Articles from the August 1997 Unification News

uViews: September 97

Marriage: The Universal Principle

Let us search for the one principle that unifies us all. Why should we value such a principle? We value it because it is the key to peace and unification. Peace is a negative term, meaning absence of war. Unification is a positive term, meaning becoming one body. So we need a principle for peace and unification, by which we can not just stop fighting but also become one. Ceasing to fight brings an end to pain and destruction. Be becoming one, we feel joy, and something greater is created.

That principle cannot abide in heaven or in an ivory tower, but here on earth. It must be tangible and real to everyone. In fact, it must be a principle lodged deep in each heart, into which religion enters only in its most sacred precincts. And it cannot be a principle external to the object for which we are striving, like a wrench with which we fix an engine. The principle must be intrinsic to the object for which we are striving; it must be a renewal of the engine from within itself. The means and the ends must be one. That principle for which we are searching is marriage.

Marriage unites the two kinds of human beings: man and woman. These two kinds are made for each other. Gloria Steinam coined the expression that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. That saying is wicked in its cleverness but also absurd in its comparing women to fish (Now, men are similar in many ways to bicycles. They keep their balance as long as they are moving forward at an adequate pace, but that's beside the point.) Actually, in the fallen world, men and women do cause each other pain and suffering. "Women," the men's saying goes, "You can't live with'em and you can't live without'em." In other words, in the world of men and women, you can't live at all. This has been true for the fallen world. But we need not erect this as our guiding principle, as per Steinam, because such a principle does indeed befit a world in which no one can live and no one essentially needs each other.

Then the principle we are seeking is the principle by which men and women can live together and not cause each other pain and suffering. That principle of marriage, therefore, must presuppose a more internal principle, that of true love, i.e., life for the sake of others. And life for the sake of others in turn presupposes the principle of "mind over body," or "spirit over flesh." This is not to erase or reduce the value of the body, but just to put it in its proper relationship to mind and spirit.

So our principle would be that the mind guides the body to a life for the sake of others for the purpose of marriage.

Now, when we say the word, "marriage," we naturally think of a man and woman. But I will suggest we apply this term to the unification of greater wholes, for example, differing religions, races and nations. But this comes only through completion or perfection within the most essential realm, which is that of the individual man and woman.

Marriage and Religion

I am not talking of a marriage of religions based upon agreement about doctrine and ritual. I am talking about a marriage of religions based upon, well, marriage itself. Marriage is a connecting point of all religions. All religions oversee the institution of marriage within the culture or society. All religions concur in general, and even in the most important specifics, about the content and purpose of marriage. Marriage is a public ceremony bringing together one man and one woman into a lifetime relationship of living together, mutual ownership, mutual comfort and support; and shared responsibility for the purpose of creating lineage and supporting the larger community. Therefore, the institution of marriage in its content actually unites the many very distinct kinds of religions.

The way the leaders or representatives of the world's religions can unite is by agreement on a common cause. The most available common cause is that of the sanctity and importance of marriage. Marriage stands at the nexus of social policy, personal spirituality and political urgency. Beginning with marriage, one can move into the realms of education, morality, economy, health and human services, culture and entertainment.

Sociality of Nations

Marriage is also a great celebration. It is a time of dance and song, of renewing friendships and affirming the solidarity of the clan. It connects clans one to another. It has been a means of building peace between nations. If a marriage between a Spaniard and an Englander was strong, then the bond between the nations was strong. As marriage has become legalistic, so too has the bond between nations.

Marriage is also the ground or wellspring of righteousness in men. Ask any employer; employers would far rather hire a married man than a single man. Marriage begets stability, responsibility and maturity. The creation of children, in other words, is the creation of parents, and parents are what society needs. Married men settle down and tend to quit or at least reduce their selfish habits (drinking, whoring, running in gangs). Note that this behavioral effect is NOT brought about by cohabiting with a woman; it comes only through legal marriage.

A Crusade for Marriage

While the marriage ceremony itself is a time of great celebration, for most couples, the celebration stops after the honeymoon is over. It is time, however, to keep the marriage celebration ongoing. "It's great to be married!" should become the rallying cry of the new generation. Indeed, there will be no other generation besides that which celebrates marriage. Homosexuals, lesbians and single swingers are the grasshoppers of the world. They make no plans for the future because they create no future. Faithful, pure married people are the ants, creating a future. The next thirty years are the howling north winds.

