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

Marriage and the Family in Unification Church Theology - Frederick Sontag

The Family's Role In Salvation

The family has a central place in most societies and in some religions. Religious conversion often involves leaving the biological family to join anew family group. Thus, it is not unusual for a new religion to be formed around a new notion of the family. In fact, one key to understanding a religious novelty is to see what is unique or special about the way that new religion regards the family.

Loyalty is often transferred from one family form to another. When the Roman Catholic nun leaves her earthly family, for example, she becomes "the bride of Christ."

In traditional Christianity, the Trinity may be considered as a "family concept." Certainly, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are intimately related. You must understand the bond of relationship between the members of the Trinity if you want to grasp the uniqueness of Christian belief. Furthermore, the relationship between the Father and the Son is crucial to salvation. Unless the Son is filled with the power of the Father and can act for him, any promise of salvation will lack the force needed to back it up. The Old and Ne w Testaments are full of references which trace a line of descent from Abraham or Isaac. The issue at stake is how God acts to provide salvation or to keep his covenanted promises. Father-Son relationships are frequently used in speaking of God, and family analogies often illustrate how God relates to his people. Obviously, what the believer has in mind is the idealized model of the family, not actual families with their myriad difficulties. Given the importance of the family in that Judeo-Christian tradition, why should a stress on the family in the doctrine of the Divine Principle be special or occasion surprise? The reasons are the novelty of the doctrine and its centrality to the whole program of the Unification Church.

The first thing to note is the fact that the Unification marriage ceremony, or blessing, is not simply one important sacrament in the church. It is the only real sacrament. The general public is either surprised or shocked to learn that members of the church, after an appropriate period of probation, are matched to each other by Rev. Moon. As a variation of the traditional Oriental system of arranged marriages, however, it is not a surprising custom. It is quite common in Korea, from whence the Unification movement emerged. In addition, the family plays a central role in their doctrine of salvation. Thus, whom one marries can never simply be a matter of casual personal attraction. Because properly based marriages are crucial if the church is to realize its religious goal, members must be matched according to that goal.

Second to that odd practice of mass marriages, the interested outsider is likely to be intrigued by the church's expression "True Parents." To those families who agonize over the defection of a child from their home to a new identification with the Unification Church, the phrase can be an occasion for outrage. It is often taken as a slur that implies a failure on the part of the biological family. Similarly, those who hear members call Rev. Moon "Father" may be offended because they think it represents a claim to divine status and usurps a title reserved for God. Given the concept of True Parents and the centrality of the "restored family" in their program of salvation, however, it is a natural thing for Unification members to see Reverend and Mrs. Moon in the role of archetypal parents. How, then, does that newly inaugurated family function to provide our long sought for salvation?

Briefly put, the Unification Church takes more seriously than most other Christian sects the image of Jesus as the new Adam. Unificationists focus on the Genesis story, and they aim to fulfill, or to restore, the Adamic ideal. God's proposed family could not be established in the beginning due to Adam and Eve's sin, followed by Cain's total defection from God's plan. Thus, from the Unificationists' perspective, the establishment of the ideal family which Adam could not accomplish is left for later generations to complete. As the new Adam, Jesus remained without sin, but those around him (particularly John the Baptist) failed to support him at a crucial turning point in his ministry. That forced Jesus to abort his full mission, that is, to establish a new ideal family. Consequently, the completion of God's plan depends on trying once again to establish an ideal, sin-free (or non-sin prone) family line. If we take the Garden of Eden story seriously, as Unificationists do, human salvation depends upon our ability, at long last, to actualize the plan that God inaugurated there. Not unexpectedly, Garden of Eden references abound in Unification Church songs, and Reverend Moon's home in Ne w York is called "East Garden."

