Fall” , John Piper wrote “And when sin has the upper hand in man, he will respond in like manner and with his strength subdue her, or rule over her”. And in another article entitled “Lionhearted and Lamblike: The Christian Husband as Head, Part 1“, Piper stated that a husband’s “headship is not a right to control” and a wife’s submission to her husband should not be “coerced” but that it must only be submission that is “free and willing”.
Complementarians and egalitarians say that the word “shall” in the phrase “he shall rule over thee” is not God’s command for husbands to rule over their wives, but rather God predicting that sin would cause men to dominate their wives.
But the complementarian position fails to take into account God’s command to Cain in Genesis 4:7:
The parallels between Genesis 3:16 and Genesis 4:7 cannot be denied. In both instances God commands that the person should rule over the other person who is trying to control them. In the case of Cain, God personifies his sin nature as a man that is trying to control Cain. But God commands that Cain should rule over that man. And in the same way God says in Genesis 3:16 because of the corruption sin wives would try to control their husbands, but that husbands must rule over their wives.
Complementarianism Teaches a Limited form of Submission for Women
“submission is not slavish or coerced or cowering. That’s not the way Christ wants the church to respond to his leadership and protection and provision. He wants the submission of the church to be free and willing and glad and refining and strengthening”
Piper uses three key words which he says are the opposite of Biblical submission and those are “slavish”, “coerced” and “cowering”. So, let’s look at each one.
Biblically speaking, wives and slaves are both owned by masters (Exodus 20:17, Deuteronomy 22:22, 1 Peter 3:6). Both slaves and wives are told to obey their masters in everything except if they are told to sin (Ephesians 5:24). Wives are told that their bodies are for their husband’s sexual satisfaction and use (Proverbs 5:18-19, Romans 1:27). A wife’s submission to her husband is to be even greater than that of slave to their master because her husband has the right to the sexual use of her body for his satisfaction.
So, if a wife’s submission to her husband as her master is to be greater than that of the typical master/slave relationship what is the difference between a wife and slave? The answer is found in the Biblical requirements for husbands in regard to the treatment of their wives.
A husband is required to love his wife as his own body, and to provide for her needs as he would his own body (Ephesians 5:28-29). He is to be willing to lay down his life to save his wife (Ephesians 5::25). A husband is responsible for the spiritual discipline and teaching of his wife. A husband is required to give his wife sexual access to his body (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). A husband is required to allow his wife to enjoy the fruit of her labors (Proverbs 31:31). None of these things were required of masters toward their slaves.
The Danvers Statement says a woman’s submission is not about “servility” and Piper said in the statement we are examining now that is not “slavish”. And both of those statements are completely wrong. Biblically speaking a wife’s submission to her husband is to surpass “slavish” or “servile” submission because unlike slaves, God has created wives to serve their husbands with their lives (1 Corinthians 11:9).
A Wife’s Submission Can Be in Response to Coercion
Piper’s assertion that a woman’s submission is to not come as a result of coercion from her husband is directly refuted by Christ’s statement to his churches in Revelation 3:19:
While it is true that Christ wants his church to freely submit to him, the fact is that Christ will receive submission from his church based on him using coercive means just as God used coercive means with his wife Israel to compel her submission.
And since we know that a husband is to model his love for his wife off Christ’s love for his church and that the wife is to model her submission toward her husband off the church’s submission to Christ – we can rightly say that complementarianism again is absolutely wrong on this. A wife’s submission can Biblically be coerced from her husband.
A Wife’s Submission is to be Cowering
Piper’s assertion that a wife’s submission does not involve cowering is again directly refuted by the Bible in 1 Peter 3:1-2:
Women should absolutely fear their husbands in both the sense of showing reverence toward them and also fearing discipline if they disobey. Cowering is a Biblical aspect of a woman’s submission to her husband.
No one would argue that there were not abuses committed against women both by individual husbands as well as systematically by various cultures. And even in post-feminist cultures like America today, some men still abuse their wives. But that does not mean we throw out the baby with the bathwater. We can as Bible believing Christians uphold God’s order of patriarchy and at the same time call out the abuses of patriarchy where they occur both at the individual family level as well as the larger cultural systematic level.
In regard to the term “traditional” as it relates to gender roles. We can uphold traditional and cultural values that do not conflict with the Word of God and especially those which match with the Bible and at the same time set aside some traditional values our culture may have that conflict with the Word of God.
