No bashing from me! My dh was much the same way, being raised in a strict/spanking/first time obedience home. I think it is a very common feeling for males, so I wouldn't freak on him just yet. I do agree that spanking is a non-issue, none of my children will ever be hit/spanked/ect, and that's where I started with dh. BUT, in a gentle manner. Basically, you are saying that the way his parents raised him was wrong and abusive, so it's an insult to his parents, you know? This was a hard thing to get around with my dh. He felt that his parents loved him (they do) and did a great job at raising him. I found that when I changed my angle from "spanking is evil" to "when you know better, you do better" it helped get him off the defensive.
I think what your dh really wants is respect from his children, right? At least that is what dh wants. We had a long heart to heart one night and that's what it came down to. I explained that respect does not = fear, which what spanking would instill. I gave the example of his two bosses, one of which everyone LOVES and respects and one which NO ONE respects, but has to obey because she is the boss. I asked him which he would rather be to his kids. His male boss is open and honest with his employees, and everyone respects him. And my dh has (respectfully) disagreed with him many many times. But they have a great relationship and we often go out to dinner together. His female boss is totally different. No one feels they can be honest and open with her. No one likes or respects her, they only do what she says because she can fire them. So when dd is comfortable enough with dh to disagree with him, and he is getting frustrated, I remind him of his two bosses. Being the type of dad (or boss) that works WITH you to find a mutually agreeable solution is much more effective in the long run towards establishing respect. The same analogy can be used within a marriage. We are Christian, so the issue of a submissive wife is brought up alot (not by dh!) and I always say it's much easier to submit authority to someone who knows how to handle said authority. Someone who takes my wants, needs and opinions seriously. We have a wonderful marriage, with lots of compromise and understanding. I want the same for our children. Sometimes presenting it that way helps. HTH!