To restore the lost heavenly garden, we must find new original parents, ones who can point out the way that leads us to freedom from the burden of sin that has infected humanity since Adam and Eve threw God's plans into chaos. Can such a pure family first be established and then graft others into the new line? True Unificationists believe it can be done as each new couple is grafted into the bloodline of the True Parents. Reverend and Mrs. Moon have been called upon to inaugurate the new community and to serve as model parents and family. God exempted Mary, the mother of Jesus, from inherited sin. But that is no longer given to us gratis; the way for us to achieve perfection is outlined in the Principle. Jesus was like unto us, "save without sin," which enabled him to serve as a savior. No w the inauguration of God's plan involves restoring the ideal family, that is, one free from the tendency to turn away from God which is to sin. Most doctrines in Judaism and Christianity state the program of salvation more individualistically. The notion of the Holy Catholic Church as the bearer of the keys to the kingdom which they guard for the faithful is not the same as the notion in Unification doctrine of the family as the vehicle of salvation. The issue is: Can salvation -- God's action to save us -- be mediated by a restored, sin-free family structure?

The Family in the Official Doctrine

The casual reader of Divine Principle might not recognize the importance of the family in Unification thought. It stands out clearly only to one who is familiar with the life and practice of the movement. Like many other religious groups, actual practice has developed independently from its doctrinal base. Nevertheless, the importance of the family can certainly be found in the chief text. The Introduction to Divine Pinciple1 chastises established Christian groups for their corrupt behavior, tracing it to a contradiction between the spiritual world and the physical world. True belief, therefore, is intimately linked to physical and behavioral practice. A new truth has been revealed, we are told (p. 9), which obviously involves new physical relationships, not just new spiritual beliefs. The aim of that new revelation is to unite all religions, but the family turns out to be the key to achieve that goal of ecumenical unity. All of that becomes clearer when we read that brotherly love can only be achieved "under God as our parent" (p. 10).

Parent imagery is strong from the beginning of Divine Principle and permeates all Unification life and practice. Chapter one opens with the Divine Principle account of creation. The centrality of reciprocal relationships is stressed, and the male-female relationship is primary among them. God has dual characteristics. That brings him much closer to a human image than mystical notions which stress a transcending unity in the divine nature do. Much is made of the notion of "the four position foundation" (p. 33) which unites God, husband and wife, and their offspring. In fact, that imagery is central to all Unification life and practice. Marriage, in that sense, is simply the chief physical exemplification of the Unificationists' spiritual perception of the core of reality. Since sin disrupted that four position foundation, its restoration must lie at the heart of the plan of salvation. Obviously, that cannot be accomplished by God acting alone. He is involved, but reestablishing the broken relationship depends equally on human participation and constant cooperation. God has revealed the new truth and the way to restore our lost status in this latter day, but all of it will fail unless we join in the effort.

Husband and wife must unite together before they can hope to stand before God. A relationship with God (the subject) begins first with the individual (the object -- p. 33). Men and women stand at the center of creation, although the ultimate center is God. If Adam and Eve had not fallen, "they would have become a central body dominating the created universe" (p. 38). It is important to note that the whole account in Divine Principle begins with Adam and Eve. Consequently, Jesus' coming and his mission are interpreted on that basis, not the other way around. If humans can become objects of the love of God, they need not fall again as Adam fell. That means that it is possible for us to attain deity (p. 43). Such is the core of the doctrine and the chief aim of all church practice. Marriage is simply the outer embodiment of the spiritual goal, but it is important because spirit and body must be united. There can be no spiritual salvation without its physical counterpart. The "kingdom of heaven" means that God's commands are conveyed through the True Parents (p. 46). When successful, that causes all those taken into the family to work toward one purpose. It would appear, therefore, that the Unificationists' major goal of achieving the unity of all religious peoples is dependent on building that new family structure.

Love is spoken of as parental, conjugal, and childlike (p. 49). The central Christian notion of love is first expressed in family symbolism. Had Adam and Eve not sinned, they would have created a family that realized God's purpose. Thus, our every problem is symbolized in Adam and Eve's failure, and our every hope of success rests on overcoming it. Jesus' mission can only be seen in that light and with that objective in mind. Such a belief provides an obvious rationale for why it is thought that Jesus' purpose was to come, marry, and establish the true family at last (the doctrine that probably shocks traditionalists most). We should have dominion over all things -- a power lost by Adam and Eve -- and restoring that dominion is our "portion of responsibility" (p. 59). Humanity is the mediator and the center of harmony between the worlds (p. 59). It is crucial, in that case, to organize a religious counterpart based on that image. "Jesus came as a perfected man in flesh and in spirit" (p. 60) is now understood to mean that he was perfectly suited to establish the restored family in Adam's lineage and in that way could overcome the age-old sin of not centering life on God.

