Archive for September, 2013

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“A mother writes to the Universal House of Justice”

September 30, 2013

I was recently sent the following:

11 March 2011

“To The Universal House of Justice


I am having trouble accepting the Baha’i teachings on homosexuality and would appreciate further guidance. My son is gay which means that I am forced to explore this issue in greater depth and the test has become more real. I wrote a while ago about this issue to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i’s of the United Kingdom. They sent me a letter written by the Universal House of Justice dated October 1995 and also a paper from the Baha’i International Community on the same subject. Although this reading helped to clarify my vision to a certain extent I still feel as though I am not fully able to understand or condone the Baha’i stance on this subject. I know that God is all-knowing and my knowledge is limited so out of humility I should just accept what I do not understand as being true but I still feel rebellious.

I find it very difficult to accept that my son is damaging his soul by being true to his God given nature. Would this only be true if he was a Baha’i and acting against the teachings? Please can you help to clarify this for me? Although this is his issue I am put into a situation that brings the conflict between what I personally believe and what the faith tells me to believe into greater clarity. I want him to find someone he can love and share his life with. I find it hard to wish for him to be unhappy and celibate for all of his life, for the sake of his soul, as would be the situation expected of him if he was to become a Baha’i?

Is there any possibility that in the future the Universal House of Justice would consider allowing same sex marriage and thereby making the test of no sex before marriage equal for all people regardless of sexuality? Or will gay people always be made to feel as though they are on the edges of society and that their actions are evil and blameworthy. However much Baha’is may say that they do not judge other human beings there is a danger that the teachings on this subject could cause guilt, repression and estrangement, especially when a homosexual child is born within a Baha’i family that upholds such principals.

I have full faith that a state run on Baha’i principals as we envisage happening in the Golden age of this dispensation would not enforce moral teachings and would leave each individual with equal rights and freedom of speech as well as the freedom to act according to the dictates of their own individual conscience. Despite this what I fear is the psychological self hatred and guilt that can torture a soul when the society around teaches that they have a handicap that needs to be overcome. I struggle to understand why homosexuality is seen as a problem rather than an aspect of self that can be embraced and feel as though such an attitude is a step backwards rather than forwards.

I understand that society has lost its moral bearings and too much emphasis can be put on the sex impulse but unlike drug addiction for example I believe that sexuality is not a compulsion but an essential aspect of an individual’s identity. I do hope that the Baha’i stance on this subject will be explored in greater depth with experts in the field of psychology etc. so that it can be justified and stand up to the scrutiny that will come its way as the faith evolves and its teachings become integrated into the wider society.

I understand that a soul will progress spiritually if it is able to transcend its desires and this is why Baha’u’llah has given this teaching to mankind. I also believe that if an individual is so deeply moved by their love of Baha’u’llah that they receive the inspiration and motivation to overcome their sexual desires the greatness of the test will mean that they are a truly special soul with great capacity. Not all souls however will be called in such a way and the majority will be left with a feeling of self hatred and that they are inherently deficient. I find it impossible to condone such an attitude as I believe that every soul must learn self love for what they are in entirely, without cutting off an essential aspect of themselves. From this psychologically healthy attitude of wholeness and true deep self acceptance may develop the power to move closer in understanding of how a person’s actions can be brought in harmony with the will of God.

Science continues to prove that it is impossible to cure someone of homosexuality; public opinion in the UK continues to move away from prejudice and intolerance in an enlightening direction. By contrast we see countries like Uganda where religion stirs up bigoted hatred and violence against homosexuals. I became a Baha’i because I believe in independent investigation of the truth, the balance of Science and religion and the illumination of prejudice. The Baha’i stance however could be seen to bolster up the bigoted counter progressive attitude we see in countries such as Uganda, an attitude that leads to the cruel persecution of their homosexual citizens. Would you be able to help to alleviate these fears or point me in the direction of Baha’i literature that can serve as an antidote to such religious extremism on this topic such as examples of Baha’is who are actively working against this kind of cruel homophobia?

In the literature that the NSA of the UK sent me on this subject I also read that “What a Baha’i cannot logically do is to represent himself or herself as a faithful follower of Baha’u’llah while denying or even attacking features of the Faith which He Himself has made integral to its nature and purpose.” If this is true then what should I do about the fact that if I am asked about my attitude towards homosexuality I have to deny this feature of the Faith and say that I do not believe it is wrong if expressed within a loving and lasting relationship. Does this mean that I should stop being a Baha’i or is it ok if I am clear that this is only my personal opinion? I do not want to be rebellious but I have been unable so far to change my opinion through the power of faith or will alone. I therefore request that you pray for me to receive further enlightenment on this issue. I would also greatly appreciate any further insights that you could give me on this topic.

