Word to the Republicans

I’m an official, registered, voting Republican. And yes, that makes me a serious minority among Episcopalians (and academics). (M and I typically just cancel out the other’s vote…)

My party’s been wasting a lot of time on the whole failed “Defense of Marriage” thing. Yes, it’s a shallow political move. I just wish it weren’t. Marriage is an important American institution and it should be preserved. Instead of scapegoating–how about a defense of marriage suggestion that might actually help marriages? Here’s my proposal…

Every couple receiving a valid civil marriage will receive a voucher for three free marital counseling sessions from a properly accredited provider good for two years from the date of the marriage.

IMO–this would be defending marriage. My logic goes something like this: It’s got to be tied to marriage, not divorce. Offering counseling for people in a divorce process is shutting the barn door after the cows have aready split. Relationships fall into their patterns in the first few years and if a couple learns to fight and disagree in appropriate and health ways then, I think it’d be far more effective. The other problem with tying a requirement to divorce is spousal abuse. If there is an abuse situation going on, delaying a divorce won’t help anything.

My other thought would be to ease the treasury a bit. Couples who do divorce would have to pay a “divorce tax”–in an amount equal to 1.5 counseling sessions. But again, I’m not sure that would be helpful or fair.

So, for what it’s worth, party, if you say you want to defend marriage, start thinking about how to go about it beyond pointing fingers…

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About Derek Olsen

I'm a layman within the Episcopal Church with a PhD in New Testament and an interest in most things medieval, monastic, and liturgical. My chief job is keeping up with my priestly wife and our two awesome kids. In addition to that, I earn a living, run the St Bede's Breviary, listen to loud goth/industrial music, and do some stuff for the church. I currently serve as Secretary to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music where I'm also co-chair of the Calendar committee and chair of the Digital Publications committee.
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13 Responses to Word to the Republicans

  1. bls says:

    Hmmm. It seems to me the institution of marriage has never been more popular in the United States.

    After all, the majority of people do it over and over again! They love it!

  2. Anastasia says:

    you’re a republican??? I’m totally scandalized.

    I like your proposal. very sensible.

  3. Marshall says:

    Once, long ago, I was a Nixon Republican: supporting a way to end Viet Nam “with honor,” and believing in making the social safety net more effective, and not simply smaller. If that were still the position of the Republican Party, I might consider it. Sadly, that’s not where the Republican Party has been for a generation. My sister observed to me, “Nixon wasn’t really a Republican.” But in my neck of the woods, across the state line in Kansas, moderates are leaving the extremists behind. Unfortunately, they’re having to leave the Republican Party to do so; and the extremists, rather than considering whether there’s something here for them to pay attention to, are saying “Good Riddance!”

    I’m not scandalized that you’re a Republican. I do think there’s something to your suggestion. I also think we might want as a church to decide not to perform the civil piece of marriages – that is, to only bless civil marriages, and only of those who request it, rather than to serve as an agent of the State and the Church at the same time. It would disappoint a lot of mothers and grandmothers; but it would also clarify a lot!

  4. Annie says:

    I’m republican and not all that proud of it right now.

    I think you have some good suggestions here. I really like the divorce tax idea 🙂

  5. LutherPunk says:

    Can’t they take your ECUSA card away for saying you are Republican? I am a recovering Republican who does pine for the days when Reublicans stood for small government, state’s rights, fiscal responsiblity and personal liberty. Since they have long since abandoned anything that even remotely resembles this, I find myself in exile as an Independent with strong Libertarian leanings.

    As far as a divorce tax, I can say that when I moved out, I left with very little. It took me a number of years to find financial stability. I was paying all of these bills for two households for a while to keep from going into bankruptcy. Even if the divorce tax were just a couple of hundred bucks, it would have been a huge burden at the time, and would have served no common good.

    I think providing free marriage classes in conjunction with LPC’s or LMFT’s who would get a tax credit based on time donated to the cause that were used PRIOR to marriage might be more helpful. If a couple were to take advantage, then they could get their license free or something like that.

  6. Derek the Ænglican says:

    Yes, they can take away my ECUSA card for it–and my SBL card probably isn’t safe either…

    I have a hard time seeing the current president as a Republican according to my definition–certainly not a fiscal conservative in favor of limited government!

    The distinction between a civil marriage and a church marriage is in important one. I’d be willing to go for that. They are, after all, about two different things. A civil marriage is about (primarily) property, a religious marriage ought to be about the union of two people intimating the love between Christ and his Church with the approval and assistance of the Christian comunity.

  7. *Christopher says:

    derek,

    Why can they take away your ECUSA card? ECUSA has tended to have a number of moderate Republicans in its ranks. There are some at my parish.

