We tend to think that whatever is in vogue today is the greatest thing since sliced bread. In many ways Baha'is believe that human society as a whole is advancing, however, Baha'u'llah stated that 'belief in God is dying out in every land' and that is a crisis for man of incredible proportions. Baha'is believe that in spite of all the gifts and achievements that have brought us to our present state, we are not the ultimate authority on reality and, in fact, to the degree that we put our whole faith and confidence in our own ability to understand and control our world we are doomed to disaster. The reason that Baha'is have a 'rigid adherence to the Word' is that we believe that man requires God's guidance to progress and that is given through the revelations of the founders of the world's religions. Baha'u'llah's revelation in particular, speaks not only to the 19th century, but to the 29th century as well (no new manifestation for a full 1000 years). It is lays out for us what is required to move to the next stage of our social and spiritual evolution as a species. The next stage is the unification of the whole planet - the Baha'i Revelation stands alone in the world today as giving us the blueprint for that next step.
For us, that is a big deal and if we have trouble with the little stuff like homosexuality, chastity, alcohol, etc. well, we just have to put things in perspective don't we?
Nice talking to you.
Thank you very much, Myles, for taking the time to comment on my posting. Reading what I wrote four months later, it seems a bit mean-spirited — so thanks for responding with generosity.
I think perhaps a lot of people would agree that "we are not the ultimate authority on reality and, in fact, to the degree that we put our whole faith and confidence in our own ability to understand and control our world we are doomed to disaster." But not all of these would say they had a belief in God, even though they would like to believe — if you see what I mean.
The Baha'i Faith seems to me like one of the best ways there is to get out of this fix. But my inability to make the leap of faith leaves me in a different fix, a tautologous one: if we are not the ultimate authority on reality how can we know that Baha'u'llah's revelation is the true one?
It's the homosexuality thing that most undermines my confidence in accepting the revelation. Notwithstanding my earlier jibe about drinking, I accept that chastity and alcohol is 'little stuff.' I can change my behaviour in these areas. But I can't change the fact that I am heterosexual and my friend is homosexual (neither can they).
I am suspicious of an authority that says I should hold my friend to be wrong. Accepting that I have no ultimate way of judging, it just doesn't feel like what I would expect the revelation to say.
Thanks for encouraging me to think more about this,
Regarding your second paragraph, it is correct that the Baha'i Faith is non-sexist and internationalist. It is not correct to say that it is "pacifist." This is a commonly made mistake, even one made by declared Baha'is, but a mistake nonetheless.
While Abdu'l Baha did say that when a thought of war arises, we should oppose it with a stronger thought of peace, he also clearly endorsed the use of military force in the cause of collective security. Careful study of the Faith reveals that it places a premium on law and order, and recognizes that, just as police force is necessary to maintain civil order, some military force is necessary to maintain international order, however restrained.
This is a fascinating area that I encourage you to investigate further. All best, Avrel
I would like to make some comments about the concerns raised by David re: the Faith's teachings about homosexuality.
The Baha'i Faith makes it clear that the world in its present (immature) state places far too much emphasis on sex. As I see it, sex is everywhere - on magazine covers, in music, on the television, in advertising (sex supposedly "sells"), in pornography (including child pornography, which is a multi-billion dollar industry in the States). Our bodies have been reduced to the status of commodities and objects and sex is no longer the sacred, beautiful, mystical and spiritual union of two people in marriage. In the current world, we have debased and degraded sex and ourselves.
Small wonder then, I believe, that we see high rates of sexually deviant and destructive behaviour like rape, date rape, drug rape, rape in marriage, rape in war, violent sexual crime, prostitution, pornography, sexual addiction and child sexual abuse (this includes forcing hundreds of thousands of girls in poor countries into prostitution and pornography).
We live in a sick, profoundly sad and confused world and are desperately in need of healing.
I believe that we have all been created noble. However, so many of us have lost our way.
The Faith tells us:
"O SON OF SPIRIT! Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created."
