The Family And The Unification Church Edited by Gene G. James

Celibacy, Virtue, and the Practice of True Family in the Unification Church - Tom Walsh

In the recent work entitled After Virtue, Alasdair Maclntyre argues that in order for the concept of virtue to be intelligible there is required "some prior account of certain features of social and moral life in terms of which it has to be defined and explained."1 For Maclntyre the idea of virtue is meaningful only when understood in terms of some social project, as, for example, one can best understand Aristotelian virtue theory only when there is some acquaintance with the community ideal of the polis and its project. In this sense the Nicomachean Ethics and the Politics are correlative, with the virtues functioning as meaningful within a particular political and social context. Maclntyre's argument, however, is not simply that sociology must precede moral philosophy or virtue theory. But rather, as I interpret him, that if we are to understand and, moreover, to formulate a theory of virtue, then we must attend first to those features of social and moral existence which allow certain virtues to take on meaning. In particular, for Maclntyre, these features include the notion of "practices," the notion of the narrative character of human and social existence, and finally the idea of a tradition.2

As I understand the nature of moral action, its distinction lies in its being purposive action directed toward some moral end or good, even when that moral good is understood as merely one's duty. In this sense I would assert that moral action is both intentional and teleological in character. Hence it follows that if one would enquire, for example, as to why the Moonies participate in arranged marriages or why they strive to live chastely prior to marriage, that some intelligible answer would be forthcoming; that is, if we assume the action to be moral, and not merely a kind of religious behavior. No w the answer that one receives may be far from persuasive, but nevertheless that answer should give an account which illuminates what is meant by, or internal to, the action.

This essay has as its project to interpret the way in which Moonies might, or perhaps should, understand and explain their own celibate action during the period prior to marriage. Following H. Richard Niebuhr's simple but now classic phrase, I shall be exploring the question, "What is going on?"3 In approaching this exercise in interpretation I will, as has already been indicated, rely in significant ways on the insights into virtue theory afforded by Maclntyre. In fact his analysis of the "features of social and moral life" which render action in the context of virtues intelligible provides the framework for the design of this paper. As such I will employ the following format: An initial section will concern itself with the relationship between virtues, why Moonies see their celibacy as a sine qua non in regard to virtue, and what Maclntyre calls a "practice." I will attempt to show that the Moonie's "perfection of character" project, of which celibacy is a vital part, is a period for training in the virtues and predispositions which are correlative to and prerequisites for the "practice" of establishing a "true family."4 Section two interprets celibacy, virtue, and the "true family practice" in terms of the narrative character of life histories as well as in terms of the story-formed character of communities. A third section will then attend to the relationship between virtues and a tradition, arguing that Unification seeks to train its members in the virtues appropriate not only to the construction of a "true family" but of a social world as well.

As should be obvious by now it shall be my argument that Unification lifestyle, and particularly its practice of premarital celibacy, is best understood in the context of virtue theory -- albeit this tradition of thought, as Maclntyre points out, has enjoyed little popularity in modern times. And yet if indeed the new religious movements, and Unification in particular, represent anti-modern or even post-modern innovations, or in this case retrievals, then perhaps they are not best understood by employing modernist principles of interpretation. On the contrary, while the "rule of Unificationism" may differ in significant ways from the "rule" of the Athenian polis or the "rule of St. Benedict,"5 there are nonetheless striking affinities. Certainly more similarities than one finds when sizing up Unificationism according to the standards of liberal individualism or Marxist collectivisms. I do not wish to argue that Unification is the rule of St. Benedict that will guide us through the "dark ages" of modernity, but, more modestly that while in many ways Unification has been an offense to the modern consciousness this may not necessarily be to its discredit.

To close this introduction let me also say that I do not presume to imply, much less argue, that all Moonies are virtuous. Nor do I wish to claim that the "oughts" pointed to in this essay are descriptive of the historical Unification community. It is my intention rather to portray the normative framework in accordance with which celibacy could be said to make sense, and why it might be a compelling option for some.

