Unification News for April 2002
This month’s article focuses on our church’s growing Second Generation, who are popularly known as ‘BCs.’ Thanks to webmaster SuGin Bowman for her keen insights and special perspective.
Please note that this article deals with sensitive issues, and isn’t intended for small children’s eyes. While I’ve striven for accuracy, I welcome any clarifications.
This is addressed to both parents and older BCs.
The challenge is clear. Few American BCs have yet to volunteer for the marriage Blessing. Many are choosing to marry outside the faith, and to follow a different path. Some BCs have been matched and Blessed only to see their unions fail.
This situation has been noticed, and carefully addressed. The Bay Area Family Church hosts several ongoing programs for our youth. Many of our BCs have also participated in the Special Task Force, and given encouraging reports.
Our Principled Academy school has sponsored Youth Development events, which have included valuable input from non-Unificationist parents, as well as noted scholars.
Through these sources and more, your author has uncovered some unexpected factors that affect the situation. Many of these are universal to teenagers, while others are special to believers, or unique to BCs.
Adolescence is a time of finding one’s identity, of asking questions, and for making decisions regarding a career, love life, and other things. It is also a time of asserting ones’ self -- usually without realizing how self-centered one remains. (Basic example: how many teenagers volunteer for necessary household chores, whether at home or as a guest? I know I didn’t!)
To bring up one of Dr. Laura’s favorite themes, few teens realize what a limited perspective someone has before reaching, say, thirty years of age.
Our church, being new, is populated mostly by converts. People who’ve endured terrible persecution, and sometimes defied their own parent’s wishes to embrace the revelation of the Principle and the love of True Parents.
Our BCs have had everything handed to them, so to speak, on a silver platter. They can also rebel, but in reverse, into a secular lifestyle. (Few BCs gravitate toward their parent’s former religion, or any religion in particular.)
This situation is not unheard-of. The Amish and the Hassidic Jews, among others, expect their American-born children to embrace a rather unusual lifestyle. Despite a well-known pattern of rebellion, most do finally take those paths. (Read Chaim Potok’s novel The Chosen, or rent the movie.)
Many Protestant churches have anemic youth ministries. They almost take it for granted that their youth will rebel. They only hope that these lost sheep aren’t too damaged to "return to the fold" ten or twenty years later.
The Principle upholds one of the toughest standards for human behavior in all history. For comparison, anyone who joins the Armed Forces goes through a Basic Training regimen that’s harder than anything our members usually do. On the Cain side, the Taliban was a thousand times more restrictive of women. On the Abel side, certain monks impose extremely harsh disciplines upon themselves.
We expect our members, converts and BCs alike, to live an outwardly normal lifestyle, while rejecting a host of sins -- and drawing an absolute line concerning sexual behavior.
Problems arise from our personal expectations, and in the gray areas of standards and behavior.
Some problems are specific to believers, and especially to our BCs.
I’m told that BCs can be very judgmental towards each other. We’d all hope to see mutual support in a tempting and sometimes hostile world, but alas, it is not always so. (I suspect that the girls stand out in this behavior.)
Our BCs have big expectations for themselves. Sometimes these are informed and realistic; but, too often, naïve and off kilter. Occasionally their standards are so high that few can actually reach them, much less maintain them for years. Then, any BC who fails may condemn him (or her) self, with an awful guilt and a deep sense of unworthiness.
Let’s be specific. Masturbation is not the same as intercourse. Both are condemned as sins. Even so, almost all boys, and many girls, will masturbate.
Pornography is not the same as prostitution. Most boys, and a surprising number of girls, will look at a centerfold, and some get into harder Internet or video porn. This is, of course, sinful.
These practices could escalate into ruinous activities, but the fact is, they usually don’t. (If they did, few adults would be left alive to speak of it…)
However! If a BC thinks they’ve ‘already fallen’ by doing these practices, they may disqualify themselves from the Blessing, and without ever saying why.
Double however! Don’t you dare think of this as a ‘free pass.’ Boys may tell themselves they "have to relieve the pressure," when in fact they may be turning up an adjustable hormonal hose to full blast.
Former Pres. Clinton injected America’s youth culture with the idea that oral sex isn’t really sex. At workshops, BCs have openly inquired about this point. Wondering, since it isn’t ‘technically’ committing the Fall . . .
Guess what: presenting your genitals to someone who ain’t your spouse is having sex. It’s also skating a thin line, and can even catch you a nasty STD. If you have ever done so, admit it and quit it.
Unificationist parents devoutly hope their BCs will get Blessed, providing the best education and guidance they can. At home, parents have a variety of standards. At the extremes, some will deliberately ‘toughen’ their BCs by pushing them out into the world; while others shelter them, hoping to avoid all temptation.