    I once was Republican; I’m not ashamed of that. The party of Lincoln hasn’t always been the bastion of religious fundamentalists, and there are signs that its more moderate wing is beginning to show its face again. Sure, I was more what is termed a “Rockefeller Republican”, but still. When folks ask if I’m a liberal or conservative, I always respond, “It depends”. With regard to monetary matters, I’m a fiscal responsible, and this administration has been anything but. And the same goes for limited government. Though Matt Zemek commented recently:

    Liberalism and conservatism both want government out of people’s lives; it’s just that for liberalism, it’s the bedroom, and for conservatism, it’s the checkbook.

    Folks forget about TR who was not a laisez faire Republican

    Even in voting recently in the CA primary on the Democratic ticket, there were ballot measures I said “no” to not because they don’t have merit, but because we don’t have the $ and we already passed off a $10 billion bond measure last election to pay debts. It seemed to me that adding more programs without taking care of the ones we have and reigning in spending or changing the tax base would be foolhardy.

  8. Lutheran Zephyr says:

    My name is LZ, and I’m a Republican (who is registered Democrat). Bring back the days of the Rockerfeller Republicans and I’ll return to the GOP. Until then, I’ll hang with Clinton over Bush any day . . . .

    As for “defending” marriage – Ha! Heterosexual divorce and heterosexual sexuality is much more a threat to marriage than the desire and commitment of any two homosexual people. Furthermore, ammending the Constitution is hardly a Conservative thing to do . . . . I’m not sure there is anything else the government can or should do to directly encourage marriage, but perhaps Conservatives could persuade their friends (such as Fox Broadcasting) to reduce the explicit sexuality used to sell their products.

  9. theswain says:

    I’ll pray for you, my son. Our Lord said the truth makes us free, and may the truth set you free from the Bush Republicans! 😉

    Ok, ribbing aside, Marshall said much of what I would say. I was a Republican in that era too…interesting though that now I’m not when we are faced with many of the same situations and many of the same people in the White HOuse (Rumsfeld and Cheney to name but 2 of the most prominent).

    Well, your ideas are interesting, but as it currently stands, marriage and divorce laws are determined by the state. That’s one of the travesties of this whole ammendment on marriage–to take away states’ rights and increase centralization in the name of “righteousness.” Sorry, don’t buy it.

    No to the divorce tax. Some people divorce too easily, I’ll agree with that every day of the week. But generally not only is divorce a huge burden spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and financially that to add a tax on top of it would only make an already bad situation worse and do nothing for the commonweal. Its a version of kicking those who are already down; of taking the broken and wounded and giving them more brokenness rather than “binding up the brokenhearted.”

    There are two issues I’d like to bring up. First, and foremost, if the church were doing its job (and by church I mean Christ’s body) and spending some time on the ol’ knees accompanied with some good old fashioned living like Christ and being a light in the world, rather than trying to pass legislation to “protect marriage”, there’d be no need to “protect marriage”. There’s little use other than sermon fodder to blame the decline of morals etc on anything else than the church’s own failure to be Christ in the world.

    The other issue is WHY is marriage an important AMERICAN institution? What makes it AMERICAN or particularly important to AMERICA and not Germany, India, or Congo? I don’t think marriage ought to be wrapped up in the flag and paraded–its a HUMAN institution, and the humans that the Republicans are trying to protect against simply want to take part in this HUMAN institution, because it is important. Will my vows mean any less if we allow gay civil unions? (And what makes my civil union better than someone else’s: the person who officiates has to be qualified by the STATE to do so and I need to get a license from the STATE to get married. This is another place where the church has slipped and allows the state to do it and then gets up in arms when the state is being forced to consider others outside the church.

    Ok, this is too long, enough preaching. Be well.

  10. Derek the Ænglican says:

    Hey theswain! Good to hear from you! How’s Sigeweard treating you these days?

  11. theswain says:

    Sigeweard is coming along nicely, slowly, but nicely. Thanks for sending your chapter btw. I haven’t read it because I wanted to get some of my own thoughts down on computer screen before being influenced by what you had already written. I’m soon to trade chapters with you though if you’re willing and able.

  12. Derek the Ænglican says:

    The chapter has changed quite a bit… It’s now appropriate for a NT dissertation whereas that chapter was better for a medievalist one. But, as a Matthew enthusiast, you’ll be able to understand both. 😉

    Waiting to read it makes perfect sense to me; I’ll be more than happy to exchange. Due to my upcoming move, I’ll send you a new email address to use (or just use my blog email…)

  13. theswain says:

    When’s the move? In one chapter after answering the usual questions of author, date, etc, i review Aelfric’s precursors who write on the Bible qua Bible. In this chapter I argue that the whole of the Letter to Sigeweard, including the Biblical material, should be seen as a catechism: this is Aelfric’s summary of the faith. The Biblical material is governed by salvation history, so not just “narrative”, but that particular narrative governs what is and what is not mentioned.

    Then I’ve decided to do yet a third chapter on Aelfric and the Hexameral tradition, the fall of the angels and all that jazz. Have just begun on that one, trying to finish the catechetical chapter.

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