Lifestyle Conversations with Members of the Unification Church - Edited by Richard Quebedeaux
Hugh Spurgin: I would like to begin by mentioning briefly Nora's and my experience. Nora and I were married in Korea in 1970 in one of the mass weddings performed by Rev. and Mrs. Moon, the "777" wedding. Seven hundred and seventy-seven couples were married simultaneously, including seven from America. Our situation is somewhat different from that of couples in more recent weddings, because we were engaged and married before Rev. Moon came to America to live. Our engagement was based on consultation with Dr. Young Oon Kim1 who was at that time one of the missionary leaders of the Unification Church in America, rather than directly with Rev. Moon. After Dr. Kim returned from a trip to Korea, she spoke with a few older Unification Church members in America and asked who among them wanted to go to Korea to be married and with whom. She had individual interviews with several people, including Nora and me. Based upon those interviews she selected seven American couples to go to Korea and recommended them to Rev. Moon. Then when we arrived in Korea we each had personal interviews with Rev. Moon at which time he said we were accepted into the marriage ceremony.
I don't have time to tell our entire story, but let me just mention that we had been attracted to one another but didn't reveal that, either to one another or to anyone else, until Dr. Kim spoke individually with each of us. It was through Dr. Kim that we found out that our attraction was mutual. Moreover, both before and after speaking with Dr. Kim, Nora and I had several spiritual experiences in which God let us know clearly that we would be tight for each other. My philosophy had been that if I concentrated upon doing the work of God, primarily evangelical work, He would find an ideal wife for me. That felt more secure than relying only upon myself. Nora and I feel that our marriage was chosen in heaven. It was decided by God, not by us -- although we participated in that decision through our consent. That's our belief and that's the attitude that Unification people in general have when they are matched. Nora and I had that attitude at the time of our engagement.
Today's matchings are different because Rev. Moon is in the United States and is directly involved in the matching process -- that is, he is directly involved in the selection of mates for people. The process is somewhat similar to an arranged marriage, but different because there is opportunity for the expression of personal preferences.
Some of you may know about the engagement of 705 couples in New York in May of 1979. Unification members gathered with Rev. and Mrs. Moon in a large ballroom in the World Mission Center (the former New Yorker Hotel). More than fifteen hundred people assembled on that occasion to be matched. In short, the procedure was as follows. Based upon both divine inspiration and consultation with the members, Rev. Moon selected potential mates. Then each couple selected left the ballroom to speak privately in order to decide whether to accept or reject the match. If either of them rejected, they returned to the ballroom to await another match. If they accepted, they returned briefly to bow before Rev. and Mrs. Moon and the entire congregation, signifying their acceptance.
In my experience, there are generally two types of engagements. In one case a person is matched to someone who is obviously suited for him. Coming from similar backgrounds, these couples usually have minimal difficulty getting along. In the other case a person is engaged to someone who normally would be incompatible with him if they were not both members of the Unification Church, because of cultural or personality differences. One cannot assume, however, that such couples ate unhappy. For instance, in 1970 when Nora and I were married, there were several international couples. There was one couple in which the woman was German (and unable to speak English) and the man was British (and unable to speak German). Initially, without a common language, they had some difficulty communicating, but now -- ten years later -- they have a successful marriage.
There are many miraculous stories of what happens during the engagement. For the period of the matching, I believe, Rev. Moon is especially inspired; his spiritual senses are open, and he is able to communicate directly with God and with the highest realms of the spiritual world. There is no other way for me to understand what happens.
Several times I have witnessed what I consider supernatural occurrences, but I have time to give you only one example. At the matching last May, there was one young man whom Rev. Moon talked with several times during the course of the day about a mate. Let's call him Tom. But each time Rev. Moon talked with Tom, Rev. Moon asked him to sit down without resolving anything. In the meantime while Tom waited, other people were engaged. Then, rather late in the day, suddenly Rev. Moon made a beeline toward a girl who was sitting in the back of the room. I do not think Rev. Moon could physically see het (because she was far in the back of the room and seated behind other people) but he hurried toward her without regard for aisles; people scurried to get out of the way. When he reached her (let's call her Jane), he asked Jane to stand and come to the front of the room. Once having reached the front, Rev. Moon asked Tom to stand and he proceeded to match them. It's a nice match; I know the couple. There are countless situations that are similar. People often have psychic experiences during, before or after the engagement process. As I indicated, Nora and I did.
I'd also like to give you an example of what the Unification attitude toward marriage ideally should be, and often is. Assume that you are a Unification person sitting in the engagement room with fifteen hundred other people. However, after having sat there all day, suddenly you realize there is only one other eligible person left, everyone else having been engaged. What would your attitude be? If you were not a committed Moonie, you might start to worry and to think about other people you'd like to marry or about all the characteristics you'd detest in a spouse. However, as a Unificationist you would most likely look at the situation from another perspective -- that God saved this one person for you. That is to say, you would take the view that from the beginning of the matching God knew who was best for you.
Certainly God is always looking out for our best interests based upon His superior knowledge about our situations, preferences and interests. Hence Rev. Moon's desire is, of course, that we as Unificationists experience the best marriages possible. When Rev. Moon matches a couple, he thinks not only of that couple's immediate situation; he is also concerned with broader, providential concerns. He is thinking about their ancestors, their descendants, their futures, and God's will for their lives. Because he is in constant contact with God, he knows more than we do about what is best for us.
The doctrine of marriage and the family in the Unification Church is the central concept of Unification thought and lifestyle. It is interrelated with most other aspects of the Principle -- Rev. Moon's teaching -- with the doctrine of creation, the doctrine of the fall, the doctrine of redemption, and eschatology.
According to Divine Principle2 God gave man three blessings: to be fruitful (or attain individual perfection), to multiply (to have a family), and to have dominion over creation. Adam and Eve were not intended by God to marry until they had perfected their individuality to the point where they could stand in relationship to their children as perfect parents, just as God can be trusted as our Parent. Adam and Eve were to participate in the creation of their own character by keeping God's commandment not to eat of the fruit (which we take to mean not to have a sexual relationship without God's blessing in marriage). By keeping the commandment, man would become a co-creator with God of his own character, enabling him to embody God's nature and become His true child. Also, this would entitle man to dominion over the natural world, since the things of creation take no responsibility for perfection of their nature but grow automatically to maturity through the operation of natural laws.
Unfortunately Adam and Eve had sex before God blessed them in marriage, and it is only on the foundation of thousands of years of God's dispensational work that we are now living at a time when marriages can be without reservation blessed by God. This is why we call a Unification marriage, including the wedding ceremony, "the Blessing."
When a Unification Church member is single and new to the church, he does many things -- fundraising, witnessing, working in church businesses, studying theology. From a Unification perspective, however, these are secondary to what's happening within him internally. Moonies are trying to become true people -- true sons and daughters of God in order to become ideal as husbands and wives and patents. This effort is fundamental to the Unification way of life.
What is special about marriage in the Unification Church? For Unificationists, the Blessing is a passport to heaven. Marriage has that purpose and significance. It is conceived in relationship to God. The Blessing ceremony has sacramental qualities. It has elements of the traditional Christian sacraments, as well as much that is new or different. For example, during the wedding ceremony, holy water is used in a baptismal fashion and holy wine in an Eucharistic manner. During the time of the Blessing ceremony, according to Unification theology, one's sins ate forgiven and new life is given.
In the world today, Rev. Moon is God's primary spiritual instrument. Unification marriage is lived in accord with the tradition that Rev. and Mts. Moon have established through the example of their sacrificial, loving lives. Rev. and Mrs. Moon have reached a level of spiritual maturity that makes them ideal or true as people, as husband and wife, and most importantly, as patents. That is to say, they ate parents capable of giving unconditional love to their children and to others without expecting anything in return. For me Rev. Moon is not only a leader, nor just a brother in Christ or a friend. He is all those things, but he's more. He's a spiritual father, Mrs. Moon is a spiritual mother, in the sense that I can inherit a spiritual tradition from them that can lead me to God.
For Unification marriages there is a deep sense of mission and of a sharing of God's love. Our marriages are for the benefit of mankind, not merely for ourselves. Moonies are taught to sacrifice their comforts and desires (and even to leave their families if necessary) in order to serve others first and best. Rev. Moon inspires a willingness to sacrifice one's own good life for a higher purpose.
There is an aspect of romantic love in the Unification marriage ideal; I don't want to de-emphasize that. However, the ideal highlighted by Rev. Moon is that we should be willing to many and care for anyone. What is important is the attitude with which one approaches marriage. Rev. Moon stresses that no marriage ever begins perfect and no mate is ideal in the beginning. Rather we should enter the relationship with the attitude that we will do whatever is necessary to make the marriage work for our mate, treating him or her as a son or daughter of God. We are taught to give to that person the best possible marriage, the marriage that God would want for him or her. Regardless of the difficulties involved, Unificationists are taught to make the marital relationship a success, not to give up.
According to Unification theology, we are at the beginning of an era when we all can have truly God-centered families. Moonies see themselves as helping to usher in a new age in which all men and women (including all the people who have ever lived) will reach spiritual perfection. Restored families, communities, and nations -- indeed an ideal world is ultimately possible.
George Exoo: Could you specify questions in the interview process? I gather these are not private interviews. What kind of questions are nonetheless asked?
Hugh Spurgin: OK, Nora's and my situation was unusual because in 1970 the church was small and Rev. Moon was able to spend some time personally with each candidate. Obviously that is not the current situation. We are now part of a larger movement. There is an informal group called the Blessing Committee which is composed of older Blessed wives. They gather information for Rev. Moon on members eligible for the Blessing. In this presentation I have not discussed all the details of either the matching or the public wedding -- some of you have seen the film of the wedding of eighteen hundred couples -- but in order to be eligible for the engagement and marriage activities a single person is asked to fill out an application. He usually has to meet certain external guidelines. For instance, as it now stands, he is expected to be a member of the church for at least three years. He should also be a certain age. My wife would know more, but recently, I believe, the guideline was that men be over twenty-six years of age and women over twenty-four. Is that correct, Nora?
Nora Spurgin: Actually it is twenty-four and four years in the church or twenty-six and three years in the church. Those are just the external boundaries to work with.
Hugh Spurgin: Those may change, as they have changed in the past. There are also other guidelines for previously married couples. Spiritually the most important qualification is recruitment of spiritual children. Moonies are evangelists, trying to take their message of hope to the world, recruiting people for the church and helping them grow in their relationship with God and with other people. If I interest someone in the church that person becomes my spiritual child and I am responsible to help him grow in his understanding of and relationship with God.
I myself can learn by raising spiritual children, just as I can by raising my own natural children. The theory is that if I raise spiritual children before getting married, then later on I will be a better parent to my own children. In the process of learning and growing in my relationship with my spiritual children, hopefully I will become emotionally more mature and better able to raise natural children in the future.
George Exoo: Now you mean -- I'm being a little facetious -- you get S and H green stamps for winning converts, and at the time you've filled five books, you get married, no?
