Unificationists would do well to review accounts of Christianity’s rise, particularly the role of inter-marriage in its penetration of the Roman Empire.
One astute analysis is that of Rodney Stark, an eminent American sociologist of religion, who distinguishes between “primary” and “secondary” conversions in his Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries (1997) and The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World’s Largest Religion (2011).
According to Stark, “In primary conversion, the convert takes an active role in his or her own conversion.” Secondary conversion, he says, “is more passive and involves a somewhat more reluctant acceptance of a faith on the basis of attachments to a primary convert.” Agreeing to “go along” with one’s spouse’s faith is an example of this.
Based upon this distinction, Stark argues that exogamous marriage (with pagans) and secondary conversions were “crucial to the rise of Christianity.”
He points out that both Peter and Paul sanctioned marriages between Christians and pagans. Peter advised wives to be submissive to non-believing husbands so that they may be “won” by their “reverent and chaste behavior” (I Peter 3:1-2). Paul stated, “[T]he unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband” (I Cor. 7:13-14).
Commentators have maintained that these passages refer to cases in which one or another of the partners’ conversion to Christianity postdated their marriage and that the apostles were counseling against divorce. However, Stark suggests these passages reflect “a far greater tolerance for exogamous marriage than has been recognized.”
According to him, “We know there was a very substantial oversupply of marriageable Christian women and that this was acknowledged to be a problem.” It was a particular problem for “highborn” Christian women who had limited marriage options within the early Christian community and faced a loss of legal privileges and control of their wealth should they marry men of inferior rank. Stark cites the British historian Henry Chadwick, who maintained, “It was often through the wives that [Christianity] penetrated the upper classes of society.” Peter Brown, another well-known historian, described Christian women as the “gateway” into pagan families.
Stark admits early church fathers regularly “condemned marriage to pagans” but argues that this only reflected “the frequency of such marriages.” At the same time, he highlights a lack of concern in early Christian sources “about losing members via marriage to pagans.” This, he says, is in keeping with modern observations. He cites Catholic sociologist Andrew Greeley, who “proposed the rule that whenever a mixed marriage occurs, the less religious person will usually join the religion of the more religious member.”
The question is whether this model applies to Unification marriage practices, specifically the Unification Movement’s marriage blessing, and to its goals for growth.
The sanctification of families through the International Marriage Blessing is a core mission of the Unification Movement (UM). It is a process through which men and women come into union with one another, engraft to the True Parents, reconcile with God, and thereby reconstitute themselves a new humanity. It is the epicenter of the movement’s program for world salvation.
In practice, there have been two main blessing models. The first of these is the “narrow gate model.”
Prior to 1992, the Blessing was restricted almost exclusively to Unification Church members. Candidates endured lengthy preparation periods, were strictly celibate, and were subject to special conditions associated with the Blessing, such as bringing three new converts and completing a seven-day fast. All were “matched” by Rev. Moon and required official permission to “start their families.” The Blessing itself included a complicated set of ritual practices, the centerpiece of which was the Holy Wine Ceremony which signified the couple’s “change of blood lineage.”
The problem with the “narrow gate model” was that it couldn’t keep pace with the movement’s world-transforming social vision. Rev. Moon could be listed in the Guinness World Records for the largest single mass weddings, but the biggest of these numbered only in the several thousands.
Beginning in 1992 but especially after 1995, the movement downplayed the “narrow gate model” in favor of a “globalization model.”
Rev. Moon expressed his intention of blessing hundreds of thousands, even hundreds of millions of couples by the year 2000. Blessings in 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000 were massive events convened in major venues such as Seoul Olympic Stadium, RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., and Madison Square Garden in New York City. They were simultaneously linked to satellite locations throughout the world.
Married to the Moonies, originally broadcast in 2012 on the UK’s Channel 4, follows three British second generation members as they prepare to be married at a blessing ceremony in Korea.
A major departure of the “globalization model” was that previous requirements did not apply to the overwhelming majority of those being blessed. The reason for this was simple. They were not Unification Church members. Nearly all were previously married couples who agreed to rededicate their marriages. In most cases, the Blessing came as suddenly as a knock on the door. The vast majority had only the most limited and rudimentary understanding of the Blessing if they understood that they were blessed at all.
The problem with the “globalization model” was that newly “blessed” couples lacked the requisite understanding or commitment to align themselves with the Movement and its goals.
As a consequence, neither the “narrow gate” nor the “globalization” models were fully satisfactory.
From a dialectical perspective, the “narrow gate” and “globalization” blessing models have a thesis-antithesis relationship. Accomplishment of the Movement’s goals may hinge upon finding a workable synthesis of the two. I propose an “open blessing model” as such a synthesis.
The first defining characteristic of an “open blessing model” is freedom of choice in the selection of one’s spouse. This is in accord with the “globalization model” and Rev. Moon’s vision of “exchange marriage,” i.e., intermarriage beyond nationality, race, ethnicity, cultural background, and religion.
However, this is not in line with current Movement practice. Although blessings for committed Unificationists are famously international, interracial, and intercultural, they are not interreligious. Single first-generation Unificationists are expected to marry within the faith. Second generation Unificationists are not only excluded from marrying outside the faith but also excluded from marrying inside except to those who, like them, are the fruit of purified lineages.
In other words, for committed Unificationists, the Blessing remains a narrow gate.
This, unfortunately, has had negative consequences. Shortly after Rev. Moon’s passing, Mrs. Moon lamented, “Where did all the young people go … it is heartbreaking that we have not been able to offer the second and third generations to Heaven. Twenty thousand second generation have all been washed away into the secular world.”
New religious movements need to retain their distinctive character during their formative years. However, beyond a certain point, rigid boundaries foster an excessively inwardly-looking culture that is antithetical to growth and unattractive even to those who remain within the faith.
The second defining characteristic of an “open blessing model” is commitment to or at least identification with the Unification Movement and the Blessing ideal.
This builds on the “narrow gate model” and an understanding of the Blessing as the basis of human redemption and societal transformation.
It is important to recognize that the “open blessing model” is not a mixed-marriage model. It presupposes that if a committed Unificationist marries someone from another religious background, or, more likely, from a non-religious background, the non-Unificationist partner will at the very least become a “secondary convert.”
Most committed Unificationists will continue to find their spouses within the Unification community. However, some will find their spouses outside. In those cases, “Open Blessings” would be a “converting ordinance” welcoming “secondary converts” into the Unification community.
There are barriers against this, particularly for the movement’s next generation. As a consequence, most Unification parents are more accepting of second generation couples who have little or nothing to do with the church or even a religious way of life, so long as they are blessed with another second generation member. This is not sustainable.
The Movement’s theology of the blessing will likely be a source of contention in years to come. Should the Movement insist on the “narrow gate model,” it may persist as a narrow, insular sect. Should the “globalization model” predominate, the movement will likely dissipate. The “open blessing model” affords an opportunity for the movement to retain its distinct identity while interacting with and, in the end, transforming society.
According to Stark, “Christians managed to remain an open network, able to keep building bonds with outsiders, rather than becoming a closed community of believers.” A “high rate of exogamous marriage,” he states, was one mechanism by which they accomplished this and one which in his view “was crucial to the rise of Christianity.”
If that is true, the “open blessing model” may be not just a synthesis of previous models but a providential necessity.♦
Dr. Michael Mickler is Professor of Church History at UTS. His books include: Footprints of True Parents’ Providence: The United States of America (2013) and 40 Years in America: An Intimate History of the Unification Movement, 1959-1999 (2000).
What traditions and faith practices would one bring into a marriage with someone who isn’t a part of the faith, when doing so (not marrying another church member) goes against the tenets of the faith itself? Is it fair to say that those who do marry anyone who is not a fellow unificationist, is doing so out of their frustration with the church and or their parents’ faith? Also, in so doing, how can they expect their own future children to respect their own traditions when they have no integral authority? I feel that there is currently a great identity vacuum when it comes to “being” a Unificationist and clearly knowing what traditions we observe and why.
I would argue the “Open Blessing” concept is not new, but actually a closer step to Rev. Moon’s original purpose to bless mankind. True Father always said he did not intend to start a church, and the UC was rebuilding a foundation lost due to providential failure. The mission of the Messiah was always to bless mankind, but originally on the foundation that had been laid by the existing world faiths centered on Christianity. Furthermore, it can be argued most of the restrictions on members starting their families and the requirements imposed were due to pragmatic reasons of mission manpower, not inherent sinfulness that required indemnification. After the 36 and 72 Couples were blessed – after choosing their own spouses – manpower was less available due to family life. Over time, more and more barriers for non-Koreans having a family life sprang up. Perhaps non-Korean members should feel flattered that God felt they were most needed in the global effort?