To walk the walk and talk the talk to the various religions equally, the leadering must be undertaken within the realm of a world civil religion. A civil religion provides a broad umbrella for all the world's various faiths, not attempting to replace them. The theme of each religion is that we advocate true families; Muslims advocate true families; Christians advocate true families, Buddhists advocate true families, etc. Within the marriage vows of all traditions there surely are common threads, nay, planks upon which marriage is blessed.

Godism and Deism

About three hundred years ago, a movement called "deism" sprang up, first in England, spreading to Germany, turning anti-clerical in France, and having major influence in the formation of the United States. Deism arose in response to the bloody wars of religion of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Armies were slaughtering each other over questions of theology, over whether we are saved by grace or by works. Many felt that no one was getting saved at all by the mass carnage of these wars.

Lord Herbert of Cherbury, a man who felt himself guided by the Holy Spirit, called for an end to hostilities based upon agreement upon universal religious principles: the existence of God, that God ought to be worshipped; that virtue is the chief element in this worship; that repentance for sin is a duty, and that there is another life of rewards and punishments. Beyond that, he said, everyone can believe what they want to believe in private.

This deism failed not so much in what it affirmed but in what it rejected. Deism rejected that assertion that God is involved in the human realm, through miracles, revelation and providence. This rejection of God's mysterious hand in the world grew out of deism's marriage to the optimistic science of the age, and to the scientific agenda to explain all reality without recourse to supernatural forces. Deism eventually was used, in France in particular, to drive God out of the world. It became an anti-God system of belief, which undergirded the French Revolution. Today's secular humanism is a legacy of Lord Herbert's deism.

But deism took another path in the English colonies of the Atlantic coast. A moderate deism with a sentimental friendliness to God provided an ideological environment for the marriage of politics, science, economy and religion in the newborn United States. Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Washington and others were Christian deists, comfortable in the church pew or at the Whitefield revival, but also comfortable in the congresses of revolutionalry France and in their Masonic halls. Their calm and tolerant deism provided the foundation for a "cool" public square in which the various "hot" religions could jostle for the attention of the public.

The contemporary pro-family movement is a fruit of this Americanized, late-eighteenth-century spirit of deism. The pro-family movement is almost entirely a product of Christianity, but there is ample space for conservative Jews and secular psychologists. Jesus' role as savior is not intrinsic to the pro-family message. Rather, he is a model of true love, which we all should emulate in order to become good husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. Christian bookstores are full of pro-family books, but, of the dozens I have read or reviewed, few if any make an evangelical appeal. None state that you must be a born-again Christian in order to have a good family. In fact, content which is specifically Christian is virtually non-existent. These books could be written on the foundation of any of the great religions of this world.

This has a good and bad side. On the bad side, it means that this pro-family movement has nothing to do, in terms of its ideas, with the God of revelation and providence. In other words, the books could have been written 100, 500 or 1,000 years ago; they are not time-specific. It matters not whether you are Catholic or Protestant, or what doctrine of the Trinity you hold, or whether you allow instruments in your church. These pro-family messages are not tied to particular revelations of God, but rather on eternal verities.

Well, what's wrong with that? you ask. What is wrong is that God is involved with the world and is disclosing new truth, new revelations. The weakness of 16th century deism was that it blocked the living God out of the world; so too, believe it or not, can the pro-family movement. Look at John the Baptist. He was totally in tune with God's providence, until that providence stared him in the face through Jesus Christ. Then John disconnected from the providence, failed to become Jesus' disciple, and lost everything, dying over a matter of political intrigue.

It is always better to emphasize the good side, however. The good side of the "deism of the pro-family movement" is its manifestation of the family as the common ground upon which all religions can finally meet, without denying their own inherent meaning. In other words, a Muslim can affirm the family because it is consistent with the Qur'an; a Christian can affirm the family because it is consistent with the New Testament; a Jew because it is in the Torah; a Hindu because it is spoken in the Gita; a Buddhist because it is affirmed by Buddha, etc. Thus, the leaders of the various religions can agree about something very concrete, and take constructive steps forward together based upon this agreement.

Selfish, materialistic values are no respecters of religion. All religions are being assaulted. AIDS, prostitution, illegitimate children, divorce, crime, drug abuse ... these enemies are entering every sacred assembly. The edifices of faith must make a common cause today. To do so, however, they cannot be satisfied with the espousal of eternal verities, the removal of the living God from the world. To do that would be to go the way of 16th century deism. The faithful of all religions must examine their traditions for openings to the future, to prepare for the vast changes which God is bringing upon the Earth, and to work together with God as members of His one worldwide family.

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