Unification News for May 1996
The First Breath of Life
As discussed last month, the spirituality called forth by the Divine Principle makes abortion virtually unheard of within the Unificationist community, just as is birth control (and smoking, and drinking, and robbery, and adultery). And yet this ethic is not established through a legalistic, let us say, heteronymous, regime. In fact, on the strictly legalistic level, abortion has sanction.
Referring to the three stages of life, human-instigated removal from the second stage of life, i.e., suicide, is deemed in spirit world a criminal action resulting in damnation to the lower reaches of hell. The consequences of human-instigated removal from the first stage are not spelled out. Here is where the tale is told.
The Tradition states that "the spirit self is not with the embryo in the mother's womb. The mother's womb grows only the spirit base, not the spirit itself. Abortion destroys that spirit base; therefore, the Unification view is that abortion cuts the relationship this unborn child has with God and God's divine love." This teaching tells us that spirit and flesh do not join until the first breath. Prior to the first breath into the second stage of life, the human person is not eternal.
We recall the biblical passage concerning the creation of Adam: "the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." (Gen 2:7) Prior to God's breathing spirit into Adam, he was simply a part of the creation, not a "living being." Following this biblical analogy, since we all are "Adam," prior to the breath of life, which " unless compelling arguments are presented otherwise " would be at the time of emergence from the womb, the body is being formed from the "dust of the ground" in the mother's womb, just as God formed Adam. (Reverend Moon has stated, cryptically, that Adam and Eve were born the same way as the rest of us don't ask me anything more about that.)
The spirit is forming as is the body, but in a miscarriage or abortion, the spirit, as I understand it, "dissipates" much as the nascent body is lost. In this case, there is no eternal soul and no human person. In other words, there is no passage to the second stage of life. The created entity is not eternal, hence is not a human person.
We may be wanting explanation about the origin of the spirit. Is it being formed simultaneously as the body is being formed? If so, "where"? At this point we reach the precipice visited by Job and John Calvin: you are asking too much. Wait upon God's good time for such knowledge to be revealed, for which you are now unprepared.
Thus there are beliefs and convictions tending in different directions within Unificationism with regard to abortion. While these countervailing understandings within the Unificationist teachings do not contradict each other, they do betray different tendencies, pro- choice and pro-life. It was with high interest that I noted a statement published by a recent group of Blessing participants stating that their Blessing pledge entailed a commitment "not to indulge in adultery, abortion or divorce." We see that, theological doctrine notwithstanding, the spirit of the Blessing stands firmly against the practice of abortion. Similarly, we have no church legislation banning the use of illegal drugs or contraceptives. Again, it is an unspoken ethic, a "self-evident truth."
Now keep in mind that I appreciate an unexpected pregnancy no more than the next man. Abortion is an awfully convenient way to keep one's life in order, from a pragmatic perspective. Sometimes a baby is just not advantageous, financially and health wise. But, as they say, these things should be thought of before conceiving the child, not after. Abortion can never, never be considered as a form of birth control. And here is where the American society stands condemned in front of God. In the words of Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy at Boston College, "abortion means the willingness to murder for the sake of the willingness to copulate. " Why does anyone want an abortion? Abortion is demanded as a form of birth control, backup birth control. And why is birth control demanded? Birth control is the demand to have sex without having babies." (Peter Kreeft, Ecumenical Jihad: Ecumenism and the Culture War [San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996], p. 16-17. Hence I am blessed with five children. The Tradition specifically repudiates abortion taken out of perceived economic necessity or estrangement of the couple.
And yet, The Tradition calls abortion "appropriate" if conception took place under any circumstance "involving a break in the spiritual order." Two examples are provided: rape and incest. Conception is an absolute act, in which the couple put themselves in the hands of God. It is an absolute act, an eternal act, because it is, or is meant to be, an act only of absolute love, an act of perfect responsibility and freedom. If not undertaken under those conditions, it is a sin, unprincipled, evil, a crime.
Is Abortion Murder?
Consider the reason murder is a crime. Is it because God created us? No, because by that reasoning, to end the life of anything created by God, including plants and animals, or even to tamper with a stone, would be a crime, because these are created by God.
Murder is a crime because it violates the purpose of creation. Of all created beings, man is created in the image of God. This means that we are created to achieve divinity, and have that potential. To abort that potential is a violation of God's purpose of creation; hence a crime. Lower orders of the creation, however, have the purpose of harmonizing for the fulfillment of the unity of all life centering upon man who is the image of God in the physical world. Thus, to harvest the creation for man's purpose is to fulfill its God-given purpose, and that includes the consumption of created entities into our physical bodies, and the use of created entities for our clothing and shelter and transportation.
