Christian churches, faced with declining memberships, have hit upon a new strategy for bringing in the sheaves: domestic discipline.
The premise of the new program, Pastor Dave Spanky explained: "Spare the rod, and spoil the wife."
The use of spanking to "discipline" wayward wives has "energized" his flock, Spanky said. "The men, especially, are excited."
His congregation has increased by two thirds its original number, to an all-time-record high of 100 souls. "There's a revival underway at Fire and Brimstone Christian Fundamentalist Church of the Holy Rod and Staff."
Fanny Redd, one of the church's female congregants, agrees that she is "walking the straight and narrow again," now that her husband, Makim, has taken his head-of-household duties more seriously, recognizing that, "under God," he is responsible for his wife's spiritual growth and purity. "If she goes to hell, it's my fault."
Christian Domestic Discipline (CDD) "encourages the spanking and punishing of wives in order to maintain an orderly, Christian household," Makim said. He himself prefers paddles made of gopher wood, "the same material as God had Noah use to build the ark," but, he says, "a lick of the leather also does wonders for Fanny's spiritual welfare."
Domestic Discipline's "Beginner's Packet," a 54-page document issued by the church, sets forth the fundamentalist principles and practices of CDD, which Violet Bottoms, another of the congregation's wives, describes as "a form of Godly tough love."
The brochure itself describes "domestic discipline" as "the practice between two consenting life partners in which the head of the household (HoH) takes he necessary measures to achieve a healthy relationship dynamic; the necessary measure to create a healthy home environmental and the necessary measures to protect all members of the family from dangerous or detrimental outcomes by punishing the contributing, and thus unwanted, behaviors for the greater good of the family."
Spankings are the chief means of disciplining wayward wives, Spanky said, but discipline also includes loss of privileges, scoldings, and time outs" that impart to wives the "Biblical truth" that, "in an orderly, Christian household, the man is dominant, and the wife is submissive."
The adoption of domestic discipline, the pastor said, has "changed lives" and "added converts to my flock."
One such convert is Will Savage, who describes himself as "a former Satanist, sadist, and BDSM practitioner."
By his own admission, he once believed the "devil's lie" that only "evil" or "demonic" men and women intentionally inflicted pain and suffering on others, but now that he has learned "the truth that God Almighty demands that men discipline their wives," he and his wife, Ima Hurten, once a member of her husband's harem of sex slaves, have "renounced the ways of the world, the devil, and the flesh" and have become Christians.
"We are members of Pastor Spanky's Fire and Brimstone Christian Fundamentalist Church of the Holy Rod and Staff," Savage proudly declared.
"And we are happy to have him," Spanky said. "In fact, we have asked him to chair the Domestic Discipline Committee. Not only did he agree to do so, but he and his lovely bride have also very graciously agreed to teach others how to administer the most effective spankings using various instruments, such as the hand, the paddle, the belt, and the cane."
"I let them practice on me," Ima confided, blushing.
"But only under my watchful eye," Savage added.
Those who participate in the program encourage other members of the flock to do so as well, citing the many benefits to be enjoyed.
"We've had quite a few testimonials," Spanky said, "many of which have included demonstrations of the techniques that Will has taught us." He smiled. "It does seem a bit odd, still, at times, to hear shrieks, screams, moans, and groans interspersed with our more traditional hymns, but I imagine that it's all music to our Creator."
Jezebel N. Fidel, who was recently excommunicated by the church, disapproves of the program. "It's not discipline," she charged, "but abuse; it's not godly encouragement, but sadomasochism."
"She darkens counsel without understanding," Spanky said, dismissing Fidel's allegations. "The Scripture itself is the foundation for our program: The Word of God commands wives to 'submit' to and 'obey' their husbands, just as it calls for husbands to be the heads of their households and watch over their chattel, and that includes their wives."
If people did not see the "wisdom" of Domestic Discipline, he said, "our members-I mean our membership--wouldn't be swelling."