Since Christians have always looked forward to God's inauguration of the kingdom of heaven, they can understand the central importance of the restored family line when Divine Principle reports, "The Kingdom of God in Heaven can be realized only after the realization of the Kingdom of God on earth" (p. 62). Some Christians have looked away from the earthly life toward the heavenly city. But for the Unificationists, just as for Marx, the earthly kingdom must first be realized as a condition. Thus, Unification thought puts equal stress with Marxism on eslishing a new earthly society. For the Marxist, that will come via a new economic order spreading its reform throughout society. For the Unification movement, the restored family serves as the center for that reformation. Whereas Divine Principle parallels Marxism in many ways, it deviates from Marxist ideas in counting on a spiritual reform to accomplish its goals, and it expects that new spirit to be established first in a new family line.

Just as sin came to Adam through the corruption of family relationships and an illicit use of sex (Chapter two -- "The Fall"), so our route to overcome sin must be through those same channels. Unificationists have no notion of "grace" in the usual sense of a free gift of God. Their account is more like Anselm's theory of atonement where God demands payment in kind, and his justice does not allow him to overlook sin without restitution. God cannot forgive freely and unconditionally; rather, he sets up conditions which, if men and women can meet them, otter us the possibility of a new life. But the prescribed road must be pursued carefully or the whole divine plan will be delayed once more. In that program, the family that can progress toward spinelessness (because it is centered on God and follows the way prescribed in Divine Principle) is central to the success or the failure of the whole human effort.

If "man's portion of responsibility" were not so crucial, and if God could simply restore us by a unilateral divine act, establishing new family relationships would not take on such supreme importance. But because salvation is partly dependent on human cooperation, and because the earth must be restored before heaven can be opened to us, the importance of establishing and spreading a new family-parent relationship looms large. The informal name the Unificationists use for their movement is the "Unified Family," and they think of their whole effort in those terms. Acceptance of the doctrine as it is outlined is important, but only because it is the blueprint for the program of earthly restoration. Most converts will report that it was the people and the warmth of the family relationships they observed that first attracted them to the church. The affection showered on novices is not pure surreptitious PR, but rather an attempt to demonstrate the loving bond which should exist between all members of an ideal family.

It is pointless to speculate as to whether the centrality Divine Principle gives to the family was originally borrowed from Eastern or Confucian notions of family bonds. N o religious beliefs are free from cultural influences, and all doctrine reflects some notions present in the society in which it is formed. We are so familiar with Western interpretations of Christianity that Eastern motifs stand out more glaringly to our eyes. To a Korean, such an interpretation does not seem at all strange. The Unificationists' goal is to unite all forms of Christianity. Could their doctrinal interpretation, which is slightly more Eastern, have possible advantages over our usual Westernized forms? Certainly we have neglected the potential theological advantage of making the family central in religious life. Ironically, we agree more often with secular groups on the necessity to engage in earthly reform projects.

Adam and Eve could not have fallen "if they had become husband and wife after their perfection, and extended into God's direct domination through their absolute love" (p. 83). Adam fell because he centered on Satan instead of God, but that was due to his immaturity and the fact that he had not reached the perfected, or invulnerable, stage. It easily follows that our need is to raise husbands and wives in a protected line until they reach the stage of perfection in which they are no longer vulnerable to sin. Each couple must follow church rules (for example, sexual abstinence) until they have matured sufficiently to withstand temptations to sin. But if Adam failed because he could not remain free from sin long enough to reach the point of perfect union with God's love (thus becoming invulnerable), how can we later creatures of sin hope to escape the trap of falling while we are still immature? The answer involves the centrality of Divine Principle as a document and why receiving that new revelation was so important. The men and women who studied Scripture before this century could not have fully understood God's "principle" of operation. Now that he has given full "principle" to us in a new revelation, we have a manual we can follow to safety.

