REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from the Florida Jewish News, pp. 12, 20

One of my pet peeves is using the word “adult,” as in “adult movie” because, in fact, the nature of relationships in the so-called “adult” scene are so juvenile. Who watches such things? People with self-esteem and who esteem their significant other? People who know how to get satisfaction without manufacturing artificial means? People who know how to give satisfaction to those they love? Not at all.

The people who have made that particular industry a billion-dollar industry are partially-developed people.

What Does It Mean To Be “Adult”?

So what is “adult,” then? A true adult is not afraid of intimacy. You see, the purveyors of the “adult” nonsense are capitalizing on people’s juvenile fears of real intimacy. They use fantasies to forget that they have such fears in much the same way that sad people often drink to forget their sorrows. I can see the owner of an “adult” website filled right now with righteous indignation. “Hah!” he’s saying. “That makes no sense. Not only are my people not afraid of intimacy, they engage in it all the time! In fact, they are so self-possessed and have so much self-esteem that they are completely uninhibited, completely comfortable—completely free—doing things that you [he’s shooting darts with his eyes as he speaks] may not be.”

Actually, he may not want to, but he’s making my point for me.

One of the loveliest developments of the last decade of the twentieth century was the awakening of desire on the parts of a large number of Americans to connect with their own souls. This is true in Jewish circles which have been seeing an incredible growth in Chabad, Aish, PATH and other spiritually-oriented movements, but it has also been true in the Christian community as well as in the New Age search for spirituality.

We’re Searching For Our Souls

This search for the spiritual is a reflection of what has been missing for a long time in this country: namely, an awareness that we are not merely bodies, but souls. Indeed, we could make the case that the proliferation of porn is a statement of a problem to which the search for spirituality is the answer. Put a different way, something’s missing; a person feels empty inside, lonely. He goes to a so-called adult website looking to find what’s missing. That action constitutes a statement about the state of affairs of his heart and soul; that’s his problem. Although he feels better after his little trip, it won’t last; his problem remains. In contrast, those who search more directly for what’s missing—through spiritual quests—will be more likely to get what they’re looking for. That’s the solution.

Both Porn And Spiritual Quests Are Acknowledgements That Spirituality Is Missing In Our Lives

Further, the large number of “adult” websites, by this theory, is probably an echo of the large number of people seeking spirituality via the direct route. Both illustrate that the spiritual side has been missing. One, the porn, pretends it doesn’t matter, and the other knows that it does. The downside of denial is that if you don’t see what you’re doing to your soul, you’re likely to hurt it.

Looking at the concept of “adult” from this perspective, it would seem self-evident that a fully-developed person either knows what’s missing and goes after it in a straightforward manner or it’s not missing at all. Well, the XXX people would agree with that. They don’t think their customers have something missing, and they’ll let you see all of what they have just to prove they’re right. And that proves them wrong.

Why Porn Falls Flat

A person who values his soul would not sell it so easily. Spirituality is the recognition that actions can be imbued with meaning, and that pleasure for its own sake, in which the act is not elevated by a consequence that goes beyond that momentary satisfaction will never, ever nurture the spirit.

  • Only when the spirit is nurtured and fed can it be satisfied. This, by the way, is the reason for addictions: Addictions are the quest for contentment in the wrong places. Instead of looking for meaning with which to elevate an act, the act is repeated and repeated because, without meaning, it leaves the actor empty. Foolishly, he returns to the act once again, looking for that contentment which he will never get out of it.

When you look at it that way, the “adult” people are to be pitied. Obviously, they have a problem.

Porn’s Big Lie.

What’s galling—and what makes it awfully hard to have the necessary compassion—is that the word “adult” doesn’t merely imply the opposite of someone to be pitied. What’s galling is that it implies that those who do not have prurient interests must not be adult. Given that the contrary is clearly the case, the use of that term becomes quite insulting to real adults. That, unfortunately, is the Big Lie meant to deflect the fact that these people are terrified to look inside themselves for their true solution.

Now, the meaning of real intimacy starts to become clear. It is certainly not superficial. It must entail a spiritual connection; therefore, it must be meaningful. That is, it must elevate the act itself through obtaining a greater purpose than just pleasure of the moment. And what is that “higher purpose” and what is that “spiritual connection?” Genesis describes it best.

Adam Got It Right

It says of Adam, the first man, regarding Eve, “He knew her.” Not, “he had sex with her,” but “He knew her.” Like the back of his hand, inside out. She was part of him, after all. He could laugh at her jokes. They could cry together and they knew why they were crying, no explanations necessary. They understood one another, foibles and all. Maybe they didn’t always like what they understood. There are always those little aggravating quirks of personality that are particular to the individual, but they each somehow cherished the overall person, not by overlooking the peccadilloes but by embracing them. Sure, he blamed her for the apple fiasco, but he took that apple from her because he decided to cast his lot with her. She was his soul mate. He would wander the world with her, losing Paradise to be by her side (Hirsch).

Real Intimacy

When you know someone that well, sensual love is just another dimension by which to connect. Not only isn’t it an end in itself, but it is only a small part of complete knowing. Intimacy is the knowing, the understanding, and the sharing of the pains as well as the joys. It’s the romantic pleasure, but it’s also mourning lost children together. True adult intimacy means taking that “knowing” and using it to build a life together. No matter how hard and painful such a life may be, the intimacy is nevertheless fulfilling. It is spiritually meaningful.

Do You Really Know Yourself?

There’s a catch to making this all happen. One can’t even begin to learn who another person is until one is comfortable with oneself. The problem with juvenile adults is that they don’t want to go there. Remember, they are terrified to look inside. They are afraid that they will look and find nothing there. They don’t want to discover that the emptiness they feel comes not from the lack of a sex partner but from the lack of a Self. That is why they use all the smoke and mirrors they can to avoid looking—including using the word “adult” to maintain the delusion that it is adult when it isn’t.

Adam knew who he was. He had discovered that although he named all the animals, he could not imagine himself partnering with any of them. He knew in the depths of his soul that he wanted something else and he was slated to be lonely rather than try to fool himself with an animal. He knew himself and that meant he did not want an animal. Knowing himself meant he was a fully-functioning person. Because he was a fully-functioning human being, he was capable of getting to know another such person.

True Intimacy Is Fulfilling

Getting intimacy begins with a fearless look inside ourselves. That means learning who we really are as individuals so that when we meet our potential soul mates, we are capable of learning who they are. Easier said than done, I realize. That’s why spiritual quests are called “quests,” not “finds.” It’s a process—but it’s a joyous and fulfilling one. Ironically, the act of searching is in and of itself satisfying while going after the fake intimacy is unfulfilling even after the presumed “intimate” act has taken place. Doesn’t that tell you something?

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