>I know this doesn’t relate directly to spanking or to spirituality, but if you’ll bear with me I’ll steer us in that direction as I tend to do with just about everything – it all leads back to philosophy and/or corporal punishment.
I heard a news article on my public radio station this morning that talked about a controversial challenge by a Muslim woman to court rooms not having copies of the Koran available for swearing on. The story related how she had appeared in a certain courtroom and according to the account by the judge, was asked to put her left hand on the Bible to swear in. She asked if she could put her hand on the Koran instead. The judge told her that he didn’t have any Korans available, but she could take the other legal option, which was to simply affirm that she would be telling the truth on the stand. She took the latter option and a few weeks later she, along with other Islamic devotees, brought in a stack of Korans so that the option would be available in future should the need arise.
The judge’s viewpoint on this was that the 228 year old state law that applies, refers to “Holy Scriptures” and at that time in our country’s history, there could be no other religious text to which they could have referred. However, the point of view of a Greensboro group promoting interfaith relations is that in our pluralistic society, there are many versions of “Holy Scriptures” and they all should be represented.
While I want to really applaud the efforts of the interfaith group, I have to say that they and the producers of the story and the judge are all missing a major point. That point being “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… ” And this law among several other North Carolina laws violates this constitutional amendment. Yet there was no mention even considering that angle. Am I missing something here? There wasn’t even a mention of an opinion on the part of the ACLU. Strange…
Anyway, let’s bring this back to our favorite subjects. Let me first make a confession. Although I’m whole-heartedly liberal now (some would say radical), I used to be a Christian conservative back in high school. By that I mean that I swallowed whole the recent (meaning the last couple of centuries) and current interpretations that many Christians have of the Bible. I believed that only men and women should marry, and only in pairs. I believed in patriarchy and that in a marriage the husband should always have the final word. I believed in this literal, whole-cloth, exclusionary interpretation of the Bible for two basic reasons that I believe are a lot more universal than Christian conservatives will ever admit to.
Reason one is that I liked the logical simplicity of it. Here we had a set of rules to live by that most of the country if not the world, could agree was moral. I thought that even considering that Jews and Muslims did not believe in the Christ-as-Savior part of it, they at least shared the basic rules and morality. It was a solid, logical system with clear rules. No mysticism or anything difficult to penetrate. No soul searching really required.
The second reason was sexual. I saw in the presentation of framework of patriarchy, an opportunity to be in charge of a woman, or women. This, of course, meant that there was the possibility that I could spank or otherwise corporally punish a woman, at least potentially. This idea just felt really good. It gave me sexual security and a feeling of manliness that I had often been otherwise missing.
As I look back on it now, it’s really startling to realize how vehemently I held on to and defended those beliefs in the face of otherwise overwhelming intellectual evidence, simply because it made me emotionally uncomfortable to do otherwise. I think this is the case with many many conservatives. I think there are a lot of conservative men who want to dominate women and a lot of women who want to be dominated, but the only way they can justify those feelings for themselves or others is to put that decision in the hands of God.
So, of course they’re going to quote you chapter and verse about the man being the head of the household and about man lying down with another man being abomination to God. And of course you don’t hear a lot of quoting about love being the greatest law (including love your enemy as yourself) and turning the other cheek and everything being permissible if not necessarilly beneficial and faith being the basis of whether something is a sin or not. I’m not going to even touch the one where Jesus says to give all your possessions away.
Think about this the next time you hear a conservative talking fondly about the times when women stayed at home to raise the kids and the time they got severely spanked or belted after receiving a paddling at school and how they turned out just fine. It’s no coincidence that conservative language and culture is laced with images of dominance and submission and it’s no mystery why they hate us in the BDSM community.