Warmest Baha’i Love
RR

13 May 2012

Dear Bahá’í Friend,

With regard to your email message of 5 May 2012 enquiring about the status of your email letter of 11 March 2011, you may be assured that your letter has been received and is under consideration. A reply will be sent in due course.

With loving Bahá’í greetings,

Office of Correspondence


 
Letter from the Universal House of Justice
22 April 2013

Transmitted by email

Dear Bahá’í Friend,

     The Universal House of Justice has received your email letters of 11 March 2011 and 5 May 2012 describing your struggle to reconcile the Bahá’í teachings with your own views on homosexuality, which have evolved as you have reflected on your relationship with your son. We have been asked to convey to you the following and in so doing express our regret that, owing to the pressure of work at the Bahá’í World Centre and the time necessary to carefully consider the many facets of your heartfelt questions, our reply has been so long delayed. The House of Justice appreciates the candour with which you have expressed your concerns, and your earnest desire to comprehend aspects of the teachings more fully is warmly acknowledged.

     The understanding about human beings today is heavily influenced by materialistic assumptions. Perspectives of social movements, leaders of thought, and the media are shaped by them. Even the findings of science are interpreted according to such prevalent cultural notions. It is not surprising, then, that there are many ideas about human identity and behaviour in contemporary society commonly accepted as truths that conflict with the Bahá’í teachings. Yet, as Bahá’u’lláh asks every thoughtful soul, “Where shalt thou secure the cord of thy faith and fasten the tie of thine obedience?” His answer, revealed in innumerable passages, is, as you know, unambiguous. “The All-Knowing Physician hath His finger on the pulse of mankind.” “No man, however acute his perception,” He affirms, “can ever hope to reach the heights which the wisdom and understanding of the Divine Physician have attained.” And He counsels not to weigh “the Book of God with such standards and sciences as are current amongst you, for the Book itself is the unerring Balance established amongst men”, and in “this most perfect Balance whatsoever the peoples and kindreds of the earth possess must be weighed….” The Manifestation institutes His laws and ordinances in accordance with His intrinsic knowledge of human reality and His intended aims for individual and collective transformation. From a Bahá’í perspective, then, it is the teachings of the Manifestation of God that clarify the essential elements of human identity.

     In contrast to many contemporary conceptions, the Bahá’í teachings maintain that a person must rise above certain material aspects of human nature to develop and manifest inherent spiritual qualities that characterize his or her true self. The Sacred Texts contain laws and exhortations that, in many instances, redirect or restrict behaviours that arise from impulses, tendencies, and desires, whether inborn or acquired. Some of these are physical, while others are emotional or psychological. Yet, whatever their origin, it is through their regulation and control that the higher, spiritual nature is able to predominate and flourish. Those who are not Bahá’ís may have no cause to take into account such considerations. A Bahá’í, however, cannot set aside the implications of these teachings and must endeavour to respond to the best of his or her ability, though it be little by little and day by day. In so doing, all believers face challenges, although the specific type or extent of a test may differ. They act with faith in Bahá’u’lláh’s declaration, “Know assuredly that My commandments are the lamps of My loving providence among My servants, and the keys of My mercy for My creatures”, and they respond to His call, “Observe My commandments, for the love of My beauty.”

     You have suggested that homosexuals could be made to feel as though they are “on the edges of society” and “inherently deficient”, which would drive them away from the Faith. Such an outcome would be antithetical to the Bahá’í teachings. It may be reassuring to you to know that Shoghi Effendi has stated, in letters written on his behalf, that a Bahá’í who has a homosexual orientation must strive daily to come closer to the Bahá’í standard and, in this process, should be treated with tolerance and receive help, advice, and sympathy; he also acknowledges that such an inclination can be “a great burden to a conscientious soul” and states that those concerned should “adhere to their Faith, and not withdraw from active service, because of the tests they experience” since, “in one way or another, we are all tested; and this must strengthen us, not weaken us.” Whatever the particular challenge he or she may face, through the recognition of Bahá’u’lláh and steadfast effort to abide by His teachings and to serve humanity, every believer can have a rich and rewarding Bahá’í life.

