In public debates, we often hear discussions about family values. After taking the ten week seminar on Unification Thought, I realized we can say two things for certain about family values: First, all cultures universally recognize family values; and second, it is not easy to say exactly what family values are.
In this article, I will deal with these two aspects of family values, namely universality and proper definitions or adequate description. This article stands on the theory of value (Axiology) of Unification Thought. Family values here will be connected with absolute values.
When we think about values, we generally think from the stand point of a subject: "What kind of value does this thing hold for me?" In Unification Thought, value can be looked at either from the position of a subject (I seek value in some object) or from the position of an object (I realize value for some subject). In this article, my focus will be on realizing value from the position of an object. My fundamental question will be: "How can I become a valuable person to a greater subject, for example, the family, the tribe, the nation, the world, and God?"
I must also distinguish between material values (food, clothing, shelter, and physical sex) and spiritual values (trueness, goodness, and beauty). The former are called Hyungsang values; the latter, Sungsang values. In the today's (fallen) world, Hyungsang values have become extremely important.
Genesis 3, Verse 17-19 says: "And to Adam He said, 'Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you: in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return."
Qur'an, Sura 20, Verses 117-119: "Then We (God) said: O Adam! This (Satan) is an enemy to you and your wife; so let him not get both of you out of the Garden, so that you become miserable (to come to toil). There is therein (enough provision) for you not to go hungry nor to go naked. Not to suffer from thirst, nor from the sun's heat."
Through religious ideals, however, we must constantly remind ourselves to go back to the Sungsang values. The task of religion is to help human beings to go back to God and live a life of spiritual values. Human beings were not created simply to 'survive' on earth. We were created to live a life of trueness, goodness, and beauty centering on God, and thereby give great joy to God. The Hyungsang values are important insofar as they relate to the fulfillment of the Sungsang values of trueness, goodness, and beauty.
Relative and absolute values
Among people of the same religion or background, there are many values held in common. For example, among Confucianists, filial piety is a common value; among Christians, love of neighbor is a common value; among Buddhists, compassion is a common value; and among Muslims, belief in the one God (Allah) is a common value.
When, however, we bring together people of different religions and background, we realize how different their values are. For example, a Muslim man who visits America for the first time may find it strange that the people do not communicate easily and naturally with their neighbors and everyone they meet. In their view, Americans are much more aloof than their Muslim compatriots. Another example: a Western man going to a Muslim country for the first time may find it strange that people everywhere greet him with a warm embrace. In Unification Thought, when certain standards of value apply only to a limited sphere, those standards are called "relative standards" (Essentials of Unification Thought p.140).
In order to harmonize religions and cultures, we need to find and focus on absolute standards of value. To state the conclusion first, the absolute standard of value is God's absolute truth and God's absolute love. First, the whole ethical system of Islam is centered in the old important principle that there is just one God.
In fact, the sin of associating Allah with other gods is unforgivable, as the Qur'an explains in Sura 4, Verse 116: "Allah will not forgive (the sin of) putting Him together with others (i.e. other gods)..." It is from the oneness of God that we derive the idea of God's absoluteness. And from the absoluteness of God we derive the idea of absolute values.
God's absolute truth is the truth that each created being exist not for itself but for others. This truth comes from God's attributes of Sungsang and Hyungsang and also from God's purpose of creation. God created the universe motivated by heart, which is the emotional impulse to seek joy through love.
God's absolute love is manifested in the triple-object purpose , that is, parental love, conjugal love, and filial love. The purpose of creation is fulfilled through the three great blessings, that is, to have a completed personality, to have a completed family and to have dominion over creation. Therefore, the realization of the three great blessings is a common element to be found in all religions.
Sura 24, Verse 33 encourages Muslims not to get married if they do not have the necessary means for marriage. A superficial reading of this Verse would suggest that the Qur'an is referring only to material means. A deeper understanding, however, indicates that all the means are important that is, spiritual means, intellectual means, and physical means as well as economic means.
Therefore, Sura 24, Verse 33 affirms, that if the believers have not fulfilled the first blessing (that is, if they do not have the proper means), they should keep themselves chaste. We can also conclude from this Verse, that each individual is responsible to fully develop him/herself (First Blessing) before embarking on the Second Blessing (marriage).
