Marriage in the Unification Church
In the early days of the Unification Church in America, few married couples joined. New members were nearly all young single adults. Married couples remained married, although some refrained from conjugal relations until their marriage was Blessed by Rev. & Mrs. Moon.
Single members were encouraged to take up full-time missions. By the early 1970s, church membership in the US was less than 1,000 - nearly all single. Curiously, the church did not have men and women live separately (except, of course, that they had separate sleeping quarters). It was an arrangement described as a "co-ed monastery".
Restoring the Fall of Man
Members pledged to refrain from all sexual relations until marriage, which in itself seemed odd to the secular world. Outsiders would aske, "Why refrain? It's not breaking any law." In addition, members were strongly encouraged to permit Rev. Moon to arrange their marriages.
The arrangement of marriages is seen as a way of indemnifying the Fall of Man, in which Eve fell into a sexual relationship (in spirit) with the archangel Lucifer (who then became Satan). Note that many Christian theologians disagree with the idea that angels can have sex with human beings; the church quotes Jude 1:6 and Jude 1:7 to support its interpretation. When fallen Eve turned from Lucifer to Adam and seduced him, this was the physical fall.
Each human being has a spiritual body and a physical body. (1 Cor. 15:44) It is with her spiritual body that Eve had sexual relations with Lucifer. She inherited her fallen nature from him: inability to love God or receive his love, the desire to dominate others arrogantly, and the tendency to spread her evil into other people.
When Adam and Eve started their married life, it was before receiving God's permission or blessing. The result was that Eve transmitted her fallen nature to Adam. Since then, God has struggled to restore fallen mankind, but the first family also had the first recorded murder! God hoped for unity between Cain and Abel, but Cain killed his brother when Abel's offering was accepted and not his. We see this kind of jealousy today, even on this web site. Many writers are openly jealous of the senior staff: why is HIS writing accepted? Why should I have to listen to HIM? Etc.
To restore their fallen nature, therefore, Unification Church members are requested to do two things which Adam and Eve did not: refrain from all sexual activity before marriage (for a lengthy period of time) and to let God assign their marriage partners.
Those members who regard Rev. Moon as the earthly representative of God may apply to be matched with a prospective spouse. Mass weddings are held to emphasize that a marriage is not primarily for the benefit of the two spouses, but is for children as well as for the community, nation and world.
All people are called to be patriots and saints on the way to becoming children of God. Dedicating one's marriage to the family, nation and world is seen as the express route to saintly joy.
When the church was just getting started in Korea, Rev. Moon knew each member personally and prayed long hours while considering which were the best matches. Being able to see into the spiritual world, he could see their ancestry and thus determine who ought to go with whom; even as a child in his village he had the reputation as a shrewd matchmaker. In the US, members would gather in large rooms and Rev. Moon would look at them or talk with them briefly, mostly relying on discernment of spirits to make his choices.
Of course, members are free to refuse a match. In that case, Rev. Moon often has offered an alternative match.
When international membership exceeded 10,000 members it became impractical to conduct matching ceremonies, so Father Moon began using pictures attached to application forms. He still used his talent of spiritual discernment to arrange the matches. Reportedly, the process can take as little as a few seconds per couple. It's not just him: he has help from God and his angels, of course. Sometimes church elders even make specific suggestions.
For the second generation of church members, that is, sons and daughters of Blessed members, the parents do the arranging.
Mass Wedding in South Korea
On March 24th, 2012, thousands of young Unificationist couples gathered in Korea for a mass wedding affirmation ceremony.
Almost sixty years have passed since the founding of the Unification Church, and second-and third-generation Unificationists are being inspired by the faith of their parents. Many have opted to participate in the tradition of marriage partly arranged by their parents. Several young couples living in Maryland attended the recent Holy Marriage Blessing Ceremony in Korea, which Rev. Sun Myung Moon officiated on March 24th, 2012.
Andrew Makowski (21) and Lisa Scazerro (21), of Riverdale, New York, are a second-generation Unificationist couple who attended a satellite ceremony at the Manhattan Center in New York. Their nine-month-long engagement was negotiated by their parents, who were participants in some of the first Holy Blessing ceremonies. They are looking forward to a lifetime together with hope and excitement.
“Having grown up in the Unification Church, I always knew I was going to have an arranged marriage,” said Makowski. “A lot of times the media depicts arranged marriages as ‘forced’ or ‘suffocating,’ but it wasn’t like that at all. I always looked forward to sharing my entire life with one special person. When I decided I was ready to be matched, I let my parents know so they could begin looking for someone.”
Makowski and Scazerro say that the process of finding one another was very time consuming, but also very special.