Celibacy, the "Perfection of Character" and the "Practice" of True Family

Allow me to begin this discussion with Maclntyre's lengthy and rather complex definition of a "practice,"

By a 'practice' I am going to mean any coherent and complex form of socially established cooperative human activity through which goods internal to that form of activity are realized in the course of trying to achieve those standards of excellence which are appropriate to, and partially definitive of, that form of activity, with the result that human powers to achieve excellence, and conceptions of the ends and goods involved, are systematically extended.6

Perhaps an example will help clarify and unpack what Maclntyre means to tell us:

In the ancient and medieval worlds the creation and sustaining of human communities -- of households, cities, and nations -- is generally taken to be a practice in the sense in which I have defined it.7

As I understand it a practice is a socially shared task which is something like a project. It is practical and constructive, but does not aim primarily at the acquisition of external or merely utilitarian goods. The practitioner, in turn, must comply with certain "standards of excellence and obedience to rules," the telos of which would be "goods internal to that form of activity." A practice is not merely some assortment of technical skills; the quality of character in this sense is, in rank of importance, prior to skill.

As I interpret Maclntyre the virtues may be understood as just "those standards of excellence which are appropriate to, and partially definitive of" the practice. The virtues in effect constitute the possibility for, and indeed hold together, the social practice. In this same sense virtues are the standards of excellence, particularly as seen in terms of the standards which are to typify the character of practitioners, which prevent a practice from corrupting from within. In sum, while virtues are correlative to a distinctly envisioned social project or practice, i.e., they are derived from the idea of the practice and from the idea of the kind of individuals such a practice requires, these same virtues determine the quality and character of that community practice. Be reminded once again of the interrelation between Aristotle's Ethics and his Politics.

If I have expressed Maclntyre's position adequately, then it should be clear that it is in terms of the practice that the virtues become meaningful and virtuous action intelligible. The virtues are not derived arbitrarily but emerge logically as the sine qua non for the constitution of and participation in a practice.

Within Unification, I would assert, the task of establishing a "true family" is a kind of practice. The virtues appropriate to this task are to be cultivated during a period of what might be referred to as premarital apprenticeship, during which time one strives for "perfection of character." As a part of the "rule" or discipline for this course members are strictly enjoined to live chastely -- engaging in no sexual relationships.

In a recent edition of the Outline of the Principle: Level Four it is stated that, "God's first blessing is man's ability to perfect his character." This person of perfected character is able "to share God's feelings as his own."9 The function of celibacy in this spiritual quest is designed to prevent any lapse into sexual fixations or preoccupations, actions would represent a detour from the path to spiritual maturity. In this sense celibacy functions, ideally, not as a repression of natural urges, but as sublimation. One foregoes certain indulgences in order that other facets, indeed virtues, of one's character may be shaped; with character being understood as that part of the self which is shapeable.

From this perspective it could be rightly said that celibacy functions as a basis for a kind of self-realization. By this I mean that, according to Unification reasoning, it is only by giving one's undivided love and attention to God and to the service of humanity -- and this entails at least for a time a postponement of sexual relationships, which for the Moonies equals postponement of marriage -- that one can develop the virtues upon which the practice of true family depends. Of course, I am not arguing that celibacy is the virtue upon which true family depends; but rather, as Young Oon Kim states in Unification Theology:

Without first perfecting one's love of God, true affection, concern for, and union with another human being is almost impossible, as the marital problems of our age clearly demonstrate.10

A quote from Herbert Richardson amplifies this point,

The deepest insight from theology, I believe, is that men are created for communion with God and the universality of being, but that they cannot attain to this communion until they have overcome their narcissistic love of self... and are able to love all persons equally and fully. To overcome narcissistic love, the disciplines of virginity and celibacy have been, and will continue to be, essentially spiritual disciplines.11

Unification celibacy may be understood in this light as a discipline with a telos, what Kim has called "perfecting one's love of God." The discipline is designed neither to condition the self into a posture of disrespect for the body and its urges nor to foster a denigration-of-sex mentality. Rather it functions to constitute within the self a power that allows one not only to appreciate transcendental values but to fulfill transcendental needs. Celibacy, then, implies a recognition of a certain hierarchy of interrelated values and needs, a hierarchy whose apex and unifying thread is, for the Moonie, the "God-centered" love. To state this in Aristotelian terms one could say that celibacy operates positively towards the attainment of the mean of this God-centered love -- mean being understood here not as a compromise between, or derivation from, certain vices, but as an ideal, one in terms of which vice may be viewed as a compromise or distortion -- whose correlative vices would be either a self-centered love (merely concupiscence) or an other-worldly denigration of bodily existence. For the Moonie celibacy is an activity central to the pursuit and actualization of that mean.

