“Absolute faith, absolute love, absolute obedience…”
— Family Pledge, # 8
The idea of absolute obedience, enshrined in the Family Pledge alongside absolute love and absolute faith, is problematic.
How can we be “absolutely obedient” to something or someone without violating another cherished teaching of Father Moon, namely “conscience before teacher, conscience before parent, conscience before God?” Moreover, if we practice complete obedience to any external authority, don’t we risk compromising our integrity in case that authority proves to be less than absolutely just?
One way of dealing with this problem is with reference to what I call the “three stages of obedience.” In a relatively early speech, Reverend Moon explained the three stages of obedience in the following manner:
“There are three types of obedience. One is just to obey whatever is told you. The next type is to obey while always seeking to know God, Truth and the why of things. The third type is obedience after knowing the heart of the Father.” (Leaders’ Address, 5-1-65, The Way of Tradition, Vol. II, p. 137)
Clearly there are three stages here. The first is childlike obedience (without questions), the second is adolescent obedience (with questions), and the third is mature obedience (already knowing). From this, we can deduce that unquestioning obedience is the formation stage, obeying-but-questioning is the growth stage, and already knowing God’s heart is the completion stage.
“To obey whatever one is told” is a necessary stage of development. If a child does not obey unquestioningly the warning voice of her parent, she puts herself at risk.