The Common Good
June 2011

Sympathy and Clarity

by Sasha Adkins | June 2011

Reading Joel Hunter's "Civility Is Only a Beginning" (March 2011), I was struck by the contrast between his beautifully stated intention -- "Let's listen so well that we can state others' cases ...

Reading Joel Hunter's "Civility Is Only a Beginning" (March 2011), I was struck by the contrast between his beautifully stated intention -- "Let's listen so well that we can state others' cases in the way they would state them, with due sympathy and clarity" -- and his opening paragraphs. In using male pronouns for his transgendered parishioner, Dr. Hunter violates journalistic standards. He also confuses gender identity (the internal sense of who one is) and sexual identity (romantic attraction to others). These mistakes are not surprising, given that this is new territory for Dr. Hunter, but I am disappointed that Sojourners' editorial staff did not provide better guidance.

I wonder whether the parishioner's pastoral needs are being met by a minister who is admittedly not able to focus fully on her: "I am more concerned with his wife's vulnerability than I am with his [sic] sexual identity [sic]." I wish that such questions did not overshadow for me the lovely, faith-filled articulation of Dr. Hunter's vision for a body of Christ beyond dissension and polarizing labels.

Sasha Adkins
Washington, D.C.

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