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‘Ignatian’ response to Fifty Shades of Grey

28 September 2012


From the Revd Rob Hingley

Sir, - I value Jo Ind's efforts to encourage a more positive and rounded view of sex in our Christian discourse, as illustrated in her article ( Comment, 14 September). But she simplifies and adapts Ignatius's Rules, or Guidelines for the Discernment of Spirits, in an unhelpful way.

The principles of consolation and desolation apply to our prayerful relationship with God. Ignatian spirituality is one of "finding God in all things". So I appreciate that the joys of sex may lead a couple into consolation, enhancing their capacity to "praise, reverence, and serve God". But the pursuit of sexual excitement for its own sake, while apparently pleasurable, may also lead the human soul in the opposite direction. There is such a thing as false consolation, and the evil spirit has his own ways of giving apparent consolation to direct the soul away from God.

It is noteworthy that, when Ignatius began to discover the principles of consolation and desolation on his sickbed in Loyola, he chose to abandon romantic desires and devote his life o the celibate service of God.

A symposium between Jesuit scholars and Christian sex therapists on sex and Ignatian Guidelines for the Discernment might produce interesting results, but Jo Ind's references to Ignatius's ideas are too glib, and possibly misleading.

St Bernard's Vicarage, 147 Hamstead Road
Great Barr, Birmingham B43 5BB


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