The Words of the Piepenburg Family
Frankfurt, Germany -- Monika Kunde chaired a UPF seminar held in Frankfurt on December 5 examining the question of whether marriage is a God-given institution. Representatives from Christianity, Islam, the Sikh religion and the Family Federation gave insights about the relevance of marriage for social peace.
Fritz Pipenburg opened the program with an overview of the founding principles and activities of Universal Peace Federation in Germany, which was hosting the event. Marriage and family play an important role as supporting pillars of our society, especially in view of the latest federal statistics that grimly predict a steadily aging and shrinking population. Religion gives a spiritual meaning to marriage that lends it a Godly dimension. Thus a valuable contribution is made to the stability of marriage, a primary institution for the socialization of children.
Following a musical introduction, David Kingsman spoke about the marriage partnership from the Christian Science viewpoint, quoting extensively from the book written by its founder, Mary Baker Eddy. "Marriage is a man-made institution that helps us experience the spiritual unity between man and God," he said. It is "the lawful and moral structure for the propagation of mankind." Chastity and marital fidelity play a special role, and without them there can be no stability. "Infidelity is the plague that creeps in the dark." Mary Baker Eddy even went so far as to give as much significance to the commandment "thou shalt not commit adultery" as to "thou shalt not kill."
Kingsman closed with the comment, "when mankind has reached his naturally intended perfection, marriage will no longer be necessary."
Abdullah Haselhoef, who together with his newly married daughter and son-in-law traveled quite a distance to attend the event, represented the Islamic point of view. He began by explaining the relationship between soul (Arabic: ruh) and ego (nafs). Whereas the soul pre-exists birth and is seen as equivalent to the “breath of Allah,” everyone develops an ego which, from early childhood on, seeks individual fulfillment. Haselhoef explained that the proper relationship between soul and ego is important, just as with a rider and his steed. When the ego sets itself above the soul, it is as if the steed sits on the rider. And that, at the very least, makes for back pain!
According to Islamic teaching, Adam was originally alone and unhappy. Allah created Eve to be at his side, and thus man and woman are to become one entity and discover each other’s beauty. “Besides,” pointed out Hasehoef, “marriage is a protection against foolishness in the head and between the legs!”
Marriage is a desirable holy state according to Islam, and Haselhoef stated that Jesus would marry when he returns.
Pastor Tom Haase, regional leader of the Free Protestant Community, defined marriage as "a Godly bond between man and woman with God as a third party in the union" and explained that man and woman are in God’s image.
Haase gave an account of a meeting he had with teens during which the young people spoke openly about their sexual experiences. He was shocked at how many reported several sexual encounters but noted that they saw their experiences in a negative light. He heard many express how broken they were, even at the tender age of 15.
He expanded his view of marriage by stating that three factors are required for its success:
Separation from parents (this does not mean severance from or neglect of the relationship)
Marriage as a physical, emotional and spiritual partnership (marriage partners should be the best of friends)
Marriage and partnership as a public declaration
Pastor Haase gave many examples from the ups and downs of his own marriage and family life.
Ulriche Tuente, a long-standing member of the Family Federation of Germany, began his presentation by quoting from the Bible: “and God created mankind in his image, as man and woman he created them.” Marriage enables mankind to fulfill three responsibilities, namely to become a true parent, a true teacher, and a true owner.
Each person has an inner core (in Unification philosophy described as heart) which seeks for a partner who can accept and respond to the impulse of love.
“Parents are meant to be the best teacher for their children. A man and his wife with their family are the owners of the Kingdom of Heaven.” According to Tuente, heart needs a logo, in the sense of law and structure, to realize constructively its impulse to love. This logo is a marriage blessed by God. Marriage is also always a promise to God and one’s partner to be faithful "in good times as in bad.” In addition, the embodiment of this promise has great significance for the healthy development of the offspring. Direct human contact and relationships are essential to survival, especially in the first three years of life, and the parents should provide this -- not the state. Tuente also explained the blessing ceremony that is offered by the Family Federation also to couples who are already married.
Bhai Jagmeet Singh and Satbir Kitty from the Sikh religion not only gave an explanation about marriage and family in their religion but also treated us to renditions of two songs that are used in the marriage service liturgy. Marriage is of very deep religious significance to members of the Sikh religion. With God’s blessing, two souls merge and become one. And according to Kitty, the divorce rate in their religion is less than five percent.
“The partner is a part of God. Therefore, marriage is always a marriage with God and therefore is holy.” The classical keyboard instrument and two drums accompanied the "wedding song” and brought the meeting to an end.