The family is the basic unit of human society. History shows that human societies in all ages functioned based on family units. Yet, there has never been an ideal human family. Unification thought explains that while the family is the fundamental unit of human society, and the ideal of God's creation, it is exactly that fundamental structure that was lost by original human ancestors. As a result, people have never known the joy and fulfillment of living in a true family.
In the family, the relationship between man and woman, as husband and wife, is the ultimate experience of horizontal love. But love also has a vertical dimension. It is the vertical love of parents that truly brings one closest to God's heart, for God loves people as their parents do. In fact, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon has pointed out that God is actually the oldest grandparent! Thus, people can see that three generations are necessary to complete the ideal family.
Through receiving the love of grandparents, children experience not only the vertical love of parents, but also understand the past, their traditions, and their lineage. Grandparents have experienced the growth of their own family, and are now free of the responsibility of raising children, free to enjoy their grandchildren. They are an endless source of wisdom and support.
Thus, the nuclear family, especially one that leaves the extended family of grandparents, uncles, aunts, nieces, and nephews far away, setting up in isolation from the love, support, and tradition of their lineage is not ideal. Although essential to the ideal, father, mother, and children also need the connection to their extended family especially their grandparents, in order to truly embody the ideal of God's love.
The most important purposes of the family are:
- For the realization of love, in all its dimensions (Four Realms of Heart)
- As a school of love, to enable growth of heart
- For the fulfillment of the individual, as humans cannot find completeness as single beings
- As a school of virtues, to cultivate the character of good citizens
- As the setting for child-bearing and child-rearing
- As the basic unit of society
- As the starting-point for peace
Other purposes of the family, economic and social, are secondary to these.