Now I have thus far portrayed the Unification ethic of celibacy as a kind of eudaemonism. In many respects this is an adequate understanding, i.e., celibacy is practiced for the sake of some greater, long-run happiness. However, I would be remiss in my description of the Unification self-understanding if I failed to mention another dimension to the function of celibacy, that is, its relational or "heartistic" dimension. In short, celibacy also functions as an experience which opens the way for an understanding of what Divine Principle views as the broken-heartedness of God. In other words, through the course of celibacy, where one is to forego relationships which are sexually and interpersonally intimate, since the actual practice of family is deferred, one experiences often a sense of loneliness. According to Unification teaching, God, since the fall of his children, has been a miserable and lonely God, one who above all longs for true family. The God understood by the Divine Principle is not unlike the portrayal given in the book of Hosea, namely a God whose people have been led away by a "spirit of harlotry" (Hosea 4:2), and who laments. God's true family ideal was broken and betrayed by the Fall. Since then God in some sense languishes for a day of true family. It is to this heart, the broken heart of God, that Moonies look to understand in the course of their celibacy.

I have to this point tried to show that if the Unificationist's "true family" project is a practice, as defined by Maclntyre, then the period of premarital celibacy may be understood as a time devoted to the acquisition of virtues appropriate to the practice. While I have not delineated these virtues in any systematic fashion, and do not intend to do so in this context, they may be said to reduce generally to three types, namely the acquired moral virtues, pertaining to the management of the passions, the familial virtues of loyalty, filial piety, and obedience, and finally the theological virtues, namely, faith, attendance (service to God) and heart. Of these three types of virtues the so-called "theological" virtues are the most central. All however are interrelated and should come to manifest themselves in the person of perfected character, and all are constitutive qualities of anyone seeking to construct a true family. Given this understanding of the interrelatedness of the virtues, and given my analysis of celibacy as being an exercise related to a Unificationist's perfection of character project, I am disinclined to correlate the act of celibacy with any one of these virtues. Nevertheless, the most obvious candidate is the correlation between the discipline of celibacy and the moral virtue classically referred to as temperance, i.e., the control of concupiscence or lust. So at this point I would like to locate this virtue within its classical historical context.

As I understand the tradition of virtue theory, the two premier exponents are Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. Of central importance to this tradition is the notion, as Stanley Hauer was states it, that "an agent's being is prior to doing."12 By this I mean to suggest that character, which is grounded in being or potentiality, is shapeable. The shaping of the character is related to two factors which any theory of character must take into account. They are institutions and agency. By the first I mean to suggest that character is in many ways shaped by the nature of the institutions in the context of which an actor develops. We are, so to speak, thrown into a social world with an already existing culture; we are born into a family, a religion, a class, a race, etc. Given this feature of the human condition, any viable theory of virtue requires some theory of institutions which recognizes the social nature of the self. Again we are instructed by Aristotle's judicious treatment of virtues in the context of the household and the polis.

The other component to a theory of virtue is the theory of agency. Whereas a theory of institutions places emphasis on the social conditions which effect the emergence of selves as characters, and as such reminds us of the ways in which character is shaped by particular social contexts, the theory of agency stresses the autonomy of the actor, viz., the capacity for action. In many respects a theory of agency is more directly related to a theory of virtue. And by this I only mean to suggest that virtue theory, as I see it, understands that human acts are, so to speak, owned by the actor. And these acts are the episodes which accrue toward the construction of the character of a distinct self. One becomes what one is, i.e., one's character, by making decisions to act. Acts in this sense are self-shaping as well as world-shaping. Acts are practical; they modify what already is. In this way character is constructed by acts committed, according to distinct intentions, over time.