Parents may pressure their teenagers to hurry up and get Blessed, before they are ready. Why would this be?
Our converts worked long and hard to qualify for the Blessing. I myself was Blessed at age 26, and did not start my family until I was 32. By then I’d nearly doubled the ‘formula course,’ and found plenty of spiritual children.
It was a sore trial I hope my own son does not have to endure.
Do parents see the Blessing as a ‘brass ring?’ Perhaps they are counting on the stability provided by a faithful spouse. Might it even be a ‘stage parent’ thing; a lingering guilt at their own lack of achievement?
Even when a BC agrees to be matched, problems can erupt. With parents in on the process, mothers especially are asserting themselves. In the manner of a Woody Allen movie, ‘Jewish mother’ types will clash with their offspring about who it’s best to marry. Among the ‘issues’ are money and education, faithfulness and church participation, physical appearance and mannerisms, etc.
In South Korea, very few BCs have been Blessed. This author has only indirect evidence as to why. Members there do not live in centers, and seldom participate with teams such as MFT. In some cases, men who worked at church-owned factories were sent to be Blessed after a one day Principle workshop.
Koreans may be deeply heartistic, but how could those guys possibly instruct their BCs in a tradition they’ve never experienced themselves?
Unificationist leaders hope to see all of their congregation’s BCs get Blessed. Sometimes this may happen under pressure, and without adequate preparation. Why would this be?
Our entire movement is goal oriented. Perhaps, when a Blessing event approaches, leaders are trying to "make the goal" for New Couples Sent from their area. They have an understandable pride at the number of BC families in their church.
They may even ponder (in the back of their minds) that having some cute new BC couples will inspire their graying congregations, not to mention the younger children.
We have many foreign leaders here, often in positions of great authority. It is sometimes claimed that these men do not understand life in the USA, especially for young people. Could it be that some are, in all sincerity, giving poor advice?
In past times, children roamed free in their neighborhoods. Today, many families live in areas too dangerous for that. A filched beer on a Friday night has been replaced by methamphetamine, and a tattered Playboy in the treehouse by a host of deadly STDs.
Parents can, to a large extent, pick their family’s town and schools -- and thus their BC’s peer group.
There are effective ways to monitor our BC’s party/event attendance. It used to be that American parents knew the parents of their children’s friends, and thus cooperated in raising their offspring. This is still possible, but it takes special effort.
Personally, whatever the lyrics, I think rap music is annoying as heck. My boy, having grown up with it, isn’t bothered at all. (For me it was Beatles music.) Does your BC want a new CD? Christian rap music is a possible compromise.
As for clothing, the ‘slut look’ is definitely out, and ‘gangsta rags’ aren’t far behind. But I’m not too old to think that purple hair can look pretty good. In these matters, parents must ‘pick their fights’ wisely.
Internet use can be monitored. If possible, put your computers in a busy area like the living room. You can also use ‘filter’ programs, but those are not always effective. You’ve heard that kids learn to erase the evidence of their questionable emails, web surfing, etc. Believe it!
Where trust is already lost, there are ‘keystroke recording’ programs that will keep a record of everything that happens on a given computer. Many of these are inexpensive shareware. There are also ‘ghost’ programs that will make those keystroke programs invisible. (If needed, bring in a friend who knows computers better.)
Everything I’ve mentioned is of concern to parents, teachers, and church leaders. For our BC’s sake we must address these issues frankly, and in an age-appropriate way.
We must explain the most outrageous situations and practices, and clearly -- before some ignorant classmate does it for us. Without arousing curiosity in those too young to have been interested in (or even heard of) such things before.
This has always been difficult for parents. I myself never did get that little ‘birds and bees’ talk. (Not wanting to be ignorant, I read a famous book on the subject.)
Teachers can address these issues effectively, and I don’t mean the ‘condom on a banana’ fiasco promoted by the Public Schools. Church-related workshops are usually the best forum for such discussions. Elders, nurses, and Youth Pastors can all contribute. Informed, older peers are especially popular with our BCs.
Internet surfing, and music/video playing (big sources of trouble) are passive, and usually done alone. Young people have tremendous energy, and it should be channeled into constructive, public-spirited activities. Church youth groups are great for this.
In areas without a Family Church, various other denominations will have similar activities. (Check them out beforehand.)
We can and should learn from our elders in religion. Consult experts such as James Dobson, Franklin Covey, Laura Slessinger, and Thomas Lickona. They have books, videos, and web sites. Most have parent groups meeting locally.
Blessed Children have a very special innate spirituality. They have memories of faithful and hardworking parents, and a strong moral compass. They’re already halfway to fulfilling God’s joyful vision.
With the right guidance and activities, they can readily fulfill their longings, experience true love, and meet their destinies. They will become, quite literally, humanity’s best leaders.
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