Hugh Spurgin: No. But at this time there are external guidelines for being married by Rev. Moon. But I will leave that question to my wife. She has served on the Blessing Committee and can discuss candidacy.
Prior to the matching, Rev. Moon looks at the pictures of eligible members and sometimes at the applications. Once he enters the meeting room, however, Rev. Moon doesn't use any notes and rarely consults with anyone other than the participants; he relies primarily on divine inspiration.
Let me conclude by saying that there are both internal and external aspects to the wedding. The internal part is called the holy wine ceremony. It has deep providential significance, particularly soteriological importance. During that part of the ceremony often the feeling of forgiveness of sins comes. Nora and I felt that; during that simple, private ceremony we felt reborn. The external aspect is the public wedding. Often, but not always, those are mass weddings.
There are other things to say, but I'll stop and introduce you to my complement, my wife Nora. Nora, can you talk about the Blessing Committee and requirements?
Nora Spurgin: It's not legalistic in terms of having a certain number of spiritual children, but it is the desired ideal that we have the experience of having guided and raised people through their growth in the church. So of course not everyone has brought three spiritual children. Some people have brought many more. I just want you to know that it's not legalistic.
George Exoo: But there is a minimum.
Hugh Spurgin: At this point in time I don't think there is. There are certain guidelines for being married in the church, but Rev. Moon can waive those kinds of qualifications and sometimes he does. And those qualifications vary from wedding to wedding. Actually, I was only two years in the church when I was married. Nora was older in the church than I, but in my case Rev. Moon waived the three-year membership requirement. So it's not legalistic.
Nora Spurgin: I'd like to talk about goals, patterns and traditions in family life in the church. Let me preface this by saying that we consider the present time a period of transition, a period when a great deal of restorative work is taking place. So, although we talk about ideals, in reality, at this point we do not live in a time when those ideals can be fully realized. Many of the things we do are geared toward restoring the world. We are also restoring our own personal lives; so the patterns are not set and you will find couples in many different situations. You can't look at any one couple and say, "This is the pattern of a Unificationist marriage -- a Blessed couple." Rather, you see what that particular couple is going through, their situation and particular contribution to the providence at this time.
For example, you may see one couple working side by side in the same mission. Hugh and I have had this experience, working together with a team of people. It's a growing experience for the marriage. Being together forces you to constantly work everything out. Therefore, it's been one of the most growing and one of the most fulfilling experiences for us. At other times, you see people working in individual missions, as Hugh and I are doing right now. He's going to graduate school, a mission which I share only internally.
Next, what are some of our goals as Blessed families? We as Unificationists do not expect to find a perfect mate or a perfect marriage but rather we expect to make a perfect marriage. So we enter our marital relationship with an attitude of making it a good marriage. We have been trained by Rev. Moon not to fear struggle. We know that through struggle we become better people; I become the right person for my spouse and he becomes the right person for me. Single life in the church is considered a time of preparation for marriage and for development of an unselfish heart. We enter our marriages with an attitude of considering not just ourselves and our own personal happiness, but hopefully we have developed some ability to extend ourselves to others. My own father used to always say marriage is a "sixty-sixty" proposition, not a fifty-fifty one. To make it work each partner has to give sixty percent. I think he was right. Because of our training as single people in the Unification Church, we are educated not to think only of our own needs. We may approach marriage with a willingness to give more than fifty percent, rather than to think, "I will give only fifty percent and no more."
As Unification couples, we feel that it is God's blessing for us to have families, and we believe that our position as Blessed couples is different before God. We are part of a new, heavenly lineage -- free from the hold (but not from the influence) of evil.
We feel responsible always to seek what is God's will for our lives and to respond to that to the best of our ability. Recently couples, like all Unification members, have been asked to develop "home churches." If we are living as a couple in a community, for instance, then out mission is to extend ourselves and to become a vital part of that community, relating as friends to our neighbors and inviting them into our homes and hearts. We will thus learn to know the community and become solid families within it. This is the offering of the nuclear family as a unit.
You may wonder whether there are any regulations on the married life of Unification couples. Ideologically, we want to make ideal marriages -- fulfilling our fullest potential as couples as well as individuals. In an ideal state of oneness with God and of spiritual maturity, we ate completely united with the Lawmaker (God) and are absolutely free. This is Rev. Moon's basic attitude. There is an ultimate state of absolute freedom. Realistically, of course, we are merely in the process of getting there. Therefore, we must exercise discipline in order to teach a point where we can experience absolute freedom. Hence, we need to discipline ourselves to live righteously by following some basic principles. Most people are surprised by the fact that Rev. Moon has given Unification couples very few specific guidelines, however. Fidelity to one's partner is an absolute. Other than that he expects us to find the best way for us, experimenting through trial and error and finding out what's workable within the structure of Divine Principle, but without specific marital directives.
One of the questions often asked is: "Do we have rules regarding birth control and abortion?" A lot is left up to the individual. Rev. Moon encourages us to have large families, but he doesn't talk of birth control as sinful. We certainly have to take personal responsibility for raising our families. When Rev. Moon discourages using birth control, he talks about it in terms of not limiting our families for the sake of our missions. He exhorts us to go ahead and have many children. Our children are the only thing we can attain in this world that is eternal. Therefore, because it has eternal consideration we may regret having limited our family too much at a time when it seems that there is so much else to do. Children are our future. Blessed children are a contribution to the world.
What are our goals for our children? Basically the goals are internal; we want to help our children have a sense of respect and reverence for God, for other people, and for creation. Therefore, Rev. Moon suggests that we have a special place in our homes, no matter how small our homes are, for prayer -- a spot that is a sanctuary. We have such a place in our house which is set aside for prayer. He also teaches that we should pray in front of our children, not just have our devotional life separate from them. Rather let them feel and learn the pattern of reverence and attendance to God by observing our example. We also try to instill in the children a sense of dignity, self-worth and confidence. Because they are Blessed children (children born after the Blessing) we consider them special. Of course we don't want to raise them to be self-centered or arrogant by considering them too special. They, too, will develop character by learning to be selfless and sacrificial. But definitely we try to instill in them a sense of being God's children, which in itself gives them dignity and self-worth. They need to be respected as individuals; Rev. Moon says, "Give your children respect." Over the years Rev. Moon has given some instruction on how to raise children, but it is still surprisingly little.
We are also concerned to develop our children's potential, because we want them to make a contribution to mankind. We, thus, try to be in a position to develop whatever potential they express, and expose them to as many opportunities and different experiences as possible. Here, too, Rev. Moon has advised us not to place too many limitations on our children, to let them live a full and stimulating life.
In terms of religious training, we try to give them an understanding of the Christian foundation which they inherit. We have Sunday school for them, taking them all the way through the Bible in a format very similar to any other Christian Sunday school; and in addition we teach them Divine Principle and hence the Divine Principle interpretation of biblical stories and passages.
We are concerned about the environment in which they are growing up. Our own children go to public school -- in other areas where the public school is not so good, the children go to Catholic school or some other kind of private school. Our public school is a good one and so far they have not had bad experiences. However, as they become older there may be problems, especially in the area of sexual morality. We're very concerned because, of all the things we want to teach our children, a strong sense of sexual ethics is very important, but this is something that is hard to control in the contemporary environment. Through television and school, the corrupt attitudes of our society creep into out everyday lives. Recently our eight year old daughter came home from school and said that a little girl in her class said she was "too sexy." She is only in the second grade but children are thinking about these things and we have to deal with them. I asked her if she knew what "sexy" meant and she didn't. We, like all parents, have to deal with influences we don't initiate, and it's not easy. We have no guarantee that our children are going to grow up to be Unification Church members, even though that is our ideal -- our desire.
What, then, ate our goals as a Blessed family? Probably the highest goal would be to pass on the values of unselfishness in service to God and humanity -- to help out children experience the various kinds of love (a child's love, mutual love, and ultimately parental love). We attempt to instill these values first through example and, second, by family traditions. We don't have many rules or strict traditions, but we do have several ceremonies. When the child is eight days old, we have a dedication ceremony in which the father and mother offer the child to God. This is similar in attitude to a baptism or christening ceremony in other churches. The parents dress in white robes and offer prayers for the child.
We also try to have devotions in our homes, prayer and grace before meals, good music, and a peaceful and happy home atmosphere. There are always many people around so the children are exposed to many different social relationships -- intercultural, international, and interracial. We're religious, but involved in the world around us; our kids are Brownies and Cub Scouts and go to camps and take lessons.
As one of the patterns or traditions of our church, I'd like to comment briefly upon our attitude toward sacrifice. We feel that marriage is important and should be enjoyed and all want to experience joy and happiness. We also believe that willingness to offer ourselves to the larger mission's needs will ultimately bring us the greatest amount of joy and satisfaction in our marriage.
Some couples' sacrifice is very different from the sacrifices others make. I'd like to give an example. Rev. Moon may call for couples to go out and work in individual missions -- foreign mission fields, for instance -- so they may live separately for a while. Yet, at the same time another couple -- let's say an interracial couple, Black and white -- is living together in Harlem. The interracial couple's whole mission is different; their sacrifice is different. They may be struggling and suffering and working just as much as the couple that is working on separate missions. I hope you can understand that we're looking for the meaning behind these sacrifices.
Why are couples separated? What is the purpose of it? Actually, in terms of separation, many of you know that our Unification couples are sometimes separated for the sake of a larger concern. Is this a basic pattern for everyone? Not necessarily, even though we all think in terms of living sacrificially. The couples who were married in 1969 and those who were married in 1970 waited forty days before they began their married life. That is an absolute condition in the Unification Church. This forty-day period of abstinence before beginning one's married life is a time to offer to God one's marriage, first making a spiritual foundation for a God-centered marriage. We liken it to Jesus fasting in the wilderness for forty days prior to beginning his public ministry.
Then in 1975, the couples who were Blessed were asked to wait three years. It came as a surprise to everyone that there could be a longer separation period. However, these couples were given a special providential mission. Their marriages were to be the foundation for the worldwide spiritual work, whereas previous couples had laid national foundations. So many of them (either one or both) went to foreign nations as missionaries. They were asked to give three years as a spiritual foundation for the worldwide work; after that they would begin their marriages. Since then many are continuing their mission work together as couples.
While some were beginning the missions in other countries, the other couples who were back home in America were also asked to make sacrifices by helping to solidify the American mission. I specifically remember three occasions when Rev. Moon called upon American Blessed women to leave their families and go out and work on a mission. The first time he called for American women to do this was in 1971. I was pregnant, Hugh was working at an outside job, and we were leading the local center in Philadelphia. Because I was pregnant, I did not go out. Five of the women went to work as itinerary workers for one year. They were representative of all the married couples; their mission was to travel throughout America serving as spiritual counselors to the young leaders in each state, helping to guide them, and helping them to understand the problems of the members. This was an important role, a valuable mission. I remember having mixed feelings about staying behind while others went out. A part of me wanted to be out there doing spiritual work -- being on the front line. But because I was soon going to have a baby I stayed at the center in Philadelphia with my husband. However, in addition to doing what I could regarding the spiritual work, I cared for the eighteen-month old son of one of the women who went out, having to separate temporarily from her family. Her husband as well as her son lived with us and the center members.
