Articles From the May 1995 Unification News


Clothing the Naked Public Square: Ideal Marriage and the Creation of a Polity of Love

UViews May 1995

From the President on down, commentators today note with distress the absence of religious influence in our public life. The public square is naked, observes Richard John Neuhaus, bereft of the clothing of morality informed by faith in God, bereft of, to use more traditional, if archaic, terms, of the fear of God. Faith in God means little if not based upon the fear of God, which comes from knowledge that our eternal fate is determined for the most part by our actions during these few mortal hours.

While religious believers tend to see the matter as one of aggression on the part of religious skeptics and secularists, it is more consistent with the religious virtues to seek the fault within oneself first. Thus we are called to recognize and address the root problem as the poverty of religions themselves. Most if not all advocates of the re-entry of religions into public discourse are themselves believers in one or other religion. I have yet to see any of them address the matter of why religion, which totally dominated western society until not so long ago, has been kicked out of the public sphere, with few people until recently being very bothered about that having taken place.

First of all, let me define what I mean by the public sphere. It is the sphere in which we discuss the moral assumptions which affect public policy on education, property, law, the media and culture, life and death, taxation and the role of government, production of goods and services, and so forth. The problem, say the anti-secularists, is that today these unspoken assumptions are for the most part rationalist in nature, instrumentalist, materialistic and pragmatic- and, if not unhuman, at least inhumane. The reigning value system assumes the human being to be a self-determining, solitary entity interested primarily in his personal rights and freedom of choice.

On the other hand, the view of the human being shared by religions is that he has unique and eternal value, based upon his existence as an eternal spirit and not upon the temporary flesh; that morality and social norms are given by God and not by human calculation, and is communicated through holy scriptures and teachers; that responsibilities are more important than freedoms, that true freedom is found only through a relationship encompassing both law and love with the Original Cause of the cosmos, and so forth.

A newspaper column is hardly the place to do much more than outline a few ideas, making a few allusions as to what might follow if allowed the time to elaborate. But for the sake of making a point about the meaning and value of the Unificationist Blessing of marriage, I venture forth, asking the reader's sympathy, to argue that said Blessing will resolve this problem of religion and society.

A review of western history will reveal why religion let itself be kicked out of the public square. The first phase took place in the Protestant Reformation, when the Protestant and Anglican princes of Germany and England expropriated ownership of vast church holdings and reduced the political power of clergy--with very little if any objection from the people and with support, by and large, from the clergy itself in those territories. The justification? The Catholic church had become corrupt to the point where its wealth and power would better serve the public good if it were liberated from church control.

So, the first cause for the disrobing of the public square was the clerical misuse of power. This maintained from the late middle ages and reached its peak with the French Revolution. (Americans, children of the Reformation, had never allowed the church civil authority in the first place.) Let us call this failure, institutional corruption.

The second stage had to do with the desire to end religious warfare. Europeans simply decided that sectarian principles were not worth the wholesale bloodshed of the Wars of Religion. There arose the call for for lattitude, for toleration, hence for restriction of religious influence, beginning in England and spreading from there. Let us call this failure, sectarian warfare.

The third stage had to do with the challenge of the scientific method and worldview it engenders. From the achievements of Galileo, Copernicus and Bacon forward, science has marched from triumph to triumph, with each technological advance--impacting real lives in tangible and helpful ways--arriving at the cost of one or other religious icon. Religion retreated into the alcoves of the spirit; science took the center stage. I would call this, the failure to meet the challenge of science.

The fourth and most recent stage had to do with the failure of religion to either regulate or satisfy man's carnal desires or convince him that they are wrong. I shall refer to this as the problem of the body.

So, institutional corruption, sectarian warfare, the challenge of science, and the problem of the body have reduced the meaning and value of religion to the point where it is, at best, edificatory for individuals swimming in the secular sea. Institutional corruption and sectarian warfare worked to separate the church from the state. The challenge of science separated religion from public education, and the problem of the body separated it from mainstream cultural life. It is for weighty reasons, then, that religion is out of the public square. Religionists must meet these challenges before they can properly demand inclusion.

I believe that it is an opinion informed by Unificationist thinking that we restore religion to the public square by following a reverse course, beginning with the problem of the body, then addressing the challenge of science, sectarian warfare and institutional corruption. This process of restoration, however, can take place quickly, so these may be a logical rather than strict historical ordering.

What is this problem of the body? It is first of all a problem which the individual faces by himself or herself. It has to do with my own mind-body relationship, and with restoring this to its proper order. Of the physical drives, for food, sleep, shelter and sex, which has the greatest historical impact? The drive for food leads to hunting and agriculture. The drive for sleep and shelter lead to construction of dwelling places. These drives thus shape our temporary world. But the drive for sex leads to the creation of new human beings. The drive for sex thus creates generations of people; it creates an historical past and future.

