Joined: Oct. 2005
|Marriage and the Family: the Unification Blessing|
by Jonathan Wells
"This is the third and final excerpt from a paper presented in the "Marriage and Family" seminar sponsored by the International Religious Foundation in Seoul, August 1991."
In 1960, after his first wife had turned against him and divorced him, Moon married Hak Ja Han, the present Mrs. Moon. As a spiritual teacher in the Asian context, he was respectfully called Master; but when he came to the West in the mid-1960s, his American followers bestowed on him the title of Reverend. Although there may be members of the Unification Church who do not believe Reverend Moon to be the second coming of Christ, I think it is fair to say that such people must be a small minority; indeed, it is difficult to imagine anyone persevering in the rigorous life of a Unificationist without believing that Sun Myung Moon is to our generation what Jesus was to his.
Although Divine Principle laid the theological groundwork for Unificationism by emphasizing marriage as the fulfillment of part of God's original ideal, Reverend Moon now emphasizes marriage as restoration. Since evil entered the world through the perversion of marriage, so it must now be eliminated by somehow retracing the steps which led to its introduction.
The route which Reverend Moon has prescribed is this: a person must first practice the strictest celibacy for a period of time, usually amounting to several years; during this period, the person should study Divine Principle, sincerely attempt to center his or her prayers and activities on God's will, and at some point (if physically able) undergo a seven-day fast. Note that practicing celibacy and conforming one's thoughts and actions to God would have been required even if the fall had not occurred, in order to fulfill the First Blessing. Only the seven-day fast distinguishes this prescription from the prelapsarian one.
Distance from Satan
The result, however, is completely different. Before the fall, a sinless person following such a course could have fulfilled the First Blessing by reaching individual perfection; after the fall, a person following such a course cannot even return to the state of original sinlessness, much less achieve individual perfection. (Like Christianity, Unificationism considers fallen people incapable of ridding themselves of sin.) What the prescribed course does, instead, is to distance the person from Satan's dominion, and to lay a conditional foundation upon which God can act.
Therefore, even though marriage in the Unification Church is called "The Blessing," it is usually qualitatively different from the Second Blessing described in "Divine Principle". Most people who get married in the Unification Church are not perfected individuals receiving the Second Blessing, but fallen people entering into a partnership with God for the purpose of restoration.
At some point, the suitably prepared person is invited to be matched. Although some writers have attributed the practice of matching couples in the Unification Church to long-standing Asian tradition, there is a theological reason for it. Since the fall fragmented the human family, one task of restoration is to knit these fragments together again.
When two people marry and raise children, their relatives (including departed ancestors) become part of one family. As a result, candidates for marriage in the Unification Church are encouraged to accept mates recommended by Reverend Moon on the grounds that the match will promote restoration. Personal happiness, though essential in the long run, is not the first priority. The fact that such matches usually survive (despite inevitable marital tensions) is a testimony to the strong religious faith of the members. The need for reuniting the human family also accounts for the high proportion of interracial and intercultural marriages among Unificationists.
Once a match is accepted by both parties, a ceremony is performed in which the man and woman drink a small amount of holy wine. The effect of the wine ceremony has been explained by Reverend Moon in terms of the biblical metaphor of "grafting": a candidate for marriage is sacramentally stripped of (and forgiven for) his or her fallen past, just as a plant is cut above its root in preparation for grafting.
The result of the ensuing marriage ceremony is analogous to grafting a new shoot to the old root: the fruit of the mature plant will have the characteristics of the shoot instead of the root. (For a discussion of the wine ceremony and the grafting metaphor, see Takeru Kamiyama, "The Grafting Process," in "Blessing Quarterly" [Summer 1986], 24-33.)
In this metaphor, the fruit symbolizes the children of the "blessed couples." According to Unification theology, such children are born sinless, like Adam and Eve before the fall; and like Adam and Eve before the fall, they have the potential to fulfill the First Blessing. But sinlessness is no guarantee of perfection; like Adam and Eve, "blessed children" also have the potential to deviate from God's commandment and fall into sin. They are, however, better situated than the youthful Adam and Eve in one respect: they have parents who understand God's commandment and will protect them from temptation.
Note that both Reverend and Mrs. Moon preside over the wine ceremony and the marriage ceremony, because they represent the True Parents. Children can be born only through a father and a mother, and sinless children can be born only through a True Father and True Mother. If Adam and Eve had not fallen, they would have been the True Parents; if Jesus had married instead of being crucified, he and his bride would have been the True Parents; now, according to Unification theology, Reverend and Mrs. Moon fulfill that role.
As True Father, Reverend Moon not only had to marry and have children of his own, but he also had to take responsibility for all the fallen descendants of Adam and Eve. Accordingly, before he himself married in 1960, he prepared three other couples for the Blessing. (DP, 15, 148; "Blessing Quarterly" [Summer 1986], 15-17, 38-39.) Other weddings followed, with increasing numbers of couples: 36, 72, 124, 430, 777, 1800 and 8000 (in several cases the official numbers have been rounded off to what are regarded as biblically significant figures, and only approximately reflect the actual number of couples in the ceremonies).
Other, smaller marriage ceremonies have been performed in the intervening years. The large weddings are not intended as publicity stunts, but as indicators of an expanding wave of restoration: as the number of blessed families increases, the power of Satan grows weaker, and eventually the shackles of spiritual slavery will be broken for everyone.
Clearly the Unification marriage ceremony scheduled to take place this August will be an event of cosmic significance for those participating in it. Of course, like other weddings it will be a major crossroads in their own lives. More significantly, it will represent the opportunity for salvation for themselves, their ancestors and descendants. But most significantly, it will represent long-awaited hope for the entire world and even for God.
The fall resulted in suffering not only for our human family but also for our Heavenly Parent. If Reverend and Mrs. Moon really are the True Parents, and the Blessing really is the way to overcome the fall, then our human family may at last be able to live in peace and bring endless joy to God.