Unification News for June 1997

The Origins of the Modern Dysfunctional Family

by Alfred O'Connor-Birmingham, UK

One way or another, we are all members of a family-on the nuclear, extended and/or world level. So, what are some of the key issues of immediate concern to all members of the human family everywhere? I would contend that it must have to do with the problems of family dysfunction and/or family breakdown.

The key question is "Why do families keep breaking down?" In other words, what is the essential cause of the persistent decline in family values which is evident on an ever-increasing scale? Indeed, it might well be argued that moral and ethical relativism have become the norm in our present-day societies.

Much has been and will continue to be written and spoken about individual and societal problems. And many have been the proposed solutions for such difficulties. But our immediate attention will be upon the situation of the human family-which occupies a position between those of the individual and the society as a whole.

Since there has arisen such a diversity of recent "definitions", I shall clarify exactly what I mean by the term "the family." In essence, I would assert that the ideal minimum family unit, as the building block of society, consists of a God-centered husband and wife couple, and their child(ren). Of course, in reality, this minimal "unit" is inseparable from the relevant grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and other members of one's extended family.

The family, as opposed to the (smaller) individual or the (larger) society, impinges upon the full spectrum of social forms. It is thus the most fundamental school of human life and love. (See Young Oon Kim, "Significance of the Family," in her Unification Theology (New York: HSA-UWC, 1980), pp. 75-80.)

Yet the human family unit generally agreed to be very much in a state of crisis. And if we are to elevate ourselves out of this tragic situation, of what might be termed multiple dysfunctional families, we are in urgent need of a revolutionary solution to the fundamental malaise of the family.

In order to crystallize a realistic, and effective, cure to this malady, we must first seek to expose the root cause of the virulent, yet quite elusive, disease which is adversely affecting the condition of the human family unit, in epidemic proportions.

Furthermore, we must seek the root cause of the loss of family values and family breakdown, whereby we shall endeavor to discover the appropriate cure. Having found a remedy, the next challenging step will then be for us to correctly apply it, and thus help to solve the persistent problems for all our families.

For, needless to say, in a dysfunctional world, to merely be seeking the welfare of one's own personal family, tribe, race or nation would amount to being one of the most selfish and self-destructive things one could possibly do.

Then what precisely is the root cause of family breakdown? And why is there so much egocentrism, abuse, unfaithfulness, disharmony, divorce and a multiplicity of other manifestations of dysfunction in the family?

In essence, the current problems which beset the human family unit are the result of certain crucial flaws which were existent in the very first human family. As is the case in the Judeo-Christian tradition, we shall proceed with the assumption of a literal-historical fall of the first human ancestors, known as Adam and Eve. (Genesis 3:1-24. See also St. Paul's epistle to the Romans 5:12-21.)

Speaking from a theological perspective, we can advance that the problem of the family is rooted in the problem of "original sin." Original sin, without claiming to be at all comprehensive, may be described as the evil inclination or tendency which is inherited, by all human beings, from the sin of the first human ancestors.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Genesis 3 narrative alludes to the temptation of the first human parents (Eve and Adam) to fall by the-evidently spiritual-being who is known as "the serpent."

The being described as the serpent is understood, by many interpreters, including those from either traditional Roman Catholic or Unificationist background, to have been the fallen archangel, Lucifer, who became the devil or Satan through the fall. (The course and motivation of the fall of the first human ancestors, including an account of the involvement of the fallen archangel Lucifer is outlined in the second chapter of Divine Principle [NY: HSA-UWC, 1973], pp. 65-97.)

When we look more closely at the various members of this first human family, we will then be able clearly to observe the seeds of the countless present-day troubles which continually afflict the modern human family.

First, the archangel Lucifer's self-centered jealousy of Adam became a key element in his malevolent decision to tempt Eve to fall away from faith in God's Word. Lucifer's inordinate pride and arrogance grew out of all control, as he became focused on the selfish desire for more and more love. The archangel wrongly-and knowingly-sought to fulfill this illicit desire, through his deceptive seduction of a young innocent teenager, known as Eve. He misused his relatively greater experience, wisdom and knowledge of God's Will to confuse and trap a relatively naive young woman.

How often have we seen this very same scenario repeatedly played out in today's world? Where the older man, who is more worldly-wise, more educated and able to impress a youngster, takes full advantage of his status to sexually seduce a young and impressionable girl?

Similarly, having "eaten the forbidden fruit" and fallen, Eve inherited fallen Lucifer's sense of shame, guilt and fear, while her eyes became open to the tragedy of her terrible mistake. Seeking to solve her shame, guilt and fear, she then proceeded to seduce the relatively pure and naive young Adam. Thus, the tragedy of the human fall was complete!

The modern situation of a mature, sexually dominant, woman who uses her charms to manipulate and selfishly use a naive young man, is poignantly reminiscent of the process of the fall of the first human ancestors Adam and Eve.

 Download entire page and pages related to it in ZIP format
Table of Contents
Tparents Home