Aristotle describes agency in terms of efficient causation, such that "the moving principle is in the agent himself."13 If one's act is the result of either ignorance or coercion then one's act is not distinctly moral, and not that of an agent per se. In other words the meaningfulness of a theory of virtue as it involves a theory of agency, requires a theory of freedom. As such freedom itself is not fully given with being, but rather is something that one acquires or enhances. For example, to be positively free to deliberate and act as a moral agent, one must have the capacity to employ one's rational capacities without their being unduly conditioned by sensuous interest, i.e., without their being determined and hence unfree. Freedom, conceived in the tradition of virtue theory, is dialectically related to virtue itself. That is, on one hand, freedom makes acts of choice possible; but as virtue is cultivated and particularly as the merely physical instincts are managed, one's freedom is enhanced. One goes from negative freedom, i.e., the capacity to will only as one desires, to positive freedom, i.e., the capacity to deliberate and choose a good among alternatives.

While freedom and agency are in certain respects the ground upon which virtue is constructed, they are also conditions furthered by the cultivation of virtue. Certainly within the Aristotelian and Thomistic traditions, not to mention the Kantian, true freedom and agency are equated with rationality, and one's having gained a degree of mastery over the passions. To be passionate like Kierkegaard's aesthete is not to be ethical, for the passionate one is passive to the a-rational and acts without the capacity to will otherwise. For Aristotle and Thomas the exercise of the truly human function is a possibility and not a necessity; the actualization of true human potential requires that one gain control of concupiscible and irascible appetites. Only upon this foundation can one employ the rational powers freely. Aquinas argues as follows:

... when the passions are very intense, man loses the use of reason altogether; for many have gone out of their mind through excess of love or anger. It is in this way that passions draw the reason to judge in particular, against knowledge which it has in general.14

And concerning even natural law which Aquinas argues cannot be blotted out, he says,

But it is blotted out in the case of a particular action, in so far as the reason is hindered from applying the common principle, on account of concupiscence or some other passion, as stated above... 15

For Aquinas as well as for Aristotle, the management of the passions stands as a virtue in relation to the practice of contemplation, i.e., intellectual virtue. Quoting again from Aquinas:

... the moral virtues belong to the contemplative life as a predisposition. For the act of contemplation, in which the contemplative life essentially consists is hindered both by the impetuosity of the passions which withdraw the soul's intention from intelligible to sensitive things, and by outward disturbances. Now the moral virtues curb the impetuosity of the passions, and quell the disturbances of outward occupations. Hence moral virtues belong dispositively to the contemplative life.16

It is as if the passions, if left to their own designs, serve as a kind of prejudice, something which blocks the proper exercise of a particular practice, in this case the practice of contemplation. In Unificationism the practice which moral virtues serve would be the expression of familial heart. In this sense the Unificationists follow the tradition of Pascal and more recently such thinkers as Ma x Scheler and Dietrich von Hildebrand. A quote from von Hildebrand will illustrate my point about Unification nicely.

To deny affectively as such the character of spirituality is a heritage of Greek intellectualism, which considered only reason and will to be spiritual. The affective sphere as a whole was held to be irrational and a characteristic which man shared with animals.17


It is high time that philosophy should do justice to the specific role of heart in morality.18

In Unificationism moral virtue functions not merely to liberate the intellectual capacities, though indeed it is partially this, but to free the sublimer affective capacities from certain prejudices. In essence this marks a significant anthropological or moral-psychological difference between the Unification and the Aristotelian traditions; for unlike Aristotle, Unificationism defines the distinguishing human functions as the capacity to love and be familial. The passions are to be brought under the dominion of love, and ordered within the practice of family.

