<Editor’s Note: In the Spring and Summer, 2017 double issue of Social Work & Christianity (SWC) , a special issue focused on Christianity and Social Work Practice with LGBTQ clients, Paul Adams wrote an article entitled, “Gender Ideology and the Truth of Marriage: A Catholic Perspective on Matters of Conscience in Social Work Practice with LGBTQ Clients.” To check out Paul’s article, go to: http://www.nacsw.org/Publications/SWC/SWC44_1&2AdamsArticle.pdf.
In response to Paul’s article, Dirk de Jong wrote a letter to the editor of Social Work & Christianity. With his permission, we shared Dirk’s letter with Paul, and Paul agreed to write a response, which we published alongside Dirk’s letter in the Fall, 2017 issue of Social Work & Christianity. To check out Dirk’s and Paul’s letters, go to: http://www.nacsw.org/Publications/SWC/SWC44_3LetterstoEditor.pdf.
To keep the conversation started by Paul and Dirk going, NACSW decided to post their exchange on this blog and invite readers to chime in with thoughtful comments of their own – posts that that give voice to the many competing values in play in this conversation, and that share how social workers’ views on these issues impact ethical social work practice while they model careful listening and learning from a variety of points of view expressed in both faith and social work communities.
This below introduction/invitation to this conversation was written by David Sherwood, who was the guest editor of the Spring, 2017 special issue of SWC in which Paul’s article was originally published.>
Part of me loves it when people talk like Paul Adams and Dirk de Jong do in this exchange about gender identity and ideology (and, honestly, part of me hates it). In this polarized time, we all need to beware of labeling and stereotyping those who disagree with us. I think we can see a bit of this in both Paul’s and Dirk’s responses. But both have important points to make.
Epistemological humility doesn’t mean that we can’t or shouldn’t come to clear beliefs and understandings. Rather, it requires that we know at a deep level that our fallen and finite minds can only approximate God’s truth and that our current paradigms will continue to need correction. This should not be just a debate about gender identity, ideology, and social work practice, but a mutual inquiry between brothers and sisters who seek to better understand and live the Truth of God.
I encourage you to carefully read all the materials in this exchange. These are matters that serious Christians and ethical, competent social workers need to be grappling with. I don’t think any of us wants to be captive of anyone’s agenda but Christ’s. I don’t want to be a thrall of either the “secular humanists” or the “reactionary religious conservatives.”
I hope that this exchange will encourage you to do your own reflecting and research and listen respectfully to those who hold views different from yours. I invite you to offer your thoughts on this matter in this facilitated blog discussion. Former NACSW Board member Rene Drumm will be the facilitator of this exchange.
I also hope some of you may develop systematic, empirical research that will test hypotheses. Some of you may write articles and submit them for publication (in Social Work & Christianity or elsewhere).
We need to hear your voice.
David Sherwood is the recently retired Editor in Chief of NACSW’s quarterly journal, Social Work & Christianity, and a retired professor of social work. He has been a member of NACSW for over 40 years.