Other evidence of the “Narrow Gate” model being a temporal pragmatic solution rather than a moral principle: there are many people that Rev. Moon told to go find a spouse and he would bless them, long before the “Globalization” of the Blessing took place. Father matched my spiritual great-grandfather to a non-Church member. In addition, most older members have routinely been told to go find their own spouses.
I would argue the “Narrow Gate”/”everyone must do formula course and be matched” model was actually just a pragmatic step, and very far from God and True Father’s original hope.
Very good article indeed! One of the important aspects of the “Marriage Blessing” UC style is the promise of the overcoming of hunger, poverty, disease and conflict, and thus transforming the world to God`s Kingdom, or CIG. The tradition of matching by parents of their children is of course playing a big part in this process. In an “open blessing” model it is not likely that young and other immature people will keep these higher goals in mind, as personal attraction will become the main thing again. It is my hope that Heaven will make the “narrow gate ” model more accessible and easy, but that parents remain strong in their ways of instructing their children, but with much more love, sensitivity and sensibility.
Is this “tradition” of matching you speak of a “Do as I say not as I do” tradition? If so, that might explain why internal Church data has shown so many 2nd Gen – 80-90% in Korea and Japan – have chosen not to participate in the Church or broken their Blessings. Without a respect for 2nd Gen to make their own choices, they might well view such a “tradition” cynically, perhaps as hypocrisy or an attempt to control them out of a lack of trust.
I don’t agree with this interpretation of True Father’s vision in regard to the Blessing. The Blessing is very, very sacred. And the Mass Blessings after 1992 we did were merely a preparation for the real Blessing (It’s called “Resurrection Blessing”). The Gate of True Love is very narrow. If it opens wide we will completely lose the sacredness of the Blessing. True Love is absolute. Only a God-given spouse under God’s Blessing through the True Parents and Blessed Parents is the eternal Path.
I was blessed in 2005.12.29 at CP and my marriage was an “open model.” My husband was Catholic, and had only a 2-day workshop and a basic introduction through a church pastor. Without going into all the good/bad, ups/downs, I’d like to say this: It’s not the partner’s church or the method of choosing the partner. It’s about the conditions of purity. Certain things have to be done in order for a marriage to be a “blessing” in terms of a relationship that connects to the original lineage of God and transmits that lineage to the next generation. First, purity – abstinence from all sexual involvement and the ability to control sexual desires – is needed before the 3-day ceremony; Second, the 3-day ceremony needs to be truly a restorational offering to God, not simply a honeymoon; Third, the couple need to practice sexual fidelity completely – including no participation in sexually immoral culture. For our church to achieve and spread the marriage blessing of the original lineage, we need a lot more sex education, sex counseling, and sexually moral cultural development. There is a big problem with thinking, “Let them get married and start family life quickly because they need sex.” Marriage is not a “blessing” without lineage, and lineage doesn’t happen without indemnity and restoration.
Your article does not address, much less reconcile with your theory, “the change of blood lineage,” which is, as you should know, a central tenet of Unificationism and the Blessing. As a result, you’ve put undo emphasis on (external) practices to achieve mere “growth,” i.e., an increase in number of Blessed couples. Your theory is divorced, additionally, from the (internal) restorational work required to maintain the truly loving parent/child relationships which make for successful/happy/longlasting so-called “narrow gate” 2nd gen Blessings. You also have not proven “open blessing” couples would have greater success/happiness/longevity in their Blessings.
Dr. Mickler is trying to chart a possible course for the future of the UM, based on the past, present and future. True Mother’s comment of, “Where did all the young people go,” hit me like a ton of bricks. It is heartbreaking to realize the state of affairs of our movement. I can relate to the concept that “beyond a certain point, rigid boundaries foster an excessively inwardly-looking culture that is antithetical to growth and unattractive even to those who remain within the faith.” The change of blood lineage is the crux of the blessing. It certainly is both timely and necessary to carefully consider how to present this “gift of restoration” in a more palatable and encompassing manner.
If a person inherits something of value and doesn’t know the value of what they inherited, then they are in danger of mindlessly squandering it. So the question is not whether God can use the strategy known as “open blessing.” The question is whether that strategy is likely to decimate the church, by sanctioning a convenient “out” for people who should stop to take into account the value of what they received from True Parents.
This means that the deeper question is this: How well do we understand and convey the value of the Blessing and Lineage? Are we good at conveying the value of the Blessing and Lineage? Or do we pretty much suck at it? If we were to move forward (into the “open blessing” strategy) without an effective education tradition, a tradition that conveys the value of the Blessing and Lineage, then we are allowing this weakness to be exposed to the pressures and ideological battle that will no doubt occur within these “open families.”
In our current state, BCs cannot even articulate the value of the Blessing and Lineage. This shows that our education system is a disaster. This means that they are easy pickings for conversion. They will not be doing the converting; they will be converted.
Let’s say your father gave you a dusty Craftsman toolbox before he died, and say you were never fond of building or working with tools. When you come under pressure and are looking for something to sell for some extra cash, you hock the toolbox and spend the cash. Later, you get to the spirit world and find your father crying his eyes out. You ask him, “What’s wrong daddy?” He says, “I used those tools all my life, and with them I was able to build my masterpiece, a miniature solar power collector. I was unable to get the final components for the life-size model, it would have been capable of of powering three homes simultaneously.”
You are utterly bewildered as he continues, “I left the prototype in the box with the instructions on how to construct, mass produce and mass market it. But then I watched as my toolbox, and the masterpiece within, were bought by someone that I didn’t know. They couldn’t be bothered with the contents of the box so they never read my instructions. They threw away my masterpiece. It currently is in a landfill at the mercy of the ethereal slimness of fate. I trusted you and now our descendants are still in the pitiable state that you and I could have delivered them from. I thought you would cherish my gift. If even you would have shown the slightest bit of interest in what I gave you, our descendants would be in a different situation.”
As you tell a story like this, you could interchange the object in the box for a diamond or whatever thing of value you like, but the tragedy is still the same.
Do we understand the value of what we are talking about giving away? The answer is clear. On the movement-wide scale. Hell, no.
The reason that there are so few of the second generation involved in our church is not because we don’t have open marriages. I think the problem relates more to the disconnect between our theology of creating ideal families and the reality that we have not made this ideal a substantial reality.
If I look at the culture and focus in our church we do not walk the talk. We are actually not very pro-family in many of our policies. If we want to promote a more expanded and open blessing we would be better off to decentralize the process. Typically things that are centralized fail to grow and develop organically. We have a severe bottleneck in the giving of the blessing; it is only given once or twice a year and everyone is encouraged to gather in one location for the event.
The blessing should be the responsibility of the parents to give locally with the families and their friends joining together to celebrate and promote the value of the blessing in each community. True Father said that marriages that are conducted by distant authorities are Archangelic marriages. True Parents stood in as our parents and gave the blessing to the first generation but in the ideal, blessed couples should conduct the blessing ceremony for their children. If the church wants to expand the blessing they need to open wide the gate through which the blessing is given.
Good points, Richard!
I would argue that open Blessings should occur in society at large. But within the context of inheriting the lineage through the Blessing then that must be protected and treasured. Therefore only second gen should be Blessed with second gen. Dr. Mickler comments that the narrow gate model was unsuccessful. By what terms? It cannot be analysed in purely secular terms. The value of the Blessing is such that it could not even be spoken of until Rev. Moon accomplished a foundation that could attempt to protect it. It is not a simple marriage ceremony, although many may take it lightly. It’s value is profound and an incredible providential gift.
I’d like to add a few more points:
The reference to Stark’s analysis at the start is not a valid one. Effective “conversion” to Christianity was a completely different matter and bears no relation to a discussion on the “effectiveness” of the UC Blessing. It is not a “numbers” thing. True Mother’s remarks were perhaps directed at us all by default as members. We know we have not been good at helping our children value what they have. But it would be even more tragic if our response to her heartfelt words was to completely fail to grasp the meaning of the Blessing as a pivotal part of a Unificationist lifestyle on both a practical and spiritual level.
We are fortunately not a democracy where there is jungle of opinions and views. Let’s wait for the Heavenly Constitution, so that everything will be more clear.
The “Heavenly Constitution” will surely be based on True Parents’ own words of guidance. He has already spoken on the matter. Please read the speech “Change of Blood Lineage: The Real Experience of Salvation by the Messiah,” Oct. 13, 1970, Seoul Korea.