How can we raise children who might follow Satan and protect them until they reach the safety of maturity? The answer rests within the bonds of the restored family and the new spiritual parents who have been called to inaugurate that line as "man's last best hope." We are offered a way via Divine Principle and the new family "to make Satan come to a natural surrender" (p. 85). God has given us a new revelation of the route to use for such an important accomplishment, but it is the men and women who live in that new spiritual/physical relationship who will accomplish those goals. The Kingdom of God will be realized on earth; earth will not be abandoned for heaven. It is projected that, once absolute goodness is established in society, conflict will cease (paralleling Marx's classless society). But there is no freedom apart from the "principle," (p. 91) since ignorance first led Adam and Eve to turn away from God and to center on Satan. In turn, it causes us to leave our rightful position under God in the family.

We have the power to "restore the original nature of creation by the power of principled love" (p. 94). Revolutions in society will continue until that happens. Restored family love is the Unificationist's counterpart to the social ownership of the means of production for the Marxist. For both groups a newly discovered doctrine paves the way. An individual's body "comes to have deity" (p. 101), according to Divine Principle. Once men and women become God's temple and live according to the "principle," they can by no means commit sin. Both Marx and the Divine Principle have discovered the origin of sin, as well as the formula to root it out and change all of mankind. Since these are the "Last Days," our time is an exciting one -- the inauguration of a new age in which God's first blessing to mankind is restored (p. 121). But we must find the True Parents "through whom all men can become children of goodness through rebirth" (p. 123). A person becomes a Unification Church member if he or she acknowledges Reverend and Mrs. Moon to be those model True Parents.

Whatever his importance was in establishing God's spiritual kingdom in his own day, Jesus is not as central in the present age as are the True Parents. They are at the center of our current hope to escape the bondage of sin in these Last Days. It's often been said, largely by way of criticism, that Unification thought lowers the status of Jesus. For the establishment of God's spiritual kingdom, without which the way would not be open for us today, Jesus is supreme. But, through no fault of his own, he was blocked and could not establish the needed "family centered on God." In our present age, the True Parents hold the key to our ability to overcome sin and create the kingdom of heaven on earth. That is the only way the final kingdom of heaven can ever be established. The family and the earth come first. Anthropology before theology. Christ and the Holy Spirit together are, of course, the True Parents of mankind (p. 123), but in the Last Days we need to discover what new focus that relationship will take; that is, the people living among us who embody the "principle."

According to Divine Principle, God moves and restores by degrees (p. 124), not all at once or by divine fiat. It is important for us to recognize that very different perception of divinity and its mode of operation since it explains why the progress in family reconstruction is so slow. God moves by degrees, and restoration is achieved by indemnity (that is, repayment of the debt incurred in sin). Although every bit of progress is hard fought, in the time of the Second Advent "all men will come to live harmoniously in the garden as one family" (p. 129). That phrase illustrates the cultural role the new family plays in the salvation drama. The symbol of the new family replaces the centrality of the crucifixion and resurrection. Those traditional aspects of Christianity are included, but they are reinterpreted. The crucifixion represents Jesus' failure to found an earthly family, and the resurrection becomes a symbol of God's plan to restore the divine family.

New Revelation is the Key

A theme of evolution and progress is built into that plan. If it were not so, there would be little reason to believe that the future could be different from the past. "Man is gradually being elevated in his spiritual and intellectual standard as history progresses" (p. 120). We know there is nothing inevitable about that, however. We failed to meet God's program in the past, and we can do so again. Our only advantage in the present day is the receipt of the "principle." Now we can clearly understand how God operates to restore humanity and join him in that effort with full knowledge. The revelation of the details of that plan, which could not be clearly discerned before, is itself one more indication that we are ushering in the Last Days when God will bring to fruition his plans to restore mankind and the family.

