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“A gay Baha’i writes to the Universal House of Justice”

October 1, 2013

In response to “A mother writes to the Universal House of Justice” I was sent the following:

15 October 2008

To The Universal House of Justice


Dear Sirs,

I would like a clear and final decision on how openly gay couples and individuals would be treated in the Bahai community. Would we have our voting rights removed for openly stating that we are gay and living with a partner? Or would we be fully accepted with voting rights and all?

I understand the difficult decision that you must face. On the one hand you feel that you must follow the admonitions written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, on the other there is tremendous damage being done to gays inside the Bahai community. I am just one of those individuals who suffered as a gay youth in the Bahai community.

I have a solution that may be worth investigating. Baha’u’llah extols his followers to seek professional medical help when they have an illness. For this reason, no Bahai would ever lose his voting rights for drinking a medicine with alcohol that is prescribed by a doctor, correct? Letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi also state that homosexuality is a disorder- one that may need the help of competent physicians. Then in the exact same way, if a homosexual has consulted a competent physician (all of whom do NOT recommend that a homosexual try to overcome his sexuality) and is now living a happy spiritual life- he should be FULLY accepted by the Bahai community. To remove this individual’s voting rights or make him hide his sexuality in order to function in the community would be an incredible injustice and the height of hypocrisy.

I hope to hear an unambigious reply from your office. For now, I have decided to remain inactive, but with the hopes that your leadership will bring the Bahai community to not only greater acceptance of gay families, but encourage the Bahahi community to evolve into a haven for such families and individuals. I will leave you with an incredible link to a book that I hope you will read. I just pray that the religion of my forefathers will act differently from those in this book: www.crisisbook.org

PP

 

Letter from the Universal House of Justice
10 December 2008

Transmitted by email

Dear Bahá’í Friend,

     The Universal House of Justice has received your email letter of 15 October 2008, and we have been asked to convey to you the following.

     Your comments about your experience in the Bahá’í community have been noted. We are to assure you that to regard homosexuals with prejudice and disdain would be entirely against the spirit of the Teachings.

     With regard to your suggestion that Bahá’ís be allowed to live with a partner in a homosexual lifestyle without losing their voting rights if a physician were to recommend this course of action, the Bahá’í writings unambiguously affirm that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, and sexual relations are only permissible between a couple who are married to each other. These teachings are set forth in the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh and in the authoritative statements of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi and are not susceptible to change by the House of Justice. Therefore, it cannot adopt your suggestion.

     The doors are open for all of humanity to enter the Bahá’í community, irrespective of their present circumstances. Associated with this invitation is the expectation that all those who accept Bahá’u’lláh as a Manifestation of God will make a sincere and persistent effort to modify those aspects of their conduct which are not in conformity with His Law. For some, this may involve a prolonged personal struggle. However, it would be a profound contradiction for someone to profess the intention to be a Bahá’í, yet consciously reject, disregard or contend with aspects of belief or practice ordained by Bahá’u’lláh.

 

With loving Bahá’í greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

His response to the letter above to which there has been no response.

December 2008

First thank you for your response. But I have to say I’m disappointed in your response, yet it is what I expected. You will allow people to consume alcohol if prescribed by a doctor (something specifically forbidden by Baha’u’llah). But, you disregard a prescription by a doctor to allow a homosexual to find stability and peace in a healthy/intimate relationship. You condemn gay families (not Baha’u’llah; I’ve yet to see a specific quote from Him in regards to adult consenting gay relationships) but you still believe that this is not prejudice. What then is prejudice? You have pre-judged the relationship of two same sex adults and their children as not worthy of fully participating in Bahai community life.

I am still a Bahai (albeit not active) and I always will be. I believe that justice is the most important thing before God’s eyes, not blind adherence to what was written by the secretaries of Shoghi Effendi to individual believers years ago.