Taking care of two families wasn't easy either. Sometimes I wondered which was the greater sacrifice! Mine at that particular time wasn't so glorious, yet it demanded a great deal of sacrifice and internal fortitude. Three days after our second child was born, Hugh left Philadelphia to go out to the Midwest to lead an evangelical bus team, traveling from state to state publicizing our movement and trying to recruit members. So that meant that I was left home with three children (including my friend's son) while Hugh was called to another mission hundreds of miles away.
After a few more months, however, the first group of I.W.s (itinerary workers) came back, and the mother of the little boy for whom I had been caring rejoined her family, and I went to Minnesota to join Hugh. Hugh and I worked together for several months until Rev. Moon asked again for some wives to go out as itinerary workers, traveling from state to state visiting local centers, giving counseling to leaders and members and providing an overall perspective to the work of the local church. I was asked to go and I did. The women who went out the first time were not asked to go this time.
There are two purposes in this type of sacrifice and work. One, it serves a very pragmatic purpose in our church because the wives have a great deal to offer. We are generally older members and because of our experience of marriage and motherhood, we have a different perspective from single members who have just recently joined the church. Ideally we've learned a lot in marriage and grown a great deal so that emotionally we ate in a different space. We have a different perspective on the church, on people's individual problems, and hopefully a more mature attitude toward life in general. Our role was concerned with helping young state leaders to develop and mature as leaders.
Although in many ways it was more exciting to be out in the field than to be at home, it wasn't an easy life. I would like to share with you some of the mixture of feelings that many of us experienced in separating from our families. I think of the times when I cried myself to sleep just thinking about my children and husband and wishing I could be with them, yet wanting to make this sacrifice at the same time for providential reasons. I think that you'll find that most of the couples want to contribute to the dispensation on the most sacrificial level they can. If they are in a situation, practically or emotionally, where they cannot do what is asked, then they generally make whatever offering they can. I don't know if that makes sense to you; what I mean is that a couple may feel they cannot both work and do a church mission at a given time, but they will try to do the best they can within their circumstances to contribute to the movement. Even though we feel a certain joy in being able to offer ourselves to God and our church in this way, it is always with a deep sense of internal suffering and pain. It is this very experience of suffering that makes us mote qualified to appreciate and understand the suffering of other people. Rev. Moon specifically teaches that we need to experience and thus understand this kind of struggle and suffering.
Each of the times Rev. Moon has called for the wives to go work "on the front line," as we call it, that sacrifice has been really needed. For example, when the couples in 1975 went to the foreign mission field, their sacrifice was needed to make a spiritual foundation for the worldwide mission. Here in the United States, the older couples were making a spiritual foundation for this nation. We view the time that we are living in as a time of spiritual warfare, as if our nation were at war. If an enemy stood at our borders ready to invade, we might have to leave our families to protect our country. The same is true spiritually; we in the Unification Church feel we are leaving our families now for the sake of protecting our nation and ultimately ourselves from the lack of God-centered values. We believe that there is an ultimate purpose for such sacrifice; but people won't always be living such extremely sacrificial lives.
I'd like to mention something about my personal experience with regard to my children, as an example. During the Yankee Stadium and Washington Monument tallies in 1976, we worked as an entire movement to give something of ourselves for the sake of this country. We believed this nation needed a spiritual revival and we sought to bring it about.
At that time I was pregnant with my third child (we now have four children). I could have chosen not to work in those campaigns. But I felt that this would be such a tremendous spiritual condition for my child as well as for the nation for me to participate. Some day she can say, "My mother worked in those tallies even though she was pregnant. She helped sweep the streets of New York City and handed out leaflets while carrying me." So I deliberately chose to work during both campaigns. In fact, during the Washington Monument campaign, Mr. Salonen, the president of out church in America, said, "You don't have to go. Are you sure you want to?" I wanted to go and make a contribution.
Thus, even though responses to these kinds of missions and interruptions to family life differ and the capacity to handle the subsequent separations are not the same, the attitude of most couples is similar. We all try to work with whatever capabilities we have. It is important that we evaluate our limitations honestly and communicate them to our church leaders.
During the time that mothers are working on front line missions, the church has provided care for the children. I'd like to talk about that. There was a nursery established for full-time care for children of mothers with church missions. I personally felt that the children were happy and well cared for when they were living in the nursery. I feel that many children can handle this type of social and nurturing experience if they have absolute confidence that their parents really love them, care about them, and care for each other. There is no fear that their parents may get a divorce, that kind of fear among the children generally does not exist in our Unification family units since the value of the nuclear family is strong for us.
Personally, I used to keep a journal for each of my children, a continuous letter written to each child while I was out traveling. I would write my deepest feelings and desires for them in that journal when we were separated because of my mission. Now my two oldest children are seven and eight years old, and they love to have me read from those journals, their personal book written by mommy. I would write, for instance, "I really wanted to be with you, but I felt I should do God's work. Someday you will understand, but now maybe you don't. I went out, separating from you and Daddy, because I want to make a better world for you and for others." I feel that even now they have some deep feeling -- a small sense of appreciation -- for what I did, and in the future they will have even more appreciation.
Recently Rev. Moon has been expressing a great deal of concern about our children and their education. He's been concerned all along, but now there are many more children and they are growing older, so he wants to establish an educational system for them. When parents have three children, it is a mission in itself to educate them; therefore mothers with three or more children are generally being freed from other church missions to do this. Occasionally there are exceptions to this, but in general after having three children a woman is freed to take just the mission of raising and educating the children. By that time usually the oldest child is ready to go to school.
I'd like to mention something about the future. That's really where it's at for our movement. What we're doing right now is only preparation for the future. Rev. Moon often talks about creating more trinities among the couples; a trinity is three couples or families that are especially responsible for helping one another. It's like an extended family and they would be financially concerned for each other. Right now we live in a communal system, but that will not always be the case, especially not for families; already the transition has begun. So then the three couples will make up a small community. To what extent such a system will work we don't know, but that is an ideal; the plan is to possibly even live together in the same apartment house.
For me this would be a beautiful system, although I know from the reality of living with other couples over the last few years, that there is much to work out. It's just like a marriage (where you have to work out all the little personal problems and idiosyncrasies) -- the same is true when you live with other couples. You have to come to love one another, almost like you come to love your marriage partner. You have to come to accept the other people and be willing to think of them and their needs and concerns as well as your own and your own families. When you live with another family with children and you see their children doing things that you don't particularly like -- and your children doing things that they don't like -- it requires some stretching to reach a point of workability. Again we see this as part of our road to maturity or perfection. If we are raised within the church to be loving, then it makes it much easier.
In terms of education, we're concerned about setting up our own schools in the future. Even now we are developing a nursery, and as the children grow, it will develop into an educational system. Hugh's and my children are a little older than most of the children in the American church, although not older than the Blessed children in Japan or Korea. As the number of Unification children in America increases we will provide an educational system for them. Rev. Moon wants to have the best education for them -- in every way the best. We are a paradox -- we often live sacrificially, but our goal is to ultimately have the very best. Heaven is to be on earth. In the nurseries now, three-year-old children speak two or three languages quite fluently. It's really amazing. In a way I'm sorry that my children aren't currently there, because they are not getting such an education.
Next, I'd like to speak about home churches as part of the future plan. This is a new providential era and the Unification Church is developing a pattern or system of helping other families spiritually -- of helping not only individuals but entire homes to become God-centered. A n elder couple in our church would serve as a central hub for a neighborhood, helping the people around them. Externally, they would be as responsible as pastors, but centered upon their homes in the community, not necessarily upon a church building. This system is just developing, but I feel it is a pattern for the future.
We Unification members feel that throughout philosophy of life we have a world view that can break down barriers from which society suffers. We are preparing our children for intercultural, international, interracial marriages and societies. We foresee a breakdown in cultural and international barriers in the future -- we see that happening more in the next generation than in ours.
I want to say more about the Blessing Committee: The concern is basically that members are prepared and able to handle marriage and families, in addition to meeting certain external qualifications. There are some situations where people are counseled extensively to help them determine whether they feel they are ready to handle a family. For example, if someone has some deep-seated personal problems that he or she might do better to work out before marriage, then they may choose not to attend a particular matching. Or, there may be other reasons, personal reasons, why they may decide not to go.
Also, as we have said, the church has specific requirements-including three years membership, an age requirement, and also celibacy (which Hugh did not mention, but which is very important prior to marriage). Our assumption is that if you have been dedicated to the church's values and work for three years, you also have remained celibate for three years. However, of course, we are all fallible and things happen and some people have difficulties maintaining such standards. Those things are often discussed with the Blessing Committee.
Richard Quebedeaux: Thank you very much. Do you have any more comments?
Hugh Spurgin: Could I make one more comment? I want to discuss a paradox. On the one hand, Unification theology stresses the importance of family life, yet the reality is that often we as Unification couples are separated. Several times, Nora and I have been separated; most other Unification couples have been separated. It is the same paradox that Jesus mentioned when he declared, "He who seeks to gain his life will lose it, and he who loses his life will gain it." In other words, if you do God's work it will be better for you and your family because ultimately you and your children will gain. Rev. Moon, in accord with Jesus, teaches that such a paradox is a basic law of the universe. For example, Rev. Moon told Nora and several other women who were working as I.W.s while they were pregnant that the reason he asked them to work so long separated from their families was that, in addition to helping other people, they personally would gain by sacrificially doing God's work. He said that because of their faithfulness, both they and their children would gain spiritually. I believe that. That is to say, I believe that God will help our children to prosper spiritually if we do His work. Problems arise, however, when doubts and confusion enter one's mind and one becomes halfhearted in doing God's work. It seems to be the worst of all possible worlds when one is neither fully committed to a mission, nor fully with one's children. Then you are in a gray area of confusion. If one is really dedicated and committed to doing God's will and believes what Jesus said when he told us that in the process of sacrificing we'll gain, then I believe, paradoxically, we do benefit.
Richard Quebedeaux: Thank you very much. Now I'd like to do something evangelical. I'd like to read a portion of Scripture. This is the twelfth Chapter of Romans in the Phillips translation:
With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God remold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves toward the goal of true maturity.
As your spiritual teacher I give this piece of advice to each one of you. Don't cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given to you all. For just as you have many members in one physical body and those members differ in their functions, so we, though many in number, compose one body in Christ and all are members of one another. Through the grace of God we have different gifts. If out gift is preaching, let us preach to the limit of our vision. If it is serving others let us concentrate on our service; if it is teaching let us give all we have to out teaching; and if our gift be the stimulating of the faith of others, let us set ourselves to it. Let the man who is called to give, give freely; let the man who wields authority think of his responsibility; and let the man who feels sympathy for his fellows act cheerfully.
