Dear Ben,
First of all thanks for your lovely letter. I had hoped you might write. I know you have been struggling for a while. Your letter is so fresh, so honest. It is great when we can be as real as that with each other. I smiled at the idea that I would be offended by your little bit of rough language, and no it’s not the same as disrespecting the sacred.

I am delighted that you have done so much to repair the relationship with your Mum. I appreciate harsh words were said by both of you. I remember you being shocked not only at what she said but also at what you said yourself though of course the hurt in both of you runs deep. She should never have been put in the position to choose between you and your Dad and she did not always make a free decision. Fear often chokes our freedom. I was struck by the fact that you are building bridges with your Mum has made you happier. As we said before, the power of the little phrases such as ‘thank you’, ‘ I am sorry’, and ‘I love you’ can never be overestimated.

Yes Ben this time what you have brought to me is a bit more difficult. It is made more difficult because in your part of the world and at this time in history one of the biggest messes is in the area of sexuality. It is a mess because there is a whole lot of misunderstanding about it. There are a couple of extreme views about. Indeed there are people trying to wheel God into the argument and use him to justify their position. Be wary when people start shouting ‘And God said!’ A lot of the time God said no such thing and it’s more likely it’s what people would like God to have said.

When it comes to questions that are about whom we are attracted to, and how we show that and the consequences of how we show it, it is good sometimes to remind us of very basic stuff. The basic or core stuff will not always solve our problems but it certainly is a good place to start. This is true whether we are talking about self knowledge, who we want to be with and how we show how we feel about them. In other words the big questions such as same sex attraction, abortion and end of life issues.

It is almost impossible for people to have a calm conversation about these so called hot topics. This is not only because people have strong opinions but also because the feelings that these topics engender run very deep. There should be no surprise about this as these issues are about not only identity but life itself. In a way it comes down to one word and that word is respect. Respect for breath, respect for life, respect for our sexuality.

Of course the major difficulty here is that people will argue over what is respect and what is disrespect. The actual truth regarding these topics we know. We know it because it is in us. We know that breath is sacred. When it comes to life we sometimes argue about quality of life. Here as in other areas we should slow up, take off the hobnails and tread gently with our slippers on. We need to be very mindful of how people can suffer and indeed how people suffer watching their loved ones suffer. How do we acknowledge the gift that life is in the face of great pain?

I see from your letter your determination not to cheapen the precious gift that is your sexuality. This shows that you have a real sense that whilst it is beautiful it can pretty quickly become vulgarised. The gifts of prudence, wisdom, courage and wonder and awe in God’s presence, which are all gifts of the Holy Spirit will help you appreciate and honour your sexuality and how you express it. I appreciate that it is not easy and how sometimes it is more difficult than others. Your struggle to find a way that sees you live and enjoy life to the full whilst respecting
the sacred is both heroic and beautiful. I am there, right there, in it with you,




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