The Words of the Starr Family
When my classmates look at my hands, they always notice a very peculiar ring with an unfamiliar symbol on it. "What's that ring?" they would ask (probably expecting it to be some kind of class ring) to which I would reply "That's my wedding ring." After realizing that I'm barely growing facial hair they become stricken with intrigue and ask, "Wait… how old are you?" Although sometimes I am tempted to mess with them and say 16, I give an honest answer and tell them that I am 21 and have been married for over a year. Since most people outside the Unification faith wouldn't be ready for marriage until they were 30, this sounds crazy, but it is at this time that I am able to share with them my experience being a member of the Unification Church and my testimony of getting married at such a young age.
I have always figured that honesty is the best way to go about sharing my faith. So when I tell my friends that my wedding ring is actually a church ring and they ask which church I am referring to, I jokingly respond "It's a cult." Of course if I stopped the conversation there they might start wondering if I'm another basket case from Berkeley, so I continue by explaining that, "By technical definition, any church is pretty much a cult, and since the founder of our church is still alive, calling it a cult is actually an accurate description." It's typical to hear someone describe their religion as Mormon, Christian, Muslim, etc. but for my friends to hear that this fairly normal guy (I hope) is in a cult and that the founder is still alive, they immediately become curious to hear more.
I would then begin to explain our beliefs about creating unity through husband and wife and that, before my wedding day, I had never even kissed a girl in order to stay pure for my one romantic relationship. After my classmates hear such a fairy-tale like story, they become envious that they could not offer the same experience to whomever they would eventually marry. In fact, some would even express desire to live like I do in saying, "That sounds like a church I'd want to join," Although I still have yet to introduce them to learning about our core beliefs and how to become a member, I am able to feed my faith every day by sharing my beliefs with others and by testifying that my life is so awesome because I have God, True Parents, and my wife.
As I have gained more friends in college, I have realized that being completely transparent with our marriage traditions has been the key to building my personal life of faith. On one occasion, I even showed my history class pictures of the Madison Square Garden mass wedding during a presentation and then showed off my wedding ring to say that I too was married in such a way. I was met with no persecution but rather curiosity about this bizarre yet exciting church with peers asking questions like "Who will take over the church after Rev. Moon passes away?" or "What is the main difference between your faith and Christianity?"
I feel that we Second Generation can grow our faith on campus if we are honest with others about who we are. I only shared with my class about our mass weddings because I felt comfortable to do so, but our transparency does not even have to be that extreme. We can start by just being honest in saying that we are members of the Unification Church. I have yet to be looked down upon by any of my peers for my decision to be a member of our faith. As long as we Unificationists are proud of who we are, we will naturally gain the respect of everyone around us, reinforcing in ourselves a stronger faith in God and True Parents.