In the past, people who have been identified as "homosexual" have been persecuted and even killed in some parts of the world. Sadly, this still remains the case today. The Baha'i Faith strictly prohibits the mistreatment, oppression and abuse of any human being, as we are all created in the image of God. We should all therefore love our neighbours as ourselves.
However, like past Messengers of God, Baha'u'llah prohibited homosexuality. Moreover, He has explained that it is possible to heal oneself and change one's sexual orientation. This presupposes that heterosexuality is the normal and natural state for human beings. It also presupposes that, in the future, we will understand more about sexual behaviour and orientation, as well as sexual, physical and spiritual healing.
Obviously, in the current state of affairs, this may be contentious to many. However, there are also many Christians who advocate the same teaching and I have come across Christian therapists who treat Christians who wish to alter their sexual orientation, in order to bring it into line with their understanding of Christian teachings. Indeed, there are many Christians who have done just this.
These are just some thoughts to ponder on.
I think that in the current state of affairs, we understand so little. Perhaps in the future, all of these things and more will become clearer. I hope that this helps. I believe that we all need to keep seeking and learning and talking.
Peace and Love
I just read your post and I have to say that I am absolutely horrified by what you have to say. I am a former Bahai and I left the Faith because I am gay. Your post is heterosexist and offensive. You somehow manage to lump homosexuality with all of the horrible current day sexual atrocities and abherrations into the most banal of arguments for the spiritualy superior practices of the Faith - you are disgusting. This is pure homophobia and you should be ashamed. You also mention the "reparative" therapy of the Christian right - all mainstream doctors and psychiatrists denounce this form of therapy as dangerous and a total waste of time....but what the heck, it wasn't that long ago that gays and lesbians were lobotomized! Why not? Maybe this is what S. Offendi had in mind when he spoke of medical treatment.
This issue is making the Bahai faith a joke. And this is sad as Baha'u'llah only refers to the practice of Arab/Persian man-boy pederasty and not adult homosexuality in his writings. As well, the Faith prides itself on its embracing of science yet staunchly rejects Western mainstream scientific/medical consensus on homosexuality as being random, genetic and normative for the homosexual. And just to let you know, not all of the past Messangers prohibited homosexuality. I am not an expert but as far as I know neither Buddha nor Christ had anything to say on the subject.
Your posting and opinions are truly pathetic, condescending, dangerously homophobic and sad.
Being critical and confronting others' opinions is one thing.
Being directly abusive (as in "you are disgusting") is another. Even if you feel that you have been on the receiving end of implied abuse yourself, I believe it's best not to raise the temperature further by this kind of approach.
I didn't want to block Aaron's comment, because it adds a perspective that hasn't been heard yet on this page. But I would like to be clear in my discouragement of personal abuse.
Well said Aaron, couldn't agree more. With regards to your post David, I think that Helen's ideas are far more dangerous and upsetting than Aaron's, in my opinion quite justified, use of the word 'disgusting'.
I know that this is quite a while after this discussion originally took place, but I had to add my piece. Unfortunately, in this day and age of the organised Baha'i Faith, I even feel I may be putting myself at risk with what I am about to say - but I feel it must be said! I am a Baha'i and have considered myself one since early in my childhood. Technically, Baha'is are told that practicing homosexuality is against Baha'i law. In other words, you are allowed to be such, but you must remain chaste unless you marry (which apparently is prescribed as a male/female institution). Marriage is said to be for the spiritual growth of the couple and for procreation.
Now, all that said... Baha'is have a book of laws where it is laid out that homosexuality is forbidden. However, when given a closer look from the direct writings of the laws, it reads: "It is forbidden you to wed your fathers' wives. We shrink, for very shame, from treating of the subject of boys. ... Commit not that which is forbidden you in Our Holy Tablet, and be not of those who rove distractedly in the wilderness of their desires."
