About Me

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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Non-religious arguments

Just a quick thought:

Isaac posted this provocative question:

What are the non-religious arguments against gay marriage?

It's a fair question, and one worth considering. Here's one you might not have asked yourself lately, though...

What are the religious arguments in favor of gay marriage?

How about a little wisdom from Bishop Gene Robinson:

"When I first started my ministry, divorced people were not welcome at Communion and, if they got remarried, they could not receive the church's blessing. Now, neither of these things is the case.

"Jesus, out of his own mouth, says remarriage is adultery and yet the Church has determined in its own wisdom and by the lead of the spirit that God's leading us to a new place.

"It raises what I think is the real issue here. Did God stop revealing himself at the end of the first century, when the scripture was closed, or did God, as Jesus said he would, send his holy spirit to lead us into truth?"

The fact is, we tend to treat religious arguments as either unwinnable or unworthy of engagement. (That's not what Isaac's doing, by the way, he's simply looking outside the traditional boundaries of the argument.) But I do think that religious thought is not monolithic, and religious thought that praises bigotry is fringe thought, and should be treated as such.


Joshua James said...

Hmm, good post, but an idea (in this case, homophobia) that is accepted and promoted by millions and millions by religious leaders and followers can't really be correctly identified as a fringe thought, can it?

Do you think the Pope would describe the Catholic church's view on gay marriage as a fringe thought?

Freeman said...

The Pope might be the leader of the Catholic Church, but ask a Catholic what they believe about gay marriage. Or gay people.

My point, more directly, is that one can win the religious argument. It doesn't have to be avoided.

Joshua James said...

I don't disagree with your last paragraph, though I'd point out that this shouldn't be a religious argument at all as that our country is supposed to separate church and state (which is how monogomy got outlawed, seeing as that monogomy is practiced in teh bible).

Where I respectfully disagree with you is on your fringe thought idea . . . I just don't think that religious homophobia is a fringe thought . . . the reality is quite a lot of Catholic people (from the pope to the bishops to the priests on to people who simply attend catholic church) do believe homosexuality is a sin, I mean, that is a fact of their belief system. They may disagree on how it should be dealt with, but the definition of the majority is pretty clear, isn't it?

Not to pick just on Catholics, of course, there are plenty of other christian organizations who also believe the same based on their interpretation of the bible . . . I mean, what's his name (the purpose driven life guy) has a LOT of followers, and they were a major part of the Prop 8 proponents (it wasn't just mormons).

Not to mention Muslim, which have even stricter views of homosexuality and specific ways in which it should be dealt with in the Koran.

I've pointed this out many a time in other places, but fellows like Dobson, Oral Roberts, Hagee, Roberston have millions of followers who look to them for guidance and follow their lead.

Millions. I just don't think that the idea that homosexuality is a sin and an abonmination is a fringe thought in our largest religious institutions in the United States, in fact, I'd say it's the opposite.

I could be wrong, but . . . Isn't Espiscopalian (hah, I knew I'd never spell that right) considered rather fringe and radical for their embrace of homosexuals not just among lay members but as priests?

I mean, if it were a fringe thought, we would have gay marriage throughout the country by now, right?

Freeman said...

I think that the vocal religious conservative activists are not actually the majority of Christian thinkers in the US. Things like Focus on the Family APPEAR mainstream, but their actual membership is far less than their clout.

I'd say that what is considered mainstream by those outside the religious community is NOT the actual mainstream thought of most religious people.

Joshua James said...

We have had different experiences, obviously, but yours is fair enough position, though I respectfully disagree with your conclusion.

Joshua James said...

Nice picture, btw . . .

bfuqua said...

Wow, this is such a mind-bogglingly complex issue that I don't know where to begin.
I tend to agree with Joshua on this, and ultra-influential religions like Catholicism and Mormonism don't praise bigotry as much as encourage it; they're not stupid.
I believe it's also important to consider the majority of America who's kept Bush in the White House for the last 8 years; in fact, it's precisely those undereducated (and presumably "God-fearing") who can't think for themselves who the Bush Administration's baited for so long. (All I can say is thank Christ for the global financial crisis and America's deep recession or we'd be watching news reports of McCain's puppy torment.)

To suggest that we shouldn't be concerned and dismissing religious bigotry as "fringe thought" is rather blase, don't you think? (I highly recommend a recent article in the NY Times chronicling the well-financed and cold efficiency with which the Mormons targeted minority neighborhoods across California). And this is where organized religion rears its cult-like head: the easily-swayed minions may not really give a damn, but the (fringe) powers-that-be will ensure that homosexuals are marginalized. That's why the unprecedented gay uprising over the last ten days: even after Obama's victory there's still a lot to overcome, and we HAVE looked at this battle as possibly un-winnable. If we didn't we'd ultimately have nothing.
As for Prop. 8, don't be fooled: it's nothing but a euphemism for hatred, even though organized religion will say they're not "anti-gay".
Again, they're not stupid - they'll always find another way.

Freeman said...

Thanks for the good word about the picture. I took it on Samuel Beckett's grave in Paris.

Anyway, you definitely have a point that maybe "fringe thought" is a bit strong. But, I guess I'd more say that I think that what's supposedly commonplace thought among religious people is actually just the most vocal and visible branch of a sort of extreme wing.

More than that, I think that no one should view the religious argument as monolithic or in-arguable. There are plenty of religious traditions that traffic in reason and philosophy. Fundamentalism is just one way to be religious.