     Although they affirm their conviction that Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings reflect God’s purpose for humankind in this Day, Bahá’ís do not seek to impose their values on others. They do not pass judgement on others on the basis of their own moral standards and can never presume to know the standing of any soul in the eyes of God. Rather, the friends are enjoined to show forth unconditional love, to engage in fellowship with all, and to be forbearing, concerned with their own shortcomings and not those of others. They are to have a sin-covering eye, focusing on good qualities and ignoring the bad, and they must eschew backbiting and gossip. As the Bahá’í community continues to grow and develop, increasing its involvement with the wider society, such characteristics will become more pronounced and a hallmark of Bahá’í culture. Given this, to regard those with a homosexual orientation with prejudice or disdain, the House of Justice has repeatedly emphasized, would be entirely against the spirit of the Faith. In response to your question about the position a Bahá’í would take in relation to supporting the human rights of homosexuals, we have enclosed a copy of a letter dated 27 October 2010 written on behalf of the House of Justice to an individual believer that discusses this topic, and it is hoped the guidance contained therein will allay any concern you may have.

     As to the possibility of same-sex marriage within the Faith, according to the teachings, Bahá’í marriage is a union between a man and a woman. This is set forth in the Writings and is not susceptible to change by the House of Justice.

     You have also asked how you should deal with the conflict you face in being a Bahá’í while struggling to appreciate certain aspects of the teachings, and you wonder whether you should withdraw from the Faith or simply acknowledge that on this point you have a different view. It can be helpful to consider that, on occasion, a believer may discover that a personal understanding differs to some degree from the teachings. How can it be otherwise, when our conceptions are forged in a social milieu that Bahá’u’lláh has come to radically transform? “An exact and thorough comprehension of so vast a system, so sublime a revelation, so sacred a trust,” Shoghi Effendi reminds us, “is for obvious reasons beyond the reach and ken of our finite minds.” A sensible approach is simply to recognize that the human mind is both finite and fallible and that acquiring spiritual insight and greater understanding is a gradual and ever-unfolding process that requires time, continued study, reflection on action, and consultation with others. This perspective is quite different, however, from contending with or attempting to change explicit provisions of the Faith. Humility is required, rather than an insistence that one’s personal views at any given time are correct. Thus, there is no reason why you should feel a need to withdraw from the Bahá’í community. Rather you are encouraged to keep an open mind and acknowledge, like every other Bahá’í, that there are elements of the Revelation that you are striving to understand more fully. This does not prevent you from showing forth unconditional love and support for your son.

     You are assured of the loving prayers of the House of Justice at the Sacred Threshold that you and your son may be the recipients of heavenly blessings and bestowals.

With loving Bahá’í greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 
The 27 Oct 2010 letter which was sent to RR is reproduced below. The relevant parts of this letter were published by the National Spiritual Assembly on January 5th, 2011 which Sen McGlinn has on his blog here

27 October 2010

Transmitted by email: …

Mr. …

Dear Bahá’í Friend,

     Your email message of 10 July 2010, sent to the Office of Public Information at the Bahá’í World Centre, was forwarded to the Universal House of Justice, which was pleased to learn that you have recently become a Bahá’í and that you are studying the Teachings and their relationship to contemporary issues. With respect to your question concerning the position Bahá’ís are to take regarding homosexuality and civil rights, we have been asked to convey the following.

     The purpose of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh is the realization of the organic unity of the entire human race, and Bahá’ís are enjoined to eliminate from their lives all forms of prejudice and to manifest respect towards all. Therefore, to regard those with a homosexual orientation with prejudice or disdain would be against the spirit of the Faith. Furthermore, a Bahá’í is exhorted to be “an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression”, and it would be entirely appropriate for a believer to come to the defense of those whose fundamental rights are being denied or violated.

     At the same time, you are no doubt aware of the relevant teachings of the Faith that govern the personal conduct of Bahá’ís. The Bahá’í Writings state that marriage is a union between a man and a woman and that sexual relations are restricted to a couple who are married to each other. Other passages from the Writings state that the practice of homosexuality is not permitted. The teachings of Bahá’u’lláh on personal morality are binding on Bahá’ís, who strive, as best they can, to live up to the high standards He has established.