There are notes to help us understand a lot of the laws and the note for this particular section is as follows: "the subject of boys (title) The word translated here as "boys" has, in this context, in the Arabic original, the implication of paederasty. Shoghi Effendi has interpreted this reference as a prohibition on all homosexual relations." Now there's plenty more to help with understanding this particular passage. First of all, Shoghi Effendi was Baha'u'llah's great-grandson and someone that Baha'is are strongly encouraged (perhaps even required) to trust fully and wholly in his translating and interpreting abilities. (in case one does not know the term paederasty, it is defined as a sexual relationship between a full grown man and a boy less than the age of maturation) Here's where I fall short on doing as I am supposed to.
My PERSONAL belief is that sometimes humans are wrong. And I honestly see how Shoghi Effendi would be the best expert at the time to interpret his great-grandfather's words. However, I still see him as human with the capability to have made what could be seen as minor mistakes.
How can I be so bold as to think this way? Well, I believe Baha'u'llah was sent with God's message for this time. And honestly, I cannot see how forbidding homosexuality would be more important than forbidding pedophilia. Yet, there is no other mention of pederasty. I understand other religions have made such prohibitions, but in the majority I have seen (and I am not educated well enough on this), it almost always seems to refer to extra-marital homosexuality or homosexuality between one superior and one inferior partner (such as adult and child or master and servant). I have yet to be convinced that God's intention is to alienate people who identify themselves as homosexual.
Maybe some day I will find that I am wrong, and that will be a great lesson to me in my post-death era. But as for now, I don't buy it yet. One thing I know for certain. We, as Baha'is, are not allowed to make judgment upon anyone for any reason. And that any "shortcomings" a person may have is between them and God (minus a few fineable offenses). I can guarantee, as with any religion, there is not one Baha'i who has followed every letter of every Baha'i law. But isn't that the point of religion? To help us be better humans and try to overcome a lot of our human flaws.
As a Baha'i, I would like to apologize for anyone who was made to feel less than honorable and worthy in the presence of a Baha'i. I am sorry.
Thank you for your beautiful post. I loved everything I read about the Baha'i faith until I read the view on Homosexuality. I am not homosexual however, I cannot follow a God who feels that love can only be defined between male/female. I believe love knows no bounds and I believe that God made everyone different, not to mention the science behind it. Why would God create so many people to live in shame? I cannot agree to that. Your point on humans being able to make mistakes are true. It could also be that Shoghi Effendi applied his personal opinion as well.
At this point I will leave behind the Baha'i Faith. It breaks my heart to think of all the people feeling turned away by a faith that is supposed to be so open and all encompassing and loving. Maybe I'll be around to see the nest update. Thank you for your post Beck.
"Baha'u'llah has drawn a circle of unity
He has made a design for the uniting of all the people and for gathering of them all under the shelter of the tent of universal unity, this is the work of the divine bounty, and we must all strive with heart and soul until we have the reality of unity in our midst, and as we work, so will be strength given unto us"
are your actions, talents, energy, passion, prayers, meditation, motion, vision, stillness, family, loves, and relationships building enduring bonds which will not disintegrate like every other thing in this world?
our well trained minds know how to divisively dissect to the minutest detail any movement or belief, how to divest any person, group, community, or institution of its force by our critical analysis. But what can we build? Have you built unity today?
Is this thread building unity?
Baha'u'llah said if religion was not building unity, it was worthless.
He also said,
"the betterment of the world can be accomplished through pure and goodly deeds, through commendable and seemly conduct".
do you agree? do most people?
What are the core issues at stake in the world today? Which of my talents am I putting to service to the world of humanity, irrespective of my sexuality/sexual identity? Is my sexual identity ALL that I am?
What if I joined in the service of the world of humanity, and through me, ten kids were able to see themselves as servants of the unity of the human race? and what if these kids (of whatever sexuality, race, religion)saw themselves as a thread in a pattern of switching humanity on? As a cell, curing the sick patient of the human race? What if these ten spread their faith and belief in integration and unity to ten others?
Wouldnt we solve every problem on the planet? What are we waiting for?
Cat Stevens was too, I believe, then he became a Muslim. Now *there's* an interesting journey.
Baha'i teaches that we ought to be able to make a rational decision on these matters. For me, it gets into trouble the moment you have this "royal" line. Abdul-Baha, then Shoghi Effendi. So SE was Baha'u'llah's grandson. How does that make it right that he should extend the writings? And if you want to argue some sort of special person, what happened to other members of that family? Why weren't they all special? To me, that isn't rational.