I pray for the Bahai youth being brought up, like I was, to regard their sexuality as a disorder to overcome. You say that the Faith stands against any type of prejudice against homosexuals, yet the Bahai community by insisting that gay couples are not fully welcome in the community, you are discriminating. Your views only feed Bahais in other countries to continue to discriminate not only inside the Bahai community, but outside as well. Did you know for instance in 2003, the Guyana NSA wrote to the government against a proposed non-discrimination law that would protect gays/lesbians as well as others in society. And of course the recent protests in Uganda againsts gays where the Bahais were involved. Such actions by local Bahais, the trauma felt by Bahai youth (some whom I’m sure have committed suicide since they couldn’t “overcome”) and the loss of activity of thousands of good Bahais fall squarely on your shoulders because of the rigidness of your views.
Good day.

Note: a few minor typos were corrected,
and below are links to blogs I’ve written on topics that are mentioned above.
Uganda protests against gays + the Bahai involvement with the Interfaith Rainbow Coalition Against Homosexuality
Statement by the N.S.A. of Guyana
Letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi on the topic of homosexuality

13 comments

  1. X wrote: “The Baha’i position primes gay Baha’i kids for depression and potentially suicide.”


  2. ZW wrote:

    A homosexual lifestyle… is there a heterosexual lifestyle? If so what does it entail? Living in a mobile home? 6 kids? A gun rack on your pickup?

    The phrase “homosexual lifestyle” is used these days by the political religious right to denigrate GLBT people… it is a phrase that these days is derogatory, and prejudicial…

    “The doors are open for all of humanity to enter the Bahá’í community, irrespective of their present circumstances”
    So that means it’s just that the door you gay people can use is around the back, and you have a separate room where we don’t want to see you or your spouse and family…

    These are the type of bigots who useh term “homosexual lifestyle”… is this who the Baha’i Community wishes to align themseves with? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westboro_Baptist_Church


  3. ZV wrote:
    “It’s actually not about me since I have come to understand that I don’t need to part of a homophobic group of people who do not accept me the way I was born and created by God.

    A Bahai is someone who loves all the world and who loves God and who loves Bahau’llah and the Divine Messengers. That’s all I can state on that issue. God created me in His image and made me wonderful the way I am. I don’t need to support an administration which tells you that you’re an abomination before God and totally and inherently sinful and tells you that you are disabled or sick – although science has proven that wrong.
    I left the church as I didn’t feel welcomed there (and for other reasons), so it won’t be hard for me to leave the Bahai administration.

    I’m just sorry for all the LGBT people and I don’t like those double standards they are forced to live by in order to be accepted by the Bahai community. In the Bahai UK magazine it is written that “the Bahai Faith does not discriminate against any religion or people.” Well, now such sentences make me laugh as it appears a lie to me.”


  4. Would a doctor (acting as a doctor) ever recommend gay sex?

    What about gays who marry before they convert to Bah’ai? Are they expected to divorce?

    Fletch, I have edited your comment because I am a Bahai and what you wrote (which I removed) is offensive to Bahais. As you’ll see yourself, removing this makes no difference to the two questions you pose.


  5. Fletch a doctor would tell a gay person to stop trying to ‘overcome’ their sexuality. Fletch as much as you might want to believe it, a gay person will NOT overcome their sexuality even if with the help of INCOMPETENT doctors and prayer. The best they can hope for is a dull, lonely, celibate life where they keep patting themselves on the back for not going out with that person who could have turned out to be a wonderful partner who could add so much life and love to their lives. Yea, keep telling yourself that that gay kid in the Bahai community is happy ‘struggling’ for the rest of his life in lonely solitude.. until of course that kid kills himself off because he couldn’t overcome shit for Bahaullah!


  6. Fletch I suggest that you watch this documentary by Stephen Fry – https://justabahai.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/stephen-frys-docu-out-there-being-gay/
    I think few in the medical profession would recommend anything other than acceptance or if needed, some form of the therapy to deal with the suffering caused by discrimination.