     In attempting to reconcile what may appear to be conflicting obligations, it is important to understand that the Bahá’í community does not seek to impose its values on others, nor does it pass judgment on others on the basis of its own moral standards. It does not see itself as one among competing social groups and organizations, each vying to establish its particular social agenda. In working for social justice, Bahá’ís must inevitably distinguish between those dimensions of public issues that are in keeping with the Bahá’í Teachings, which they can actively support, and those that are not, which they would neither promote nor necessarily oppose. In connection with issues of concern to homosexuals, the former would be freedom from discrimination and the latter the opportunity for civil marriage. Such distinctions are unavoidable when addressing any social issue. For example, Bahá’ís actively work for the establishment of world peace but, in the process, do not engage in partisan political activities directed against particular governments.

     As you continue to reflect on this important matter, it is hoped that you will be able to seek the advice of knowledgeable Bahá’ís and the institutions of the Faith in your area. Rest assured of the loving prayers of the House of Justice in the Holy Shrines on your behalf.

With loving Bahá’í greetings,
Department of the Secretariat

cc: National Assembly of …

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A Bahá’í View of Homosexuality and Gay Rights?

September 20, 2013

Yesterday I came across this page titled: A Bahá’í View of Homosexuality and Gay Rights while searching on the text:
“Ye are forbidden to commit adultery, sodomy and lechery. Avoid them, O concourse of the faithful. By the righteousness of God! Ye have been called into being to purge the world from the defilement of evil passions.”

This page is not written by a Baha’i even though it pretends to represent the Baha’is of Utah. And read to the bottom of this blog where I refute most of these views:

“The Bahá’í Faith teaches that there are certain sexual practices which are “Satanic” (i.e. anything that opposes the Will of God is considered “satanic”–meaning “adversarial” to the Will of God).

Bahá’u’lláh, in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, paragraph 107, and Questions and Answers, number 49, forbids paederasty and sodomy. The following extract from one of His Tablets reveals the strength of His condemnation:

“Ye are forbidden to commit adultery (ZINA), sodomy (LIWAT) and lechery (SIHAQAQ). Avoid them, O concourse of the faithful. By the righteousness of God! Ye have been called into being to purge the world from the defilement of evil passions. This is what the Lord of all mankind hath enjoined upon you, could ye but perceive it. He who relateth himself to the All-Merciful and committeth satanic deeds, verily he is not of Me. Unto this beareth witness every atom, pebble, tree and fruit, and beyond them this ever-proclaiming, truthful and trustworthy Tongue.”

ZINA=Arabic word that means adultery as well as fornication (any heterosexual act outside of lawful marriage).

LIWAT=Arabic word meaning “the sin of the men of Lot” (i.e. Sodom). It refers to homosexual “sex acts” and not merely to anal sex as “sodomy” has come to mean in modern American English.

SIHAQAQ=Arabic word meaning “pounding” or “griding”–the female homosexual sex act between two women often called in modern American English “scissors”.

In a letter dated March 26,1950, written on his behalf, Shoghi Effendi, the authorized interpreter of the Bahá’í Teachings, further explicates the Bahá’í attitude toward homosexuality. It should be noted that the Guardian’s interpretation of this subject is based on his infallible understanding of the Texts. It represents both a statement of moral principle and unerring guidance to Bahá’ís who are homosexuals. The letter states:

“No matter how devoted and fine the love may be between people of the same sex, to let it find expression in sexual acts is wrong. To say that it is ideal is no excuse. Immorality of every sort is really forbidden by Bahá’u’lláh, and homosexual relationships He looks upon as such, besides being against nature.

“To be afflicted this way is a great burden to a conscientious soul. But through the advice and help doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap.”

Bahá’ís believe that Shoghi Effendi (shawg-khee ef-fen-dee), the great-grandson of Bahá’u’lláh, was “infallible” in His interpretations of the Law of Bahá’u’lláh. His interpretations are “infallible” and “binding” upon all Bahá’ís, and will be until the coming of the next Manifestation of God; at least 1000 literal lunar years from 1863 A.D.

The Manifesatations of God have told us that certain practices “retard the progress of the soul” in the Afterlife. Among the practices that retard the progress of the soul in the Afterlife are….

1) Adultery

2) Fornicartion

3) Liwat (male homosexual sex acts)

4) Sihaqaq (female homosexual sex acts)

We are NOT told “why” these practices retard the progress of the soul in the Afterlife. We are only told they “do”.

