Intervention of Jacques Marion in the second International Conference on the Family on April 15, 2023

“Understanding the Family as a School of Love and the Basic Unit of Society”

Presented at the Conference on “Family, Society and Universal Values”.

The terms “family” and “world” seem far apart. But increasingly, the discussion on the family will have an impact on nations and the world. UPF and its founders, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, have been focusing on the family as the foundation for world peace. Let me share some essential points of the UPF perspective on the Family as a School of Love.

According to surveys, the family is what European people cherish the most. In France, nearly nine out of ten people believe that the family is the first place of solidarity. 1 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that the family is the “natural and fundamental group unit of society.” 2  

However, many indicators show that the family is in crisis, which reveals a deeper crisis in our humanism, our perception of human nature. Given the confusion on the role of the family, international organizations refrain from defining the family. Although considered a key unit of society, the family is hardly taken seriously as a unit of social maintenance and social reform.

In Europe, the family has become a contentious topic. Some pro-family policies are dividing Europe. Russia’s pro-family doctrine is used as a justification to attack the West and aggress Ukraine.

Balkan nations have kept comparatively stronger family traditions, but once they join the European Union, they may receive pressure upon their social fabric or legal frameworks. When our co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon convened the Southeast Europe Peace Summit in October 2019 in Tirana, she expressed that concern during the Family Festival, and encouraged the Albanian people to keep their traditions and seek what she called “a new Europe.”

The vision of the Family as a School of Love was developed in the early 1990s after the end of the Cold War, as the world was moving toward what the American political scientist Samuel P. Huntington called the clash of civilizations. Indeed, UPF considers family ethic to be the common base that can bring together cultures and religions.

Let me quote our co-founder Dr. Sun Myung Moon:

The family is the school of love, the most important school in life. In the family, children expand the capacity of their hearts through education in love and emotions that only parents can provide. This becomes the cornerstone to form the children’s character. Further, the family is the school teaching virtues and norms. Education in academics, sports, technology, etc., should be given on the foundation of this primary education in heart and norms. 3

The family is a school of love, but also a school of ethics, namely, the fundamental training place to form the human character. And character education, which begins in the family, should be the base for traditional school education.

Human development and the four realms of heart

In Unification Thought, the philosophical expression of the founders’ teaching, three aspects of human character are highlighted: heart, logos and creativity. 4

Heart is the source of love and the core of human personality. A mature heart is a heart of “true love,” which means living for the sake of others. Logos, combining reason and law, is the rational principle guiding us to follow ethical norms with reason, thus combining the freedom of reason with the constraint of the law. Heart and love are the foundation for norms and values, and both heart and norms become the foundation for creativity. A parent with a mature heart naturally becomes a mature teacher of norms and values, and a mature leader with a creative personality.

Therefore, at the root is heart, and the family is the special environment where we are born and meant to develop our heart toward maturity. This means going through several realms of love, which is a lifelong training called the Four Realms of Heart. First, we experience the heart of children, then the heart of siblings, the heart of spouses, and finally the heart of parents.

The first realm of heart is the realm of a child’s love toward parents. The child grows in response to the love of parents, which is so essential in the child’s formative years. It is a vertical, ascendant love.

Based on this vertical exchange of love with the parents, the child will develop other bonds, by loving siblings and eventually friends at school. The heart will develop horizontally, as the child learns to share, to cooperate and to develop mutualism.

The next realm of heart is the experience of conjugal love. It is the horizontal love shared exclusively with a person of the opposite sex, within the bond of marriage. And it is the only form of love that includes sexual relationships.

The final stage is the fourth realm of heart, namely, the experience of parental love. It is the deepest and most unconditional form of love. That bond between parent and child cannot be broken.

Each realm of heart develops on the foundation of the previous one and keeps developing throughout our life.

The family, school of ethics

Each realm of heart corresponds to a training in ethics and values. The child develops a sense of respect and filial piety. The siblings learn about equality and brotherhood. The love of the couple is based on fidelity and mutual commitment. And the parents learn to live for their family with unconditional devotion and a great sense of responsibility. Step by step, through this process, our character grows to become more unselfish and more responsible. Therefore, we emphasize that a teacher and a leader need to behave with a parental heart.

