The Balancing Act of Faith and Social Work

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Below are the instructions for a discussion for my class and then my response for it.  As you may know, I have a Bachelors in Social Work and am currently working on my Masters in Social Work.  If you read this, please read until the end so you know where I am coming from.  I do not seek to offend anyone but also hope to challenge sensibilities of people that have fallen into seeing faith and traditional values into extreme applications.  

 

Please use this forum to discuss the debate around same sex marriage.  You may explore one of the following issues or one of your own design:

  • The rights and responsibilities that marriage confers.
  • The role of marriage in contemporary society.
  • The historical role of marriage.
  • Arguments for or against same sex marriage 
    • Similarities between these arguments and those made in Loving v. Virginia in 1967
  • Although the discussion boards do not normally consider the assigned readings, you may use this forum to discuss the Hodge article, including the following questions:
    • How does a social worker with a religiously conservative view of marriage work in a field with a more progressive stance? 

How does the field of social work respect both the diversity needs of the LGBT community and those of religiously conservative individuals?

 

 

         I was very glad to read the Hodge article.  My background includes over thirty years as an active, Protestant Christian and this past year I have become a Catholic Christian.  I am also in the Masters in Social Work program.  These respective identities do not contradict and I hope to show this through my observations. 

 

         One of the first things that resonated with me is how I at times have had to be either halfway in the closet in some social service settings and/ or work hard to qualify myself.  In other words, I would say I am a Christian but make sure to disavow the infamous Westboro Baptist Church.  Ideally, if the social work world was as diverse as Dr. Hodge wishes it to be, I would not have to do that.

 

         As to the issue of homosexuality, I would be on the side of the state having a right to regulate marriage between one man an one woman.  This is not a bigoted statement but just one that gives distinction to naturally distinct relationships. Traditional marriage has always been an inter-gender institution. 

 

         I disagree with the proposal for this discussion that the State of Virginia v. Loving is applicable.  The opinion of the local judge in that case upheld their arrest saying that God intended the races to be separate because of where He put them geographically in Genesis.  This was a judgment made to administer his interpretation of theocratic law where secular authorities should enforce laws according the natural law’s intent.    

 

         A proponent of gay marriage would say the same thing applies to Proposition 8, albeit erroneously due to a lack of understanding of diversity and what I call “value maintenance.”

 

         For diversity, we should understand that there is a fundamental understanding of males and females being different.  There are 98 documented differences between the sexes from head to toe.  Marriage honors the differences and the work it takes to start and maintain a relationship with such differences.  The Loving couple according to nature’s law brought diversity to each other inherently as male and female.  What’s more, they were even able to reproduce (although that is not to say that sterile heterosexual couples are less legitimate).

 

         The other aspect is the issue of value maintenance including who defines it or redefines it regarding the institution of marriage.  There are some polygamists that consider what they have to be sacred.  Sometimes siblings have wanted to be married and called that sacred.  There was once a Roman emperor who formally married his horse.  By what moral authority do we call the above unions invalid? 

 

         Finally on that argument, I have an analogy pertinent to what gay marriage proponents call an irrational fear of straight marriage being devalued.  If today a trillion dollars fall out of the sky in Maricopa County, we would instinctively be happy.  But then the truth would hit and we would see that the entire US economy would go into hyperinflation.  By having the US dollar spread around, then it loses its value.  With marriage losing its value as it is (e.g. cohabitation, frivolous divorce), it would not hurt the gay community to stick with the civil commitments. 

 

         As to where this leaves me as a Catholic, surprisingly I could still serve gay clients a majority of the time including in their partnership.  If Bob comes to me as a client dealing with the stress of his partner Mark suffering of cancer in the hospital, I would support him in processing the trauma of this and support him in being a support to his partner. 

 

         I can do this because a fundamental tenet of the Catholic Church is respecting the life and dignity of the person.  Although I can be pegged too quickly as a conservative, this tenet inspires me to help alleviate suffering wherever it is.  It inspires me to fight, peacefully, for the life of the unborn (Republicans say “Amen!”) but also against all executions (Republicans say, “Huh?”)  Though I would not exactly peg Jesus as a social worker, I would hope that as a believer in Him, his spiritual works would be shown in what I do. 

 

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