Hebrews 9:1-10 shows us that only the civil prescriptions for punishments or reparations for breaking God’s moral law as well as the ceremonial laws are set aside in the New Covenant. But the moral law of God remains. That means we are still under the moral law found in both the Old and New Testaments.
And contrary to what complementarians and egalitarians teach, it is not a sin for a husband to dominate (rule over, control) his wife, but rather it is a sin for him NOT to dominate his wife.
In the complementarian view, a husband may only lead his wife by example or suggestions to her, but he may never lead her by commanding her or seeking to control her through coercive methods. And it is precisely because of the denial that male domination of woman is God’s command, that complementarianism teaches a hollow and weak form of male headship and female submission in the home.
When it comes to the doctrines of the Bible concerning gender roles, there is no “middle ground” and no room for compromise with egalitarianism. Complementarianism is a counterfeit doctrine of male headship and female submission.
In this third article in our series on domestic discipline, we will be looking at a few 19th century judicial decisions on the lawfulness of husbands practicing domestic discipline toward their wives. We will start with two cases which upheld the right of a husband to practice corporal chastisement on his wife and then move to a decision which overturned these precedents.
1834 – Calvin Bradley vs The State of Mississippi
In this case of a husband being charged with battery against his wife the Supreme Court of Mississippi referenced the ancient common law to affirm the right of “domestic discipline” by husbands:
“It is true, according to the old law, the husband might give his wife moderate correction, because he is answerable for her misbehaviour; hence it was thought reasonable, to intrust him, with a power, necessary to restrain the indiscretions of one, for whose conduct he was to be made responsible
I believe it was a case before Mr. Justice Raymond, when the same doctrine was recognised, with proper limitations and restrictions, well suited to the condition and feelings of those, who might think proper to use a whip or rattan, no bigger than my thumb, in order to inforce the salutary restraints of domestic discipline.
Family broils and dissentions cannot be investigated before the tribunals of the country… let the husband be permitted to exercise the right of moderate chastisement… without being subjected to vexatious prosecutions, resulting in the mutual discredit and shame of all parties concerned. Judgment affirmed.”
In the case of Calvin Bradley vs The State, the court affirmed what it called “the ancient common law” right of a husband to use “moderate chastisement” with his wife referring to this practice as “domestic discipline”. It also respected the limits of civil government interfering in the affairs of the family and stated husbands should not be subjected to prosecutions for exercising their right to domestic discipline as long as they did so in moderation.
1864 – State Of North Carolina vs Jesse Black
In this case the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled as follows:
“A husband is responsible for the acts of his wife, and he is required to govern his household, and for that purpose the law permits him to use towards his wife such a degree of force as is necessary to control an unruly temper and make her behave herself; and unless some permanent injury be inflicted, or there be an excess of violence, or such a degree of cruelty as shows that it is inflicted to gratify his own bad passions, the law will not invade the domestic forum or go behind the curtain.”
As in previous cases, the court affirmed that the husband’s right to chastise his wife flows from his responsibility to govern all in his household and his wife is part of his household. The court affirmed that it is improper for the civil government to “invade the domestic forum”.
In this decision, the court did recognize limits on the husband’s power to use corporal punishment to chastise his wife. They said that a husband’s chastisement of his wife should not cause any “permanent injury” or be excessively violent and that he should not discipline his wife for his own sadistic pleasure. The court’s view in this case aligns with the Scriptural command to husbands in Ephesians 5:28-29 that they are to care for and protect their wife’s bodies as they would their own.
1871 – The Year American Courts Invaded the Domestic Forum
It was in 1871, that a state court did what others had warned against decades earlier. The court invaded the domestic forum, the sphere of authority given to men as the heads of their households. It not only overturned decades of American court precedent, but invalidated ancient common law rights of husbands upon which those precedents were built.
In 1871 the case of Fulgham V. State, the Alabama Supreme court ruled as follows:
“Since then, however, learning, with its humanizing influences, has made great progress, and morals and religion have made some progress with it. Therefore, a rod which may be drawn through the wedding ring is not now deemed necessary to teach the wife her duty and subjection to the husband. The husband is therefore not justified or allowed by law to use such a weapon, or any other, for her moderate correction. The wife is not to be considered as the husband’s slave. And the privilege, ancient though it be, to beat her with a stick, to pull her hair, choke her, spit in her face or kick her about the floor, or to inflict upon her like indignities, is not now acknowledged by our law”
Two key words stand out in the first sentence and those words are “humanizing” and “progress”.