Let us have no imitation Christian love. Let us have a genuine break with evil and a teal devotion to good. Let us have teal with affection for one another as between brothers, and a willingness to let the other man have the credit. Let us not allow slackness to spoil out work and let us keep the fires of the spirit burning, as we do our work for the Lord. Base your happiness on your hope in Christ. When trials come endure them patiently; steadfastly maintain the habit of prayer. Give freely to fellow Christians in want, never grudging a meal or a bed to those who need them. And as for those who try to make your life a misery, bless them. Don't curse, bless. Share the happiness of those who ate happy, and the sorrow of those who are sad. Live in harmony with one another. Don't become snobbish but take a real interest in ordinary people. Don't become set in your own opinions. Don't pay back a bad turn by a bad turn, to anyone. See that your public behavior is above criticism. As far as your responsibility goes, live at peace with everyone. Never take vengeance into your own hands, my dear friends: stand back and let God punish if he will. For it is written:
Vengeance belongeth unto me: I will recompense. And these are God's words:
If thine enemy hunger, feed him.
If he thirst, give him to drink:
For in so doing, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Don't allow yourself to be overpowered by evil. Take the offensive -- overpower evil with good!
I will turn over the next half hour to Arthur who will talk about life as a single person in Unification Church. After that we'll open it up to discussion, conversation and interaction. Even though we'll be moving from topic to topic, that doesn't mean that a question that isn't answered can't be asked again later. I hope that every person will be able to ask his or her burning questions and feel that those questions get satisfactory answers. Feel free, of course, in your free time to ask people questions and to interact with each other. If two or three of you are bothered about something, don't hesitate to bring that up at a later point. With that I'll introduce Arthur Eves.
Arthur Eves: You're going to see the principle of unity within diversity. We come from different experiences, different backgrounds, different perspectives within the church.
In this framework, there is an important issue that runs through Divine Principle and generally in society: the creative tension between novelty or creativity and order. On the one hand, Divine Principle affirms traditional values, yet, on the other hand, it's something radically new and different. These facts lead to the questions about whether it is fundamentally a reactionary stance or something radically new.
An important point here is what is the purpose of morality as we see it in the Unification Church? The purpose of creating orderly relationships is growing, and developing the greatest possible love. Thus, the reason we emphasize the family is that we see it as developing a child's capacity to love as a child, then developing his or her capacity to love within a conjugal relationship, and next developing his or her ability to love children as a parent.
Don Jones: Could I ask a clarifying question? I'd like to go back to what Nora said. You've both used the term morality. When Nora used it the term seemed to pertain to sexual morality. I wonder if you could tell us how that term functions for you.
Arthur Eves: Right. In terms of particular behaviors?
Don Jones: I don't know, you used the term. Does morality mean being generous to others, or does it mean not being unfaithful to your spouse or not having sexual intercourse before marriage and that sort of thing?
Arthur Eves: I'd say all of the above and for different reasons. Being generous to others is definitely an expression of love, an affirmation of the other. With premarital intercourse, although love is involved, it's a premature demonstration of affection. Consequently, it hinders further development. We usually express it in different terms but...
Nora Spurgin: From my point of view I would put sexual morality first, but that doesn't exclude other forms of morality.
Arthur Eves: In terms of order, we see purpose as absolute and the purpose to us is the development of the ability to love, and the means are relative. Guides and values are considered as means to fulfill the purpose.
We really emphasize family ethics. Some will say that this is because of the Oriental origin of Unification thought and the influence of Confucianism, but it is more fundamental than that.
Now Richard asked me to address several questions on attitudes toward celibacy, homosexuality and other areas. These things I have to deal with from a personal perspective; I can't make generalizations for the movement.
For me celibacy is part of a process. During the period of celibacy I'm developing my ability to love in individual relationships and perfecting that level of relationship.
At the beginning, after conversion, we're full of abstract feelings of love, and there is a feeling of love toward everyone. But over time, you learn how to act on those feelings concretely and practically; that is much more real, much more important. This is a common experience among all religious groups, the tendency to love everybody, but finding that when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of daily life it is very difficult to express that. Our communal lifestyle helps love to develop.
We talk about religion and family and these things are touchy for many people. They're very powerful symbols and most people have strong but ambivalent feelings about them. I think people, especially in recent years, have blamed a lot of problems on religion and the family, so when we use those words it creates an emotional response, especially if we talk about an ideal family. Some aspects of the ideal family, such as the parental relationship, need to be more clearly defined. We're talking about a radical shift. Given what we are coming out of, we have many distorted perceptions, distorted experiences, and a very wide range of understandings of what family is.
Among people I have talked to, there is a fear that we are creating dependencies, but the role of a true parent is to raise people beyond the dependencies that they project on a parent figure, to independence. I think that's what Rev. Moon has been trying to do. All of us, in our search for authority and for something we can count on, put responsibility on others, and in our religious life we are gradually taking that responsibility back. The purpose of the moral teachings on how you treat other people in general is to guide one from a state of dependence and not knowing how to deal with the world to a state of freedom and of being able to live in love, united with God and God's ideal.
There is considerable accusation of the Unification Church regarding the use of peer pressure. But peer pressure within any kind of community is very strong because of the intimacy, because of the concern about other people within the community and how they feel about you and respond to you. I think this side of our life is very real. But in our situation there is also an emphasis on developing a person's relationship with God, with an absolute ideal outside of the social environment, so that one is connected to the transcendent ideal and working within the immanent situation.
The points that Hugh and Nora made about spiritual children and home church were also, of course, about developing one's ability to love. When I first joined the church I was in Oakland, mostly witnessing. My experience of concern for individuals and their spiritual growth and other needs was very important in developing my ability to love. Also in the home church experience we had in London several years ago, there was a feeling that each of us was responsible for everyone in the area. There we knew a very deep love, one in which we had the satisfaction of really giving, really being concerned, without requiring anything in return.
My feelings about marriage within the Unification Church are sometimes mixed, because there is a fear of the unknown. You don't know what's going to happen. I was married for four and a half years before the church. It was about three years after that that I met the church. After my marriage I felt betrayed by love. I decided that I didn't owe anybody anything in terms of my relationship to them, that I didn't have any responsibilities to them. This led me into an amoral ethic for a period of several years. But at a certain point there was a need to separate from this new-found ethic, and an internal conflict needed to be resolved. So with that kind of situation I began to lead a more spiritual life. Also in developing deeper levels of communication and communion with others, I found a value greater than I had known in my marriage. Communion and communication are fundamental to the development of sexual relationships and I became voluntarily celibate previous to joining the church, not as a rejection of sexuality, but because I felt that I was missing something fundamental to the full appreciation of sexuality. This is something that I feel is taught by Divine Principle -- that there is a fundamental discovery of another person as an individual prior to entering into a marriage relationship with them. There has to be a deep appreciation of them as a complete person before that. Also I became convinced that sexual activity was not necessary for knowing somebody fully, and that sometimes it could cut someone off because it was a substitute for real communication. I think that Divine Principle teaches a way to get around that, to know people and really communicate.
The church lifestyle offers a great deal in terms of brother-sister relationships; there is often a group intimacy, trust, and openness which leads to fuller self-expression and confidence in other people. This leads to an ability to overcome social pressure and mores. It's paradoxical, because the group intimacy leads to feeling mote social pressure; and on the other hand it leads to freedom from the social pressure, because there's enough trust within the group that you can do what you want, express yourself in any way as long as you don't hurt anyone. You know that you are accepted for who you are and not for what you do or what you think. I've definitely found an ability to enter into deeper levels of intimacy and deeper levels of communication with other people than were available to me before.
Now there are some difficult questions. I don't think the Unification Church has an official policy on homosexual celibate members. There have been problems in the past with local center leaders who couldn't deal with a gay person as a full person. There is a real feeling within Divine Principle that every person is a child of God, but that we're also all sinners. But a difficulty arises, one which has been brought up by Richard and others: What happens to a person who is gay and has become a Moonie, likes the lifestyle, likes the people, likes the theology, likes everything except for the part about marriage? It's a difficult question because marriage is central in the theology. Definitely within Divine Principle there is room for acceptance of an individual as a person, but we believe in the importance of fulfilling the three blessings. So, according to our theology, for the homosexual there is only the possibility of fulfilling the first blessing: individual fulfillment, ability to love on an individual level, ability to relate to God on an individual level.
In terms of the marital relationship, on the one hand, it would be denying of a person's nature to ask him or her to enter into a relationship which he/she thought went against his/her inclinations or tendencies. On the other hand, it seems that the logical part of the theology requires marriage for the fullest expression of love. We leave that up to the individual in terms of decision, because there are many reasons why a person might not want to get Blessed, although there is peer pressure -- people wanting to know why you don't want what they feel is the greatest thing in the world.
There is a desire to keep things as open as possible for the individual within the framework of the Principle; we want people to express themselves to the limit they can within its framework. This is based on our belief that the Principle helps people to become the most that they can be. If a person doesn't feel that it does that, he must find some kind of internal resolution, either with his position in regard to the movement -- in terms of what he does or doesn't like about it, what he does or doesn't accept -- or in regard to himself and change. We are very supportive of the person who wants to change and who wants counseling. If a person is gay and wants to remain single and to remain celibate, and wants to remain in the movement, we can go with that. There isn't any clear policy in the church.
Of course, if we're actually accomplishing the restoration of family relationships and it turns out that homosexuality arises due to problems within the family then it's only a temporary problem. If, however, homosexuality arises from the androgynous nature of humanity, then we'll have to understand that. We can't really afford to close ourselves off from any possibilities until all the information is in.
Also, as far as child-care is concerned, whatever the situation is now, I know that within the movement there is much interest in what's to be done. Right now there are nurseries, but it's wide open and there's much concern for finding the best possible means and methods of education and child rearing. It's experimental and pragmatic at the present time, along with being spiritual.
A big thing at the present time, not just in the church but in society as a whole, is male-female roles and male-female relationships. This is being worked out and developed in church practice. There is a strong Oriental influence, but I think that women are gaining a more diversified role within the Unification Church. In fact, they have played a prominent role throughout, but there's a definite awareness that there are differences between men and women and a desire to utilize those differences in working out what a person does. For example, many of the I.W.s are women, because of the belief that women tend to be more compassionate, more supportive, and more understanding than men. But these are generalities. There are both male and female fundraising captains. I want to make it clear that the androgynous nature of humankind is also recognized. Certain traits are considered more masculine, some more feminine and all persons have a mixture of both. As a metaphor the yin-yang, masculine-feminine polarity principle is powerful and very useful.
William Shive: That is related to Richard's question about the cultural context from which you come.
Arthur Eves: Right. Much Unification thought comes from the very traditional, male dominated society in Korea. But not too long ago, Rev. Moon himself was in Korea and was received officially. He was invited to review a parade and insisted that Mrs. Moon sit on the reviewing stand with him. He said he would not participate unless she sat beside him. He is very radical for a Korean. A woman doesn't normally assume such a public role there.