Bahá’u’lláh forbid His followers from practicing adultery, or fornication, or “liwat” (homosexual sex acts), or lechery. He did NOT explain “why” He forbade them! We are not given “reasons” why these retard the progess of the soul in the Afterlife; only that they do.

To be a Bahá’í means to “belonging to Baha”; meaning we have no “free will” but HIS WILL become our will. We trust He is a Manifestation of God. We trust He knows what is best for us. Like small children who can’t understand why we must eat vegitables and brush our teeth, we only trust that our parent only wants the best for us! So we obey.

In practical terms, there are gay and lesbian Bahá’ís, and some or most of them are sexually active in their private lives. This is called MOON-NAW-FEE-KOON (Hypocrisy). Moonawfeekoon is allowed in the Faith. In other words, what you do in your private life is between you and God, but, if your private behavior becomes public, then it is no longer your “private” life. Then it becomes a public matter. Gay and Lesbian Bahá’ís who speak about their sex lives face disciplinary action from the Local Spiritual Assembly (council of nine men and women who act as administrators and judges in local Bahá’í Communities).

Gay and Lesbian Bahá’ís are forbidden from…

1) Speaking about their sex lives in public.

2) Advocating that the Law of God regarding LIWAT (homosexual sex acts) be “changed” (no Holy Law can be changed except by the next Manifestation of God–the next One is now due until 1000 lunar years after 1863 A.D.)

3) Marching in Gay Rights parades.

4) Getting involved in partisan politics or entering into into political or religious arguments.”

I’ll stop quoting that page at this point.

Let’s start with what Baha’u’llah wrote:
In English we the text in a 1995 letter written from the Universal House of Justice addressed to the Baha’is of the U.S.

“To the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States

Dear Bahá’í Friends,

The Universal House of Justice has considered your letters of August 27,1993, and September 19, 1994, in which you describe the impact of the changing sexual mores and the public debate on homosexuality on some of the members of the American Bahá’í community who are homosexuals.


As you know, the Bahá’í Faith strongly condemns all blatant acts of immorality, and it includes among them the expression of sexual love between individuals of the same sex. With regard to homosexual practices, Bahá’u’lláh, in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, paragraph 107, and Questions and Answers, number 49, forbids paederasty and sodomy. The following extract from one of His Tablets reveals the strength of His condemnation:

“Ye are forbidden to commit adultery, sodomy and lechery. Avoid them, O concourse of the faithful. By the righteousness of God! Ye have been called into being to purge the world from the defilement of evil passions. This is what the Lord of all mankind hath enjoined upon you, could ye but perceive it. He who relateth himself to the All-Merciful and committeth satanic deeds, verily he is not of Me. Unto this beareth witness every atom, pebble, tree and fruit, and beyond them this ever-proclaiming, truthful and trustworthy Tongue.”

Published in American Bahá’í, 152, 23 November 1995
The full letter is online here

The text quoted above is a translation of a text in Arabic in a compilation on Bahai laws and commands (Ganjinih-yi-Hudud) compiled in Persian by Iranian scholar, Ishraq Khavari (1902-1972), third edition was in 1972.

Scan of the bottom of page 338 of Ganjinih-yi-Hudud (The Treasury of Laws and Ordinances) compiled by Ishraq Khavari. I've added the coloured areas.

Click to see a larger view.

Scan of the bottom of page 338 of Ganjinih-yi-Hudud (The Treasury of Laws and Ordinances) compiled by Ishraq Khavari. I’ve added the coloured areas.
The highlighted words are: [red] “Liwaat, liwat, lewaat” and here the line reads: “The prohibitions and punishments for liwaat”
Then the next section inside quotation marks is what is in the Kitab-i-Aqdas:
”We shrink, for very shame, from treating the subject of boys.” The word marked in grey is “ghelmaan” the word for boys which clearly means a form of sex slave because of the word “shame” whereas in other contexts the term can mean (male) servant or slave. More on the term ghulaam/ghelmaan (boy/s) in the Kitab-i-Aqdas is here

The next line states that the following is from a tablet by Baha’u’llah dated August 1, 1874 (in the text it is in the Islamic Lunar calendar, 1291)

The final line of text which begins with a quotation mark: Ye are forbidden to commit [green] zenaa’ (fornication), [blue] lewaat (sexual perversions) and [yellow] kheyaanat (infidelity). The rest of the text is on the next page (339).
Ishraq-Khavari does not source his text, but as he gives the date of the text, and he most likely had access to the complete text including the colophon at the end, where the scribe usually gives his name and the date of copying and other details about the text. These have not been noted in the compiliation here, but is very likely that the U.H.J. has access to this and so I would say, we can consider this to be authentically by Baha'u'llah.