What does it mean to “humanize” someone? And to what “progress” were they referring? To understand these concepts, we have to compare and contrast the social classes of the post enlightenment age with those that came before it.
When God created mankind, he ordained three core social classes and those were men, women and children. After sin entered the world, he allowed for a fourth social class of slaves (both male and female) because of poverty and war.
Humanists rejected these four social class structures and instead sought to bring about a new model of society that had only two social classes which we know today as “adults” and “children”. The abolitionist humanists first targeted the slave class for elimination. Then some female abolitionists broke off and organized the first womens rights conference in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York.
When they talked about “humanizing” people, they were talking about making women and slaves equal with free men. In other words, they were seeking to eliminate the social classes of men, women and slaves and replace those classes with one new social class, that of a “human” or “adult” while leaving the child class intact.
This is why today if any adult is seen has having less rights than another adult, it is said that the person with less rights is being “dehumanized”.
The ultimate goal of humanists of the late 19th century was to build an “internationalist” or what we call today “globalist” society. No men, no women, no slaves, no rich, no poor, no Christians, no Muslims, no Jews, no Americans, no Mexicans, no British.
And it is this march toward a one world society with no nations, no religions, no genders, no rich and no poor that humanists refer to as “progress”. And this is why leftists today refer to themselves as “progressives”.
Humanists knew that their master plan would take decades and perhaps more than a century to bring about. And they knew they had to do it in small incremental pieces. This is why if you notice in this ruling, the court still acknowledged that a wife had a duty to be in subjection to her husband. It would have been too much for American society to accept all at once that a husband could not use corporal punishment on his wife and that a wife did not have a duty to obey her husband.
The court was simply taking away a primary means of him enforcing that subjection, his ability to use corporal chastisement on his wife. And by reducing the ability of husbands to enforce their rule over their wives, women were given more power.
In other words, taking away a husband’s right to use corporal discipline upon his wife was one of the first steps in dismantling patriarchy.
The court falsely equated a man using moderate correction with a rod to him having a right “to pull her hair, choke her, spit in her face or kick her about the floor”. This is what leftists do, they use extremes and abuses of authority, or this case chastisement, to get rid of all chastisement and in essence to get rid of an authority’s ability to chastise.
While Tennessee was the first state to outlaw “wife beating” in 1850, the vast majority of states did not do so until after this ruling in the 1870s.
But even though the courts and state legislatures had invaded the domestic forum by the late 19th century, local law enforcement officials rarely enforced these laws. In other words, most local police did not feel right about invading the domestic forum even though state laws and court decisions would allow it.
It would not be until more than a century after the first laws denying husbands’ rights to use corporal punishment on their wives, that a new “Domestic Violence” movement would arise in the early 1970s. It was then that new domestic violence laws were passed and edicts came down from state and local governments forcing police to invade the domestic forum.
We have shown here that early 19th century jurisprudence respected ancient common laws giving husbands the right to use corporal punishment as part of domestic discipline with their wives.
The courts showed great deference to the domestic forum, recognizing it was not right for civil authorities to intervene in domestic affairs, except under the gravest of circumstances, as husbands were to have supremacy in the affairs of their homes.
Later courts, following humanist philosophies, broke this sacred rule and launched a full-scale government invasion of the domestic forum with the attack on corporal punishment of wives being only one of the first battles in this invasion.
In this second article in our series on domestic discipline, we will be looking at the 19th century suffragette (feminist) view of domestic discipline. To do this we will look at two primary sources. The first is the Declaration of Sentiments which was issued from the first woman’s rights conference in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York.
The second source we will be looking at is a book entitled “History of Woman Suffrage: 1848-1861”, written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan Brownell Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage in 1881. This book is also a valuable resource in understanding the historical view of domestic discipline. Less than 20 years before this book was published, state courts in America were still upholding a man’s right to use corporal punishment with his wife. It was only in the 1870s that courts began striking down this common law right and later states would begin enacting laws against it.
The Declaration of Sentiments
The Declaration of Independence was America declaring its independence from England and the Declaration of Sentiments was women declaring their independence from men. Below is a portion of the Declaration of Sentiments issued from the first woman’s rights conference in 1848:
“The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has made her, morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes, with impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master – the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement.”
