UPDATE (1/14/14): An edited version of this material will appear in the upcoming book, Grow Down, through Group Publishing.
**Sorry— here's a little rant I got on today. Not very "grown-up" of me I guess. 🙂
ADULT 1: fully developed and mature : grown-up / 2: of, relating to, intended for, or befitting adults <an adult approach to a problem> / 3: dealing in or with explicitly sexual material <adult bookstores> <adult movies> 1
So let me get this straight. An "adult" is someone who is "fully developed and mature" and/or "dealing in or with explicitly sexual material". I suppose these two bookend statements explain the middle demarcation: "of, relating to, intended for, or befitting adults".
We all know it is wrong for children to deal in or with explicit sexual material. Even our messed-up-confused-moral culture understands that involving children in or exposing children to explicit sex is sick. Any of us understands that there is something inherently wrong with adulterating children. Therefore, rightfully, the most severe grudges, hatred and punishments are directed towards those predators that mess with children.
But is there ever truly an age that it becomes mature for someone to "deal in or with" explicit sex? Is there ever someone "fully developed" or "mature" enough to deal in or with distorted sexual interplays that are devoid of a fully developed and mature relationship? For some reason our society has come to believe that explicit sex is okay for adults… because by some form of definitive gymnastics we pretend that falsities and spoiled truths relate to, are intended for, and are befitting adults.
Really. "Fully developed and mature" in which way exactly? In what form of honesty does our society define "fully developed" and "mature" as engagement with perverse material? I don't blame the dictionary for describing what "we" mean by our language. It is not the dictionary's fault that we are so twisted up.
We adults, after all, feel it is our right to define our own truth. We rate "adult" video games as "M" for "mature" – games filled with explicit gore, violence, language and sexual content. Culturally, we've made these "M" games the most enticing and luring so that our teenagers can't wait to play the "M" games… and many don't wait… and many adults buy those games for their kids… who are, according to the dictionary, not yet fully developed or mature… and our society pushes kids towards adulthood… as if we can't wait for our children to become like us.
Have you read The Hunger Games yet? You should. Your kids have read it. And they get the point… until adults desensitize and innoculate them some more.
Adults are the most selfish, temporal, insular, obsessive people I know. It doesn't take much observation to determine that what adults think befits adults demonstrates some rather childish tendencies in these so-called "fully developed" people. Adults are known for trying to get what they want when they want how ever they want. And if adults aren't allowed to get what they want when they want they can be known to throw a good hissy fit. Adults have been known to take things from others, form cliques, shun outcasts, rule with distrust, talk behind backs, cut corners, give-in to addictions, and operate on emotional extremes.
Ironically, Merriam-Webster's definition of "childish" relates to, is intended for, and is befitting of many adults in our culture. Engage with this for a moment: The word "childish" is "marked by or suggestive of immaturity and lack of poise <a childish spiteful remark>."
ADULTERY: voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife or between a married woman and someone other than her husband; also : an act of adultery.
Is there any wonder why the word "adultery" means what it does? To lack fidelity in life isn't called "childry". "Adultery", not "childry", simply takes the logical next step from our own definitions of "adult". To act like an "adult" is to engage in "adultery". A "fully developed and mature" person, after all, should be able to do what he/she wants with whomever he/she wants and not worry about the consequences it causes to others or themselves. Adultery, after all, simply follows the linear progression of a fully developed self-absorption and a fully matured self-gratification system. Adultery lacks the innocent and uncorrupted heart of a child.
ADULTERATE: to corrupt, debase, or make impure by the addition of a foreign or inferior substance or element;
UNadulterated people are largely an exception today… and they are largely the topic of insults from leading adults. My grandparents are nearing their 70th anniversary. They have lived exceptional unadulterated lives marked by simplicity, love, trust, and unselfishness. They were like this when they were young… and they are like this now, while they are old. They would do anything for anybody. Their favorite time in life is when they can spend time with each other or with friends and family, playing, chatting, eating. They cherish the little things and fear the big. They relish loving gifts. They take responsibility in their community and live for the best in others. They are not perfect, and they are not fully developed. They have made mistakes and done some things they regret. But they would be the first to tell someone that they do not have everything figured out about life and there are times when they feel lacking to accomplish something or when they realize they didn't do the right thing. Their hearts keep turning, more and more, towards faithfulness. Together they each have almost 90 years of history in learning to embrace the heart of a child. Their age may mean physical deterioration, but it conveys a resolving purity and love.
UNadulterated people are those who live with purity and innocence. UNadulterated people have not been corrupted, debased, or made impure by harmful elements. It's not naievete or ignorance. It's a process of sanctifiying purity that is winning the war against fully developed impurity.
The knowledge of good and evil does not make someone "fully developed" nor does it make someone "mature." Instead, the knowledge of good and evil makes someone corrupt, debased, and impure. In other words, adulterated lives have grown in the wrong direction.
One thing is clear to me. The pure of heart are not adults in the way that our society defines adults. They are so much better than that. They remind me of my six-year old daughter. Beautiful. Wonderful. Wide-eyed. Fighting against the eroding pressures of this world to remain true. Inspiring to me… a person who too often gives in to the complexities and needs a reminder to desire the simple truth of life.
Jesus said, "If anyone who causes one of these little ones who trusts in me to lose faith, it would be better for that person to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around the neck" (Matthew 18:6). I think he was serious.
1 Definitions taken from http://www.merriam-webster.com