    The intention of Bahai administration is to be flexible. According to Shoghi Effendi “whatever is deemed necessary to incorporate into it in order to keep it in the forefront of all progressive movements, can, according to the provisions made by Bahá’u’lláh, be safely embodied therein.”
    (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 22)

    Shoghi Effendi also wrote, “Let them proclaim that in whatever country they reside, and however advanced their institutions, or profound their desire to enforce the laws, and apply the principles, enunciated by Bahá’u’lláh, they will, unhesitatingly, subordinate the operation of such laws and the application of such principles to the requirements and legal enactments of their respective governments.”
    (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 65)

    Some Bahai communities might refuse gays admittance to the Bahai community. For example author of the current Wikipedia entry for “Homosexuality and the Baha’i Faith” states: “someone involved in a same-sex marriage or union will be prevented from registering as a Baha’i and joining the community.” The author is referring to a 1999 policy of the Universal House of Justice which is this:

    “Your understanding is correct in that should a polygamist become a Bahá’í, he would not be required to divorce or separate from any of his spouses; however, he would not be able to enter into a new marriage while still being married to another spouse.

    With regard to the second case, in general, when a person who wishes to join the Faith is known to have a problem such as drinking, homosexuality, drug abuse, adultery, etc., he or she should be told in a patient and loving way of the Bahá’í Teachings on these matters. In particular, if persons involved in homosexual relationships express an interest in the Faith, they should not be instructed by Bahá’í institutions to separate so that they may enrol in the Bahá’í community, for this action by any institution may conflict with civil law. The Bahá’í position should be patiently explained to such persons, who should also be given to understand that although in their hearts they may accept Bahá’u’lláh, they cannot join the Bahá’í community in the current condition of their relationship. ”
    (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual 5 March 1999)

    Or the local Bahai community might follow the 2010 policy of the Universal House of Justice,
    “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.”
    (http://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/email-archive/same-sex-marriages-6/)

    I know of gays being told by individual Bahais that they cannot join unless they are celibate but to date, I don’t know if any Bahai administration has put this down on paper as a reason for refusal nor have I heard of any gays being refused admittance by a local community. But I know of many individuals who have been hurt by what Bahais have said about gays and so they didn’t join or left because of this discrimination. So my guess is that the homophobia is so dominant in many communities that gays do not ask to join. I also know of many straight individuals who have left the Baha’i faith because of the discrimination against gays. The 2010 policy by the U.H.J. which urges Bahais to be pro active in removing discrimination against gays needs to be given more attention.


  7. Hi, I am just participating in this conversation to make a small contribution on my thoughts as a Baha’i. The Baha’i Faith isn’t written or made by the Baha’is. The people who decide to become Baha’is make a conscious effort with their own minds to do so. It is not a religion that is subject to being changed and dominated by how people feel about it. It is clearly Written by Baha’u’llah and only subject to interpretation by either Abdu’l’Baha or Shoghi Effendi.

    By the time someone decides to become a Baha’i, they are simply saying they have accepted Baha’u’llah as the messenger of God for this day and that His teachings are true.

    Regardless of what an individual may think or believe about their rights to be anything. This is just the way it is, and not even the Universal House of Justice have the authority to change the laws of this Faith. so as a result it’s a take it or leave it. No individual is forced to become a Baha’i or stay in the Baha’i community. The Baha’i faith also about peoples freedom to do what they feel is right for them, but for any of those people who want to chose the Baha’i Faith as their religion, then of course they will have to abide and respect all of Baha’u’llah’s laws and teachings. It’s either you believe in Him or you don’t. If you don’t believe in Him being the truth, then you are free to have that opinion, but if you do believe in Him, then what He says is true and must be obeyed and respected regardless of one’s own affiliations to anything. Baha’is don’t believe that Baha’u’llah has gotten anything to gain with people choosing Him or not, but those who choose Him will need to abide with what He says and believe in His teachings.

    If as stated people are choosing to leave the Baha’i Faith because of the actions of other people in the Faith, then that should always be the question of why they became a Baha’i in the first place, and who they are looking up to. The Baha’i faith only has one perfect exemplar and He is Abdu’l’Baha, everybody else is just doing what they can. Every Baha’i knows that, and does not decide on their service to God based on what other people are doing or saying about them, and if anything that is quite contrary to the Baha’i teachings. Were someone to leave the Baha’i Faith for any reason just implies that they are not actually aware of what the Baha’i Faith really is about and who is the example to follow.