Thus, a great deal of the credibility of that plan of "salvation through the restored God-centered family" depends upon the assertion that a "new truth" has appeared (p. 131). Even the Bible is rated as a bit out of date, given the appearance of new scientific truth. Here again we find a parallel with Marxism. Whereas the Bible expresses truth, it is not held to be the final truth itself. The Enlightenment has had its effect on the philosophy of the "principle." We must now expect God and religion to keep pace with a higher standard of truth. Even Jesus is viewed as not having been able to say all that he wanted to say before the crucifixion (p. 132). The way is thus open for a higher truth to appear to complete what Jesus was forced to leave incomplete. If one is tempted to reject that notion of the incompleteness of truth in the biblical record, consider that Divine Principle adopts that position partly to explain the divisions and quarrels that continue within Christianity (and among all religions) and also the failure of Christianity to complete its mission after centuries of trying. Because they have been operating on a not-yet-complete revelation which God has now supplemented, religions have failed to date to usher in God's kingdom on earth. But it is now possible to attempt that restoration project once more.

Another prominent notion in the Unificationists' whole program is that of "the central figure." "We must find the central figure of the new history, whom God has designated..." (p. 134). That idea is not a total novelty, but rather a special reading of the Bible that represents God as selecting a new central figure in each age, Jesus preeminent among the others. It is a free election on God's part and involves no foreordination. Discerning who among us is such a figure, however, is the major religious task of every person in any age, particularly in the Last Days. Any reference to the Reverend Sun Myung Moon as a messiah is usually misleading because Divine Principle understands messiahship as a non-divine role. Nevertheless, every member who joins the Unification Church must at one time have taken Reverend Moon to be the person through whom God has decided to move in these times. That is important to the formation of the new family since the chief function of the "central figure" is to form a new, pure family line as the vehicle of salvation.

In the Last Days the way has been opened for those who truly follow the newly revealed "principle" to "find the way to true salvation" (p. 136). Jesus was forced to take the way of the cross which opened spiritual salvation, but humanity's original nature has not yet been perfectly restored. We need to have the kingdom established on earth which means, to the Unificationists, the restoration of Adam's lost family. Although salvation must include the physical body, the notion of a new family line as the way to salvation comes about partly by rejecting a literal belief in the bodily resurrection. Such a miracle cans no longer "satisfy the intellect of the modern man" (p. 165). Science has made the opening of the graves of the dead an untenable idea. The notion of a pure family line -- first established, then gradually reaching out -- is, however, something men and women can do for themselves under divine guidance. It eliminates the necessity of God breaking in with miracles. People can follow that plan without miraculous intervention, except for the assistance which members from the spirit world lend us. If their battle against demonic forces ends victoriously, they can then share that power with us.

Resurrection now means "to return to the Heavenly lineage through Christ" (p. 171). We leave the satanic lineage caused by Adam's fall primarily through the newly established family which is maturing to follow God's plan as Adam could never do. Since the spirit of a person can "grow and become perfect only through the physical body" (p. 173), the family and receiving the blessing in the mass-marriage ceremonies conducted by Reverend and Mrs. Moon are the necessary vehicles to restore the physical world. That must be done before we give any thought to heaven. We cannot leave the world of the body; we must move through it. We must follow the guidelines now given to us and try to get all the way through the periods of growth to reach perfection, as Adam never did. In Adam's day God's revelation was not yet complete, but "this is the last age in which man can communicate directly with God" (p. 177). "Now we see through a glass darkly," said Paul, "but then..." (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Those who know the "principle" and who believe in the coming of the Lord of the Second Advent will cooperate with him "in setting up the condition of indemnity... for the course of the providence of restoration" (p. 180). Although that begins with the individual, it must pass through family, national, and then worldwide levels in order to succeed (p. 187). Thus, it is easy to see that the formation of restored families, under the spiritual guidance and the blessing of True Parents, is the next and crucial stage after one's conversion. It is no wonder that the matching of couples, the strict sex mores, and the single sacrament of the mass-marriage blessing are the essential religious practices of the Unification Church. Without them, all else would fail. The family lies at the core of the doctrine and is the key to accomplishing the Divine Principle program. Consequently, an individual approach to salvation is unacceptable. Here again, as with Marxism, the Unified Family is a political, social, and economic movement, but its core is a spiritual principle.