Indeed there is much anticipation for the new Heavenly Constitution. For people, couples and families to be more happy together, I think there needs to be more common (I guess mainly Korean-type, mixed with the good aspects from the Western and Southern cultures) etiquette and ethics learned and applied. This will prevent misunderstandings and promote more avenues of True Love, and consequently expansion.
Thank you, Dr. Mickler, for this article. The Blessing and the concept of blood lineage are a very sensitive issue and can generate passion. However, I will be dramatic on this topic. I think the future of our movement will be determined by how we will approach the Blessing. Do we decide to open the gate of the Blessing as you mentioned, in your article, and become a peace movement and experience real growth, or do we keep the gate narrow and stay as a cult movement. It seems like most Unificationists would like to see growth, but the “Blessing” and the concept of “blood lineage” remain “non-negotiable.”
The framing is off. To say that we are choosing between “peace” or “cult” is a rather violent way to view the conservative leaning that values the vertical subject causal reality from which the blessing comes. It is not a struggle between peace and narrowness. It is a struggle between wild, emotion-driven untempered growth, and measured purpose-driven growth.
If we are all saying that “Eden is too small,” we must expand… Some might say that “Eden is a garden, not a wilderness.” While others might say “Time’s a wasting! Tear down the walls of the garden,” I’m saying let us buy new lands and carefully transplant our seed into that new land. Let’s not allow all manner of weed into our garden in the name of expansion.
Yes Idris, the importance of blood lineage is not negotiable. As Rev. Moon has said: “Please inscribe the importance of lineage in your hearts. I cannot emphasize this enough.”
Thank you, Michael, for your thought-provoking article; you touch on many important issues that need to be considered. I, too, believe that we need to open up the Blessing rather than insisting on all going through a narrow gate. All of us – even those on opposite ends of this discussion – are making good points. It seems, for better or worse, that we are heading toward a Paul vs. Peter/James showdown … but unlike the Super Bowl this Sunday it needn’t be a win-lose contest; it can and must be a win-win.
Acts 10:9 through 11:18 (Peter’s vision) powerfully supports Dr. Mickler’s viewpoint. Especially see verse 10:28 – do not call anyone common or unclean. We are all God’s children. Thank you for this article, Dr. Mickler.
Several years ago, TF blessed some older Korean girl BC’s with Jacob children because they were older and could not find a BC spouse. So it was bless them to a non-BC or they would never be married. Which is best? Seems pretty clear what TF’s position was. Perhaps this precedent of TF opens the way for the less ideal path you speak about.
BC’s often have a hard time finding a BC spouse or have experienced such painful matching and blessing failures that makes facing another church matching too much for them. Not to mention the limited pool of candidates.
We have two situations with our children — one, who was devastated by a parent matching, and another by a church situation. They are now engaged to two young men who are so wonderful we could not have invented them. It feels like God’s blessing after much suffering.
Many, perhaps most BC’s will marry “outside people.” Parents have to love, pray and serve and try to bring them to our faith.
Nancy, I think you have the answer right here. The ideal is for BC’s to be blessed with other BC’s, but we must be as loving and accepting as possible if this becomes too difficult an option.
Let’s look at this from an internal perspective. We are reborn through the blessing. We stand on a foundation of being separated from Satan’s lineage. Whilst we cannot understate the grace that this rebirth gives us, we still have to grow to be a perfected personality that Heavenly Father becomes incarnate in. That is entirely personal human responsibility, we all truly are beggars invited to the banquet. What we make with what we are given or our life choices is up to us. Sometimes one partner will be walking ahead, closer to True Parents, but the other partner may be more practical or pragmatic. Our narrow comparative minds do not always see the real truth of the situation.
As the clouds clear spiritually, couples of conscience who are reading Father’s word and making effort will become the central focus of love. Many of these situations will naturally then resolve themselves in the tribe. As long as we follow Father’s words down the generations, who knows what future leaders will emerge from blessings that we look down on. As grandparents we are the ones who must plant seeds of greatness in our grandchildren. God has never given up on his children even over millions of years of the providence. Neither should we.
The privations of the wilderness years left many scars on the 2nd Generation, I hope and pray that we can heal these.
Thank you Dr. Mickler for your article and for expressing your heart of concern. Thank you to all the brothers and sisters who have commented. You all make good points.
Bear in mind that I too am a long-time member of our movement so it is impossible for me to have a totally dispassionate opinion on this issue. Permit me to attempt to act as a facilitator whose role is to summarize where we are “at” — to reflect back to the participants “the general feeling of the meeting,” an overview so to speak.
Let me recall four reprentative comments from the discussion so far. We all have the tendency to – as Richard Stumpf says — “not walk the talk.” The points I see happening between us may seem trivial, but the result is huge. Conversations like we are having here can go on for ages and no synergy is experienced simply because we fail to try to “see from Gods viewpoint” what He is saying through this person.
Keeping in mind we are all commenting on Dr. Mickler’s position paper, Richard Stumpf said:
“The reason that there are so few of the second generation involved in our church is not because we don’t have open marriages. I think the problem relates more to the disconnect between our theology of creating ideal families and the reality that we have not made this ideal a substantial reality. If I look at the culture and focus in our church we do not walk the talk.”
Richard makes some very good points, but by not acknowledging Dr. Mickler or other commenters before him, Richard’s comment becomes independent, separated from the flow. By listening and acknowledging previous speakers and striving to understand what God is trying to say through each person, he could then contribute his ideas in such a way as to add to the flow that God is creating.
I think that Internet discussions are not the ideal way to dialogue about such sensitive issues because give and receive action so easily becomes one-sided. For example, it is not easy for Richard to ask Dr. Mickler directly, “Would I be hearing you correctly, that perhaps your major point is finding a way to address TM’s concern that so many 2nd gen have been washed away into the secular world?” Could the reason for this not be because our requirements for Blessing are narrow but that we haven’t done a good job as parents in educating 2nd gen about our theology through our example as parents?”
In a face-to-face meeting, Dr. Mickler might then reply andthe dialogue would develop. This is missing in these on-line discussions.
Later, Idris Ena said:
“The Blessing and the concept of blood lineage are a very sensitive issue and can generate passion. However, I will be dramatic on this topic. I think the future of our movement will be determined by how we will approach the Blessing. Do we decide to open the gate of the Blessing as you mentioned, in your article, and become a peace movement and experience real growth, or do we keep the gate narrow and stay as a cult movement? It seems like most Unificationists would like to see growth, but the “Blessing” and the concept of “blood lineage” remain “non-negotiable.”
This again is unconnected to any flow that could have been generated between Dr. Mickler and Richard Stumpf (because it didn’t happen).
Next, Jamal Johnson replied, saying:
“The framing is off. To say that we are choosing between ‘peace’ or ‘cult’ is a rather violent way to view the conservative leaning that values the vertical subject causal reality from which the blessing comes. It is not a struggle between peace and narrowness. It is a struggle between wild, emotion-driven untempered growth, and measured purpose-driven growth. If we are all saying that ‘Eden is too small,’ we must expand… Some might say that ‘Eden is a garden, not a wilderness.’ While others might say ‘Time’s a wasting! Tear down the walls of the garden,’ I’m saying let us buy new lands and carefully transplant our seed into that new land. Let’s not allow all manner of weed into our garden in the name of expansion.”
To me this feels very cerebral, very academic. We are not looking for, and so we miss, the flow that God is desperately trying to create through us.
Then Toby Warren joins the “group” who criticize Idris, saying:
“…the importance of blood lineage is not negotiable. As Rev. Moon has said: “Please inscribe the importance of lineage in your hearts. I cannot emphasize this enough.”
Don’t misunderstand me, but if we are going to use these Internet discussions, then we need to apply the same sensitivity to God working through one another as we would in a face-to-face context. Maybe the original poster needs to remain involved, not combatively but to clarify. If we apply the principles of dialogue rather than those of debate, even the original poster should be willing to take something from the opinions of others. Then perhaps together we can get somewhere.
I assume that we all value the lineage. Therefore, I also assume that no one is here looking for reasons to be offended. Being offended is what disrupts the flow. As Jesus said, “Blessed is he who takes no offense.”
With that said, I do understand people feeling offended when they feel that heaven’s lineage itself is under threat. So I’m soothed by my brothers’ and sisters’ assertions that the lineage is non-negotiable. Thank you so much dear brother.