The Divine Principle states that it is sexual morality which is impossible for fallen man to establish, because the more successful a civilization becomes, the more its citizens have the freedom to indulge this appetite. Thus every great civilization has fallen. Religions have had a standard prescription: punish your body. To attain sainthood, you should repress sexual desires, for they are evil, a distraction from the life of devotion to God, according to the founders of the great religions. They called for fasting, prayer, silence, mendicancy, poverty, obedience, self-mortification, vigils, and the greatest of sacrifices: monastic celibacy.

It is obvious that this is but a partial answer, and the founders themselves claimed nothing more, really, for they all looked forward to the day of fulfillment, the day of liberation. Mankind today, however, has no truck with partial answers; we want the world and we want it now! The tidal wave of sexual enslavement (divorce, birth control, abortion, homosexuality, promiscuity, premarital and extra- marital sex) has washed away much of the foundations of Christianity and all the religions. Bruce Springsteen sang, "Everybody has a hungry heart," which leads men to abandon their wives and children in search of something, they know not what. This icon of middle America, "the boss", Bruce Springsteen, beloved even by the Republicans, belts it out: "Got a wife and kid in Baltimore, jack/Went for a ride and I never went back." This, today's American love song, playing tonight in the center of the public square.

The solution to the problem of the body is true marriage. Everybody does have a hungry heart, and it can be satisfied only by establishing the true dominion of the mind over the body in the context of true love between man and woman, husband and wife. This is the absolute truth which is the common denominator of all cultures, all religions, all races and nations. Laws and public policies which support this absolute truth are good laws and public policies, because they promote and protect health and happiness, and they bring global peace and harmony through one common human/divine ideal we all share in our hungry hearts.

If this be the absolute value through which all factions of our global family can combine into one, then in which arena, under whose auspices, can this unification take place? At a polling place? No; it is not a matter of political power or systems. At the marketplace? No; it is not a matter of economics. The unification takes place through shared marriage, the global expression, affirmation and experience of faithful conjugal love.

I'm sure that I'm not the only child of the sixties who had the living mystical experience of all people as one family. Truly, I experienced the truth that we all should be married to each other; that our desire for love is de facto so deep and eternal in nature that it can be satisfied only through familial, marital commitment to each other, to all people. I realized that this is simply the nature of the human species as created.

But who could be the one to bring this marriage ceremony about? That person would, by that very act, be the Messiah. It wasn't until I studied the Divine Principle that I realized the obvious: that person would not be an individual but would have to be a married couple. (It was by being deluged with so many obvious truths which had been so hidden to me, that I was convinced-no, not convinced, rather, illuminated-of the truth of the Principle.)

Why hasn't marriage until now had the power to restore the world? Well, first of all, a good argument can be made, sociologically and psychologically, that marriage is the primary power of civilization and the energizing source of culture in general. So it is not as if marriage and family have been of no value, not at all. It is more that marriage and family are so pervasive that they have been taken for granted.

So, marriage and family are enormously important, and yet they have contained a tragic flaw. That tragic flaw is the root of self-centered love within each husband and each wife, i.e., the problem of the body. That shred of distrust, that flitting fancy for another partner, that subtle accusation of the other as being responsible for one's own unsatiated hunger for love. That not-quite-harmony of mind and body. That not-quite-connection of man and woman. That emptiness at the center.

It falls under the category of original sin. No religion, no civilization, no science, could root it out. Satan is more powerful than religion, civilization and science. Satan is, after all, the father of this world's love. False love is not so bad, compared to no love at all. False love, after all, provides to my body the body of my partner. Only the devoutly religious have been able to renounce the temptation of false love, centered on the body.

The one who can solve the original sin will thereby be able to create the world marriage. He is the one who can liberate marriage, liberate the love which is true, absolute and completely free. This true love is the wellspring of the true family and ideal society. True respect for one's wife begets true respect for all women. True respect for one's husband begets true respect for all men. The same holds true for our relations with elders and youngers, brothers and sisters. Marriage across racial, ethnic and cultural boundaries begets global peace.

The Unificationist solution, then, is not to empower religion as another voice in the public square, competing with economic and political viewpoints. Rather, it is to create cultural solidarity, in which the spiritual and the physical (the religious/artistic and the political) interweave through the harmonized lives of all families. Man/woman love is procreative, not just of children but of ideas, of inventions, of culture and civilization. Thus, to purify and resurrect conjugal love is to recreate culture from its seed.

This is the only revolution which can succeed. The public square will be clothed with righteousness, arising from true conjugal and familial love. Utopian? Yes, but not a human construct. It is God's own ideal of creation, written in the hearts of all people.


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