What about monogamy? Was Baha'u'llah a monogamist? Does it matter? What's marriage, anyway, if divorce is allowed? What's the difference between parallel polygamy (i.e. a man having more than one wife at the same time), parallel polyandry (i.e. a woman having more than one husband at the same time), a married man or woman splashing out and having affairs, and serial polygamy or polyandry (i.e. a man or woman using divorce to end one marriage before starting out with a new partner).
And then there's the question of homosexuality, between men AND between women.
In respect of non-sexism, there is the question about the international assembly being composed only of men. It's sad to see otherwise very intelligent and good people tying themselves into knots to explain that one.
I admire and support a huge amount of what Baha'i is about but consider Baha'is generally over-state the uniqueness of what Baha'u'llah said and did, and I am not particularly keen to see how they would run a world government.
I would be interested to know what Baha'is are saying we ought to do about climate change and overwhelming population growth -- the most horrifying results of both of which are becoming evident already.
Apart from pray, thank you.
Well, Baha'u'llah came in the 19th.century. For his time, his thoughts were the most advanced particularly in the Muslim world from which he rose. I do not expect this great and spiritual man to be aware of the issues and problems of today. In his Most holy Book, he has many laws which are quite backward for our time. Examples are, allowing bigamy, capitol punishment, live burning of the arsons, a man taking a second wife when his first can’t bear a child, banning drinking of alcohol even moderately, the man being the breadwinner of the family, dowry for marriage etc. etc.
Baha’u’llah was the best prophet for the 19th. Century but for now, I think we need a new one – jus a joke of course.
Dear Friends on the Planet Earth !
First and foremost I would like to appreciate the dilemma faced by many across the globe who still have trouble understanding the new school of thought and spiritual garment unveiled by Baha'u'llah The manifestation of God for this dispensation. Through His earthly mouthpiece on earth Today God has given Baha'u'llah the latest prescription for Humanity to take for all its ailments. The choice is ours ! God has the overall authority over his creatures ! This is why that Authority is unquestionable. So for the friend who was not ready to hear that God says "NO" to alcohol You have a choice over that ie to follow instruction or choose what please thee, the good thing is we suffer or enjoy the consequences of the choice you make. I have been a Bahai since 1982 and still enjoying the teachings of this Great Religion. Its true that humanity is still in its infancy and evolving towards perfection and as it does so it discovers new realities and verities through the education brought to it by these Great Luminaries from God. The wisdom of prophets of God cannot be measured by human standards because they are infallible. To begin to question their wisdom and inscrutable judgement is not only unwise but inclines more towards blasphemy and disregard of their Master who has bestowed upon them the responsibility to teach them His word and instruction. God is The All Perceiving and has imposed limitations upon our intellect- in brief whatever we can imagine is limited due to the imposition of limitations on our mind.God's divine will therefore will be done without the need of humanity's assistance.
Greetings -Ken from Harare Zimbabwe Africa
Bahai faith is copy of islam and persian culture. it is not uniting at all unless you accept dominancy of Baha'i faith. I never understood how prophet hood can be paased from father to son and grand-son. Bahaullah married 3 times himself I thouth he was a choosen one from birth , he knew right from wrong. how it is explains taking dominant oppressing role of middle eastern man and having 3 women same time. I don't care man following this religioun but women who accepth to be oppressed by a religoun , thats what I don't understand. equality between women and men is clear in Baha'i fait. universal 9 are men as far as I know wome you need to wake up and reject all oppression. God is loving loves his/her daugthers as much as son's 4 inch diffrence not mena we need to wait behind men. WAKE UP .