In Sura 30, Verse 21, the Qur'an speaks about signs. One of the signs is that man and woman were created as mates for each other. This sign is to be understood in reflection. Signs of what? one might ask. Unification Thought explains that the true human being is really a man and a woman united together in love as husband and wife. This sign, then, is the sign of the very nature of God. Those who reflect should understand this sign by coming to realize that man is the image of only one half of God, and woman is the image of the other half; when man and woman come together in true love as husband and wife centered on God, they become the whole human being, the complete image of God.
Evidence for this view comes from the Qur'an itself, actually from the same Sura 30, Verse 21. This Verse says that when a man dwells in peace with his wife, there should be love and compassion between them. The English word 'dwells' that not really expresses the rich meaning of the Arabic term 'Sakina'. Sakina means to find wholesomeness, to rest in completeness, to find fulfillment. This confirms the view that the whole human being is man and woman united in true love as husband and wife centered on God. Without Sakina, without this wholesomeness both man and woman will feel incomplete. They need each other to find fulfillment. Another meaning of Sakina is "to be safe, secure, stable, both spiritually and emotionally".
Another common value among all religions is the value of dealing kindly and lovingly with creation. In all creation one may find elements of the sacredness of the earth and the universe. Human beings are encouraged to love creation and to take good care of all things. This is the Third Blessing; which is the unity between an ideal individual who has fulfilled the First Blessing (perfect unity of mind and body) as well as the Second Blessing (harmony between husband and wife). In Unification life style, Father Moon gives a living example of caring for creation. It is in the spirit of the Third Blessing that he has developed many successful business enterprises such as fishing, farming, food processing, machine factory and computer engineering.
He has also initiated many kinds of sport activities, such as martial arts, track and field, horse shows and sport festivals. Father Moon's activities in the Art have been equally diversified, involving ballet schools, a symphony orchestra, folklore dance groups, television studios, architecture, and so on. Other fields could be cited, such as media, education and scientific activities.
In the Qur'an, one finds an equally broad concern about the proper way to relate to creation. The Qur'an teaches us to enjoy the creation when maintaining in balance with spiritual values. The Qur'an teaches us that Allah created everything for the joy of human beings but at the same time human beings are instructed to be responsible when dealing with creation. In Sura 67, Verse 15, the Qur'an says, "It is He (Allah) who had made the earth subservient to you, so walk in the paths thereof and eat of His providence..."
By his living example, Father Moon also teaches us not to waste, his life style is frugal and sober. His clothing is plain and inexpensive. At the early date of the Unification movement in Korea, his home was a simple apartment above the religious meeting hall. When he buys a car he keeps it for many years and prefers to repair it rather than buy a new one.
The same spirit of frugality is expressed in the Qur'an. Sura 7, Verse 31 says, "...wear your beautiful clothing at every time and place of prayer. Eat and drink, but do not waste by excess for Allah does not like those who waste."
Allah and absolute values
In dealing with absolute values, one is reminded of Sura 35, Verse 43, which talks about Allah's unchanging way. This means that in Allah himself we find the standard for absolute values. What is God's unchanging way? It is God's absolute truth and absolute love. The truth is that everything that exists in the universe, including the human being, exists not for itself but for others. And God's love is the triple-object love found within the family.
In other words, the children wish to love their father, their mother, their grandparents; the wife wants to love the grandparents, the husband and the children; the husband wants to love the grandparents, the wife and the children; and the grandparents want to love the husband, the wife, and the grandchildren. This is God's unchanging way. These values are absolute, in the sense that they transcend races, nations, cultures, religions, and ages.
In this article I have been showing that the absolute values are clearly stated in Islam. Those values are not contradictory to the Judeo-Christian values. They are like precious jewels of which the Muslim can truly be proud of.
But those jewels of the Qur'an can easily be lost or missed by casual readers. That's why the Qur'an needs to be enhanced and augmented by Unification Thought. When viewed from the standpoint of Unification Thought the Qur'an can easily be harmonized with other religions.
Each precious teaching contained in the Qur'an can be seen as a beautiful gem. If those gems are left scattered somewhere they will not be so beautiful. But if they are artistically set in a necklace, their beauty is enhanced, and we can see how precious indeed they are.
Father Moon's teaching and life style are an answer to those Muslims who are seeking higher, absolute values for today's life.