Hugh Spurgin: When I joined the movement in Washington, D.C. in 1968, the leaders were predominantly women. It was a female-run movement. In fact, as far as I know, everywhere in the Unification Church in the early stages, including America and Korea, women were the major leaders. It was quite obvious that in America the men were not impressive at that time, and women held the major leadership positions. That changed around 1973-74 (when Rev. Moon came to America), but I think there is a providential reason for that change. At that time we were getting more men into the movement and consequently they were given leadership opportunities. More importantly the stress was placed upon having a man and a woman jointly lead various church activities.
Arthur Eves: In terms of the question of celibacy, I find from experience that it's not so difficult to live a celibate lifestyle if there is some sort of transcendent vision for which one is living, rather than for self-gratification. If one is living for something higher, whether it be another person or the vision that one has of the future, or whatever it might be, then as long as one maintains that transcendent vision, the problem is not so great. I think it only becomes a problem when people begin to lose that vision. I think people leave the movement because they lose the vision or they lose hope of accomplishing the vision. After that they think, well, what's the point of it all, why sacrifice anything? Then they leave the movement.
One problem that arises in terms of relationships between brothers and sisters, men and women, is that because we have a very strong ideal, we also have a very strong realization that mutual attraction can overpower that ideal. Because of that, many times there is a fear of developing relationships, a fear of risking the ideal. As the movement develops, as people mature, and as their hold on the ideal becomes more real there is a willingness to risk that, to develop brother-sister relationships, to overcome romantic aspirations, or whatever, and to emerge finally on a plane of really feeling as though another person is truly your brother or your sister. It's a completely different level of relationship. From my experience it involves having even romantic kinds of feelings toward somebody but recognizing that those feelings are not the only important part of life. There always exists a temptation to stop a relationship before it can develop into a deep appreciation of the person and to focus on horizontal or external aspects. It is essential to discover who that person really is instead of who he externally seems to be.
These are my reflections on some of the problems, and some of my own feelings about where we are as a church.
Richard Quebedeaux: I thank all three of you for handling an extremely difficult topic with skill. I would like to raise a few questions to begin with and then I'd like to throw it open to discussion.
Richard Quebedeaux: I hope that we will be able to respect each other in this discussion. That is, I hope no one person will attempt to dominate the conversation and that each of us will attempt to understand and respect the opinions of others, however different the opinions expressed may be from our own.
My impression from listening to the three of you is that, for the most part, you spoke about an ideal rather than about the facts. I have been working for the Unification movement for two years and know that the kinds of issues that you have been talking about ate major problems within the movement. Many people in the movement have come to me, as an outside who will listen to them, who have very difficult sexual problems. They feel they have no one to talk to about their problems and that if they don't talk to somebody about them they will have to leave.
I have talked to too many high officials in the movement not to know that the attitude you express of real openness is not always there. I asked one high-ranking person about birth control who said, "We believe just like the Pope: it's our policy that artificial means of contraception are not permissible." Another person said, "Sex is only for procreation." Also, in respect to the separation periods, I have the impression that the only times when it is acceptable for a woman to leave her mission to spend time with her husband are those in which she can become pregnant. I do not sense that sexual enjoyment within marriage is always looked upon as good. Also there is the problem of homosexuality -- people in the movement have told me about their struggles in this area. Some of them are engaged and are planning to get married. They are worried and don't know whom to talk to.
Unfortunately, I have read speeches by Rev. Moon in these areas and I have heard other talks that really puzzle me. I think that this is largely a cultural problem. Rev. Moon, however, is gradually coming to understand the American way of life better. I have seen some evidence of this. The Korean and Japanese cultural baggage that is floating around the movement is very harsh for Americans and reminds me of the same white American cultural baggage that the nineteenth-century missionaries took overseas. Now I know why American missionaries are often no longer welcome overseas, and I see the same mistakes being made by the Unification leaders, particularly those from Korea or Japan. Now, I'm not going to charge them for that -- we are all subject to our own cultural conditioning and to the inability always to separate our cultural baggage from the truth of the message we proclaim.
I gather that in Unification life there is this ideal and I guess I've been around too long to think that the ideal necessarily predominates. Maybe it does in a way, but at some point these harsh issues come to the fore, and I think that unless they are resolved, persons will probably leave the movement. I have seen very little interest on the part of the leaders of the church to employ persons with psychological/psychiatric competence to deal with these problems -- to make trained counselors available and to encourage church members with problems to admit the problems and seek psychiatric help.
I think that in many ways Unificationists often treat outsiders better than they treat each other. Perhaps part of the problem is the feeling that once you are an insider you must be sacrificial -- that's expected -- and also that it's more important to treat outsiders better than insiders. Now it's just the reverse in other groups. So far as the Unification Church is concerned, as an outsider I get benefits and don't have to work sacrificially. So I have mixed emotions there. Again, the Unification Church does have problems in the area of interpersonal relationships, including sexuality in general and guilt feelings about prior relationships that are unresolved, and I really have not seen much indication of an interest in the leadership and the movement in helping people, in telling them, "We recognize you, we love you, we're not going to put you down because you have this problem. We'll be honest with you. Please be honest with us."
So when Arthur speaks about affirmation of a person's self-worth, I think that in certain areas, and particularly in the cultural relationships between the Orientals and the whites, this is a problem of major proportions. I do, however, see a gradual improvement, even in Rev. Moon himself, who I'm sure has the best intentions. Yet I am somewhat dismayed by the persistence of some of these issues. So with that I would like to open the discussion.
Wellington Nyangoni: Does the leadership of the Unification Church realize that these are problems? Whether the church realizes the problems exist and whether the church is willing to help are different issues.
Richard Quebedeaux: I think that the white leadership understands the problems of white Americans. But at the present time the white leadership appears to be subjected to the Oriental leadership; and,
furthermore, the white leadership finds it had to communicate with the Oriental leadership about those problems.
As Arthur said, the cultural background of the Koreans makes it difficult for them to understand some of the problems Americans have with Korean views. For example, I gather that in Korea women most often have no public or professional roles at all. So it is very, very difficult for both Americans and Koreans when the Koreans have to be told, "Women are basically the same as men and ought to have the same professional and service opportunities." Yet I think that gradually the Americans are convincing the Koreans on this point; but I do not think it is happening fast enough for us. I think that this is the major reason why the Unification Church in America does not get as many members as it would like.
I do not say that the Oriental leadership has the wrong intentions. I think their intentions are right. They have a great deal of difficulty, however, in understanding why something should be a problem in America when it is not a problem in terms of their own culture. I think that any one of us has the same type of problem if we are educated and our parents are not educated. Then we have a much broader and more complex cultural experience than our parents. We try to explain to them why we have different values than they have, and they can't understand us. I see the same sort of thing between Americans and Koreans.
Steve Post: One aspect of the cultural difference is very interesting. Richard alluded to the question of the purpose of marriage: is marriage only for procreation or is it also for the cultivation of interpersonal relations? In Roman Catholic marital ethics there is a natural law tradition which is teleological and goes back to Ulpian. This tradition treated marriage as a physiological function: marriage was intended for procreation. They de-emphasized its interpersonal aspect. Now Roman Catholic ethics has moved toward balancing the procreative and the relational aspects of marriage. An example is the work of Charles Cunan at Catholic University. The Protestants have done the same thing: Paul Ramsey, who wrote One Flesh, also saw a kind of balance between the two.
I think we are struggling with the same sorts of difficulties that other traditions have always struggled with. What is the purpose of marriage? For us, procreation is an essential element in marriage; but the relational element is also essential. Our theology of marriage includes the belief that the ideal marriage reflects the give-and-take relationship between the masculine and feminine aspects of God. True, this theology of marriage that stresses personal development, relational, and procreational aspects of marriage is still emerging and becoming clear within the church. And, as is to be expected, some persons, both within and outside of the movement, bring their own hang-ups and problems to the consideration of marriage.
Don Jones: Then how are you answering the charge that Richard made that you regard human sexuality not as redemptive but as preventative?
Steve Post: I want to refer that question to the Spurgins. I am saying that a true, objective account of the ideal Unification marriage would emphasize the fact that there is a balance among the aspects of the marriage relationship.
Richard Quebedeaux: Would the Spurgins like to respond to that?
Hugh Spurgin: When I asked Rev. Kwak (a Korean leader) a few of these questions, one of the points he emphasized was that Rev. Moon teaches that we can and should control our biological urges. The spiritual should dominate the material. That doesn't rule out physical pleasure -- it doesn't negate the material -- it simply says that ideally the spirit should be stronger than the body, and therefore we can and should control our sexual passions and desires.
Nora Spurgin: I'd like to add to that. Definitely you're going to find leaders who say the kind of things that you just said. But there definitely ate others who do not say that at all. And I know that Rev. Moon has said that within marriage, especially when you've gone through this restorative process and when you reach a certain point of maturity where you are really capable of taking responsibility for another person and loving that other person, then there is no limitation. You and your spouse are one body, and so there is no need for feeling that the other part of your body can't be part of you. I know that certain Korean leaders have said this, too.
On other occasions Rev. Moon has talked about birth control. I know that many of his speeches are situational. Then he is talking about certain situations, and what he says depends on the problems and questions he finds in that situation. Basically our attitude is not to use birth control. However, I don't feel at all that it's a sin if anyone does. This is my personal feeling. And I think the majority of couples would say we have to take responsibility for what we do.
Also there is the question of periods of separation of husbands and wives and of their getting together. People are missing the point here. These Unificationist couples want to have children, but they also want to serve the movement -- even through their separation if that is necessary or helpful. So they want to be sure that when they do get together, it is during a time when conception is likely to take place. Still, there is a positive side to the separation.
Richard Quebedeaux: Then do you have another question, Don?
Don Jones: Added to the sexual questions, do you have a theory of romantic love that is part of the theory of marriage?
Richard Quebedeaux: Someone, I guess it was Hugh, said that there is a romantic element in marriage. Could you explain that?
Hugh Spurgin: OK, but I didn't want to dominate this conversation. With regard to what Richard was saying, before we discuss the romantic element, I would like to say that a leader or an individual here or there might make some statement, but that doesn't make it official church policy. Even Rev. Moon's informal comments are not on the level of official church policies.
But with regard to romantic love, Unification people are not automatons. Of course they have a love life, but they just put the priority on the spiritual. You pray before you enter your married life. Indeed, you can make prayer a most important aspect of that life. That's what is important. You'll find very few statements by Rev. Moon about the detailed personal marital life of couples. He seldom gets so involved. He gives long sermons and talks about what one's attitude could become. But he doesn't provide all kinds of restrictions.
Don Jones: Let me tell you what I'm thinking. I'm thinking of a Unification student who I think is romantically in love with his future wife. He shows all the signs of this. He can't study because he is thinking of her. I think he's going through exactly the same experience that I went through, and I know that you can spiritualize this. You can use religious language, but you can also use ordinary language. His heart palpitates, his hands get sweaty, and he looks forward with great longing (laughter) for her visits on weekends and that sort of thing. What I want to know is this: Is that kind of feeling and all the experiences of romantic love -- a heightened consciousness of the self and sense of generosity and self-sacrifice for the other person -- is that permitted and understood theologically? Or am I misreading the situation?