All writers write with an agenda in mind (I do.) I’m sure Michael had one when he wrote this piece, and that’s how it ought to be, otherwise why write? Similarly, all who comment on this piece also have an agenda, and that is how it ought to be, I think. I tend to share David Cooper’s sentiments expressed here… and also recognize that cyberspace give and take on UC faith-related matters is at best problematic. Perhaps Michael could organize a symposium on this subject.
I do appreciate both Jack’s and David C’s comments. All viewpoints here are clouded by our own lack of true wisdom. Please don’t put me in a “group” or suggest I am criticizing Idris. I always approach such discussions with love and mutual respect. I am saying please read Rev. Moon’s words on these matters and let’s pray for true wisdom in ourselves and in our larger community.
I agree with most of the points made by Dr. Mickler, especially about the “providential necessity.” But I would call for an elaboration of a more inclusive “universal blessing model” which would transcend the “narrow gate model” (prior 1992), or the “globalization model” (with almost no checks or requirements), or the proposed “open blessing model” (because such an open model was already established by Father Moon in 1992). Let me explain:
The Blessing is more than a simple wedding or a ceremony; it represents the recovery of the “original Blessing” that our first human ancestors and humanity lost in the dawn of our history; it is destined for each and every man and woman.
The Blessing, therefore, cannot be an “exclusive” right or privilege for just a few, neither should it be used as a tool to increase membership of a particular group. It should be “inclusive” of all God´s children who are committed to live the Blessing ideal. That is why, since 1992 (instructed and approved by Father Moon), the Blessing became open to all couples from every corner of the globe, to encourage them to practice an authentic family love as their way of life, emphasizing purity before marriage and fidelity within marriage, because that’s the real nature of conjugal love, a principle that goes beyond ethnicity, nationality, religion, or culture.
Family values are universal and the Blessing affirms the virtues of all good religions, and of course, it should be open to all as a providential necessity.
I appreciate this article very much, and applaud Dr. Mickler’s building on the work of Dr. Stark.
For me, the crux of the Blessing, which allows it to balance the extremes of “globalization” and “narrow gate,” is the Blessing Vows. This is the covenant between God and the couple, mediated by True Parents.
I believe that we need to tighten up our Blessing Vows, to which IMO True Father did not pay quite enough attention, from a technical point of view. They should include assent to the role of TP, Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon, in mediating God’s Blessing, along with commitment to the eternal relationship, to rearing one’s children in purity (i.e., to also receive the Blessing) and to love people beyond race, religion and nation (i.e., to help them receive the Blessing).
I see this as our equivalent to the Ten Commandments and the Christian creedal formulations. Were all of us Blessed Couples who affirmed these vows fulfilling them, God’s work in the world would be in pretty good shape. And I think that a Blessed Couple is a couple of any religious or spiritual tradition who sincerely consent to these vows, and participate in a local spiritual community that supports them in doing so.
This integrates the narrow gate model (the vows) with the globalization model (any religious or spiritual tradition gathered in a local community).
There is so much at fault with the premise and conclusion of this article that it would be easy to get lost on auxiliary points.
First and foremost, the drawing of a parallel between marriage in Christianity and Unification life is bogus and false. As such, the whole justification and view is wrong.
One … Marriage in Christianity is not a part of the religious life or in any way defines if one is a Christian or not. Jesus never led a married life and he never instructed either Peter or Paul after the Resurrection about marriage. Christianity is a religion of personal relationship with Jesus at its core. Regardless of the method of that expression / relationship the religion of Christianity does not take a stance in any way on marriage as a basis of being faithful or not. Paul and Peter gave personal guidelines on marriage, most of it based on Jewish tradition and teachings in the Old Testament. As far as the official “church” was concerned, it was a non-issue throughout Christian history until the middle of the 19th century with the rise of some Christian denominations. The only concern “officially” on marriage is if it interfered with the relationship with Jesus. Otherwise, it was very much a hands-off approach, especially in the early history of Christianity.
As such, the beginning premise that Christianity needed to modify its understanding of faith due to marriage issues is incorrect. So the comparison is false and holds no merit to the topic of the Blessing and the UC movement.
Two … At its core, the Blessing is not about being qualified by some formal education or life experience or even special conditions. The Blessing is about fulfilling a living relationship as a son or daughter of God. It is one of three fundamental steps (levels) on the course to understand and inheriting God’s eternal heart and lineage.
The “conditions” and special efforts made in the past for early Blessings of the UC movement are not due to anything of the original ideal of God, but rather to indemnity that needed to be paid to Satan (the enemy of God). It has always been, and always will be, God’s and True Parent’s desire and intent to freely give the Blessing. The Blessing is not something that is earned or deserved but rather received and inherited as God’s Children.
What is special/unique about the Blessing is that it connects one directly into God’s lineage and if need be, separates one from the lineage of Satan. It is this fact of lineage as God’s child that makes the Blessing different than the way of the world. The Blessing is a direct covenant with God and our Parents. As such it should never be trivialized.
Third and finally … The post is based on the premise of growing the “UC movement” (whatever that may be). I have more than once personally been present when Rev. Moon himself declared that he never wanted a UC church/movement, and if the UC movement did not do what God or he needed it to do, God would leave it and destroy it.
I cannot speak for the hearts and minds of others, but for me it never has been and never will be about a “UC movement/church,” but rather my relationship with a living God and my eternal Parents and that family. It is due to that relationship that I desire to ease the pain of God’s heart and want to bring all lost children back. It is not about a church or organization.
There are very many opinions, and contrary to the suggestion of holding a symposium, within a blog, people can really formulate their comments quite well and there is more time to deeply understand the views of others, I think. Of course, in the end, it will be good to get further feedback from Dr. Mickler.
I can see that Br. Pickell describes a very personal and private experience regarding the Marriage Blessing, but the Marriage Blessing also needs to be multiplied, explained, educated, made public, etc., in order for a Kingdom of Heaven to be perceived and grow, and for that, there is a need for a movement, an organization, I believe. Also (though often we do not like them) a set of blessed heavenly rules and agreements is needed, especially for the more unified character education of young children, as that has been perhaps neglected until now.
Having lived in the East for a long time, I have seen, regarding small children, there is often (though not always) an understanding of “let them be, for they are children,” while the emphasis where I came from was more like “don`t let them, for they are children.” These big differences can play out in later life. Another point is the word “Blessing” in English has a variety of meanings, whereas we are speaking of the Marriage Blessing by the Messiah. In Korea, members use the short word Chukpuk, which perhaps is enough in that language, but the term “Blessing” (possibly introduced by an early Korean missionary) alone is maybe not enough for the wider world to understand its real meaning.
I applaud Dr. Mickler’s well-researched article and point of view.
I appreciate Frans Baatenburg de J’s comment and would like to add my reply about the personal experience of the “Blessing” vs. the communal/public aspect.
Yes, it is an intense and personal relationship for me, my spouse, and children, but it is also a very public expression and endeavor as well. Anyone that has a personal living relationship with God and our eternal parents will be and has to be active in an expression of reaching out to those that do not realize the love of God and His heart. This is public and not just private. You must have both to be in balance.
If anyone has the impression I do not value organization and structure then they do not know me. I do value those things.
Organization, structures and institutions are merely creations of man to help with the accomplishment of a goal or desire. Yet for many they become their God of worship and sacrifice. In essence it becomes a false god. This was the case that Jesus faced in his day with the established orthodoxy of Jewish religious leaders.
To be effective on a large social scale you need organization and structures to coordinate/manage/and accomplish large-scale goals. The UC movement is a tool (servant/archangel), not God in essence. But you have to be aware of what you are offering and selling. Our “product” should meet the real needs and desires of people. For the UC movement, it should be a real/practical/substantial relationship with the living God. Also, it should allow people to find freedom from the bondage of Satan and sin. This encompasses spiritual and physical heart, mind, and body.
I am not against organization(s) but rather I do not serve them. They must serve God and his desire. Otherwise, they have no value and standing from God’s view and heart. Hence, what I have personally heard Rev. Moon state on multiple occasions.
Nancy Hanna’s words regarding her own family situation really make us reflect on the practical reality of our high ideals as we seek to love as God intended. Although we may have different opinions regarding the topic here, I for one have to conclude that I never found a more honest, caring and genuine group of people than the brothers and sisters who follow our Heavenly Parent through all kinds of challenges and meet here to discuss the value of the Blessing. We all know that we seek after the fullest relationship with God. The ultimate challenge is can we love purely so that God dwells fully in us all? The value of the Blessing rests on the inheritance of that new reality.
I am more inclined to some comments that this topic is more a theoretical perspective or academic in nature. Though I am just an ordinary member that belongs to 30,000 couple blessing, I found it sometimes too complicated and confusing on how to really testify to my faith to others facing the reality of life with the “gigantic idealism” being taught to us by Father.