I would like to highlight the importance of conjugal love in this model. The husband-wife relationship holds the family together, because it is the crossing point of horizontal and vertical love. Therefore, marriage is important because it is the base for love, for life and for lineage – a concept that seems forgotten in modern Western society. The vertical axis of love, which links grandparents, parents, children, and grandchildren, is the backbone of the family, linking past, present and future.

What is unique with conjugal love is that it is exclusive; it cannot be divided. Unlike parental love or siblings love, which can embrace several children or several brothers and sisters at a time, when conjugal love is divided, it will decrease and the heart will suffer.

Sexual ethics and sexual norms are essential in the School of Love. Unlike animal sexuality, human sexuality is not for reproduction only; it is profoundly connected to the realm of heart and essential to reach the maturity of love. Therefore, sexual problems have deep and lasting traumatic consequences. From this viewpoint, we can analyze many of the problems of our Western society today, which is seeing the deconstruction of family norms, particularly of sexual norms.

In 1934, British social anthropologist J.D. Unwin published a book called Sex and Culture 5, in which he analyzed many civilizations and found a positive correlation between the cultural achievement of a people and the sexual restraint they observe. When he began his study, he was expecting to find evidence supporting Freud’s theory that civilizations destroy themselves when they restrict sex too much. However, by empirical evidence, he found the opposite—namely, that after nations become prosperous, they become increasingly liberal concerning sexual morality, lose cohesion and power, and eventually decline.

Today the consequences of the breakdown and deconstruction of the family have been revealed as so detrimental to society that scholars are beginning to sound the alarm. 7

Toward a global ethic

Let me close with a word on religion. In 1993, soon after the Cold War, the Parliament of the World’s Religions gathered in Chicago and issued the declaration “Toward a Global Ethic,” co-signed by famous Catholic theologian Hans Küng. Here is an excerpt:

We affirm that a common set of core values is found in the teachings of the religions, and that these form the basis of a global ethic. We affirm that this truth is already known, but yet to be lived in heart and action. We affirm that there is an irrevocable, unconditional norm for all areas of life, for families and communities, for races, nations, and religions.

Indeed, it is a new era for religions. Today the great religions that inspired cultures and civilizations must relate with one another. They need to focus on ethics more than dogmas. Family ethics is essential to all of them. We see, for instance, in their holy books a clear prohibition of unethical sexual love.

They share a common set of core values. These values may be expressed differently, such as benevolence, human heartedness, love, or mercy, but they are rooted in the same cosmic heart that inspired the great religious founders, who called this cosmic heart “God” or other names.

The UPF founders also teach about a God of heart. They specifically emphasize that both masculinity and femininity are united within God, to whom they refer as Heavenly Parent. Accordingly, the unity of man and woman is part of the ultimate design of creation. And the Family as a School of Love is the training that allows us to connect with this universal heart, which is the foundation for universal values.

The holy books of monotheistic religions—the Bible, the Koran—begin with the story of one man and one woman in a garden who were supposed to inherit the heart of God. Instead, they disunited with God and with each other. Therefore, the teaching of the Family as a School of Love is an ideal that we are still striving to realize, as it is profoundly engrained in the human heart.

Promoting this truth to be “lived in heart and action” is one of the core missions of the Universal Peace Federation. Thus, whenever UPF holds important summits with world leaders, such as in Albania or Niger in 2019, UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon leads a “Family Blessing” ceremony to promote the ideal of the Family as a School of Love and stimulate a change of consciousness.

That is also the reason why UPF promotes Family Studies in academic circles. Thank you.


1. IFOP 2017,

2. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16.3

3. Sun Myung Moon, 271:80-81, August 22, 1995

4. Sang Hun Lee, New Essentials of Unification Thought, Kogensha, 2006, p. 168

5. J.D. Unwin, Sex and Culture, Oxford University, Cambridge University, 1934

6. Marion Messina, in Marianne 22/12/2022, reviewing Marxist scholar Raymond Debord’s new book Faut-il en finir avec la famille?, éditions critiques, 2022: “The question that arises from now on is to know whether all the family and deconstructivist ‘advances’ do not contribute to set up time bombs that will explode on the heads of the poorest women.”

7. Parliament of the World’s Religions, Toward a Global Ethic: An Initial Declaration, 2016 edition.

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