    The Baha’i Faith not meant to change to accommodate our needs as people, but rather we the followers believe and see the Faith as salvation for our spiritual lives, and that God knows best what is right for us and that we can strive everyday to get closer to being what God wants us to do. It is simply for our own good even though some may not see it that way.

    by Elvis Otia


    • Whenever I am asked about this subject I say this. The faith teaches us that there are four kinds of love.

      The first is the love that flows from God to man; it consists of the inexhaustible graces, the Divine effulgence and heavenly illumination. Through this love the world of being receives life. Through this love man is endowed with physical existence, until, through the breath of the Holy Spirit—this same love—he receives eternal life and becomes the image of the Living God. This love is the origin of all the love in the world of creation.
      The second is the love that flows from man to God. This is faith, attraction to the Divine, enkindlement, progress, entrance into the Kingdom of God, receiving the Bounties of God, illumination with the lights of the Kingdom. This love is the origin of all philanthropy; this love causes the hearts of men to reflect the rays of the Sun of Reality.
      The third is the love of God towards the Self or Identity of God. This is the transfiguration of His Beauty, the reflection of Himself in the mirror of His Creation. This is the reality of love, the Ancient Love, the Eternal Love. Through one ray of this Love all other love exists.
      The fourth is the love of man for man. The love which exists between the hearts of believers is prompted by the ideal of the unity of spirits. This love is attained through the knowledge of God, so that men see the Divine Love reflected in the heart. Each sees in the other the Beauty of God reflected in the soul, and finding this point of similarity, they are attracted to one another in love. This love will make all men the 181 waves of one sea, this love will make them all the stars of one heaven and the fruits of one tree. This love will bring the realization of true accord, the foundation of real unity.
      But the love which sometimes exists between friends is not (true) love, because it is subject to transmutation; this is merely fascination. As the breeze blows, the slender trees yield. If the wind is in the East the tree leans to the West, and if the wind turns to the West the tree leans to the East. This kind of love is originated by the accidental conditions of life. This is not love, it is merely acquaintanceship; it is subject to change.
      Today you will see two souls apparently in close friendship; tomorrow all this may be changed. Yesterday they were ready to die for one another, today they shun one another’s society! This is not love; it is the yielding of the hearts to the accidents of life. When that which has caused this ‘love’ to exist passes, the love passes also; this is not in reality love.

      So I say to the questioner, if the feelings that exist between a man and a woman, which have the natural outcome of procreation does not qualify to be called love, then the feelings between two people of the same sex which cannot produce such a natural outcome is not even going to appear on the radar.


  8. Dogmatists like Elvis are what made me decide to leave it.

    To summarize, insert religion here isn’t made or written by its followers. People choose to be insert religion here. This doesn’t take into factor people born into religions while they may chose to stay or leave, their chose to stay isn’t in the fullest sense that objective or free.


    • Stephen Kent Gray, I think that by
      “The Baha’i Faith not meant to change to accommodate our needs as people, but rather we the followers believe and see the Faith as salvation for our spiritual lives, and that God knows best what is right for us and that we can strive everyday to get closer to being what God wants us to do. It is simply for our own good even though some may not see it that way.”
      Elvis Otia, rather than being a dogmatist just hasn’t realised that some Bahais take the Bahai principle of “independent investigation” to heart and of course the Bahai teaching that Science and Religion should agree, means to me, to use our logical abilities as best as we can.
      Elvis, thanks for your comments but for me, there’s nothing in your comments that I can comment on except to that I think Bahais should study the writings. Accepting Baha’u’llah as far as I am concerned in not a passive thing and not an excuse to no longer think for myself.


  9. To refer to another blog, another Bahai blog. A Baha’i said that marriage is between a man and a woman. She said marriage is about producing children and spiritualizing and humanizing the men and women who do so. She said if heterosexuals disappeared humanity would disappear. This is why she thinks marriage should be limited to am and and a woman. Religion exists according to here to sacramentalize marriage for the continuation of the human race by regulating heterosexuality.

    Conversely, she implies homosexuals relationships are of no value because they can’t produce children or produce children naturally. She also implies that there would be no harms to society if hypothetically all homosexuals disappeared or that this may even be something desirable.

    To copy and paste:

    I think you could look at Christianity or any other faith through its denominations, if you were looking at specifically comparing and contrasting the rituals, doctrines, and traditions of those denominations, but another way of looking at these historic faiths is through the words attributed to the Founders.

