“It seems, therefore, on the basis of the whole context, that this solitude has two meanings: one deriving from man’s very nature, that is, from his humanity… and the other deriving from the relationship between male and female” (TOB 5:2).
Adam is created and enjoys the perfect love of God and has all the animals around him for company; yet we see that “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Adam clearly distinguishes himself from the animals by knowing that he is alone.
“Adam experiences himself as distinct from the animals for two reasons: 1) he is body and spirit; and 2) he has a personal consciousness; that is, he has a mind and a free will so he can reflect on his experience and then choose to act rather than being driven by impulse or instinct” (Zeno Pg. 17).
These two traits are what separate us from the animals and make us truly human. First, we are perfectly united body and soul. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states,
“The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the ‘form’ of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature” (CCC 365).
Secondly, we have free will. No other animal is able to rationally choose to act. We are not driven by “impulse or instinct” (Zeno Pg. 17).
So man realizes he is different from the animals, but it does not stop there. As St. John Paul II comments, this solitude has “two meanings: one deriving from man’s very nature, that is, from his humanity… and the other deriving from the relationship between male and female” (TOB 5:2). Man is not only alone in his humanity, but is also alone because he is not in communion with a female.
Now, Adam is not called man until after Eve is created by God. Christopher West explains that the essential point to this is that, “Although sexual difference is fundamental to the meaning of our humanity, each human being stands with his own dignity as a subject prior to his call to live in communion with another person via the gift of sexual difference” (TOB Explained Pg.97).
So we have dignity from God prior to our call to give of ourselves to another human. This is because we can’t give something that we do not have. In order to be the type of people who can give of ourselves fully, we must first realize our ability to give ourselves. This is what Adam was realizing in the garden when he knew that he was alone.
We are all called to communion, “For by his innermost nature man is a social being, and unless he relates himself to others he can neither live nor develop his potential” (Gaudium Et Spes chapter 1:12). Now when we turn to pornography, we are in a sense rejecting the gift of communion of other people that we have been given, instead entering into a world of fantasy with ourselves. When this happens, we tend to forget our full potential as human beings.
This is why so many of us are searching to figure out who we are and why we were made. The answer is staring us right in the face, we were made for communion and love, but often times communion and love scare us. So, we cower into the desperate corners of our own selfishness and dive into that which we think will satisfy.
St. John Paul II calls us to reflect on our original experience so that we can again realize that we have dignity as created persons. Because we were made by a God who is himself an “eternal exchange of love” (CCC 221), we can begin to see just as Adam did that we need real communion in our lives. We need communion first with God and then with others, just as it was in the garden. We will not be fully happy or even fully ourselves until we enter into this communion. As St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
© Tommy Shultz, 2017
I do not claim any rights to the photo used.
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