As Bible believing Christians, we can and should recognize the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments for what it was and still is today. A declaration of war on God’s institution of patriarchy. And the sad truth is, that more than 170 years later that war has been mostly won by feminists. Those who still hold to God’s design of patriarchy have been forced into hiding, with their only option to fight a spiritual guerrilla warfare against those who seek to eradicate the last pockets of resistance to the reigning humanist regimes.
“In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband”
The common laws of the land in this case were strongly aligned with the Word of God as seen in Titus 2:4-5:
“That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, OBEDIENT to their own HUSBANDS, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
In fact, we can rightly say that the Declaration of Sentiments complaint against women being compelled by common law to be obedient to their husbands was blasphemy against the Word of God.
The Husband is “to all intents and purposes, her master”
Again, the Scriptures are crystal clear on this point calling women to regard their husband’s as their earthly lords (their masters) in 1 Peter 3:5-6:
“For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”
The Greek word used in 1 Peter 3:6 is “kurios” which means master. It is used in reference to kings, governors, slave masters, husbands and to God himself in the Bible. All of these masters were authorities instituted by God over different spheres, but God is the LORD and master of all. The Hebrew equivalent of the Greek kurios is “baal” which means “owner, lord, master”.
In Deuteronomy 22:22 we see the following example showing the husband’s ownership over his wife:
“If a man be found lying with a woman married [‘baal’ used as verb] to an husband [‘baal’ used as noun] , then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.”
The passage above demonstrates that under God’s law a married woman is an owned woman, and her owner is her husband.
The Husbands power “to administer chastisement”
The power to chastise is a critical element of authority. If a person can tell others what to do, but they have no means of enforcing what they have commanded then they really are not an authority. And this is why the early woman’s rights movement targeted the common law recognition of the husband’s right to chastise his wife. If they could remove his power to chastise her, they knew they were effectively removing his authority over her.
History of Woman Suffrage: 1848-1861
The women who wrote “History of Woman Suffrage: 1848-1861” lived in the era when wife spanking was still widely practiced and culturally accepted so their perspective is valuable in the historical sense, even with their moral position on the rights of women and husbands chastising their wives being completely unbiblical and wrong.
In pages 88-89 the History of Woman Suffrage: 1848-1861 states:
“In those early days a husband’s supremacy was often enforced in the rural districts by corporeal chastisement, and it was considered by most people as quite right and proper – as much so as the correction of refractory children in like manner…The laws made it his privilege – and the Bible, as interpreted, made it is his duty.”
If you go to the average Christian today in the average Christian church, even most conservative evangelical churches, and you started talking about domestic discipline they would have no clue what you are talking about. I know if you would have mentioned it to me 7 or 8 years ago, I would have been one of those people with a blank look. And if you mentioned “wife spanking” they would look at you like you are crazy. I know I would have.
But I am happy to have been challenged on this subject. Because it caused me to really have to research this out. I already showed in my first article in this series on domestic discipline, “The Biblical Case for Domestic Discipline”, that the Bible fully supports two important concepts.
First it supports the concept of corporal punishment for both children and adults. Secondly, it supports husband’s chastening their wives as we see God chastening his wife Israel in the Old Testament and Christ chastening his wife, the church, in the New Testament.
But then we come to the historical side of this. Before the 20th century, most Christians believed according the Bible that husbands had a right and duty to chasten their wives using corporal punishment. The common laws of the land supported this right. And except for the left-wing feminists of the 19th century, Christian women fully accepted this too.
Chastisement Was Seen as Good for A Wife’s Moral Development
On page 599 the History of Woman Suffrage: 1848-1861 states:
“By the common law of England, the spirit of which has been but too faithfully incorporated into our statute law, a husband has a right to whip his wife with a rod not larger than his thumb, to shut her up in a room, and administer whatever moderate chastisement he may deem necessary to insure obedience to his wishes, and for her healthful moral development! He can forbid all persons harboring or trusting her on his account. He can deprive her of all social intercourse with her nearest and dearest friends. If by great economy she accumulates a small sum, which for future need she deposit, little by little, in a savings bank, the husband has a right to draw it out, at his option, to use it as he may see fit.”
A husband chastising his wife was seen as a healthy and moral thing for a marriage. But his powers of chastisement were not limited just to corporal punishment. But he could also literally ground his wife as a parent grounds their child and send her to her room. This was the normal accepted practice under common law.