God's will to accomplish his purpose in creation, which began with Adam, is unfailing; but the individuals elected to carry it out have not yet completed the task. God is not omnipotent in the traditional theological sense. "God's purpose of creation can be fulfilled only by man's accomplishing his portion of responsibility" (p. 197). Thus, the formation of new families is not merely a nice idea; it is that upon which the very success of God's original plan depends. The whole value of the microcosm cannot be complete without perfected men and women. First, however, the foundation of faith must be restored through indemnity or meritorious work. That is a course of repayment which people themselves set up as a condition, based on Divine Principle and the guidance of church leaders. According to the guidelines of Divine Principle, there must be a foundation of substance. But God cannot grant mankind grace unconditionally. Therefore, to create the foundation for receiving God's grace is a human act and responsibility. That foundation is the God-centered family, not the isolated individual praying or working alone. Communities are a necessity. A political and economic society centering on God's ideal must come into being. God does not work independent of history but through it, and the restored family is his instrument.

Marx and Engels on the Family

Having noted both the interesting parallels and the contrasts between Divine Principle and Marxist thought where the family is concerned, it is instructive to look at Marx and Engels's work on "The Holy Family." Remember that both groups adopt Hegel's notion of historical progression toward an ideal state. The Marxist ideal is materialistic and atheist; Divine Principle is spiritual, and it bases everything on a right relation to God. Marx and Engels thought metaphysics had lost all credibility and, like Divine Principle, they rested their confidence on a new scientific understanding. The Marx-Engels notion was that an individual must become "really human" since humans are truly social and develop their true nature only in society. Because people are shaped by their surroundings, with the right theory and the right surroundings they may become "really human," and the source of crime can be destroyed.

Marx formed a religion tor the scientific era, a scientific humanism. Divine Principle forms a new religion based on a revised theory of the holy family, but it is no less oriented toward the restoration of mankind. Here is the source of Divine Principle's anti-communist stand, which at times leads Unificationists to vociferously oppose Marxism. Both groups propose to revamp humanity and society with the aim of restoring our true nature. Each has a newly developed formula and proposes to accomplish that goal by forming a band of dedicated followers. Each proposes a worldwide society, a new internationalism. One is materialistically based; the other depends on a new interpretation of Christianity. What increases the tension between them is that they do not have the same understanding of the new "science" which is to accomplish that goal and make possible what was not open to us before. The irony is that each requires the universal acceptance of the truth of their theory as a prior condition tor accomplishing the task of the -worldwide restoration of mankind.

Critique and Evaluation

We should begin by stating the positive aspects of the Principle's doctrine of the family since the Unification Church's rise as a new religion indicates that many people have found something satisfying in it which they find missing in established religions.

(1) In a time when traditional family structure is under attack and disintegrating in many societies, the Principle's stress on family relationships is particularly attractive to some. The arranged selection of partners and the mass-marriage ceremony/sacrament are not traditional in the West. By way of contrast, however, the Unificationists treat the family as the center of the human fabric, and mother-father roles are accentuated as important. Marx and other secular doctrines desacramentalized the family and made it simply a matter of social convenience. In Marxism the central salvific institution is the party. If we must restore a religious role to the family as an institution, then that raises a fundamental question for present-day Western societies.

(2) In a time of racial tensions and national antagonisms wherein each small group asserts its autonomy, Unificationism or Unified Family marriages are quite often interracial. Anyone who did not see that racial tensions also exist within the ideal framework of the Unification Church would be blind, but it is true nonetheless that their theory works to build an international family. They are at least as successful as any other group in pursuing the goal of breaking down national racial barriers. Marxism also proposes to do that, and Christianity shed its provincial connections early in its history when it opted for a worldwide church. The Principle is a call to return to that goal of overcoming racial and religious barriers during a time of rising national antagonisms. Whether all religions will accept the Unification leadership is doubtful, but at least their aim is not to form an exclusivist religious in-group. The Principle, as a counter proposal to a Marxist-atheistic internationalism, seeks to unite all religious strains under the common cause of restoring mankind.

Having thus commented on positive aspects of the Principle, let me mention several areas of critique.