    The Bahá’í point of view is that little is to be gained spiritually by a doctrinal comparison of sectarian precepts. While they are interesting as data points in an historical context, the myriad and diverse religious rituals and doctrines in the historical faiths are what incline many people to look at religion as a conflicting, confusing, mass of dogma not worth the time to study.

    On the other hand, absorbing and applying the tenets of the Founders of faith is of great benefit to both the individual and the society in which he or she lives. One could spend one’s days trying to ferret out every doctrine of every sectarian group and—at the end of those days—have absolutely nothing to show for it. Conversely, one could commit one verse of prescriptive scripture to memory and strive to live by it and greatly improve their personal character, their lives and the lives of others by doing so.

    I’m fascinated by the revelations and lives of the Founders of the great revealed faiths but, at this point in my life, less so by the twists and turns those faiths take once they’ve entered the world of man and been “edited”. (There’s a nifty little children’s story about this called the Wonder Lamp that is a great metaphor for this process). Which is not to say that I don’t have my share of books on the course of Catholicism in my personal research library.

    In a lot of ways, religion is like Luke Skywalker’s cave in the Empire Strikes Back. What you find there depends in great part on what you take in with you.

    Er … I went back over the voluminous posts prior to the one I responded to and failed to see that same sex marriage was the subject under discussion. The only place the term was referenced was in the wiki links you posted. Since I have no opinion of the denominational views of other religious institutions, I was responding to the assertion that “Judaism and Christianity especially need to be looked at through a denomination by denomination view.” I think, whether the subject is same sex marriage or any other doctrine, there is—as I suggested—choice involved in how one looks at an issue.

    When Jesus speaks of marriage, He speaks of it being between a man and a woman, as does the Bhagavad Gita and the Torah. This makes sense, since this is the primal relationship at the core of human society. The sexual relationship between a man and a woman is the means by which the human race continues to exist. Marriage as an institution is a means of elevating that relationship from the purely physical and creating a stable unit in which children can be reared and educated. Nowhere is this more clear than in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh and Abdu’l-Bahá.

    Analysis of the doctrines of a particular sect of Christianity or Buddhism or any other faith is, while interesting and informational, beyond the scope of Stephen’s original article and the purview of this comment thread.

    In expressing to Arjuna what makes a person dear to another person, Krishna notes that “it is not for the love of the husband that a husband is dear; but for the love of the Soul in the husband that the husband is dear. It is not for the love the wife that a wife is dear; but for the love of the Soul in the wife that the wife is dear. It is not for the love of children that children are dear; but for the love of the Soul in children that the children are dear.”

    This seems, to me, to be expressive of the love that is to exist in the primary (and primal) family unit. Is it a categorical statement that marriage as an institution is between a man and woman? No. It merely points to this primal unit—husband, wife, children—as being a cultural norm in that society. Again, this seems reasonable given that it requires a sexual union between a man and woman to produce children and a loving family unit in which to raise those children.

    Stephen, the problem is that what you are responding to and how your most recent comment relates to any prior one is getting lost in the sheer volume of linkages and quoted material you post. If you had expressed yourself as you just did above, with perhaps one or two brief examples, then the message would not have gotten lost, I feel.

    I didn’t say anything about one man and one woman, SKG. And whether He was a polygamist or not is something we will probably never know. Certainly, those who generated the stories of His exploits would have seen multiple wives and concubines as being a measure of His greatness and wildly exaggerated the number. A number of the Divine Emissaries had more than one wife. It’s also been determined that though the OT says that Abraham had many camels, it is mostly likely He had none at all as they were not in use at the time domestically.

    While Krishna (and Bahá’u’lláh, too, for that matter) use the metaphor of the Lover and Beloved to illustrate the relationship between the soul and its Creator, that particular passage is very clearly speaking of human men and women—husbands and wives—and noting that it is not the physical form of the husband or wife or child that is dear, but the soul (their reality and essence) that makes them dear. There’s nothing at all ambiguous about that.