Domestic Discipline Outlawed in the Late 19th Century
On page 792 the History of Woman Suffrage: 1848-1861 states:
“Wife-beating is still so common, even in America, that a number of States have of late introduced bills especially directed to the punishment of the wife-beater. Great surprise is frequently shown by these men when arrested. “Is she not my wife” is cried in tones proving the brutal husband had been trained to consider this relationship a sufficient justification for any abuse.”
“Chastisement” did not have enough sting to it. In fact, even in the late 19th century, the word “chastisement” in America was seen as a positive word. So then feminists went from speaking about husbands chastising their wives to calling men “wife-beaters”. That had a much better ring to it. And they declared that a husband chastising his wife in any form was “abuse”.
Now to be sure, there were some men who took their right to chastise their wives too far causing serious or permanent injuries to their wives. And this of course was the case throughout the history of mankind and was by no means unique to America. But the exact same thing could also be said for parents, whether they were fathers or mothers who chastised their children, that some abused their God given authority to administer corporal chastisement.
But that fact that some husbands abused their power to exercise corporal chastisement did not give civil governments the right to remove this God given power from husbands. What they should have done was deal with those extreme cases on a case by case basis.
In this second article we have shown that the early feminists declared war on Biblical patriarchy from the very beginning of their movement in 1848. They utterly rejected God’s design of male headship over women.
These early feminists or “suffragettes”, knew they had to play on the emotions of the American people to win their cause. And they did exactly that. They found the most extreme and outlandish cases of abuse they could find to bring before courts and state legislators to prove that all men were potential abusers or “wife-beaters” and the only way to protect women from the abuses of men was to completely strip men of their power of corporal chastisement over their wives.
But we also learned something else in this article. Something that husbands and wives of today needed to see. This idea of a husband using corporal punishment to chastise his wife is not some recently invented behavior by some far-right Christians. It is not just some kinky BDSM thing. But rather, before the late 19th century it was the protected law of the land and Christians believed husbands had a Biblical right and duty to exercise corporal chastisement on their wives for the good of their wife’s moral development and the health of their marriages.
What is the Biblical view of domestic discipline (aka wife-spanking)? What were cultural views of wife spanking in America before the modern era? These are two different questions that we will be answering in this new series.
There are many behaviors and teachings that were the norm from ancient civilizations to just before the modern age that we as Bible believing Christians would disagree with. I have written on my own disagreements with some of the teachings and practices of the early church fathers, the reformers and even traditions of my own church upbringing in Independent Fundamental Baptist churches.
In other words, I would be the first to say just because something was taught or practiced in past eras does not make it moral or right. On the other hand, just because our modern culture thinks something is moral or immoral does not make it so. The question then becomes how can we determine the morality of a given belief or practice?
Jesus Christ answered this question of how we can determine the morality of a belief or practice when he said in Matthew 4:4 “…Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God“.
And the Apostle Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe”.
The Word that God gave to the Prophets before Christ, the Word that Christ himself spoke and the Word of God given to the Apostles after Christ collectively form the Scriptures. In 2 Timothy 3:16 we read that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”.
The Scriptures then are what we are to build our beliefs and practices upon. However, does that mean history has no value? Of course not. We can learn from past civilizations and compare their behavior to moral standards found in the Word of God. We can then see how some past cultural practices which align with the teachings of the Bible helped to keep those cultures strong. And we can also see how past cultural practices which violated Biblical principles or commands ultimately led to the weakening and downfall of those earlier civilizations.
In this first article we will demonstrate how the practice of domestic discipline aligns perfectly with Biblical principles and commands regarding marriage. And then after that we will spend several articles looking at cultural views of domestic discipline in America before the modern age.
The Biblical Case for Domestic Discipline
Throughout the Bible, God pictures his relationship with us in one of two ways. As individuals God pictures his relationship to us as father to his children. But he pictures his relationship to his people as a group as that of a husband and wife.
In Isaiah 54:5 God said to Israel “For thy Maker is thine HUSBAND; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called”. And he consistently referred to the nation of Israel as his wife. When Israel was unfaithful to him, God stated in Jeremiah 3:20 “Surely as a WIFE treacherously departeth from her HUSBAND, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the Lord”.
In Deuteronomy 8:3-5 God speaks of his humbling and chastening of his wife, the nation of Israel:
“And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God CHASTENETH thee.”
So, God shows us that a husband chastens his wife as he would his child. So how does God say a child is to be chastened in the following passages:
“Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.”
Proverbs 23:13 (KJV)
“Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.”