The issue with this article is maybe more regarding an alternative path of the Providence rather than the original path to be followed or as the consequent scenario if we, the first ones, cannot come up with the expectations of heaven, so to speak, because life and the dispensation of God goes on and our limitations cannot make it just end there. In this scenario, I can associate stories in the Bible that some Christians do not want to pay attention to in detail, like Tamar (the ancestor of Jesus), Abraham and others, but Father explained clearly the reason behind their seemingly controversial roles in history. No one can just imagine how their story could be related to what we commonly think it must be. Others just disregard the Bible because it seems full of contradictions, but we who know the Principle realize there is no contradiction at all.
So in this case are we bound to parallelism again in a children’s dimension? Can this new generation again say, “And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.”? (Luke 3:8) And let me leave this verse: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:2-6)
Underlying this discussion is a question of how we conceive of the “change of (blood) lineage.” The Blessing, after all, is not only a marriage sacrament but also a kind of baptism and first communion at the same time.
So I think we need to ask ourselves whether opening the Blessing of our children to non-UC spouses constitutes a pollution of a sacred blood line, or a multiplication of holiness. Are we a special people who cannot intermarry with non-chosen ones? Or are we fundamentally the same as others, differing not in our genetic makeup but our faith? To me, the Blessing has always been about a change in allegiance and sovereignty, not a change in genetics. The talk about “bloodlines” must be symbolic, because Satan never had any physical children. We are all children of Adam physically. When Jesus said “you are of your father the devil,” he was not speaking about genes, he was speaking about attitudes and behavior.
Once we are clear that the Blessing is a matter of faith and spiritual sovereignty, not blood, then we can think more clearly about what it means to “open” the Blessing of our children. Whatever we decide, at least we should know that if our children marry “outside,” it doesn’t mean that their bloodline has been polluted. From that point, we can move on to the question of whether intermarriage is good for us or not.
Dan and others, thank you for delving into this often confusing but crucial topic with such clarity. When having to teach our own 2nd Generation Unificationists about the meaning of the Blessing and what makes them unique, I have often pondered over what the essential thing is that comprises the marriage Blessing and change of blood lineage.
Our kids want and need to know this clearly, in non-mystical terms; they are learning about scientific evidence and critical thinking in school and need concrete reasons to reject good and decent friends as marriage partners. Our kids are genetically descended from us, but we have no genetic relationship to Father and Mother. So what is the link between them and True Parents? And the related question, as you ask: Is marrying a wonderful non-BC really a contamination, or a multiplication of holiness?
I have more questions than answers, but certainly we know from DP that at least part of the essence of change of blood lineage is giving up what we naturally love for the sake of the one whom God loves. Lucifer was supposed to give up Eve for God and Adam, and Joseph was supposed to give up Mary for God and Jesus, and Judas was supposed to give up Mary Magdalene for God and Jesus. The early Blessings involved this — loving strangers often from enemy nations in the most intimate and permanent way, as marriage partners. They also involved the participants loving the True Parents more than their own parents. As Dan points out, this involves the heart and attitude, not genetics.
And it involves a declaration on the part of the Messiah, a deep adoption into another family and a change of sovereignty as Father announces to God and Satan, “these belong to me.” None of this is genetic in the usual sense (and so, Jesus said, God can raise up “chosen people” from stones, since the mark of pride is not ancestral lineage as much as the heart of devotion to God and willingness to sacrifice to love those who are hard to love).
What genes seem to do is pass on the merit to descendants without them needing to make those initial grave sacrifices (and maybe it passes on a certain freedom from fallen nature and therefore, a greater capacity to progress towards spiritual perfection with less effort). The descendants of Abraham received the grace and merit that Abraham had earned, just by loving their parents’ religion. Our kids receive this grace of True Parents’ Blessing without having to work much, too, so maybe it is a shame for them to marry outside the pool of BCs and lose that advantage.
But then again, it is also true that the most important characteristic of the descendants of the Messiah (and citizens of Cheon Il Guk) has to be the capacity to sacrificially love as God does. If our kids adopt this as their goal and purpose, our hope is that they will achieve and normalize a more saintly way of life that changes the larger culture to hasten in God’s Kingdom and the end of strife as soon as possible.
But if they don’t really get excited about this as a goal for their lives, if they haven’t really adopted the religion of the True Parents — and we know the majority have not — then maybe their genetic inheritance is not going to come to much anyway. Oh, I know that many of us have the faith that no matter how our children seem to live, they are more receptive to God’s spirit moving in their hearts than other people, and their special divine quality will manifest in the end. Yes, I hope this, too. “Once 2nd Gen, always 2nd Gen,” some assert, and I suspect this is true.
And so, if some of our blessed kids marry non-BCs, which is inevitable, then no doubt God will work through that, too.
Dan Fefferman’s comment flies in the face of religious history, even Christianity. Lineage has always been central. Read the Bible and go through the listings of who begot whom. Jesus is known as the Son of David, and the Son of Man.
I do not see lineage as symbolic. Tell Tamar who had the twins fighting in her womb and also at birth that lineage is symbolic. She had a sexual relationship with Judah to continue the lineage. This is the very lineage that Jesus descends from. As stated often and clearly by Rev. Moon, without lineage there is no foundation for God’s love to flow.
The comment, “Are we a special people who cannot intermarry with non-chosen ones?” seems to be at the core of this “Open Blessing” premise.
If by special you mean there has been a change or separation from Satan’s lineage, then I would answer yes.
If by special you mean that we are better or superior to others and need to exclude them, then I would answer no.
I see one of the failures of the Jewish tradition being along the lines of seeing themselves as better or superior. I hope we realize when Jacob won the victory with Esau, many were engrafted into the lineage of Jacob. In early Jewish history, outside people could join and engraft into the Jewish lineage. Jesus speaks of engrafting into to him. The problem comes when those outside the lineage are no longer welcome and the door is shut to them.
Lineage is essential to God and his ideal, even foundational. Yet lineage is not a barrier to coming to the fulfillment of God’s ideal as one can be engrafted into it if need be.
On the issue of can children who are born of the lineage of True Parents marry those that are not: of course they can. And they do and have done so. What is often missing is a clear understanding of what they have given up in the process.
I agree with you, Robert. What Dan may or may not realize is this: when he was describing “symbolic lineage,” he perfectly described “spiritual salvation.” If spiritual salvation was enough then we would have lived in the kingdom 2,000 years ago. Spiritual salvation is this matter of feeling embraced as Jesus’ brother, but not being physically connected. This is why we have had to baptize our children for the last 2,000 years, because the physical lineage was not connected to us after Jesus was crucified. This meant that Christian children were still sinful monuments of satanicly motivated sex until they could be restored symbolically through water baptism.
This very thing that we came into this movement to receive isn’t appreciated for what it is. The holy wine connects us to True Parents, and the 3 Day Ceremony destroys the satanic common base physically. But some want to marginalize that experience as just a ritual and equate it with the Christian level of salvation.
When Father was asked about this matter he said, “No!” He said that these hybrid couples would have to do the 3 Day Ceremony. This means that they still have the seed of Satan until they perform the 3 Day Ceremony. When BCs marry each other, there is no need of a 3 Day Ceremony because they are already the body of God.
Thanks to Robert and Jamal for their comments. To start, let’s look at what “physical salvation” really means. I think DP is clear that it means the redemption of our bodies from Satan’s dominion. It does not mean that either our bodies or our spirits were conceived by Satan. Satan doesn’t have “seeds” and none of us are literally his children. “Lineage” is the word we use, but it’s not about genetics, it’s about sovereignty and allegiance, not actual parentage. Satan did not produce progeny, he merely claimed them, and God had to recognize that claim. Through the grace of True Parents we are adopted back into God’s family.
So what did Jesus bring? He brought salvation to the Paradise level. TP bring salvation to the completion level. We call this “physical salvation” but I think it’s better to think of it in terms of returning resurrection — a higher level of salvation. It’s not something physical but rather spiritual. In DP, salvation is another word for resurrection. And we simply don’t need to be resurrected physically, only spiritually.
Bottom line: spiritual salvation is enough, because complete spiritual salvation is what we are really talking about when we say physical salvation. But it needs to be spiritual salvation to the perfection level brought by TP, not to the growth stage level brought by Jesus. And if our kids happen to “rise in love” with someone who is not in our church, by all means, let’s bless them and advise them to do a three-day ceremony.