I would like to underscore this last point, lest there be any confusion regarding either the Unification or the Thomist positions. While the passions are to be ordered or located in some proper position vis a vis the distinctly human function, they are not to be annihilated. A quote from Kenneth Kirk will I hope speak to the Unificationist as well as to the Thomist position:

Perhaps his (Thomas) greatest contribution to ethics is the doctrine that the passions are to be ordered and harmonized, rather than extirpated; and it is from this point that he develops his massive scheme of the cardinal virtues.19

In short, it is not the argument of this paper that some kind of passionlessness is normative for the practice of the Unification marriage. What is normative, however, is the priority of ordered love, such that the passions are a function of one's heart, rather than the opposite. The importance of celibacy, even as understood within the context of an Aristotelian doctrine of the mean, is in achieving a particular mean, namely that the concupiscible appetites be ordered and relegated to their proper sphere of operation, the family.

I am aware that the assertions I am making regarding the proper location of sexual expression raises a number of important issues, and unfortunately they are issues which I shall not address here. My task here is to describe and explain the way in which celibacy functions and has meaning in relation to a particular practice. I am not attempting to persuade anyone regarding the universalizability or desirability of the practice.

The Story and the Narrative Quest

In the first section I defined my task as that of describing the discipline of celibacy within the context of virtue theory, and viewing it as a stage teleologically related to a particular Unification practice, namely true family. It is my hope that I have shown that celibacy is an intelligible moral act appropriate to the given telos of the community. In this section, in a somewhat briefer form, I wish to present the act of celibacy, the idea of virtue, and the practice within the context of the Unification story or narrative.

Frank Flinn in an article entitled, "The Ne w Religions and the Second Naivete," states,

I believe that one of the unrecognized aspects of new religious movements is their recovery of life as story.... The new religious movements represent not simply the search for the Sacred but also the quest for the metaphoric richness by which the story of life can be symbolized and lived out.20

Flinn goes on to say that "Divine Principle reconstitutes the symbolic narrativity of the messianic story"21 Flinn's point, which I find persuasive, is that some new religious movements are constituting a post-modern world view, one which has captured what Ricoeur calls the "second naivete." This "postcritical" consciousness is conducive to the emergence of "story-formed communities," a term used by Stanley Hauer was in a volume entitled A Community of Character.22

If indeed the Unification movement is largely a "story-formed community," and by implication a community of "story-formed" selves, then it merits our attention to examine the Unification story. To initiate this task I quote from a piece by Joseph Fichter, "Marriage, Family and Sun Myung Moon:"

According to the theology of the Divine Principle, the revealed scripture of the Unification Church, God intended Adam and Eve to marry and have perfect children who would populate His physical and spiritual kingdom. This intention was frustrated when Eve was sexually seduced by the archangel Lucifer, committing the original sin of adultery and causing the spiritual fall of mankind. Her impurity was passed on in premature and illicit intercourse with Adam, causing the physical fall of mankind. Later, God sent Jesus to redeem mankind from sin. He accomplished His spiritual mission, but he was killed before He could marry and father a new race of perfect children. Our first parents threw away God's love; Jesus was prevented from completing the redemptive mission on which his heavenly Father had sent Him... The time has now come for the members of the Unification Church to establish perfect families in love and justice and unity, which in turn will unify all races, all nations, all religions.23

Father Fichter's account of the story which informs the Unification community is succinctly and fairly stated, and will serve adequately for my purposes of locating celibacy within its setting in the story.

Maclntyre has suggested that the story which informs or forms a community is significantly pertinent to the intentions and goals of moral action. He says in fact that,

I can only answer the question "What am I to do?" if I can answer the prior question "Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?"24

If Maclntyre is right, and I am convinced he is, then the Unification story is the key to understanding Unification action. But Maclntyre makes another point 'which I find equally compelling and important for the present analysis, and that is that not only are communities and selves to a great extent story-formed, but that the life of each actor within the story is a story in itself. In short, each actor or moral agent is an author of his or her own story. Maclntyre states,

Narrative history of a certain kind turns out to be the basic and essential genre for the characterization of human action.25

To sum up I would contend that one may adequately describe the action of a Unification Church member, e.g., celibacy, as not only a story-formed act, but as an act of an author-agent seeking to live our a "narrative quest."