Proverbs 19:18 (KJV)
And now let’s move from the Old Testament to New Testament.
In the Gospel of John we read the following account of Jesus Christ:
“13 And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables”
John 2:13-15 (KJV)
Jesus Christ showed that he had absolutely no problem with the Old Testament commands and practices regarding corporal (physical) punishment, aka beating someone with a whip or rod as a form of punishment.
Later in the New Testament, in Ephesians 5:25 the Bible states “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it”. Most churches today stop at verse 25 and bastardize the Scriptural command to say God wants husbands to “give themselves up for their wife’s happiness”. This of course plays right into the false doctrine of feminism which so infects the churches today.
It is absolutely true at times that a husband must sacrifice himself for his wife. But his sacrifice is not for her happiness, but rather his sacrifice is for her holiness. See the full passage from Ephesians 5:25-27 that most churches today ignore:
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 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.”
The Scriptures above are clear. Husbands are to model their love for their wives by how Christ demonstrates his love for his church. That means husbands are to wash their wives spiritual spots and wrinkles with the Word of God.
In Revelation 3:19 we see that this washing involves a husband rebuking and chastening his wife:
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
In the Old Testament, we read in Deuteronomy 8:5 that God said he chastened his wife, the nation of Israel, “as a man chasteneth his son”. And God tells parents to use corporal punishment on their children in Proverbs 19:18 & Proverbs 23:13.
In the New Testament, we read in Ephesians 5:25 that husbands are to love their wives “even as Christ also loved the church” and Christ says of his churches in Revelation 3:19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent”.
The case could not be more clear that the practice of a man using corporal punishment on his wife, also known as wife-spanking or domestic discipline, very much aligns with the teachings of the Bible. A man using corporal punishment on his wife images God’s behavior as a husband to his wife, the people of God.
Because of the wicked post-feminist and humanist society we now live in, I must always give this warning when writing on the subject of a husband using corporal punishment to chasten his wife.
First, let me be clear that God’s law no more requires a husband to get his wife’s consent to chasten her than he does a parent to get their child’s consent to chasten to them.
But Jesus Christ also told us as Christians to be “wise as serpents” in Matthew 10:16. This means that we need to be careful in the exercise of our rights as husbands.
Applying this principle of being wise as serpents to domestic discipline means you first need to educate your wife on the Biblical command for husbands to chasten their wives as God chastens his. And only after your wife fully accepts this as part of the Christian faith, and by extension Christian marriage, and consents to you incorporating this into your marriage should you attempt to do this.
If you attempt to do this with a wife who rejects the principle of Christian domestic discipline, you could land in jail.
If you have a wife who rejects the Biblical allowance for a husband to use corporal punishment to chasten his wife, or even if she rejects all forms of chastening, I would refer you to my article “7 Ways To Discipline You Wife“. That article will teach you how to use non-physical means to fulfill your Biblical obligation as a husband to chasten your wife.
“Dear BGR, can you tell me if the Bible says it is a sin for a man to keep secrets from his wife? My wife thinks so and so does the pastor of our church. Let me give you some more context so you can understand better. My wife and I are born again, Bible believing Christians and have been married for 8 years and we have three children who are 6 and under. We met in the church we continue to attend to this same day.
My wife wanted to be a homemaker and I wanted to be a sole provider and we were both Christians and relatively conservative so it seemed to be a good match. My wife even said she believed in male headship in marriage while we were dating. But not long after we were married, I discovered that we defined “male headship” in very different ways. My definition of male headship came right of Ephesians 5:23-24 which says the husband is the head his wife as Christ is the head of his church and the wife is to submit to her husband in everything. Her definition of male headship was that a man leads his wife by his example but he is never a dictator. All decisions are made jointly with both compromising with one another and only in rare situations where the couple cannot agree then the husband will break the tie.
She says that is “male headship” but I see “equal partnership with only a slightly senior partner”.
Ever since we were married, I have found out that my wife is absolutely horrible with money. We would talk each week about the budget and it was very open and transparent. We would see my check, deduct the bills to be paid, and I would allot a certain amount each week for savings for emergencies and for vacations. We would discuss her allotted amount for shopping for food as well as clothing and incidentals for myself, my wife and the kids.
But time after time she would go over the budget with her ATM card. Each week she would eat up what I had tried to set aside for savings for emergencies and vacations. She always had excuses but the reality was she was spending money she did not need to spend. What I realized was she really did not respect or believe in what I was trying to do with budgeting for emergencies or vacations.
