True Family Values
Joong Hyun Pak and Andrew Wilson
America was built upon the dream of a free society in which all could pursue the utmost happiness. But there should be no doubt in people's minds that America is beset by a number of frightening ills. Its decline has been both precipitous and alarming. As the World War II generation ages and dies away, so dies a set of rarely articulated but strongly held values which made America a highly desirable society in which to live. The West's social decline should concern people everywhere. All over the world people still look up to America and avidly imitate its culture of freedom and democracy. Any illness in American culture thus spreads rapidly to all the nations of the world.
The defining American value is freedom. Yet freedom as we currently conceive of it is only a part of the story. Our country is certainly not "free" from intangibles like fear or despair. We are not free from crime. We are not free from negative images and degrading words being flung into our consciousness by the entertainment industry. We are not free of the helpless anxiety that comes from reading newspaper stories of ever greater degradation of human life. So much of the freedom we take for granted is based on trust. Yet trust is becoming one of the rarest commodities. Can we implicitly trust our neighbors? Our local merchant? The person passing us on the street? Our children are in danger in their own neighborhoods, their own schools, sometimes in their own homes. The tacit, shared set of values which binds a society together is in grave question in America today.
More and more objective scientific research points to the fact that the host of ills that beset our society-crime, drugs, poverty, sexually transmitted diseases, etc.-are rooted in the breakdown of the family. Good families produce good citizens, who produce good nations, which ultimately impact upon the world in a good way. Bad families produce deeply troubled citizens who form a deeply troubled nation, hence a deeply troubled world. The perilous condition of the American family is illustrated by these statistics:
Within six months of their marriage, half of all newlyweds begin to doubt their marriage will last; ultimately 60% of American families are in danger of divorce.
In 1970, 87% of all families were headed by married couples; by 1990 the number had declined to 79%; it is still decreasing.
In 1970, only 17% of American children grew up without a father; today the number had increased to 36%.
Almost one-third of America's children are illegitimate, born to single mothers; among children born to inner-city blacks the figure rises to two-thirds. 85% of teenage fathers abandon the girls they impregnate.
Each year, 2.5 million children are victims of domestic violence. A child is sexually abused every two minutes.
Two-thirds of America's 10th graders have had sexual experiences; one-third are sexually active. Every day, 2,756 teenage girls become pregnant and 1,100 of them have abortions.
Sexually-transmitted diseases have increased by 200% since 1960.
Since 1960, the juvenile crime rate is up 600%. More than one-third of all murders are committed by someone under the age of 21.
One young person attempts suicide every 80 seconds; suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers. Family breakdown is the main cause of suicide by young males.
Yet relief is in sight. A consensus is slowly forming. The 1995 report of the Council on Families in America, a bipartisan, diverse body of researchers, concluded that the answer to many of America's problems lies in the restoration of cultural values relating to marriage and the family. It recommends that we change the subject of our collective national conversation, moving away from accepting and managing divorce and family breakdown towards a new emphasis on marriage: "Our society's current topic might be termed managing family decline or ameliorating some of the worst consequences of a divorce culture... the new discussion we propose might be termed recreating a marriage culture." 1
The Family is the School of Love
Only by strengthening our families can we hope to have a prosperous, safe, and healthy society. But how do we strengthen the family? The crucial question, one that is rarely asked is this: Does the family exist only for itself, or does it exist for a higher purpose? When we conceive of the family as an end in itself, our efforts to buttress it will inevitably fall short. The secret to reviving the family is to discover its relationship to the larger wholes of society, the nation, the world, and God-its significance as a microcosm of universal love. We must understand the dynamics of a well-functioning family that is truly, as Martin Luther termed it, a "school of love."
Almost the entirety of human life is lived in the context of a family. From birth until we are teenagers, we live in our parents' home. A few years later we marry and start families of our own. Though modern society with its extended schooling has stretched the period during which people experience single life, traditionally most people do not remain single for very long. In the family we have our first experiences of love from our parents. This love molds our character. No matter what-the position we achieve in society, our level of education, wealth or fame, how healthy we become or happy we become-through all the ups and downs of life, the family we are born into and the family we later create should form a permanent set of relationships to care for us and challenge us to grow from within. The family is the school of love. The family is also the school of ethics and morality, and the source of our most deeply-held values.
We hear much these days about family values and strengthening the family. Yet in fact, most families are far from ideal. As one reporter quipped, "Everybody talks about traditional family values. But nobody knows what they're talking about.2 Many people remember their families as a source of pain and suffering as much as a place of love and joy. Why? The quality of love in the family is not as it should be. Can there be an ideal family? What would it look like? We have the examples of our parents, but were they adequate models? The traumatized American family is often a school of neurosis, dysfunction, hatred and bitterness-nurturing criminals rather than good citizens. To become a school of love, the American family needs an infusion of life and strength and goodness which can only come through values which have stood the test of time and have proven to be universally true and good. We must find true family values.