Let m e first attempt to show that celibacy is a story-formed activity. In Fichter's account of the Unification narrative he employs the phrase "premature and illicit intercourse" referring to the Fall of Adam and Eve. As Divine Principle interprets it, the Fall represents a failure on the part of the hero and heroine. The Fall is not a tragedy in the classic sense of being a result of some peculiar fate or inevitability; the Fall is a tragedy in the sense that it could have been avoided. Adam and Eve had no tragic flaw that undermined their "true family" project; theirs was rather a tragic failure. Of what did this failure consist?

On the level of behavior the Fall was the failure of constituting a family, i.e., relating sexually, without the proper qualifications; that is, they were yet babes in the virtues appropriate to the practice of marriage. Most importantly the relationship with God had not matured sufficiently. In this interpretation Unification is quite rigorist in that sexual relations are viewed as appropriate only for the practice of true family, which however is not to say only for reproductive purposes; family is interpersonal as well.

At an internal level the tragic failure which precipitated the Fall was lack of faith and loyalty to God, failure to trust that the promise of God, the three blessings, would be fulfilled. The Fall is really the failure on the part of God's children to remain loyal to God's word, and as a result a universal principle was violated. This violation was the disordering of love, or the misuse of love. This is the original sin. As a result the practice of family was instituted without the appropriate virtues -- not the moral, familial, or theological. Furthermore, the family itself was not an institution capable of instructing or transmitting these virtues. Hence the need for Christ to institute the true family tradition.

In the context of this story one can, I trust, see the logic of celibacy as an appropriate part of the restoration or re-storying of the Fall. Celibacy is an act that attempts on one hand to heal the broken heart of God and on the other represents a practice itself conducive to the perfection of character. This was discussed in the first section. What is important beyond understanding that Moonies engage in story-informed action, is that Moonies also see themselves as involved in a narrative of which they are themselves the author. The true family is an object of a narrative quest. In this respect the agent is the author of his or her own autobiography. One's life is one's own. It is only a vision of the purpose and joy of a true family that makes celibacy meaningful and worthwhile. Hauer was has stated:

... what young people properly demand is an account of life and the initiation into a community that makes intelligible why their interest in sex should be subordinated to other interests. What they, and we demand is the lure of an adventure that captures the imagination sufficiently that conquest means more than the sexual possession of another.26

Many young people have found the Unification story persuasive in a way that makes celibacy meaningful.

Hauer's usage of the term "adventure" is important. It speaks not of cool rationality, something which I fear the very tone of this paper conveys, but of vision, of dangers (at times, after all, it is dangerous to be a Moonie), of a goal that is both very transcendental and yet very historical. And to achieve the goal of the quest one must be well trained and equipped with those skills and virtues without which the telos becomes inaccessible. Like Adam and Eve one can fail the quest. With this in mind Maclntyre's definition of virtue takes on added meaning.

The virtues therefore are to be understood as those dispositions which will not only sustain practices that enable us to achieve the goods internal to the practices, but which will also sustain us in the relevant kind of quest for the good, by enabling us to overcome the harms, dangers, temptations and distractions which we encounter, and which will furnish us with increasing self-knowledge and increasing knowledge of the good.27

In this section, with the help of Flinn, Hauer was, and Maclntyre, I have tried, in terms of what might be called narrative analysis, to make Unification celibacy and virtue acquisition more intelligible. The pursuit of God's love and the true family is a narrative quest and an adventure in which celibacy plays a distinct and important role. Moving now to a third section I would like to comment on the theory of institutions which the practice of celibacy, the theory of virtues, and the Unification telos implies.

Toward a Post-Modern Rule or Tradition

Throughout the course of this exposition I have often referred to the inextricability of a theory of virtue from a theory of institutions. On more than one occasion I have mentioned Aristotle in an attempt to underscore this point. If indeed a theory of virtue implies a correlative sociology or political theory, then we must ask what kind of social tradition is inherent in the Unification theory of virtue.

In keeping with other sections let me begin with Maclntyre's position on the relationship between virtue and tradition.

The virtues find their point and purpose... also in sustaining those traditions which provide both practices and individuals with their necessary historical context.28

As I interpret it, a tradition is an intergenerationally transmitted view of the good, and of those conditions of community which facilitate the achievement of that good, and which imply a particular social structure. I would argue that the Unification tradition, unlike either liberal individualism or Marxism, suggests a communitarian social order.