(1) The chief flaw in the Principle's program is that the fulfillment of its idealistic cause is dependent upon prior acceptance of the rightness of its concept of the "completed testament." The history of religions, or of any theory-based enterprise, tells us that it is unlikely that all religious groups will ever agree on one theory by any means other than by violent revolution. We must also deal with the "scientific age" assumption involved in both the Principle and Marxism. Each believes something new has appeared in the modern age (due to the rise of science) that makes our intellectual climate different. The Principle is based on a new revelation concerning God's principle of operation which was not fully given until these Last Days. Marxists are no less apocalyptic. They feel we have reached a turning point (that is, events have come to such a climax) that gives us the opportunity to "make all things new." The Unificationist follows the new Principle, the Marxist a dialectic of materialism. At that point each reader will have to observe the present situation for him- or herself and ask if he or she finds that mankind has reached such a decisive turning point so that what was once impossible is now possible.

(2) More difficult, and also more central and baffling still, is the question of whether God does in fact operate as the Principle outlines his divine program. I see no reason why God could not do so. The Principle gives us a perfectly possible and even plausible theory, and it is much more capable of extension and analysis than many theologies which undergird successful religions. That God prizes and supports family relationships is quite probable. Even though some have abandoned it, that notion was once widely adopted by many religions. But the heart of the issue is whether God uses the family as an instrument of universal salvation. I cannot accept that myself, partly because I do not see salvation as being dependent on any human course of action, whether as outlined in the Principle or by Marx. The Principle remolds the story of Jesus according to theories which change his intentions from the way they have commonly been understood. Of course, it is possible that we could not have understood Jesus' mission rightly until the coming of the "Completed Testament," as the Divine Principle says. Be that as it may, to attribute a family aim to Jesus' mission requires us to believe in a divine plan of salvation carried out by humanity. I do not see that God acts in that way. And, if that is not God's chosen mode of operation, the question of reinterpreting Jesus' mission becomes a moot point.

(3) In the end, the question of our role in and responsibility for the divine plan of salvation looks as the largest issue, just as the question of whether a new economic program can usher in the classless society did for Marx. The Principle parallels the American social gospel in that both rely on human beings to accomplish, in a new age, what mankind previously could not do. The Unificationists' assumption that there is progress in history is crucial, too. There is also the important question of whether God does operate within the cycles of human history to accomplish his purposes, as the Unificationists' assume. Hegel and all "progress theories" think that is so. Marx did, too, but he needed the aid of a practical, applied metaphysics, not God. Both Marx and the Principle stress the absolute need for the chosen elite to act out the new theory and put it into practice. Unificationists often say that what is unique in their life is that they are "living out what they believe," which is also a claim of the Marxist. But communism is a political-economic theory and so, obviously, has a chance to gain control of societies, by violent revolution if necessary. But can a spiritually-motivated new religion hope to have the same public effect? They lack a new economic theory (except for their support of capitalism and their ventures into various business enterprises), and they disavow any use of aggression. The Principle must, therefore, depend on marriage and the restored family to carry out its plan. The appearance of the new central figure is, in addition, no less important for accomplishing God's purpose.

As with Marxism, we can suspend our final judgment of the Unification movement until we can inspect its public record after a trial period. Unlike the mysticism of John of the Cross, the Principle's projects will be quite easily visible if they succeed. Even if they do not alter society in a manner easily open to inspection (as many revolutionary proposals of a sweeping nature do), the Unificationists may achieve less obvious, beneficial effects. For instance, their system of arranged and God-centered interracial marriages seems to create quite stable homes, even if the restoration of all humanity is not thereby ushered in. If they can create a stable Unified Family on an international basis, that will be, in itself, an accomplishment of some religious significance. Of course, the children of those marriages (including Reverend Moon's 13) may begin the cycle of sin and salvation all over again, rather than achieving perfect union with God within the bonds of the restored family. Nevertheless, if an ideal is not fully accomplished, that is no reason to fault what it can do to improve our human lot.


This article is reprinted from Update 6, no. 3 (Sept. 1982): 74-95, with the permission of the publishers.

1 Divine Principle (Washington, DC: Holy Spirit Assn. for the Unif. of World Christianity, 1973). All page references are to that edition. 

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