    Now, one place the symbology of the Lover and Beloved does arise clearly and powerfully is in Arjuna’s wonderful prayer upon realizing that this man, Krishna, whom he has regarded as a friend and with whom he has jested, is the Abode of Brahman. I love the passage: “I bow before thee, I prostrate in adoration; and I beg thy grace, O glorious Lord! As a father to his son, as a friend to his friend, as a lover to his beloved, be gracious unto me, O God.”

    I think the quote clearly speaks to the concept of a marriage involving husband and wife. How many wives, given the culture in which the quote has its context, is a different question. But the fact that marriage has been for millennia between males and females is driven by biology and the religious and cultural imperatives derive from that simple biological reality: it takes a male and female of the species to propagate. Period.

    Religion has intersected that primal relationship by setting it in a spiritual framework: as the Hindu texts say “it is not for the love of the husband that a husband is dear; but for the love of the Soul in the husband that the husband is dear.” The role of religion, as Bahá’u’lláh has indicated in His writings is to inject that particular relationship—the relationship that forms the basis of every human culture—with a spiritual dimension. This is true no matter how you take the older texts.

    It is unlikely that earlier Manifestations would have felt a need to single out marriage between a man and woman (or women) as being of special kind, under the existing circumstances.

    SKG, to say that no one considers the “procreation argument” a valid reason to define marriage as involving male and female is simply not true. Many people do. As I said, that religious teachings arose around marriage, historically, makes perfect sense, given how critical THAT particular relationship is to the human race.

    So, to be clear: It is inarguable that the relationship between male and female is uniquely essential to the continuance and progress of the human race. It doesn’t matter what our philosophy of life is with regard to legal marriage as practiced here or elsewhere. The fact remains that if that relationship ceases, we cease. There is no other marriage of which that is true.
    Religious sacraments have arisen historically around marriage and made it an institution because it is so critical to the foundations of human society. Something we seem to have lost sight of. As a Bahá’í, the word “marriage” applies to that unique relationship in the same way, I suppose, that the word “wristwatch” applies to a particular type of bracelet, but not to all bracelets because the wristwatch does something other bracelets do not—it can tell time.

    When all the spiritual principles Bahá’u’lláh taught apply to a marriage relationship, then it is a Bahá’í marriage—a union of a very particular type that operates on physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels simultaneously. A Bahá’í marriage is even different than marriages in the general society because of the spiritual features it is supposed to encompass. So, your arguing that this or that group or even past Manifestations weren’t as specific as Bahá’u’lláh isn’t really relevant. That was then and this is now.

    If we are not happy to have the same word applied to marriages of convenience, or same-sex marriages, or polygamous groups, then perhaps we need to come up with a different set of words that are applicable to each type instead of trying to shove all such diverse types of sexual relationships into one pigeon hole.

    So, to be clear, when I speak of the sort of marriage that the Bahá’í writings refer to as “a fortress for wellbeing” I will use the term Bahá’í marriage.

    That work for you?

    You covered a lot in your comment. Let’s see if I can comb out some threads.

    Marriage CAN be defined minimally (or generically) as a committed contractual relationship, but that definition also applies to a variety of other contractual relationships. When you begin drilling down and getting more specific then it can also be defined in more specific ways. Using the bracelet and wristwatch analogy, both are bracelets, but only one of them is a bracelet that tells time. Likewise there is one type of contractual marriage relationship that produces young naturally and that is the one between male and female. You are free to define marriage as simply a committed contractual relationship. I am free to hold that it is more than that.

    Humanity, as a living embodied species would cease to exist, Stephen—that’s not really arguable. Yes, the souls of those who have gone on would still be around, certainly. But I don’t think you can use it to argue that a marriage between a man and woman that produces the next generation is no different from any other committed contractual relationship.

    Protestantism isn’t a religion unto itself. It’s a sect of Christianity and Christ did speak of marriage between a man and a woman. It became a sacrament of the church. The Teacher who is credited by the Chinese as having given mankind marriage in order to ensure the raising of children by both parents is Fu Hsi, so this humanizing of the sexual relationship between male and female members of our species goes far back. I don’t have written proof that every Manifestation of God had laws pertaining to marriage, but I suspect from the evidence I have seen that they did speak to that societal pivot. It seems logical that they would.