So, what would happen when emergencies, unforeseen expenses or vacation times came? We had to go into credit card debt.
About two months ago I finally had enough of what has been going on our entire marriage. I took my wife to our bank where we had a joint account and had her sign forms with me to close that account. I told her I was setting up a new bank account that would work better for us. She signed the forms with me and we closed our old joint account. When we got home, we cut up our old ATM cards together and threw them in the trash. She assumed she would be on the new account I would setup. She assumed wrong.
The next day during my lunch break at work I setup a new bank account that does not have my wife’s name on it and I redirected my direct deposit to that bank. When I got home from work my wife asked me when we were going to setup the new bank account. I said “I already did today”. She then asked “don’t I need to come down to sign to be on the account?” and I said “No, you are not going to be on the account”. You could have seen fireballs coming out of her eyes at me.
She said “This is not right! We are married! What is yours is mine and what is mine is yours! I have a right to see what is going on in our bank and to be on our bank account with you! You can’t do this!”. And my response was “I have tried for years to reason with you regarding the money and time and time again you have ignored my attempts. We have accumulated debt for vacations and other unforeseeable things over the years because you would not let me build any savings account. Now I am going to fix our finances, pay the debt off and build a savings. You do not need to see the bank, you need only trust that I am paying our bills and doing what is in our best financial interest as a family. I will give you a cash allotment each week for groceries and incidentals. If you need clothing for yourself or the kids, we can talk about that and I will get you more”.
I am happy to say that over the last 6 weeks I have been paying down on our debts and actually built a small savings for the first time in our 8-year marriage!
That is the good news. The bad news is that my wife has made my life a living hell for the past two months. She refuses to have sex with me and last week she called the pastor of our church and then he called me to have us come counsel with him.
I explained to him the situation, but he said I was wrong to deceive her into shutting our old joint account and then setting up a new one without her name on it. The pastor said we are “one flesh” so that means nothing should be separate and she should have equal access to see what is in the account and be able to have an ATM card just like me. He said we are “mutually accountable to each other”. He made a brief mention of her overspending like she could just fix that. I have given her a chance to fix it for 8 years! It was not going to be fixed.
He said my having a separate account that she could not see activity on and had no access to was me “having a part of your life that is secret from your wife. And God does not allow any secrets in marriage. What you are doing is sinning against your wife. You need to add her on your new account, give her full access to see its activity and get her an ATM card”.
When I asked him for scriptural support for what he said he arrogantly said “I already gave it to you. You are not two people; you are one flesh. That means one bank account. Equal access to all assets. And absolutely no secrets of any kind from each other, whether they are bank accounts or anything else”.
I googled “biblical gender roles” last week and found your site on the first page. I did a search on your search bar for “finances” and found your post “Can a Christian husband deny his wife equal access to his income?”. This was exactly what I needed and confirmed from the Bible what I was thinking was right. I went on to read your 20 doctrines of Biblical gender roles and many other posts. Thank you so much for all you are doing here for the cause of Christ. Your site must be a massive trigger for egalitarian Christians and non-Christians alike. I am sure you must get a lot of hate mail.
One last thing. I searched your blog for the larger issue our pastor brought up about husbands keeping secrets. I could not find anything on that. Have you written on that? If so, can you please send me the link?”
What you just read was emailed to me last week from a man named Travis.
Travis, the answer to your question is no, I have not previously written directly on the subject of husbands keeping secrets from their wives. I think I may have mentioned it in passing, but no dedicated articles for it. So, I guess will remedy that here.
Why it is NOT a Sin for Husbands to Keep Secrets from Their Wives
We are living in a “total transparency” culture where it seems everyone must know everything about everybody. Think of all the big brother type shows where people allow cameras into their homes and private lives. Tabloid journalism is built on this entire precept of everyone needing to know everything about everybody.
When it comes to intimate relationships, whether in dating or in marriage, we are told “there can be no secrets”.
And more often than not, in most intimate relationships it is the woman who is trying to pry every thought, feeling and action out of her man’s head under the guise that he is not allowed to keep anything back from her. In fact, if you watch TV shows you will often see that one of the biggest reasons women break up with men is because the men were not totally transparent with them in all areas of their life.
Keeping anything secret from the woman you are in a relationship with, whether you are dating or married, is considered a violation of the 11th commandment – “Thou shalt not keep any secrets from thy woman”.