Diana Muxworthy: Of course these experiences are permitted theologically. I think romantic love is even essential to the theology. I'll be specific about my fiance but first I'll give a little background.
There are two things: the heart of restoration and the heart of the ideal. As far as restoration is concerned, we talk a lot about struggle and we spiritualize a lot. We talk a lot about pain, and it often seems that Moonies are very sadistic and possibly masochistic and that through this pain they will receive joy. To me that is part of restoration. The fact is that we believe that the Unification Church, and each one of us, is in a providential situation. We believe we are more than just haphazardly alive and living our lives, and that each one of us, as well as every human being on this earth, has a project and a mission at this time in history. There is a certain mission, there is a certain responsibility that we are carrying.
In a sense that plagues us -- I don't enjoy it, let's put it that way. It does plague me that I have to live this kind of sacrificial life, in the sense of not being able to live with Franz at Drew University. That is not joyful, but at the same time I'm inspired by it. So there's the paradox of being plagued and being inspired. I'm inspired by it because I do believe that something historical and very good for the sake of the world is taking place in my willingness to not run down to Drew. Now at the same time, for instance, I just went to Drew this weekend (laughter) because there was an ethics conference. There was an ethics conference, but it was also a chance to see Franz.
On the other hand what I saw this weekend was that Franz had not been able to write a paper during Christmastime because we were supposed to get together for Christmas. Now that was the romantic part of him which was very inspiring for me to see, and I was feeling it too. Classes at Harvard were to get out on the fifteenth; and I had convinced myself that I was going to work until the twentieth, then meet Franz and run down with my mother to North Carolina and go on through Christmas. The fact was that on the fourteenth, classes were out. There was no way I could wait five days and work on my paper. Because of the situation, Franz's professor excused him from turning in a paper until after Christmas, which meant we could meet on the fifteenth or sixteenth. It was much earlier than it could have been otherwise. Now that was the romance, and it was very beautiful to be able to enjoy it. And we did enjoy it.
Now this weekend I saw the other side. Franz is so inspired by what he feels is the mission of becoming a very good student at Drew that when I went there, his roommate said that it's like Franz is chained to a chair. He really is working hard. I can't work the way he works. Discipline, discipline, discipline in his work. So there are both sides of the picture. There are two concepts that you see throughout Divine Principle: happiness and indemnity. They are constantly juxtaposed. I realize that this way may seem to be something of a problem in Divine Principle, because you can emphasize one or the other. In our growth in the church, however, we learn that there is a balance between happiness and indemnity both in the community and in the life of the individual. It takes time, but through the years we do come to see the balance. It varies from person to person, which is stressed at any one time or in any one situation.
Leonard Lovett: Someone made the point that marriage, the Blessing, is a passport to the kingdom. Also, the suggestion was made that salvation begins with marriage and that with marriage one is freed from one's sins. Yet there appears to be a simultaneous surrendering of one's volition. The choice of one's marriage partner seems to be a mediation of the will of God by revelation and inspiration through Rev. Moon. I am wondering how you resolve this conflict: through marriage you find freedom; yet in the choice of a marriage partner, you surrender your freedom to Rev. Moon.
Hugh Spurgin: From my perspective one aspect of that is that there's a greater Mind in the universe. God knows more about me and my potentiality and more about my future mate than I do and I have to be open to that divine inspiration. But that does not negate one's response. When Rev. Moon makes a choice, then one makes a personal, individual commitment, or decision based on that choice. One can say "yes" or "no" to Rev. Moon's choices. But the important point is that you accept the belief that God knows more than you do about what would be good for you in your life.
Leonard Lovett: He may know more, but you say you open up to the response of God because this mind out there knows more than you. Does this knowledge about you have to come through Rev. Moon?
Hugh Spurgin: For me it did.
Nora Spurgin: Maybe you could say that ultimately we are responsible for what happens. You know, if we don't like this marriage, we can't go back and say, "Well, it was all your fault, God." Rather we go with a feeling of responsibility. We take responsibility for putting ourselves in that situation. I think if we maintain that kind of faith, then it works. There is a problem when there is a loss of faith. Then the marriages start to break down. This has happened.
Leonard Lovett: Loss of faith in whom?
Nora Spurgin: Well, you can lose your faith in God. You can lose your faith in Rev. Moon as a mediator. Then you start losing your faith in yourself as a Unification Church member. Next you start losing faith in your husband or wife. And then the breakdown comes.
Richard Quebedeaux: The other part of his question has to do with salvation by marriage.
Hugh Spurgin: Let me bring in the concept of freedom. We may compare the dating and romantic love pattern that's common in Western culture with this kind of arranged marriage. As I look back on it, I now see that for me growing up in America in the 1950s and sixties was very unhappy. I was frustrated with the dating process. Regardless of whom I was dating, there was always someone else. I was always looking for someone better and for a different experience. I never deeply understood the concept or the feeling of commitment to one person because I was always looking for greener pastures. For me, then, there is more security in knowing that God has chosen my wife and that, if I respond in a faithful way, this can be a secure, stable marriage in a way in which if I were deciding by myself, it might never be.
Richard Quebedeaux: I want to ask Arthur Eves to pursue Leonard's point that marriage is the point of salvation. Arthur stated that a single person could find total acceptance in the movement. How is that possible? You are not matched yet. Do you believe that you, Arthur Eves, can have salvation if you choose not to many? Do you believe that any person can find salvation if he or she chooses to remain single?
Arthur Eves: According to Unification thought there are three blessings. The first blessing is that of perfected individuality in the God-centered life. The single person can achieve the first blessing. But a qualitative step is taken with marriage which is preparation for the remaining blessing and, thus, for full salvation. I do not think that the person who achieves only individual fulfillment has full salvation.
Richard Quebedeaux: So essentially you are backing up a little. It seems to me that if I were in the Unification Church, and if I decided that I valued my singleness, as many people do now, and if I felt that, for whatever reason, I didn't want to many, I would have to get out, if I had any integrity at all. In terms of what you've said and in terms of the Unification theology of marriage, I don't see how you can avoid this conclusion.
I hear you saying on the one hand, that marriage is central and very important and that there are three blessings we have to go through in order to gain the fullness of restoration. This means that if you go through only the first blessing, as a single person does, then you really can't achieve full salvation. So you are ultimately a second class citizen within the movement. I was a second class citizen in fundamentalism and I never want to go back to that status. You say that Divine Principle talks about the worth within each person and his feeling of self-worth. How can a single person feel he has any self-worth if he doesn't feel that he needs to get married? Are there other alternatives?
Ernest Stewart: I'd like to reply to that. I think there are alternatives. It depends on the degree to which the individual really wants to work at it. As St. Paul said, those who feel called to marry, marry. If you think you can do without marriage, then maybe you will choose to remain single. I think there is a sense in our movement that some people want to work at marriage and there is a sense that some people do not. I know three or four people who didn't want to be married. They wanted instead to devote their time to various other things. That's quite possible. They believe that after they die, they'll be matched to somebody in the spirit world. They don't have to many now. If you do not wish to marry, you don't have to feel uncomfortable. To be sure, you may feel some pressure, because some people may say to you that marriage is everything, and you may fear that some will look down on you, but that's not necessarily so.
I'd like to add some other things, because I want to throw the argument back to you a little bit. Because of my own background of having been married before, I'd like to say something more about marriage. I worked very hard at my first marriage, which lasted for seventeen years. I think that in some ways it was quite successful, although I always felt there was something missing. Even though I tried to center on God, even though I prayed a lot and worked very hard in the church where I was, I felt that something was missing. At one time I was not very involved in the church, but what ultimately drew me back (into the Baptist Church at that time) was that I wanted to find the answers for my marriage, to find fulfillment, to find the depth that I really felt should be there.
Ultimately my first marriage did break up. But I found that after being Blessed and uniting with my wife here, in just a matter of weeks, I achieved a much deeper relationship than I had ever been able to have in seventeen years no matter how hard I worked at it. So I'm very grateful for the foundation I did receive through Rev. Moon and for the experience of preparing myself for marriage through the church.
Richard Quebedeaux: First of all, I want to say that we have one hour left in this discussion. I want to be as fair as possible in bringing you all out, but I think this is the kind of situation where we have to understand that not everyone is going to be able to ask his or her question in this period. I encourage you to continue the discussion informally. And if necessary we can at the appropriate time bring up the questions of people who will not have an opportunity to speak during this session.
Paul Sharkey: It is one thing to have faith that one's marriage was made in heaven or faith that one has a God-given mission in bringing about restoration, but how is that related to one's faith in Rev. Moon? After all, according to you it is through Rev. Moon that the revelation about God comes. Rev. Moon chooses one's spouse. He decides what one's mission is to be. Now, I see several questions here. Does one have faith in Rev. Moon or in God or both? If both, how is one's faith in Rev. Moon related to one's faith in God? Also, it seems to me that Unificationists attribute to Rev. Moon a kind of extreme infallibility. I am a Catholic. And I would say that even the Pope does not claim that kind and degree of infallibility. No Catholic that I know would attribute it to him.
Then there is what I see as a very large question. I have never understood exactly what true parenthood means. The notion of true parenthood seems to presuppose that there is some other kind of parenthood which is non-true. In the four years that I've been observing the movement I have never been able to get clear about the criteria or characteristics of what counts as true parenthood. Are these characteristics spiritual, biological or sociological? What are the necessary or sufficient conditions that distinguish a true parent from a non-true parent?
And with that, one last little comment. I can very easily see how biological parents, a Moonie's progenitors, might be hurt and mistrustful of the notion of true parents when they are told that Rev. Moon and Mrs. Moon are the Moonie's "true parents."
Richard Quebedeaux: One issue is the nature of Rev. Moon's authority, in particular his authority over the life of the individual Moonie. Is he regarded as having higher authority than even the strictest Catholic would give the Pope? Secondly, what about true parenthood? Who are the true patents? Are Rev. and Mrs. Moon the only true parents, or are all Moonies aspiring to be true parents? How does the notion of true parents relate to one's biological parents? Comments? Steve.
Steve Post: I think there is an egalitarianism in the concept of true parents. Right now, of course, it looks as though great authority is vested only in Rev. and Mrs. Moon. Yet as time goes on we will see that everybody will be a true parent. This will mean that everybody in a society will hold the same position of authority in spiritual matters. What we see now is an interim situation.
Richard Quebedeaux: Here we see Unification thought at the societal level. Is there to be a democratization of the role of true parents? Do any of you want to comment on this?
Nora Spurgin: We're put in that position now. Before God we're put in that position to take the responsibility, to develop ourselves to become true parents. The reason we say we're becoming true parents is that we have not yet worked out all of our imperfections at all. Therefore, before God we are put in that position. You understand what I mean? It's like God forgives us and allows us to be in that position but we still have the responsibility of working out all the things that make us less than true parents. So as we develop, we're in that position but we don't deserve it. Future generations deserve it. We don't because we come from the fallen world.
Mary Carman Rose: One of the things that attracts me most to the Unification Church is that you are bringing back to us universal themes of tremendous significance that we in the West have never known or have forgotten. Three of them have been mentioned this morning.