Where is the blueprint for the ideal family? From a biblical perspective, God created the family as the primordial human institution (Gen. 2:22-24), wherein human beings could fulfill His blessing to "be fruitful, and multiply... and have dominion." (Gen. 1:28) This means that God's children were to reach perfection as individuals and form true families, which would propagate God's love in the created order: the society, nation, world and cosmos. Nevertheless, when Adam and Eve fell away from God, their family relations were poisoned by sin, as can be seen in Adam's self-serving excuse before God, "The woman made me do it." (Gen. 3:12) This dysfunctional pair bore sons, Cain and Abel, who committed the first murder. Humanity's families have been compromised ever since. The natural world, too, has suffered under a curse (Gen. 3:17), without the grace of God's love.
Religious teachings offer some guidance for recovering a godly family. Unfortunately, the highest exemplars of holiness in the eastern religions-the Buddha, Hindu sages and Taoist immortals-lived as celibate monks. In Christianity, the exemplar of human value was Jesus Christ. Yet to the end of his life, Jesus never married and established a family. Christian ethics remain primarily individual ethics. They provide a general guide for behavior, but do not encompass the heart of family life.
Until now, human wisdom has understood the source of human suffering to be either within the individual or within the society. Therefore, efforts for improvement have focused either on individual salvation or social reform. Humankind has overlooked and neglected the avenue of human salvation through the regeneration of marriage and family life. The world is ready for this today. On January 1, 1996, Pope John Paul II called the family, "the school of peace." In his State of the Union Address later that month, President Clinton called the family, "the foundation of American life." Yet, the churches, which are expected to provide guidance on these matters, are in a quandary about how to revive the faltering American family. Many churches are as confused as the society at large about what constitutes a family and whether it should be broadened to include unconventional unions. Neither have the churches been spared from the scourge of family breakdown. Therefore, it is time to re-examine the Bible and other religious teachings from the perspective of the family. What is God's design for the family? How can we have true love in our lives? What is the meaning and purpose of sexual love? Today, God is providing new insights into these matters.
This book is a manual for family life, explaining God's design for the family, and the family's role in building a world of true peace and freedom. It is based upon the teachings and example of the Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon. For fifty years, Rev. Moon has pursued a messianic mission for the establishment of true marriages and families. Having built the foundation for his own marriage through a lonely, tortuous path, he has dedicated his ministry to elevating all marriages and families with the blessings of God's true love. His teachings clarify the nature of true love and how to cultivate it in the matrix of family relationships. A family where God's true love graces the conjugal love of husband and wife and the parents' love for the children is called a true family. Rev. and Mrs. Moon, as the exemplary parents of the first true family, are called by the title True Parents. On behalf of God, they offer the Blessing of holy marriage to create families of true goodness and freedom which enjoy God's unreserved approval. Ultimately, every family can overcome the propensities to false love and practice the principles of divine love. Every family can become a true family.
The Family Pledge
Rev. Moon asks us to recite the Family Pledge. Promulgated on the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Unification Church, May 1, 1994, the Family Pledge is meant specifically for families who have received or expect to receive the Blessing. Yet its content is universally applicable. Indeed, a deep understanding of the Family Pledge reveals the values that should inform all families. In its seven pledges, it elucidates how our families can be elevated to true families and how we can participate in establishing God's Kingdom on earth.
The Family Pledge should be seen in the tradition of great public prayers which define the essence of faith. Indeed, its opening words
Our family pledges to seek our original homeland and establish the original ideal of creation, the Kingdom of God on earth and in heaven, by centering on true love.
bear a striking resemblance to the words of the Lord's Prayer: "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." The Kingdom of God on earth and in heaven which we pledge to establish is the same Kingdom for which we pray in the Lord's Prayer. Moreover, as will be clarified in the following pages, the Family Pledge introduces specific guidelines about how our families can be filled with love and grace as they contribute to the Kingdom.
The Family Pledge sets forth the values of a true family. We all know the simple injunctions that have undergirded family life through the ages: to honor one's parents and to never commit adultery. These elementary rules remain as the foundation. Yet a leap in understanding must occur if our families are to become gardens where true love flowers and bears abundant fruit. Many couples enjoy their love together, yet their spiritual growth is far from complete. Complacency can lead to disaster when a sudden storm strikes the family unprepared. A family that strives daily to fulfill the Family Pledge will have the inner strength and spiritual resources to overcome the many dangers and traps which beset the modern family from every side.
Furthermore, the seven pledges in the Family Pledge give the essence of true family values. They provide a detailed blueprint for every family to become a true family. By applying the principles and insights of the Family Pledge in our own lives, and helping others to do the same, we can revive our society through the power of God. We can become the leaven, transforming our society, nation and world into the Kingdom of God. (Matt. 13:33)
The Family Pledge was written in Korean. No translation can fully do it justice. Many who recite the current English translation of the Family Pledge find it difficult to understand. In our effort to explain in detail the meaning of each word and phrase, we have relied upon the original Korean. Alongside the Korean text, we offer our own English translation which more accurately conveys its meaning. It is our hope that, by understanding its deep meaning, every time we recite the Family Pledge we will have a meaningful encounter with the divine Word.
1. "Marriage in America, A Report to the Nation," Council on Families in America, The Institute of American Values, March, 1995, p. 5.
2. Poughkeepsie Journal, May 9, 1996.
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