Zenaa is to do with sex not being within marriage and liwaat is do with sexual acts considered perverted. An audience of the time would have interpreted “liwaat” to mean oral or anal sex or bestiality.

Baha’u’llah also refers to ‘liwaat’ in the Questions and Answers section of the Kitab-i-Aqas, and this is also quoted in Ganjinih-yi-Hudud.

Scan of a section of page 319 of Ganjinih-yi-Hudud (The Treasury of Laws and Ordinances) compiled by Ishraq Khavari. I’ve added the coloured areas.

Click to view this in a larger format

Scan of the bottom of page 338 of Ganjinih-yi-Hudud (The Treasury of Laws and Ordinances) compiled by Ishraq Khavari. I’ve added the coloured areas.

The question put to Baha’u’llah: Concerning the penalties for [green] zenaa’, [blue] lewaat, and [pink] saareq, [robbery] and the degrees thereof. Baha’u’llah’s response is that these are up to the [dark green] House of Justice to determine.

As you might have noted, there is no word Arabic word for Sihaqaq in either section and so the argument about lesbians above is completely false. These comments on lesbianism that existed in Baha’u’llah’s time might be of interest.

In Islam there are prescribed punishments (believed to be set by God and therefore fixed) for crimes such as adultery (stoning) and robbery (death). I haven’t found any clear prescribed punishment for liwat but we can be sure that it will be unpleasant.

What is of note here is that Baha’u’llah was stating specifically that in Bahai Law, these are not prescribed (set by God) but fall into an area of flexibility where they will be set by the House of Justice. It would up to the U.H.J. to determine what is specifically meant by ‘liwaat’ or perhaps the definition of perverted sexual practice is something that does change according to the age? These days no one would consider rape within marriage as acceptable yet at one time it was. Of course I am just speculating here.
I do think it is revolutionary that Baha’u’llah made a clear statement to break with the expectation of a religion with rules for prescribed punishments.

The next part of the page above is the same as part of the 1995 letter penned by the U.H.J.
“In a letter dated March 26,1950, written on his behalf, Shoghi Effendi, the authorized interpreter of the Bahá’í Teachings, further explicates the Bahá’í attitude toward homosexuality. It should be noted that the Guardian’s interpretation of this subject is based on his infallible understanding of the Texts. It represents both a statement of moral principle and unerring guidance to Bahá’ís who are homosexuals. The letter states:

“No matter how devoted and fine the love may be between people of the same sex, to let it find expression in sexual acts is wrong. To say that it is ideal is no excuse. Immorality of every sort is really forbidden by Bahá’u’lláh, and homosexual relationships He looks upon as such, besides being against nature.

“To be afflicted this way is a great burden to a conscientious soul. But through the advice and help doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap.”
The full 1995 U.H.J. letter is here

There is another paragraph in this letter which follows this as listed in the 1983 compilation (“Lights of Guidance”)

“God judges each soul on its own merits. The Guardian cannot tell you what the attitude of God would be towards a person who lives a good life in most ways, but not in this way. All he can tell you is that it is forbidden by Bahá’u’lláh, and that one so afflicted should struggle and struggle again to overcome it. We must be hopeful of God’s Mercy but not impose upon it.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 26, 1950)

I am not sure if the Universal House of Justice today would state that a Letter Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi has the same or similar status as anything the Guardian penned himself in his role as authorized interpreter of Bahai Scripture (see why), but we have to assume that the U.H.J. still views homosexuality as something bad because while asking the Bahai community to work at removing prejudice against gays they write that the practice of homosexuality is not permitted. Yes, you might ask yourself, when am I a practising heterosexual or homosexual or bisexual and when am I not, since orientation is not just about sex?

What the letter appears to state is to say that Bahai’s are not to treat their homosexual members with inequality but that these Bahais are not permitted to practice as homosexuals. Whether this means they are not allowed to be out of the closet or are not allowed to be married is not clear.