    Stephen that there is no universal definition of marriage currently (we thought there was, though, didn’t we?) is at the heart of the matter. Bahá’u’lláh and other Manifestations of God have—when they’ve spoken of it—stated it as a special bond between man and woman. I’m simply saying that the reasons for that are obvious. The disagreement arises as to whether that is a valid distinction. Some believe it is, some do not.

    Stephen, if you have a sense of history, then you may understand that going very far back, marriage was assumed to be between male and female humans. Again, for obvious reasons—marriage was about producing children (heirs for the wealthy, helpers for the less wealthy, someone to take over the family business or bring wealth to the family by marriage, themselves). So this was the relationship that the Manifestations of God were concerned with spiritualizing and humanizing. As you say, marriage is a cultural universal, and up until recently, it has been about the creation and nurturing of human life. Perhaps Bahá’u’lláh chose to define it more clearly because something that was once assumed, no longer is.

    So, my question to you is: were all of the cultures that—regardless of their sense of sexual relations between other people retroactively using Bahá’u’lláh’s definition of marriage?

    (Edit: actually, I should have wait that our ancestors proactively used Bahá’u’lláh’s definition of marriage through the cultural assumption that it was a particular type of contractual relationship between a man and a woman (or women).)

    You say that marriage has never explicitly been defined as between a man and woman. If that were so, it might be because previously it was an underlying assumption that it was between man and woman.

    Yet, marriage as an institution—even when assumed to be between male and female—is different things to different people. It can be a political move; a consolidation of assets or families; the result of intense and sudden passions; a relationship of convenience, a meeting of like minds; a “nest” in which to raise children. In the context of Christianity, until very recently, it was assumed to be between male and female members of the human species specifically because it produced children. Again, I don’t think that’s arguable from an anthropological, cultural or historical perspective. Indeed, marriage often has had economic and political facets that—alongside producing the next generation—have made it of great consequence to the shaping of cultures. The idea that it is about love and affection is (a romance), in most cultures I’ve studied, a fairly new idea.

    You say, I’ve used inductive logic to reach my “conclusion”. My only conclusions are that Bahá’u’lláh has defined Bahá’í marriage in a certain way and that historically marriage has been a joining of males and females. That assumption is now being challenged in some cultures.

    Do you know what “presentism” is? Because I think that may be what’s occurring here. You seem to be looking back at history and culture through the lens of present day mores (and countless wikipedia entries) Reproduction may be an “externality” of marriage at this juncture to some people. But historically, that is not the case, nor do all people today—even in the US culture—accept that premise.

    As I said, marriage is different things to different people. To a Bahá’í it is the physical and spiritual joining of a man and a woman in sacred union that can—ideally—produce a new generation of strong, compassionate people who will carry on an ever-advancing civilization. ‘Nuff said.

    Stephen, if you aren’t going to respond directly to what I’ve actually said, I’m respectfully going to decline to respond further except to say that you have essentially asked why Bahá’ís don’t accept that marriage is whatever a myriad different sources define it as—or do not define it as. I have answered that question and discussed the roles that marriage has played in culture. I’m not sure why you wish to argue that there is no linkage between the human biological imperative to have children and marriage as an institution, but you are certainly entitled to do so.

    You say I’m reading tradition and culture into scripture. Yes, because scripture both informs culture and tradition and is informed by it. I tend to look at the world through context and connection because nothing exists in a bubble.

    I really can’t respond to your desire to “peg” me as something you can stick a label on. That’s between you and God.

    God bless.

    That’s all of her posts!


  10. If a homosexual lifestyle should be acceptable, incest should be as well. If a man and a man should be able to marry, then so should a brother and sister or mother and son. You can’t argue one is right while arguing the other is wrong.


    • 1) I am arguing on my blog for equality, so this would be celibacy before marriage.

      2) I am discussing marriage that is legal. And in those countries or states where same sex marriage is legal the rules for marriage are the same as for heterosexuals.

      So in response to your comments, you can’t argue that marriage for two of the same gender is the same as incest when the ‘rules’ for marriage are exactly the same as they are for two of each gender. Please consider the logic here.



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