From the viewpoint of cutting short the fulfillment of the purpose of creation, abortion is murder, a crime, because the fetus has the potential to become a perfected image of God. On the other hand, once the abortion is performed, there is no victim, because there is no eternal soul; the person, fully defined, never existed. Thus the Unificationist position, on the technical level, is ambiguous. But on the spiritual, social and political level, it is clear.
I understand, though I am not well-informed about it, that the fetus passes through all stages of the creation of the universe while in the womb: from single-celled organism, to fish and animal. If this is the case, and it certainly seems typical of God's greatness and the centrality of man in creation that man-in-formation would recapitulate the creation of the cosmos, then of course the fetus feels pain so do plants and may writhe in agony so do insect and animals. Pain racks the sentiments, but does not turn moral arguments.
The Unity of the Family
An ontological argument can be gleaned from Genesis and in Jesus' citation of Genesis in his teaching about marriage. Genesis states that God has determined that man and woman "shall be one flesh." Jesus did two interesting things in connection with this Genesis passage (Mt 19, Mk 10). One, he stated that the reason that man and woman are "no longer two, but one flesh" is that "at the beginning of creation, God 'made them male and female,' (quoting Genesis 1:27).
Here Jesus is revising Genesis, for Genesis stated that the reason they become one flesh is that God created Eve from Adam's flesh, but Jesus says the reason is that God made them from Himself as male and female in His image. That is, the two are one in God, for that reason they again become one as husband and wife. To violate marriage is to violate God's own unity.
The second thing Jesus does is to decree that "they are no longer two." (Mk 10:8b) This I have heard echoed in the view expressed by our elder, Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, that it has no meaning to discuss the priority of husband versus wife, because there are no longer "two" persons there, essentially, but rather one; the two have become one in the marriage bond.
In essence this was argued through by Christian thinkers in the discuss of Christology, in which they concluded that in Jesus, God and humanity are one, not two, and in the Trinity, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one, not three. However, the marriage bond is an even stronger unity than that of the Trinity, because the Trinity is still in some sense three, but the husband and wife are "no longer two." This implies, and Jesus must have been extreme to make a point, that there is no sense in which they are two.
Paul elaborates this theme for us, echoing Rev. Moon's teachings: "The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife." (I Cor 7:4, cf. 11:11-12; Eph 5:22-33) Thus even to conceptually separate husband and wife is to "murder to dissect." The couple constitutes a higher ontological being. If abortion is murder, then so is divorce. As Rev. Farley Jones told us, "to divorce is to destroy a small civilization."
This has useful implications for the abortion issue. The child in the womb is the substantialization of the love of God, husband and wife. If the family is an ontological unit, then the status of the fetus as a person is not the issue, as it is not the issue for the husband or wife anymore, for the two are one; two persons have become one greater person. Now the two who have become one are three who have become one. The new ontological person exists from the moment of conception.
Allow me a moment of personal testimony. I received word of my engagement to my wife-to-be over the phone. The moment that I heard that word, I had a change of consciousness. It was palpable, a change from being one person to being "one-half of a marriage," with my wife being the other half. Again, the moment that my wife and I had confirmed by a doctor of her first pregnancy, I had a palpable change of consciousness that we were now three. We were three-in-one, even though that third party was but a mite within my wife's womb.
In Unification terms, the love, life and lineage is contained, embodied, in the child. Love is unique, and the child, the new person, is unique, irreplaceable. It has recreated the couple into a family.
But then, when does the child become an individual, a new discrete "one"? Never; for all intents and purposes, never. God, and Jesus, said that a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. The leaving and the cleaving are connected. Here's a new sound- byte: don't leave until you cleave.
We begin life as part of our mother's body (visible effect), implanted by our father's seed (invisible cause). We establish maturity as a husband or wife in a marriage. We inherit a lineage and procreate it. Something greater is working through us. It happens in the physical world. Spirits are created only on the base of the creation of physical bodies. Angels cannot have children. Only God and man can have children.
The Puritans, at the root of the American civilization, had some notion of this. No single people were allowed in the Puritan commonwealth. Everyone lived with a family, if not as a biological relation, then as an apprentice, employee or servant. Human existence is radically social, based in the family.
We might ask, where do I stand as "I"? I stand as "I" in front of God and my own conscience. This is the court before which the status of abortion is to be resolved. The courts of man, and categories of his mind and heart, for choice or life, fall short.
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