Sang Hun Lee, author of Explaining Unification Thought, made the following statement:

The collapse of the order of love is closely connected with today's disorder in sexual love. Sexual love should be the realization of God's second blessing -- the establishment of a family centered on God's love -- but today many people have no such idea. In addition, mass communication scatters sexual stimulation and promotes immorality and free sex. The collapse of the order of sexual love necessarily leads to the collapse of order in the family, society, and world.29

Lee not only suggests, but insists Unification's sexual ethic has a political and social dimension; so much so that he argues that "the key to solving world, national, social and family problems lies in solving problems between husband and wife."30 The organization of sexual conduct is not merely construed as a matter of personal morality, though indeed it includes this, but as a public matter. In taking the position that sex is a political issue, Lee does not stand alone. Certainly most feminists, while perhaps offended in certain ways by Lee's conclusions, would agree with his assumptions regarding the political dimension of sexual ethics. Also Stanley Hauer was has sounded a note in some ways similar to Lee's.

Any attempt to reclaim an authentic Christian ethic of sex must begin by challenging the assumption that sex is a "private" matter.31

Hauer was adds that:

Our children have to see that marriage and having children, and the correlative sexual ethic, are central to the community's political task. For only then can they be offered a vision and an enterprise that might make the disciplining of sex as interesting as its gratification.32

Earlier I mentioned liberal individualism and Marxism as modern traditions. As I see them, both relegate sex ethics, just as they do religion, to a private sphere. Sex ethics then becomes a matter of indifference for social ethics. I would contend that each of these modern world views fails to adequately consider the primordially familial character of the self. Both fail to attend to the role which the family plays in character-formation and world-formation. Furthermore, each had failed to consider the fragility of the family as an institution and that its dissolution bodes poorly for the future of a civilization.

Liberalism in the West has all too often focused on the importance of liberty and free enterprise, both as regards commercial transactions as well as sexual transactions. The only criterion for moral legitimacy is that the transaction be between consenting adults. In this way the shaping of a social world is left to an "invisible hand," a belief in the inevitability of a harmony that eventuates from the rational pursuit of self-interest. Courtship and mating are based on a romantic self-interest model. Sexuality is less for the sake of a "practice," than it is a means for the gratification of the interests of consenting adults. Family is characterized according to a utilitarian model rather than a teleological model.

The weakness of liberalism's sexual ethic lies in its individualism, and in many respects its hedonism. For these two features lead to a dissolution of the family as a tradition. When the family does not produce external utility it is best disposed of. If the dissolution of a marriage is a decision of consenting adults, then it is believed that no one is the worse off. However, with the disposability of family arises the fact, as Christopher Lasch points out, that it no longer functions as a "haven in a heartless world."33 In fact, the very virtues which that "heartless" modern world celebrates are in many ways inimical to the traditional family.

Marx cogently diagnosed the alienation that plagued the people of a newly industrialized modern world. But while Marx's theory of institutions, especially economic ones, was offered as a way out of an alienating system, there seems no question that alienation is alive and well in the Marxist societies. In portraying human conditions in a macrosocial way, focusing strictly on a theory of economic institutions as the locus of alienation and exploitation, Marx failed to address the issue of the family. Marxists are indeed usually quick to denigrate the so-called "bourgeois family" as merely a bastion of classist traditions. Furthermore, sexual virtue is often understood as a form of bourgeois ideology.

Whereas the tendency of liberalism has been toward an ethic of individualism, the tendency of Marxism has been toward a kind of statism. In both, ironically, bureaucracy attempts to supplant family; what Lasch calls the "socialization of reproduction."34 Neither could be viewed as offering a communitarian ethic, that is, an ethic which places its emphasis upon the importance of local forms of community -- face to face communities. Unificationism, on the other hand, advocates a kind of familyism that could indeed be characterized as within the communitarian tradition. Young Oon Kim has stated that, "A family centered ethic avoids the extremes of both individualism and collectivist statism."35