“I worked closely with my parents throughout the matching process, especially my mother, said Scazerro. “My mother presented me with Andrew’s profile from the national Unificationist matching website and his picture. As I looked at Andrew’s picture I sensed there was something familiar about him, though we had never met before. My mother and I were aware that a long distance relationship could be challenging; at the time Andrew lived in California and I was living in Maryland. I was nervous but willing and curious. After months of prayer, Andrew and I talked for the first time. Only after two weeks of talking, my parents put me on a plane to go meet him.
“My first impression of her was that she was a simple girl that always had a smile on her face. Lisa had such a precious and loving heart, and I could see that from the start,” said Makowski.
“I was nervous, but I believe Andrew was more nervous than I was!” Said Scazerro. “I realised quickly that Andrew and I were similar in many ways and that was why he seemed so familiar to me. I was only in California for four days, bnut we hit it off very quickly and made the decision to be matched to each other. After that, Skype was either our best friend or our worst enemy. Long-distance was difficult.”
The power of commitment
Robert Epstein, former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today, author of Teen 2.0: Saving Our Children and Families from the Torment of Adolescence; The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen; The Big Book of Creativity Games: Quick, Fun Activities for Jumpstarting Innovation and a Ph.D. in psychology of Harvard University, has done extensive research on the success of arranged marriages.
According to Epstein, complete commitment is a key factor in the success of arranged marriage. “Commitment is most responsible for the growth of love,” he said. “This means real commitment, not the kind we so often make in our non-arranged marriages, almost as if we’re keeping our fingers crossed behind our backs. Real commitment means, ‘I’m really going to be with you through thick and thin, through sickness and in health.’ The reason commitment is so powerful in creating an emotional bond is because it’s the ultimate expression of vulnerability. When you make a strong commitment to be with someone no matter what, what you’re saying is, ‘I am entirely vulnerable to you. No matter what is happening, I will be there for you.’ When they live up to the commitment, they become even closer over time.”
Makowski’s and Scazerro’s personal experience with arranged engagement mirror Epstein’s descriptions. “Arranged marriages take out the pain and problems associated with dating multiple partners. We both believe in the importance of saving ourselves for one person. Because I am saving my whole self for Lisa, and she is doing the same for me, our relationship is completely exclusive and beautiful. We each know that the other person is completely committed, and that gives us the freedom to really be ourselves,” said Makowski.
Epstein explains that a marriage relationship is more of a decision than a feeling. “You can take control over your love life, you can be with someone you’re compatible with, and the two of you can build love that will get stronger over the years. We have to use our heads more than we have been using, not just our heart and certainly not just our reproductive organs. We have to be a little more conscious of who we’re getting together with, and we have to be a little more realistic about what’s going to happen in the future. We have to be open to the idea that we can take control over what happened, that we can not only be in love but that we can build love, make love stronger over time.”
Other success factors
Makowski and Scazerro have been consciously building love for one another since their commitment ceremony on June 12th, 2011. “We’ve been working on getting to know each other more deeply while keeping things platonic before our marriage,” said Scazerro. “I like to think that we are building a foundation now. In our future life, not only will we be able to stand on it, but we will be able to create a loving, supporting family upon it.”
“People whose marriages are arranged have much more realistic expectations heading into marriage,” said Epstein. “Very often, because they’re immersed in a certain community, they have role models around them. Sometimes the parents are in successful arranged marriages themselves. And they have the support from that religious community or cultural niche that they’re in. So, there are a lot of factors regarding why they’re almost certainly going to do better than ‘love marriages’. One survey said that in India, roughly 90 percent of the people were arranged, and the country had one of the lowest divorce rates in the world, even though divorce was legal there.”
“We know our similarities and differences, and we don’t have unrealistic ideas of who the other is,” said Scazerro. “But I have always been excited about having an arranged marriage. It was my own unique fairy tale! Growing up, I have seen joy in the Blessing though my parents, who were matched by Reverend Sun Myung Moon, and especially through my two eldest brothers. The happiness and love I saw grow between my brothers and their wives was something I always hoped to have. In Andrew, I have found that and much more. He is more than I could have asked for from God and my parents.”
According to Epstein, there is a lot American society can learn from arranged marriages. “I think we can adopt the practices. We can use our heads a little bit more, looking beyond just the physical characteristics, and then we can develop skills and an awareness that can help us not only keep love going but also make love deeper over time,” he said.
Makowski and Scazerro look forward to life as a married couple. “When attending the Blessing, I went with an attitude of love and humility. I chose this faith, I chose to be a part of this marriage, and I’m ecstatically looking forward to my life with Lisa. At the same time, I know that this marriage is also a marriage of two families, and the creation of a new one. It seems like a lot,” laughed Makowski. “But because the journey is with Lisa, I’m not afraid.”