The problem is that there is no 11th commandment that says any such thing. So those who believe men can hold nothing back from their women whether in thought or deed must try and find something the Bible does teach, and twist it to say that it means men cannot hold anything back from their women.
To accomplish this goal of convincing men that they can have no secrets from their women, some Christian teachers turn to the “one flesh” concept of marriage that is taught in the Bible. In Matthew 19:6 Christ said of husbands and wives in marriage “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh”. So, the argument goes, since man and woman are one in marriage, there can be no secrets between them and no thought or deed can be held back from the other. And if marriage were an equal partnership, that might make sense.
But in Ephesians 5:23-24 we read “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church” and 1 Peter 3:5-6 the Scriptures state that women are to be in “subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord”. This reveals that marriage in God’s design is not an equal partnership, but rather it is a patriarchy designed to model the relationship of God to his people with the husband symbolizing God and the wife symbolizing the people of God.
In Deuteronomy 29:29 the Bible states the following:
“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law”.
In God’s relationship with his people he holds many things back from them. But it is the duty of his people to live by what he has revealed and leave to God what he has not revealed.
The application of this to marriage is clear. Women are to abide by and follow those things which their husband reveals to them realizing their husband’s secrets belong to him, not to them. It is not their business to spy on their husbands or try to find out his every thought and deed.
This tendency in women to want to know their husband’s every thought and deed is actually a core corruption of the feminine human nature that started with the first woman, Eve. In Genesis 3:6 the Bible says “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate…”. She wanted to know everything God knew, she wanted to know the secrets God was keeping from her. And women to this very day commit this same sin with their husbands trying to learn his secrets and being offended when he holds anything back from them.
Yes, the Bible teaches in multiple places that husbands and wives are indeed “one flesh” in marriage. And one of those passages is Ephesians 5:31 which states “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh”. And the “cause” for which a husband and wife are called by God to come together as one flesh in marriage is given to us in the preceding verses – Ephesians 5:22-30. Men and women are to come together in marriage as one flesh for the cause of modeling the relationship of Christ to his church. Are Christ and his church equal partners? Does the Bible tell us Christ and his church submit to one another? The answers to both these questions are a resounding NO.
Does Christ keep secrets from his church? You bet he does! In Acts 1:7 Christ said to his wife “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power”.
God calls men to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to wash her spiritual spots and wrinkles and to make her the glorious church, he wanted her to be. And wives are called to submit to their husbands in everything as the church is to submit to Christ in everything.
Travis is learning what it means to give himself up for his wife as Christ gave himself up for his church. Travis gave up the peace in his home knowing his wife would probably deny him sex and make his life miserable. But he knew it was the right thing to do for his family. Now he needs to get into that washing phase with his wife and correct her sinful lack of submission to him, not just in the area of finances but also in the area of denying him her body and using sexual denial as a weapon to manipulate him.
Jesus said in Matthew 10:36 “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household”. Because we live in a sin cursed world, sometimes the person God meant to be our greatest spiritual ally as men becomes our greatest spiritual foe. In preparation for this spiritual battle with his wife, Travis should read my article “3 Ways Wives Try to Control Their Husbands”.
Finally, to Christian wives reading this. Do you get upset if your husband holds back his thoughts or feelings on anything? Do you have to track his every movement from work to home? If he were to lock down the finances where you could not see what is going on would that bother you?
If you answered yes to any of these questions then your heart is not in keeping with God’s law and his design for marriage. You need to go to the Lord in prayer and pray what King David did in Psalm 119:36 “Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness”. When you spy on your husband or get angry if he keeps anything from you, you are acting in covetousness just as Eve did when she coveted that forbidden fruit because she wanted to know the knowledge God was keeping back from her.
A question that I am sure many wives will bring up is “Are you saying husbands are not accountable for their actions?” And the answer to that question is no, that is not what I am saying at all. Husbands certainly are accountable to civil and church authorities in areas that God grants these authorities power. But husbands are not accountable to their wives anymore than their wives are accountable to their children. There is a clear line of spiritual authority declared by God. For more on this subject of accountability and husbands see my article “Why Husbands Are NOT Accountable to Their Wives”.
As a Christian wife, once you have totally surrendered your heart to God in this area of having to know everything your husband thinks or does, you will find peace in your marriage as the Scriptures say in Psalm 119:165 “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them”.