My Husband wrote this some time back, but it's been on my mind as of late. Having obtained his permission to do so, I will post it here.
To give a little background into this post, my Husband is a staunch advocate of Thomistic philosophy and thought, and especially of deductive reasoning. Thus, when challenged to do so, he came up with a defense of Catholic Christian Domestic Discipline in a way which rings very true to his way of being. I hope you all enjoy, and I pray that it may be beneficial to some soul out there. :)
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Assumption 1: Man's objective in life is to know, love, and serve God (see ).
Assumption 2: "Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22, Douay-Rheims) .
Assumption 3: Husbands are required to guide, protect, and lead their wives in the ways of holiness, under penalty of sin themselves (Ephesians 5:25-26).
Assumption 4: Husbands are the head over wives in an analogous sense to the way in which Christ is Head of the Church (Ephesians 5:23).
Assumption 5: Man is fallen (see Baltimore Catechism No. 3, Q. 233-273).
Claim: is the most efficacious way for a husband to lead his wife to Heaven.
Proof: Let me prove this claim by reductio ad absurdum (proof by contradiction) . Suppose that there exists a method that is a more efficacious way for a husband to lead his wife to Heaven. Other than physical discipline, it follows that the other two alternatives are either to do nothing or to use strictly non-physical discipline. The former, to do nothing, is very clearly not the most efficacious technique. It follows by the husband's role as summarized in Assumptions 3 and 4 that, by doing nothing, he would be failing in his responsibility to God. This is not consistent with the assumptions as presented and, hence, cannot be the most efficacious technique.
Therefore, if there was a more efficacious method, then it would have to be non-physical in nature. By non-physical, I refer to punishments that do not in any way involve corporal techniques (e.g. writing lines, receiving a lecture, and the like). While this seems to be a reasonable alternative, the question is thus: is it the most effective way? I argue that this cannot be for a variety of reasons. By Assumption 5, we know that mankind is fallen and, as a result, requires rather extraordinary forms of purification. Why is this so? It is so because his fallen nature makes him especially susceptible to the constant snares of the Devil. While prayer is a very powerful means to combat this, it has been Catholic practice since the time of the early Church Fathers to use extraordinary means to combat sinful tendencies. Indeed, if one thinks carefully, fasting is actually a physical means of purification. This serves as further evidence of the spiritual fruit associated with physical discipline and, therein, the shortcomings of purely non-physical discipline.
Assumptions 1 and 3 demonstrate that Christian husbands have a tall order to fill with respect to leadership over their wives. In particular, husbands have the task of leading their wives away from sin and directing their souls toward Heaven. Assumption 2 obliges that wives must, under penalty of sin, obey their husbands in this pursuit without exception. This obligation derives from the married couple's sacramental bond, wherein the husband is the personification of Christ's authority in the marriage (cf. Assumption 4). While Christ encouraged mercy, this was not at the expense of penance. For the moneychangers and unrepentants in the Temple, Christ had one answer for them: a phragellion, or a Roman whip. Of the Lord, we are further reminded in Hebrews 12:6 that, "For whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth; and he scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."
Since the strategies of either doing nothing or avoiding physical punishment have been shown to be in error, the claim has been proven. QED.
Counter 1: Physical chastisement is not the ideal, so why do it?
Response 1: The ideal, of course, would be an absence of punishment altogether. However, this would only be appropriate if our souls were perfected and, consequently, in Heaven. Our fallen state is not the ideal, but that does not mean we should let our souls suffer in sinfulness. We must offer prayers and make penance, purifying our souls in the most effective ways.
Counter 2: Jesus never beat anyone himself, so how is such behavior Christ-like?
Response 2: Fair enough, but that does not mean that God is beyond the use of physical punishment to combat sin. As for examples, one need only look at The Flood or the destruction of Sodom & Gommorah. In our Catholic tradition, we have the examples of many great saints throughout the ages. St Elizabeth, as we know, was famously scourged by Conrad of Marburg.
Counter 3: Isn't this just a front for abuse or sexual deviancy?
Response 3: In a word, no. True abuse would be a husband failing to do anything about his wife's disobedience and, therefore, enabling her spirling descent to Hell. Indeed, his negligence is an abuse of privilege and something for which he is responsible at The Final Judgment. That said, we must recognize that Catholicism in all things represents the via media between sinful extremes. It is important for husbands to be wise and just in their assessments and punishments. They should be calm and calculated, not rushing with anger or other inappropriate emotions.
It should be further pointed out that CDD is not solely concerned with physical punishment. The proof I presented above was merely intended to refute both the "do nothing" and "only non-physical" approaches to discipline. CDD incorporates both non-physical and physical disciplinary measures to achieve the goal of perfect submission to God.