Dan, when you say that “spiritual salvation is enough,” you just contradict the Divine Principle.
Physical salvation is a matter of the spirit of God dominating the act that “physically” creates human beings. Cain, Abel, Seth and all their descendants came from the physical sex that was under the dominion of Satan. This is how Satan has the right of parents. When we received the Blessing (something that Jesus did not accomplish) we are adopted back to a sexual arrangement that God is the author of. This is why the products of that sexual relationship (namely Blessed Children) do not need to be baptized, born again, or redeemed.
Spiritual salvation is the matter of having your view of self and humanity transformed such that you see yourself as God’s child, Jesus’ brother, a member of God’s family. And if spiritual salvation, this transformation of our value system, was enough, then the kingdom would have come after the Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus’ crucifixion. See Chapter 4, Section 1.4, 3rd paragraph.
Bottom line… Physical salvation is the touchdown that Father was able to accomplish in the ball game. Physical salvation means that I physically look like something that God desired to create. That I am the physical natural outcome of Godly absolute sex.
Fallen nature is an intrinsic physical reality resulting from Eve fornicating with Lucifer. Eve multiplied the deed with Adam and we were subsequently judged by God to be unworthy. We were kicked out of the Garden, i.e., our ability to know God’s heart and discern His will was removed by God through literally disconnecting us from His direct dominion and the restoration providence was begun.
Blood lineage is critical to the progress of restoration. When we fail our portion of responsibility and stall restorational deeds, God will find someone to carry on in our stead.
If blessed couples fail to understand the need to nurture the unconditional loving nature and attitude of selfless service to others, God will work to accomplish that realization through us, but only to a point. What point? His plan for redemption is absolute. He has purposed it and it will be done.
The question that has become the 800 lb. gorilla in the room is how long? And at what cost? Do we become liberal in our attitudes and perspectives so much that we compromise our standards for the sake of “our reality?” What would God say is the best path to redemption and fulfillment. By diluting our path to this full recovery, we only add time to the process.
Sure, if you can’t find the willingness to love and serve unconditionally, then the next best thing is to minimize your conditions that limit your commitment to live that way.
This is the slippery slope that most of us are sliding on. Trying to do the right thing, but choking on the standard of a pure offering. We hold limiting concepts that are pervasive and diluting.
Evil wants to dilute, marginalize and sideline us from accomplishing our personal responsibility to God, to delay and prevent us from reaching our noble goals and fulfilling our personal calling.
To suggest a policy that allows for dilution of results is to give in to Evil’s program and unceasing ever-present influence to compromise our standards. It is a battle of incrementalism that we foolishly enroll in. If your personal limitations prevent you from following the true standard, so be it. God still loves us all. We will all get there because He willed it. But, to change the standard is to surrender to Evil.
Love is the answer. Unconditional love is the standard. Pick one and go with it, but don’t try to influence others to modify policy to formally accept limitations and compromise the standard because it is too hard for an individual to achieve.
Some day, God will succeed in raising us all to His standard. How long that will take is up to each one of us. One at a time, we make our choices and we move through life. God always hopes we find the way to grow and progress our hearts to meet that ultimate standard and realize true joy and fulfillment, which is the ultimate original purpose and reason for our being.
This is a personal choice to make. It is our portion of responsibility. We learn to love everyone for being part of our family. But we also realize the need to stay strong in holding the line against Evil action requires us to refuse such incremental dilution. Otherwise, the bar gets lowered through incremental erosion of standards much like we are currently witnessing in our corrupted culture today.
Where does it end? Answer, with us, if we can hold the line. If not, well, we keep trying until we do.
I, for one, feel so sad to admit I have compromised and diluted my life’s efforts to accomplish God’s will in so many ways. But for my kids, I push them to strive and do better than I did in the hope they can accomplish more and grow their hearts’ capacity to love more and give more.
Open blessings as policy will only serve to destroy the noble efforts the 2nd gen successfully gave to stay pure. Already, we hear from many of our 2nd gen, “What’s the use, everyone else is doing it.” Incrementalism is alive and well and lives in our minds, but it has not claimed our hearts…not yet anyway. Let’s hold the line together with love towards each other and lift each other up to reach the goals we can, without making policy to dilute the value and meaning of our individual offering.
Physical salvation indeed hasn`t been easy to understand and explain. After joining the UM we usually overcome a lot of shortcomings and bad manners; after the Marriage Blessing by the Messiah (MBM) we often are still stuck with quite a few. The greatest aspect of the Marriage Blessing by the Messiah, is that we as couples will make more efforts in living a spiritual life, a pure, loving life and a life of hard work, and our blessed children will pick this up if parents are wise and united enough. This is a source of the greatest joy. By all means we ought to fight to keep that in the lineage for future generations. Br. Dan Fefferman writes that “And if our kids happen to ‘rise in love’ with someone who is not in our church”, that is beautiful of course, but how many times will this happen in reality? This may be a last option is some cases of course, but, not something we should advertise so much as being alright too. The old tradition of: “I want her/him, no matter what, and whatever he/she believes, well, that I will take too” may creep back into the lineage.
By the way, I do appreciate the understanding of Br. Fefferman that physical salvation is a form of higher spiritual salvation. Also, even though I understand that my own physical parents were born in a false lineage, practically though, I could not see them as “false” parents, which by the way is a very hard term for parents to accept and may have blocked some of them to come closer. I feel it may not be the truly correct way to describe them. To me, in fact, they were rather good parents, who were there for me when I needed them as I grew up. Finally, at the age of 26, I met the True Parents who gave me a deeper understanding of the spiritual world and of True Love, but with whom I could never have physical communication. At this time, I feel they are for me more the True Spiritual Parents and the Spiritual True Parents of Mankind.
Thank you for your honesty in your viewpoint and passion for standing by it. Yet that does not mean it is God’s viewpoint and reality. We are all searching to find and become God’s children that have been lost and under a false God(s) for all of human history. To put my thoughts in context, I quote Rev. Moon’s speech “God’s Hope for Man,” Oct. 20, 1973:
“Our first step in becoming the true sons and daughters of God is to clearly comprehend God’s view of good and evil. What is goodness and what is evil? We are not concerned with a man-made definition. The eternal standard of good and evil is defined by God. The sharp definition of good and evil existed at the time of His creation, long before evil ever came into being in the Garden of Eden. God’s view of good and evil will never change. God is eternal, His law is eternal, and His definition is eternal and unchanging despite the passage of time.”
Also from that speech:
“Varying opinions, theological concepts and academic schools abound, but the true, living relationship between God and man remains an unsettled question.”
Bottom line, the ways of man have been tried and failed for tens of thousands of years. We will only find the way with the living Creator. Rev. Moon was and is very clear on these points and they are in sharp contrast with many of the views presented here.
Thanks to all for your comments. For me, there are three main issues:
1. Historical comparisons. Some claim that the Unification Movement (UM) is sui generis, “a thing unto itself,” incomparable with other religions and unbound by historical precedents. I agree that the UM is unique in ways that potentially break the mold of what heretofore has been humanly possible. However, I disagree that our Movement is exempt from historical processes or patterns any more than it is exempt from natural law. I believe this is consistent with the Principle which affirms “lessons” to be learned from providential history and that the LSA will follow Moses’ and Jesus’ course.
2. Numerical growth. Some faulted the article for emphasizing “mere growth” and “numbers.” It was argued that this is inconsistent with True Parents’ emphasis on quality. In fact, the distinction between quality and quantity is a false dichotomy. It is not either/or. True Parents insist on both. They refuse to compromise Unification principles. At the same time, they demand results, often astronomical results.
It’s been suggested that new religious movements reach a “crisis of confidence” as members of the founding generation reach the end of their lives. Unless there is “a convincing appearance of success in the first generation,” followers “lose hope” and turn the movement inward, adopting “a new rhetoric that de-emphasizes growth and conversion.” Christianity’s “extraordinary victory,” it’s been said, lay in Christ’s “continued living presence” within the Christian community. True Parents’ continued living presence will be the key to the UM’s advance, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
3. Change of blood lineage. Some declared the change of blood lineage is “non-negotiable.” I agree that the change of blood lineage is non-negotiable. However, our understanding of the change of blood lineage is highly negotiable. At present, there are ambiguities. For example, it is difficult to reconcile the change of blood lineage with an understanding of the Blessing as “conditional.” The change of blood lineage, if it is a literal alteration of physical blood (or DNA), would necessarily be indelible and permanent.
