Can’t Beat an Unruly Wife

Matthew Bacon’s “Abridgement” of the Common Law (first published in 1736) stated:

‘The husband hath by law power and dominion over his wife and may keep her by force within the bounds of duty, and may beat her, but not in a violent or cruel manner.’

Blackstone agreed and said that the husband has as much right to correct his wife in “moderation” with “domestic chastisement” as against his children.

These rules are common sense. If a man does not have such a right to use physical force to punish and confine his wife, then he is not the head and has no authority – his decisions are easily thwarted by a rebellious and obstinate woman who refuses to obey him. If he can’t whip her she can do whatever she pleases, and if he can’t confine her she can come and go as she pleases.

Under Roman law the husband’s right was absolute – he was justified to kill his wife if she did not obey him. When you curtail this you must as a concession grant him the right to divorce and remarry, empowering the man to evict the rebellious wife because he cannot kill her. Hence the advent of “moderation” on the man’s powers of chastisement over his wife.

But the law started down a slippery slope by first protecting upper-class women from beatings, until it eventually became the general rule by the mid 1800’s that husbands no longer had any right to chastise or confine their wives. By the 1900’s legislatures began enacting statutes that actually made wife-beating a special crime with punishments more severe than for ordinary assault and battery. Later there was “domestic violence” hysteria during the 1960’s and 70’s that ramped up the actual enforcement of these draconian laws until we arrived at the situation today: a wife holds the whip of arrest and imprisonment over the head of her husband.

Why would any sane man enter into such an ungodly arrangement – putting himself under the power of a woman contrary to the Word of God that commands him to remain the head?

Little wonder there are so many old-maids and cat-ladies around today. Their pathetic, miserable lives are the fault of “helpful” laws enacted by do-gooder humanitarians, fools that ignore God and the Bible.



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