The point to be made here is that Unification in its family-centered social ethic represents a form of communitarian social theory. In this respect it differs from both an atomistic individualism and a statist Marxism. In fact, Unification differs from the ethos of modernity itself This is apparent in its stress on virtue, its recovery of mythos as Flinn tells us, and its insistence on the "natural law" of the family as an institution. In these respects Unification is postmodern and yet traditional. However, I do not think that Unification understands itself merely as recovering some glory from the past, and in this sense it is hardly "conservative." Modernity, rationality, and technology are not viewed as mutants to be rejected. They are, however, to be reconstituted within a particular normative framework. I have only begun this essay to touch on the character of that normative framework, particularly as it deals with the topic of celibacy and the importance of true family.


1 Alasdair Maclntyre, After Virtue (Notre Dame, Ind.: Notre Dame Press, 1981), p. 174.

2 Two chapters from After Virtue are of a particular pertinence to the format and general stance of this paper. In these chapters Maclntyre addresses the topics referred to as "practice," the "narrative unity of the human life," and tradition. These chapters, four teen and fifteen, are "The Nature of the Virtues," and "The Virtues, the Unity of a Human Life and the Concepts of a Tradition."

3 Richard Niebuhr argues in his classic work The Responsible Self that the first question to be asked in any kind of ethical reflection of deliberation is the hermeneutic or interpretive question, viz., "What is going on?" Once having asked this question and explored the phenomenon one can begin to put together an appropriate or fitting response.

4 The notions of the "perfection of character" and the "true family" are drawn from Outline of the Principle: Level Four, particularly the chapter on "The Principles of Creation." Perfection and "true" family mean essentially having the right relationship with God, and are not meant to imply anything superhuman.

5 Maclntyre refers to "the rule of St. Benedict" as an example of a local form of community which preserved the tradition of the virtues through the dark ages.

6 Maclntyre, p. 175.

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid., p. 111.

9 Chung Hwan Kwak, Outline of the Principle: Level Four (New York: Holy Spirit Assn. for the Unif. of World Christianity, 1980), p.24.

10 Young Oon Kim, Unification Theology (New York: Holy Spirit Assn. for the Unif. of World Christianity, 1980), p. 121.

11 I have quoted Richardson from Gabrielle Brown's The New Celibacy (New York: Ballantme Books, 1980), p. 36.

12 Stanley Hauer was, A Community of Character (Notre Dame, Ind.: Notre Dame Press, 1981). This passage is taken from an article in this collection called "The Virtues and Our Communities: Human Nature as History," p. 113.

13 Aristotle's Nichonachean Ethics 1110bl5, ed. Richard McKeon.

14 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica I -- II, 77, 2.

15 Ibid., HI, 94, 6.

16 Ibid., II-III, 180, 2.

17 Dietrich von Hildebrand, The Art of Living (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1965), p. 107.

18 Ibid., p. 183.

19 Kenneth Kirk, The Vision of God (London: Longmans, 1941), p. 386.

20 Frank K. Flinn, "The New Religions and the Second Naivete": Beyond Demystification and Demythologization," in Ten Theologians Respond to the Unification Church ed. Herbert Richardson (Barrytown, N.Y: Unif. Theo. Seminary, distr. Rose of Sharon Press, 1981), p. 54.

21 Ibid., p. 55.

22 Hauerwas, pp. 9-36. This is an essay entitled "A Story-Formed Community: Reflections on Watership Down."

23 Joseph Fichter, "Marriage, the Family and Sun Myung Moon," in America (27 October, 1979), p. 227.

24 Maclntyre, p. 201.

25 Ibid., p. 194.

26 Hauer was, p. 195.

27 Maclntyre, p. 204.

28 Ibid., p. 207.

29 Sang Hun Lee, Explaining Unification Thought (New York: Holy Spirit Assn. for the Unif. of World Christianity, 1980), p. 237.

30 Ibid., p. 102.

31 Hauer was, p. 177.

32 Ibid., p. 183.

33 Christopher Lasch, Haven in a Heartless World: The Family Beseiged (New York: Basic Books, 1977).

34 Ibid., pp. 18-19.

35 Kim, p. 78. 

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