In addition, the succession of “holy wine” ceremonies suggests the change of blood lineage, even if understood literally, must be repeated (because of sin), reinforced or extended to national and cosmic levels. Moreover, unlike some faiths, the UM does not have prohibitions against blood transfusions. It is not imperative, according to The Tradition, Book I, “that a member receive blood only from another blessed member.”
In 1977, Rev. Ken Sudo stated that Holy Wine “contains 21 different kinds of things and also the blood of Father and Mother.” This would appear to support a literal interpretation. However, he subsequently retracted that statement, saying, “it was my mistake.” He further stated, “The Holy Wine Ceremony is symbolic just as the bread and wine are used to symbolize the body and blood of Jesus in Holy Communion.” (The Blessing Quarterly, 1978)
There is additional support within Unification tradition for attributions of lineage change via a spiritual or symbolic rather than a literal inheritance, i.e., “the merit of the age.” True Father, for instance, stated that those born after 1960, later pushed back to 1945, “are considered Second Generation.” (“Victorious True Parents,” 1993) In the same speech, he referred to UTS graduates as “white blood cells.” True Father’s explanation of how Mary’s womb was cleansed had nothing to do with blood. She united with Tamar in heart though she was not of the same lineage. In fact, of the five women referenced in Matthew’s account (Matt. 1:1-17) of Jesus’ genealogy besides Mary, three were gentiles who gave birth to offspring with Israelites.
There are legitimate grounds for both physical and spiritual interpretations of the change of blood lineage. To be true to our calling, Unificationists need to develop a theology of the blessing that harmonizes both points of view. It may be that the Unification tradition will incline toward a sacramental understanding of the blessing, that it is an outward, visible sign of an inward, spiritual grace. At the same time, we need to develop the UM’s marriage and family ministry which was the purpose of the article.
Thank you, Mike, for responding to the many questions and comments above concerning this most important topic. Your summary of the core issues challenges us to explore further the original points in your article. Our understanding of the blessing cannot reside in a historical vacuum. Consider that in less than 18 months since our founder’s ascension, much has changed or has been modified. There is little chance that our understanding of the blessing will not continue to be challenged as the founding generation ages and the younger generation takes charge. It is more than likely that the current view of the blessing will be as unrecognizable in the future as 1st century Christianity was to those who converted after Constantine in the 4th Century.
Thank you, Mike, for your response.
1. Historical comparisons. You state “I disagree that our Movement is exempt from historical processes or patterns any more than it is exempt from natural law.” I am in 100% agreement. What I am not in agreement with is the premise that because it happened in the past it must happen in the current era.
Restoration from God’s viewpoint is changing, overcoming the failures of the past by going a way opposite (different) than Satan and man have been going previously. As such when confronted by the historical processes, we choose God’s way and not the failed ones of the past.
The reason for Rev. Moon to go Jesus’ and Moses’ course is to overcome the shortcomings, not to repeat them to the same conclusion. This does not ignore the processes of history but rather puts them in a clear view and understanding. We are to overcome and change the failures of the past, not repeat them.
2. Numerical growth. I agree with you here, and your statement: “Christianity’s ‘extraordinary victory,’ it’s been said, lay in Christ’s ‘continued living presence’ within the Christian community.” It is also the core of what I wish to convey. It is about a living relationship and expression of God and His ideal that will decide if we grow or not, not about an organization or structure; those are merely our tools to use.
3. Change of blood lineage. This seems to be the most volatile and emotional issue presented. I will not dispute that we do not have a clear understanding of this. It is not due to Rev. Moon not speaking about it often and at length. I am concerned when we diminish this, as it is clearly central to God’s efforts to save mankind.
Your example of the women in Jesus’ lineage supports my point that lineage is important but not a barrier in our relationship with God and His ideal. From God’s view there has always been a way to join with the lineage. What is unfortunate in the history of man is the use of lineage as a reason and justification for the exclusion of others. This is clearly not God’s way, but disregarding or diminishing the lineage is also not God’s way.
Long ago I made the observation that Lucifer committed the four behaviors later to become “fallen natures” prior to the physical fall. The physical fall solidified a false way of thinking into a nature.
To me this means that a Blessed child has had a nature reduced/changed to a possibility (as with the pre-fall Lucifer, Eve and Adam). The BC’s existence/conception has God’s Blessing; therefore they have a right to exist but need to mature.
The spirit is in the subject position to the physical; the physical is the growth vehicle of the spirit. Partially the above debate seems to be over this relationship.
I note that even upon a total reversal of the fall people will forever have freedom with the responsibility to “co-create” themselves. The current condition of society and at times of our church makes that much harder than it should be; nature (lineage) vs. nurture (society).
The Divine Principle outlines the principles that the universe operates under. The passing of spiritual merit and demerit through lineage has been understood not just by us but by Jews, Mormons and others.
I think God can work through the situation of a BC unable to find a good BC marriage candidate yet marries into good spiritual lineage. Peter and Paul spread the faith but it was Constantine that ended its cult status. His father was a pagan, his mother Helena, was a Christian.
In the OT we see the example of the story of Samson who was born in the lineage of Abraham and grew up in a special way, but looked for his fortune and happiness somewhere else. We know how that went. If everything goes 100% well, and the second generation, who marries with someone with for instance Christian roots, keeps clearly his/her subject position in the areas of faith, hope, love, and service, always, then ….. But how often will that be the case?
I think that the notion of Change of Blood Lineage has issues to be resolved and/or restated. This is noted because of the lack of actual accomplishments having to do with the removal of a sinful lineage, placation for historical mistakes or access to spiritual benefits through the change of blood lineage.
As yet, actual results confirming elevated connectivity to God, or an initial separation from Satan through the Blessing or Change of Blood Lineage are unknown and refutable.
For instance, Cheongpeong requires payment for ascended Blessed Members who have entered the spiritual world. Deceased Blessed Members pay the same dollar amount non-blessed people pay. The act of the Change of Blood Lineage is inconsequential after death. It would appear that the notion of increased connectivity to God, decreased connectivity to Satan, or barrier removal to Heaven may not be achieved through the Change of Blood Lineage.
Additionally, the Change of Blood Lineage has not necessarily fostered improvements or elevation in the spiritual, moral, intellectual, emotional or physical content of the second or third generation as yet. Every house of worship seeks descendants of elevated spiritual, moral and educational status. It’s important to note that outstanding moral, emotional, spiritual, or intellectual outcomes are not necessarily found in our community of second generation children either. What is the “betterment” that comes from the “Change”? Some might attribute the lack of actual accomplishments to the notion of gradual change over time. There are many notions to consider.
Importantly, the promotion of a “heightened spiritual status” comes from the Change of Blood Lineage concept. Among family members or brothers and sisters, the idea of imposing a system where one child is “better’ than another due to the Blessing creates jealous, envy, division, and false pride. Family members and brothers and sisters are pitted against each other rather than reconciled to one another. All are loved by God, none are better than the other.
The notion of the Change of Blood Lineage is a concept in need of renewed assessment for the actual outcomes that are and are not fostered.
I agree with your general comment and with your conclusion on the necessity to renew the notion of the Change of Blood Lineage, mainly because as you mentioned: it “has not necessarily fostered improvements or elevation in the spiritual, moral, intellectual, emotional or physical content of the second or third generation as yet.”
As Dan Fefferman stated in his comments above, “the Blessing is a matter of faith and spiritual sovereignty, not blood.” I agree with that interpretation; consequently, every time the expression “change of blood lineage” appears I understand it as “change of the sovereignty” from Satan (fallen traditions, sin and vices) to God (heavenly traditions and virtues, particularly purity and fidelity).
Our genes do not transmit moral achievements. Therefore, we aren’t really talking about literal bloodlines but about spiritual sovereignty, and the change from “Satan’s sovereignty” into “God’s sovereignty” as explained in the chapter on “Resurrection” in the Divine Principle text.
Goodness, virtues and purity are earned by personal responsibility and merit; they are not automatically inherited or passed thought the genes, but mainly by example and education. Ancestral merits (or de-merits) may help to add some influence or tendencies, but cannot determine the character and destiny of a person without the fulfillment of their own responsibility.
Let’s use an analogy with athletics: if someone proclaims that he can run, jump and throw better than others, the verification is simple — please prove it in the performance and show it in the records. In spiritual matters it should be the same — let’s see the manifestation of it in all the individual virtues, the practice of family values and the created prosperity in successful harmony with the environment and nature. If we cannot show greater spiritual standards as community over the rest of the society, there is a need for reform and reorientation.