Here’s the letter from the Universal House of Justice, Oct 27, 2010:

“The purpose of the Faith of Baha’u’llah is the realization of the organic unity of the entire human race, and Baha’is are enjoined to eliminate from their lives all forms of prejudice and to manifest respect towards all. Therefore, to regard those with a homosexual orientation with prejudice or disdain would be against the spirit of the Faith. Furthermore, a Baha’i is exhorted to be “an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression”, and it would be entirely appropriate for a believer to come to the defense of those whose fundamental rights are being denied or violated.

At the same time, you are no doubt aware of the relevant teachings of the Faith that govern the personal conduct of Baha’is. The Baha’i Writings state that marriage is a union between a man and a woman and that sexual relations are restricted to a couple who are married to each other. Other passages from the Writings state that the practice of homosexuality is not permitted. The teachings of Baha’u’llah on personal morality are binding on Baha’is, who strive, as best they can, to live up to the high standards He has established.”
The full letter is here.

I agree that “Bahá’ís believe that Shoghi Effendi (shawg-khee ef-fen-dee), the great-grandson of Bahá’u’lláh, was “infallible” in His interpretations of the Law of Bahá’u’lláh.”
Shoghi Effendi (1897 -1957) was meticulous and highly proficient in Persian, Arabic and English. As Head of the Bahai Faith he was inundated with letters and questions and so to deal with this he assigned the task of responding to these to a secretary to write on his behalf.
In response to this question: Can you make a statement which would establish the authenticity of your letters written by Ruhi or Soheil with your P.C. [sic] attached. There are still some people who continue to feel that these letters are not authorized by you and only express the personal opinions of the above writers.”
this letter was sent on his behalf;
““Whatever letters are sent in my behalf from Haifa are all read and approved by me before mailing. There is no exception whatever to this rule.””
(7 Dec 1930, cited in a letter from the UHJ 22 oct, 1996.)

However reading and approving these letters was not the same as giving them the same status as his own writing as this letter explains:

““The exact status which Shoghi Effendi has intended the friends to give to those communications he sends to individual believers is explained in the following statement written through his secretary to the National Assembly on November 16, 1932:

““As regards Shoghi Effendi’s letters to the individual Bahá’ís, he is always very careful not to contradict himself. He has also said that whenever he has something of importance to say, he invariably communicates it to the National Spiritual Assembly or in his general letters. His personal letters to individual friends are only for their personal benefit and even though he does not want to forbid their publication, he does not wish them to be used too much by the Bahá’í News. Only letters with special significance should be published there.”
Letter Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the N.S.A. of the U.S.A.
Published in the US Bahai Newsletter, No. 71, February 1933, pp. 1-2

Shoghi Effendi needed to focus his time on his role as official interpreter as well as the work he did in setting up the Bahai administration. Would such a meticulous person, leave the responsibility of text with the status of Bahai Law to be penned by secretaries? Of course not. However I’m not saying that these letters have no status either, just that the Universal House of Justice is not bound to follow the texts of these letters as if they are Bahai Scripture.

The writer of the page above claimed that in the Bahai writings, adultery, fornicartion, liwat and sihaqaq “retard the progress of the soul” in the afterlife.

All I could find is this a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi:

“He was grieved to hear of some of the things you describe. It shows great spiritual immaturity on the part of some of the Bahá’ís and an astonishing lack of understanding and study of the teachings. To live up to our Faith’s moral teachings is a task far harder than to live up to those noble principles the Moral Re-Armament inculcates, fine and encompassing as they are! Every other word of Bahá’u’lláh’s and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s writings is a preachment on moral and ethical conduct; all else is the form, the chalice, into which the pure spirit must be poured; without the spirit and the action which must demonstrate it, it is a lifeless form.
He judges, from what you say, that the friends have not or at least many of them have not, been properly taught in the beginning. There is certainly no objection to stressing the “four standards” of the Moral Re-Armament — though any teaching of our precious Faith would go much more deeply into these subjects and add more to them. When we realize that Bahá’u’lláh says adultery retards the progress of the soul in the afterlife — so grievous is it — and that drinking destroys the mind, and not to so much as approach it, we see how clear are our teachings on these subjects. You must not make the great mistake of judging our Faith by one community which obviously needs to study and obey the Bahá’í teachings. Human frailties and peculiarities can be a great test. But the only way, or perhaps I should say the first and best way, to remedy such situations, is to oneself do what is right. One soul can be the cause of the spiritual illumination of a continent. Now that you have seen, and remedied, a great fault in your own life, now that you see more clearly what is lacking in your own community, there is nothing to prevent you from arising and showing such an example, such a love and spirit of service, as to enkindle the hearts of your fellow Bahá’ís.
He urges you to study deeply the teachings, teach others, study with those Bahá’ís who are anxious to do so, the deeper teachings of our Faith, and through example, effort and prayer, bring about a change.”