First, there is the reality of the next life and how there will be opportunities for progress and creativity there, too. Second, you have reminded us that a particular person can be uniquely a channel of spiritual insight and power. Rev. Moon is in that position. I do not think that he should be compared with the Pope. Rather, he is very like the Catholic, Hindu, or Zen spiritual director who has the gift of discernment of the spiritual needs and potentialities of others. And third, there is the work of indemnity, or the spiritual work that is done by our giving up our own desires for the sake of great ideals.
Also, Unification thought is still in the making and we must never forget that. We mustn't act as though things were really firmed up because somebody in New York once spoke dogmatically.
Finally, I would like to see more real give and take between Unification thinkers and those of us who are also committed to particular religious paths. For example, as a Catholic Christian I, too, have firsthand acquaintance with what you call indemnity. I know how good is accomplished through my giving up my own desires. The Wise Men, the Magi, in Christianity are extremely important. They brought their individual gifts to Jesus. They had the good sense to realize that many gifts were going to be needed. All of us here have gifts, and I would like to see us share our experiences so that we can all work together for unification.
Wellington Nyangoni: I want to preface my statements by a sociological observation. There is nothing new in the matching of couples. People have been matched for centuries. The history of free choice of whom you want to many is relatively recent in modern history.
And there's no evidence that those who choose individual partners necessarily have successful marriages. There is also no evidence to suggest that those who are matched have less successful lives. So it depends on what vantage point you are coming from and I think we have to be open. I was one of the people who was very angry about why people were being matched. In fact, I went to the New Yorker and questioned the people who were being matched. Then after a while I realized I had been Americanized, (laughter) My own parents were matched, (laughter) And a greater part of Africa was matched. They have been matched for centuries. Jews do matching. There has been matching for centuries even among Catholics. I was raised as a Catholic, and in fact I still feel very guilty because before I went to many, I ran with God only knows how many women. Then when I started dating a particular woman whom I sort of liked and wanted to marry, I never made love to her until I got married to her.
I have an additional question about the Unification theology of sexuality -- where does homosexuality fit into the theology? I interpret Divine Principle as a testament against homosexuality because central to the Unificationist view of restoration is marriage, procreation, and the family. I could not understand, then, how Arthur could say that how the homosexual issue is solved depends on the individual. Doesn't homosexuality stand outside the movement?
Richard Quebedeaux: Would any of you like to respond?
Patricia Zulkosky: I'd like to. I would say that basically there is no active homosexuality in the church. I think Arthur said that a homosexual in the church may legitimately choose not to marry, although there is no place for active homosexuality in the church. I know of a couple of persons who entered into a homosexual relationship and there has been a "case by case" dealing with this problem. Sometimes the persons with homosexual inclinations will be under a leader with a very narrow perspective on that situation who will try to kick them out of the church. Sometimes you will find homosexuals under a leader who is much broader and who, recognizing that this is a real problem that needs working with, will take the time to try to guide these individuals toward normal sexuality. So homosexuality is not seen as a legitimate choice within the structure of the Unification community, but there is a wide range of ways it is dealt with, depending both on the views and experience of the particular leaders and on the extent to which the individuals themselves seek guidance.
Kurt Johnson: I just wanted to address this issue of whether Rev. Moon comprehends the problems in the movement. My answer is yes. We went through a period in the movement where it seemed like the East-West culture clash was creating some pretty dismal casualties. A loss of perspective and vision was causing people to leave. Rev. Moon invited the leadership of the church up to East Garden (his home) and talked to them for about four hours on Christmas Eve. I was amazed at his comprehension of the problems. I'm like every other person in the movement, I'm human. I imagine all these things that he doesn't know.
Anyway, he knows the breadth of these cultural problems. But just like any of us he's caught in this dialectic between what the ideal is and what and who he has got to work with. Now anyone who has ever been in a position of authority, whether as a division head or whatever, knows that people are constantly in that trade-off situation. When one is a leader in the movement, and a lot of us are responsible for a lot of people, one is caught in that situation. On the one hand, one is trying to lay a certain historical foundation, and on the other hand, one is trying to care for individual people. And this play-off between concern for individuals and concern for laying the foundation is always a conflict.
A good example is the handling of homosexuality within the church. Pat said that under some leaders, at least, this problem would be met on an individual basis; and someone said to Diana that he didn't believe it. I have to say that in some respects that person is right. But the reason is that a leader in the church really doesn't have much time to be reflective. We are always playing a trade-off between the needs of individuals and the needs of foundation-laying. We don't always have time to be reflective in making the choice of how we will invest our time and energy.
Finally, I think it says a lot that Rev. Moon personally chooses the people who come to this conference to represent certain issues. I don't think he chooses us because he thinks we can tell you "what you need to hear" about the movement. He chooses us because he believes that the way we think is somehow close to what he thinks about the Blessing, about social action, or whatever job he's given us. Even in the movement we have people who will say, Johnson doesn't really represent the Principle. You see, so we're always in that dynamic. Believe me, if I didn't think that the doors were still open for the whole development of the movement toward a really genuine, authentic whole life, I wouldn't be around.
Marianne McGowan: Does Divine Principle teach that when you are ready to marry you have achieved individual perfection?
Hugh Spurgin: Ideally, yes. But not in today's reality. Rev. Moon is a pragmatist. He is a scientist as well as an idealist, and everywhere in Divine Principle you'll find the kind of dialectic that Kurt's talking about. Our Blessings now are conditional blessings, which means that we are not perfect.
Marianne McGowan: But you must be perfect to have perfect children.
Hugh Spurgin: No, we didn't say we had perfect children.
Marianne McGowan: I thought you said that your children would be free of sin.
Hugh Spurgin: When Rev. Moon explained it, he drew a chart on the blackboard. You've probably seen it: formation, growth and perfection. He told us that each of us who have received the Blessing was near the top of the growth stage. Ultimately we hope to achieve perfection at the individual level. But we have not yet done this.
Nora Spurgin: The belief is that we parents still have sin and are a part of the old world which is passing away. We are all now in a period of transition between the old world and the new creation which is being brought about right now. Because we parents have not yet attained perfection our children will suffer a little. Because we have not completely matured, our way of raising our children will be somewhat imperfect and in a sense they will suffer from that.
Marianne McGowan: But perfection is possible for you?
Nora Spurgin: Yes, it's possible for people, but we're in a transitional stage.
Patricia Zulkosky: We do not think that even in an ideal world that a child will be born perfect. Everyone has to go through a growth stage. We believe that a child can be born sinless, without original sin. Then, if he or she grows up in an environment without fallen nature, he or she can grow up to be perfect.
Judith Simpson: Nora, on the same subject, how do you as a woman with children deal with the possibility that one of your children may decide not to be in the Unification Church? What would your relationship to that child be if he or she decides not to?
Nora Spurgin: It's my responsibility to raise them to the best of my ability, to give them the quality of love that's necessary for them to have a deep relationship with me, to give them intellectually the truth that I believe will guide them. But then I have no choice other than to let them make their own decisions. We believe that our children are in the same position as Adam and Eve were before they fell. Adam and Eve fell, and they didn't even have the kind of environment that we've got -- with a lot of sin in it. There's nothing to guarantee that out children wouldn't make the same mistakes. But I have to let them go. The only thing is that we are at least giving them a better state. And our hopes and our prayers are that also the work that we do will provide some kind of spiritual merit and protection for them.
Judith Simpson: Do you mean that you would then give up all of your parenting responsibilities towards them? Would there still be communication?
Nora Spurgin: Of course I don't have this experience at this point, so I don't know what I would do. But definitely I wouldn't write them off, because certainly God didn't write man off. He's worked with man and struggled with man throughout all of human history. So my answer is that I would act in respect to my children as God has acted in respect to man. It's just that I couldn't force my children. I have to let them have free will just as God has let us have free will.
Thomas McGowan: Sometimes I find it helpful to discuss historical precedents for groups even though I recognize the danger involved in this. Once I have tentatively labeled a group I can work out other things about it. So I have been trying to decide whether Unificationists are Pelagians or Augustinians. I find strains of both in what you claim. On the one hand, you say God chooses the person you are matched with. And, on the other hand, you say you have free choice in the matter. Your matching is not only a sociological event. It is also a theological event because, unlike other cultures in which there is matching, the belief is that God does the matching. But then in addition there are church criteria for receiving the Blessing and being matched: number of years in the church, a specific number of spiritual children, and so on. Isn't this a confining of God's choice? On the one hand, we are told that the matching is God's will. But also we are told that there is romantic love, freedom of choice, and the possibility of choosing one's own mate. Are you Pelagians or Augustinians?
Wellington Nyangoni: I think he is off the mark here. We can learn much from the African view. There is no distinction in it among the sociological, theological and economic. All these are parts of one undivided whole.
Francis Botchway: I want to examine Wellington's point. If I had heard this lecture in Africa, the question that I would have posed to my Unification friends is this: all that you have said is now being practiced in traditional African society, so what's the difference? In the traditional African sense, before one marries there is an investigation done by women. And the data collected is passed on to the men. And before the marriage is consecrated, there is an invocation of the spirits, and the deified dead ancestors. So we can say there is a religious meaning and significance attached to the actual process of marriage. The only thing missing in the African case is the presence of Rev. Moon. In the African case, the ancestors may be said to play the role of Rev. Moon. My question then is, what is the fundamental difference between the traditional African process of which I am a part and the Unification process? What would Unificationists say to people of African descent who come out of these socio-religious experiences? The only perceived difference, it seems to me, would be the centrality of Rev. Moon in the whole marital process whereas in the African case there is no one central figure. When we invoke the ultimate deity, we invoke him through the deified dead ancestors. But in your case you are substituting Rev. Moon for the role played by the ancestors and I'm seriously wondering if this whole process is not conditioned by the cultural experience of the Koreans. Is it really a divinely ordained process?
Richard Quebedeaux: Kurt has experience with various intercultural situations. Would you like to respond, Kurt?
Kurt Johnson: What is unique in our situation? It is that a man, Sun Myung Moon, came out of Korea with the concept that God has been guiding history towards some homogenization to a final idea of what the true culture is. The difference between that and all that has come before is that he is preaching about a restoration that needs to be done and can be done on a worldwide level. Now obviously someone could have come out of Africa in the same position. I think it's just an historical situation. He has come saying this and offering it as an idea of what the world culture will be. And by its very nature it will homogenize many, many things and offer new things. And that is in the Bible. That is in the treasure chest, old things and new things.
Ernest Stewart: There are a couple of concrete differences. When my wife and I were matched, it was with eighteen hundred other couples. Rev. Moon was making decisions. But there was also a great deal of individual, personal input on the part of church members. A friend of mine came along and said, "How about this one?" And Rev. Moon looked over and said, "Oh, very good." That is, people were asking, "May I have this one or may I have that one?"