A desire to restate the identity and meaning of the Marriage Blessing may be unrealistic. Further explanation and deeper understanding, however, are always needed. According to my understanding, it is true that every family has different experiences concerning the level of “improvements or elevation in the spiritual, moral, intellectual, emotional or physical content of the second or third generation as yet.”
The Marriage Blessing by the True Parents of Heaven and Earth and Humankind surely is a powerful spiritual event, where the sovereignty of God is more clearly manifested. Equally so this has an incredible influence on our physical body, our blood and our lineage, since our spirit and body are connected. Conversely, when our physical body is hit or touched, this again has an effect on our spirit and/or the spirits that are connected to our spirit. In this sense, we can surely speak about the change of blood lineage, even though we may not see an immediate physical result. We cannot begin to imagine the suffering some people undergo who are born in certain lineages in the world at large.
It is therefore surely a blessing to be born in a new lineage free from original sin, and the second/third generation can be grateful indeed, and ought to cherish it — needless to say, we therefore should not neglect good family education and even use “test-of-time-proven” methods of loving discipline.
This article has only recently come to my attention, in conjunction with other events going on, so here’s a late comment that comes to my mind regarding the whole issue.
Back in the very early days in the Garden of Eden, I wonder how restitution would have “played out” if the “physical fall” had not occurred. In the DP lectures and such, the point is made that things would have been different if Eve had gone to Adam and/or God and revealed her anguish over what had occurred between her and the archangel. With Adam’s purity maintained, DP says that the original family could have been salvaged.
I wonder in what way this would have occurred. If Eve had thus been “guilty” of having served two masters, could Adam and “restored” Eve then still have had the position of the original “True Parents” or would it be extended into the next generation or two? (just as Adam’s position was extended to Jesus and ultimately to Father).
However, Eve did not take that course. Instead, she involved Adam in the original action, resulting in the “physical fall.” This is regarded as less “evil” for Eve’s motivation was to connect to God rather than rebel against God. Nonetheless, the separation between God and humanity was created at two levels: spiritually and physically. According to DP, God immediately began the restoration process, which was thwarted by the fatal errors committed by Cain and Abel. If that had not occurred, where would the point of “True Parents” originate? Would it have been from the children of Abel?
The children of Jesus, through baptism, are considered to overcome the spiritual aspect of the disconnection to God. However, due to the unfulfilled portion of Jesus’ mission, humans have no condition to overcome the physical aspect of separation. The Blessing from True Parents at the Second Coming (the Third Adam) is necessary for that missing connection to occur. Those who accept Sun Myung and Hakja Han Moon as the True Parents can receive the blessing as “first generation” couples, who then can have “blessed” children free from the inheritance of the results of the original fall.
Thus, if a current blessed child “restores” a first generation member as a blessed spouse, then does that extend the restoration of the lineage by an additional generation? In other words, does the “member” spouse level (2nd, 3rd, or whatever gen), revert back as a “first gen” couple? Would the couple then take on the status of whatever generation the “member” spouse held? I know that when 1800 couple blessings were “broken,” the re-blessing of the faithful spouse was counted among that 1800 couple category, even though the new spouse may not have even heard DP at the time of the original 1800 couple blessing.
As we consider the issues of “narrow, open, and global” natures of the blessings, perhaps we should note, as we do in Eve’s case, the motivation. What is the “member” spouse motivation? Would that person willingly sacrifice the “pure” lineage progression for the sake of others over the desire or need of the immediate ancestors for the sake of the spouse’s lineage? Is that what the providence needs at this time or for these lineages? These seem like very sticky issues.
Judging by the dates I’m a little late to the discussion, but I just thought I’d say something. I am a second generation member of the UM. Honestly, I think the open blessing just might work, looking at the blessing ceremony of Yeon-jin nim and Jeong-jin nim. I believe the church has to realize the role of personal attraction between the individuals in building a healthy and stable marriage, and family. In my eyes, restricting the second generation to “narrow gate blessing” is kind of discriminatory. A friend of mine, a former 2nd generation member, told me that he left because he was forbidden to marry a first generation member. You might argue that his faith was not strong enough to forego his personal happiness for the will of God. Maybe that is true. But I believe that blessing between generations is really the way forward. If one member is already of pure lineage and the other isn’t, after going through the holy wine ceremony, they will be able to have children of pure lineage. Personally, I think that the struggle of the movement to retain 2nd gen members revolves around the “narrow gate blessing”. I believe the movement needs to re-think this stance. I think that the blessing, being the road to salvation of mankind, should be made open and free for all people, regardless of generation, religion or purity. Just like in Christianity the blood of Jesus is free and open to whoever is willing to receive it. Putting all these restrictions to receiving the blessing makes people wonder if the salvation of lineage is meant for the whole world or the chosen few Unification members. And besides, I personally believe what Michael Mickler said in his comparison. The inter-marriage between Christians and pagans greatly strengthened the church. So why can’t it do the same for us?
I have been reading through the thoughts of the others who have commented on Dr. Mickler’s article. I notice that a few are worried that open blessings will undermine Father’s intention for the blessing to be a means of creating Heaven on Earth or Cheon Il Guk. I believe that the creation of Cheon Il Guk is more dependent on the attitude of the individual first, the couple, and then the family. Thus, the blessing of two individuals with the same vision as Father’s, regardless of whether or not they are members of UC, first or second generation, is a step in the right direction from my perspective. It’s not only about the family or origin of the individual, but also the attitude of that person. And I think a person being able to choose who they are matched to is an added bonus because it strengthens the union; it becomes two physically and spiritually connected individuals working together for a vision greater than their own. In my view, this is a privilege that the whole world should have. Maintaining a narrow gate blessing ties the spouses together spiritually. But as the figures showing the number of broken blessing unions and “deserting” (for lack of a better word) second and third generation suggest, it takes a little bit more than a vision and spiritual bond to keep two spouses together. Physical attraction and connection do play a big role in maintaining a blessing. Also keep in mind that many of the first generation are pre-married blessed couples. The blessing served to strengthen their marriage vows and unite them in the struggle for CIG.
Sorry, this same logic has led to over 500 denominational variations of Christianity. It sounds fine until you understand how Evil works to dilute the original value of anything good — in this case, the changing of blood lineage from Satan’s to God’s through the mediation of Christ. In my experience, this “compromise” happens in accordance with the three stages of growth, but in this case, multiplying the force of evil influence through reciprocal give and take, centered on the deviant action goals of Evil. These progressive stages are Doubt, Fear, Coercion.
Thank you for that deep and thoughtful observation. From my perspective, it does not seem like evil diluting the value of good. It’s more like the good saving the evil. Besides, what would be the whole point of salvation if we don’t go in there and save people? Metaphorically, if good sat there in one place for fear of being diluted by evil, then how would the job get done? Which brings me to a question I asked earlier: how will the blessing and holy wine ceremony actually change the blood lineage of the people and be the gateway to building CIG if we are being picky about who should receive it or not? And how then can we justify the blessing ceremony of Jeong-jin Nim and Yeon-jin Nim? I don’t think that open blessings will actually cause any division within our movement.
Your response is understandable and contains good points. I feel however that we are talking here about the ideal, and then 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc., best. When matching young marriage candidates by loving parents, and there is acceptance after prayer and meditation, I think “Heaven” is more involved, and also conflict, disease, hunger, and poverty can be eliminated; this is after all the purpose of the Marriage Blessing, I believe. Don’t forget that in the Judeo-Christian tradition, people also married after accidental meetings, becoming attracted to each other, beautiful promises, ceremonies, etc. In my understanding, the Marriage Blessing in the UM had primarily a lot to do with these three goals, while being and staying happy in the process — after all, God knows that His children need happiness. It is so unfortunate that things often didn’t work out that way…
Perhaps something new needs to be added to this discussion: what about Blessings conducted by various factions or schismatic movements in our church? My question is: should the mainstream church accept the Blessing a schismatic group conveys as valid? The issue is similar in a way to the Donatist and Novationist controversies of the early church, in which the Catholics adopted the policy that sacraments, even when dispensed by heretical priests, are still valid. If we think the Catholics were right on that, then perhaps we would need to accept other Blessing ceremonies as valid, even if the feeling is not mutual.
It’s been over a year and half since this article on “Open Blessings” was posted and heavily commented upon. It still generates new and controversial questions such as that raised by Dan Fefferman, “…should the mainstream church accept the Blessing a schismatic group conveys as valid?”
The simple answer is found in the five-step standard to receive the Blessing and change of blood lineage: Blessing education. Blessing ceremony. Chastening ceremony. Forty-day separation. And Three-day ceremony. The education part could take months or years, which generates a lot of discussion and differences of opinion.