((From a letter dated 30 September 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
(Compilations, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, pp. 20-21)

Perhaps somewhere Baha’u’llah did write that adultery retards the progress of the soul in the afterlife, but I couldn’t find anything. However that is a far cry from claiming that homosexuality is included as the writer claims.

Then the writer of the page above claims that it is a Bahai teaching to practice hypocrisy!
And from this he deduces that gay and lesbian Baha’is are only allowed to be in the Bahai community if they keep their orientation hidden. He also claims that these Bahais will lose their voting rights if they do not.

I have heard many stories of LGB Bahai’s being given a hard time by individuals, such as being told that they are spiritually diseased by those who claim some form of authority, but I’ve never heard of an L.S.A. actually removing someone’s voting rights because an individual identified as being gay or lesbian.

Steingass’s definition of munafiq (referred to as MOON-NAW-FEE-KOON at the top) is:

munafiq: A hypocrite, dissembler, atheist; a tale-bearer, an
informer; an enemy; atheistic, impious; hypocritical.

And Baha’u’llah hoped:

“that neither the defection of the infidels among Thy people, nor the clamor of the hypocrites (munafeqin) among Thy creatures, may avail to keep me back from Thee.” (Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 142)

And as quoted in my August blog, Baha’u’llah asks us to
“Be thou of the people of hell-fire, but be not a hypocrite.”

I did a quick search to see what the Bahais of Utah website really was but came up with lots of links to disparate places. I’d suggest that if the Bahais of Utah disagree with any of the material presented on the bahaisofutah.angelfire.com They should buy the domain name bahaisofutah.com which is as of this date available and present who they really are or use the url as a portal if making a website is too much work. I’m am a webdesigner so they can contact me for a cheap deal 🙂

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“The Baha’is lose another gay”

September 16, 2013

Any gay or lesbian individual who identifies as a Baha’i is a saint as far as I am concerned and I am blessed to have so many friends who are saints. Any gay or lesbian who chooses to leave the Bahai Faith is almost a saint for trying, because there’s so much prejudice. Just today I was reminded of this when a Bahai wrote “homosexuality is condemned” on an open forum. Yes folks it is September 2013 and Bahai’s still write such words in public (just use google if you don’t believe me) without blinking it seems. When other Bahais do not take them to task for expressing such prejudice, these Baha’is repeat such hateful things. Just have a look at some of the comments on my blog if you don’t want to stomach what a google search will turn up.

It hurts me a lot. It is hurtful to denounce a person’s orientation as being condemned or immoral. And here’s a letter from one of these almost saints.

“My purpose in writing to you today is to inform you that I will be formally leaving the Baha’i Faith very soon. It was a tough decision to make, as I truly do care for the teachings of Baha’u’llah and have applied them with some success in my life. Unfortunately, the issues of being a gay man in a faith that wants nothing to do with such an entity has finally caused me to crack.

To be honest, I was mentally consumed with the idea of having the Faith accept gays and over the course of these many years have seen absolutely no budge in their stance. Through my own eyes, I have seen wonderful gays and lesbians turned away from wanting to learn about the Faith. It finally became too disheartening to see.

In my time as a Baha’i, I have met many gays and lesbians who sought solace from the stressful secular world. They would ask me if the Baha’i Faith would be a possible solution to their stress. In most parts of the world, being gay is a giant weight on one’s shoulders. Adding the burden of being a Baha’i is like adding a million more pounds to that weight. And that was what I would tell them.

Outside the context of the Faith, I will still work with people on ways to connect with God.

I must say that you and others doing a wonderful thing for the Baha’i Faith. In the future, when the Faith finally accepts the notion of homosexuality as a natural component of existence, you should all be recognized as true pioneers, having fought the good fight and helping to make the world a saner, more accepting place. I love you all and I wish you nothing but the best in life.”

your Hispanic American friend

I wish you well my friend! And I hope one day Baha’i communities will start working pro-actively in removing prejudice against our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. See my previous blog for some tips.

“Justice and equity are twin Guardians that watch over men. From them are revealed such blessed and perspicuous words as are the cause of the well-being of the world and the protection of the nations.”
(Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 12)