George Exoo: Acorns when they grow up, if they operate correctly, become oak trees; and there are other kinds of seeds like maple and elm that grow into maple and elm trees. I am very much concerned about heterogeneity and pluralism within society. I'm concerned with the possibility of those maple trees growing into maple trees and the oak trees growing into oak trees. And I hear some very strong sentiments saying that in some cases maple seeds are expected to become oak trees and act as acorns and that elm seeds also should grow into oak trees.
I am particularly concerned about this in the attitude toward homosexuality that has been discussed thus far. From what I have heard, these people are unacceptable. They could not create a Blessed marriage within the movement. They could not, for example, form a couple relationship and adopt children and fulfill even more than one blessing.
And that's all right if you want to create a small community and say, we are going to realize some absolute natural law. We're going to live in our little commune someplace in the world. We're going to exclude all others. But what I hear you saying is that you ate harbingers of the new age, that you propose to provide a pattern of living that is going to be good for all humankind. But what about homosexuality? I could take other descriptive categories, I'm certain. But in regard to homosexuality, what are you going to do with that ten percent of the population in the new age? Are you going to build a new gas chamber and play Hitler and put those people in it? Where are they going to be?
Steve Post: It is important to affirm that there is particularism in Divine Principle. It is not the case that we are attempting to relate to all concerns of all people in a pluralistic society in modernity. We are sectarian. We are sectarian in the same sense that the Hutterite brethren were sectarian. They formed certain kinds of communities. They had an ideal. In marriage there was a matching. They had to go out and do missionary work someplace in the world. There was no homosexuality in the Hutterite community.
George Exoo: Well, you don't know.
Steve Post: We don't know that, right. But we have an ideal as a community, and we try and live up to it. Now I think that necessarily at this time in history -- and here I would go a little different direction than some might -- we are being particularistic, in that we are talking about heterosexuals in the Unification Church. It's not that we would ever conceive of violating the human rights of people who are not heterosexuals. But we have a faith in God that if we establish the kinds of relationships which we see as theologically justified, this has integrity in itself. Our prime purpose is to create those families. To me, that's the essence of the church.
What is happening in the world outside? We live in a secular, radically pluralistic society. But my faith is (and, of course, this is just my position, because these are ambiguities that have not been clarified and articulated in any Unificationist text) that eventually through God's providence the world will become aware of our fruits -- of the harmony of our marriages and of the beauty of our children. People will then see that, indeed, the Unification Church has some sort of solution. Then voluntarily those who want to come can come; and those who don't, won't. And God bless the latter. But it may be that in the future, in the ideal world, there will be a normative pattern, a certain image of human fulfillment and that is the perfect marriage.
George Exoo: And that begs the question of acorns and elm seeds. I would like to hear you respond to it, Mr. Stewart. You have articulated a view that has been more liberal and kind of free of restraints than anybody else here who has spoken. How would you respond to that question?
Ernest Stewart: My understanding, too, is that we hope that ultimately everyone will have an ideal marriage. We feel that some of our problems today exist because we do not have ideal marriages. People become unhappy with their spouses. They become unhappy with many things. And they do not find fulfillment in anything. So we are trying to build a better mousetrap. If we do, maybe everybody will like the mousetrap, and that may solve part of the problem.
George Exoo: Do you think that could encompass a female-female marital relationship or a male-male marriage relationship?
Ernest Stewart: As far as our faith is concerned, we believe that God's ideal is that marriage should be between male and female, that God created man for woman and woman for man. This doesn't mean that people are always going to fulfill what God wants of them. Who has? And we don't intend to "put people in gas chambers" because they don't fulfill the ideal. Otherwise I'm afraid all of us would be in the gas chamber.
Patricia Zulkosky: Theologically, our stress on the heterosexual relationship derives from our view that God has both masculine and feminine elements and that God has given more masculine and feminine elements to man and woman respectively. So a woman in and of herself has an experience of the nature of God but not a male experience, and vice versa. Then, man and woman brought together become a more complete representation of the nature of God to their children than could happen in a homosexual relationship. That is why we stand so strongly on the male-female relationship.
George Exoo: Is there anyone here who would argue from the Unification side that the Bible was conceived also in a cultural context and that perhaps some of the seeming heterosexual chauvinism inherent in the Bible is also part of Korean culture and part of American culture at the present time, and we maybe ought to be able to stand back from those cultural contexts and view them in another light? Is there any Unificationist here who would make that statement?
Steve Post: I'd like to respond. The basic presupposition of George's question is that there are acorns and there are elm seeds, right? Recent research on homosexuality claims that sexual instincts ate not object specific. That is to say, our sexual urges can go in one way or another. But the point is that with a thorough understanding of the kind of natural law that's embodied in the Unification Church tradition, our sexual drives, which are not object specific, can be directed the way God wants them because they are malleable. And that's the import of the division of God into masculine and feminine. If we can understand that internally in its value and meaning, then we can direct ourselves.
George Exoo: I just hope that God-directed isn't culture-directed.
Richard Quebedeaux: OK. I think in fairness we should go on to Andy and Leonard; we can take up these issues later publicly and privately.
Andy Smith: What is the effect on your children of your involvement with the movement? Is there pressure from the other kids' parents? Do your kids interact with the other kids outside of the classroom in the normal way that happens when kids go to the same school? What of your concern in terms of bringing them up within the movement?
Nora Spurgin: Well, it's harder to answer your questions because our children are still pretty young. We have a son in first grade and a daughter in second grade. However, we do want to expose them to as much of the "outside world" as possible. For example, my daughter is a Brownie and goes to Brownie troop meetings. She goes to the birthday parties of the other kids and they are invited to ours. Some parents know and some don't. In general the kids are still so young that they don't have any prejudice. So there's not so much of that. I'll just give you a little story as an example of things that happen.
My daughter was in kindergarten when she did this. She came home from school one day and had, pinned in the middle of her sweater, a big button with Rev. Moon's face on it that was used for one of the rallies. I was a little shocked when she came in proudly wearing it. I said "Did you wear that to school today?" "Oh yeah," she said. I said, "Did anybody say anything?" "Well, on the bus on the way home from school the bigger kids said, 'We don't like him.'" But she was still wearing it and she was going to wear it the next morning to school. I said, "Why don't you not wear it since everybody knows who he is? (laughter) But not everybody really loves him because they don't know him." And she said, "OK." But she would have worn it and she said, "Well, I was going to wear it, because in my class nobody said anything about it." So to her it was just an artifact. It was just a thing to wear.
This is the kind of thing our children are going to face. And as they get older they will face some prejudice against our movement and against being Moonies. We're trying to raise them in such a way that they will have an internal integrity, that they will be proud of themselves as individuals, that they will be well-adjusted, happy and capable kids. That's the way I was raised. I was a Mennonite and I was raised very differently. Everybody knew I was a Mennonite, much more obviously a Mennonite than out children are obviously Moonies. And I felt like I had tremendous strength and I could handle it. And I hope that I can do the same thing for my own children. We can't protect them forever, and I'm sorry that they have to experience it.
Hugh Spurgin: One point is that Unification people are not trying to escape from the world. If anything we are thrusting ourselves on the world with such intensity that it frightens people. There is this thrust into every aspect of the world: business, politics, education, everything. And that applies to Andy's question, too. As a matter of fact that's Rev. Moon's desire, for the children to go to public schools, to live normal lives and interact with other children.
Richard Quebedeaux: OK, Leonard, one more question.
Leonard Lovett: I keep coming back to something that appears to be somewhat morally ambiguous as well as possibly leading to contradictions. By taking part in the matching you surrender your responsibility in the choice of your mate. How, then, can you maintain your responsibility for your marriage, its goals, and its uniqueness? Where is the responsibility regained which you abdicated initially?
Esteban Galvan: When I was matched I felt like I had died and I came to some major realizations when I was first conversing with my fiancée. One realization was that in 1971 I was to be ordained a priest. After many years of seminary training, I had theologically and sociologically been prepared to live a celibate life, "married" to Christ and the Church. So I was oriented to thinking that marriage was second best to celibacy. You got married if you couldn't make it as a celibate -- a chosen one. I talked to many of the brothers and sisters who were matched and they said that they had accepted out of faith in God and God's will and also out of trust in Rev. Moon. I mean it looked great, everything was happening so fast and people were getting engaged.
But I couldn't follow the crowd. In fact, my fiancée said to me, "You know I just knew it had to be you." I said, "Now don't tell me that right now." (laughter) I couldn't even talk. I was shaken, because I realized the situation I was in. I felt like I was hanging. So I realized that I didn't accept myself as getting married, even though I had been in the church for six and a half years.
Another realization I had was what I shared with my fiancée: I told her that much of the Latin culture is immoral, with a double standard between men and women. Suddenly, I felt the pressure and tension behind the responsibility that I providentially was representing the restoration of Latin culture. So I felt then that not only was I cutting off from my past theological training, but also that I was being confronted to act against the immoral aspect of my Latin culture and stand for righteousness and a higher standard of marriage. I said to my fiancée, "My indecision has nothing to do with you personally." And she replied, "You don't have to decide to become engaged to me. I wouldn't force you to do it." And I said, "I know you are not going to force me." But of course, I could see that she herself was worried and wondering about me and our potential relationship, (laughter) Then I said, "I've got to get outside, I've got to breathe, to get out in the street and get a coke." So we sneaked out the back door, although we thought that we weren't supposed to do that.
Then I said to her again, "My attitude has absolutely nothing to do with you personally. I could ask Rev. Moon to match me with another girl, but I'd go through the same thing with her too. So either it is you right now or no one. So, let's try it out." And that is what we've decided to do.
Now the point is this. By my struggling so much that day, I actually experienced the engagement as a personal decision of mine. I struggled a great deal, and this helped me to take responsibility that it was my decision. I am sticking to it. When I made this decision I took full responsibility for it and for my engagement and future marriage. I am very vertical and at that particular moment I experienced a separation from my confused ancestors who wanted me to be a priest instead of a family man, the poor standard of man-woman relationships in Latin culture, and my narrow theological training of celibacy versus marriage. And I decided, "I am going straight ahead." To develop a relationship with her and with her family will be demanding and complicated, maybe one reason is because she has a Jewish background, while my background is Catholic. She and I have to work at that relationship ourselves in time and with God's blessing.
Nora Spurgin: I understand how it may be puzzling to some of you to hear that we believe that we have to take responsibility for our marriages and for our own lives. So I just want to add that we have to take responsibility for knowing our own limitations. If we think that we do not have the ability to handle a particular person, we have to be aware of that. We have to ask to be matched with someone else. That is one very important aspect of our personal responsibility.
Richard Quebedeaux: Thank you all very much for a very tough, heartening discussion.
1 Dr. Young Oon Kim presently teaches at the Unification Theological Seminary. She is the author of Unification Theology, a series entitled World Religions, and others.
2 Divine Principle is one of the names given to Rev. Moon's teaching as a whole. Another, more simple name is the Principle. Divine Principle is also the name of the primary English text in which Rev. Moon's teaching is presented. See Divine Principle (New York: Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, 1977). This text was not written by Rev. Moon himself. Often Divine Principle is used to simultaneously refer to the teaching and to the text in which it presented.