The Baha’i’ faith accepts Mohammad, Christ and Moses as manifestations of God. In my search I have found no logical/human/scientific basis to accept these historical figures other than clever – and at times tricky - leaders of their time. To me, it is strange to see that a God that stones an adulteress to death allows unlimited number of concubines – Islam - and the prophet himself benefits from this law and even declares himself above it and exempt from its limitations. If one of the prophet’s concubines got frustrated and committed a mistake, though she would be subject to stoning to death – which is a very harsh and inhumane type of punishment. This law seems quite unjust and unfair to me. Mohammad copied many of his laws from the Jewish and Christian religions. He had no idea that there were other prophets too (Zoroaster, Buda Krishna etc.). We know enough about Christianity, Judaism and other religions. Let’s forget about them all and love GOD and humanity.
I have a couple of good friends who are Baha'i. To be frank, I find their devotion to it very sad, as they are clearly capable of making up their own minds about more or less everything and really don't need to follow a religion.
What everyone has to understand is this crucial point - that all religions were right for the people that they were introduced to...at the time. Which means that they have all had their part to play. The trouble is that religions invite control, invite someone or some people at the top to say "This is it, this is how it is and that's that!"
There are so many people who feel the need to be told what to believe, rather than to work it out for themselves. Like my two friends.
And so with the Baha'i faith we have a situation where Baha'u'llah introduced the Baha'i belief systems to an audience which was predominantly Moslem; to a grouping which was great at condemning others. Now the big thing as I see it (probably one of them, I'm sure!) about the Baha'i faith is its insistence on not condemning others. So the Baha'i faith was a major advance...at the time.
The trouble is that the Baha'i faith was introduced 150 years ago into a society that was very different to present-day society. So, for example, homosexuality wasn't given much consideration at all.
Clearly the Baha'i faith is shown to be way behind the times by its attitude towards homosexuality. And in my opinion, that is great. Because for anyone with the intelligence to do some research of their own into the faith before they get too close and too drawn in to it, it gives them ample opportunity to realise that, let's face it, they can do better.
Better? Yes, no religion. Belief? Absolutely. Thankfully, religions are fading away and in the next few years, that will become obvious to all. Do I believe in the events that took place around the life of Jesus Christ? Absolutely. Am I Church of England, Roman Catholic, or any other Christian religion? No way.
Now I would like to be fair. There are many mysteries in religions including the Baha’i’ Faith which keeps the believers to these religions going on. For instance in the case of the Baha’i’ Faith’s the number of mysterious phenomena is quite a bit.
Baha’u’llah could not see the social developments of our society but he could see the Nuclear Power well before it was discovered. Baha’u’llah could see the Great Peace coming for humanity. Many of the Baha’u’llah’s teaching including the necessity for a “COMMON AUXILIARY LANGUAGE” for all mankind are still beyond our prejudiced MODERN minds. Baha’u’llah introduced – for the first time ever – the concept of infinite MULTIVERSE. Scientist now predict that there could be 10**500 other universes. Baha’u’llah said that there is actually no limit.
This man spent two years in the mountains of Kurdistan meditating. I think he got something out of it which kept him going to suffer for the next 40 years under the tyranny of the Turkish and Iranian dynasties. Let’s be fair to Baha’i’s. It’s not all non-scientific and illogical. There are many things there which keep us thinking about it.
Baha'u'llah was channelling. He was given snippets of things which could occur in the future (nuclear) and of those which might be desirable (one language).
But Sheela, be sensible, please. Was it that he married three times or that he had several concubines? And anyone who wishes to follow the Baha'i faith must only have sex within marriage and that marriage should be for life?
Get real! Aside from the hypocrisy, this doctrine fits well with those who have had really bad experiences in relationships, but it does not mean that it fits well with everyone or with everyday life.
And now the homosexuality angle. I had a discussion with two Baha'is about this. One of them likened my homosexuality, which is fundamental to me, to a situation where someone loves smoking marijuana. A drug can be given up. As if I could give up my sexual attraction to those of the same sex. Sheela, this suggestion is deeply offensive and demonstrates not only a total lack of understanding of human nature, but a slavish following of the prejudices which Baha’u’llah did not do enough to stamp out and which were very much alive and well then.
There are those who have been drawn into the Baha'i faith by those who should know better (often their parents, for goodness' sake!) who are in agony over that fundamental part of them, their homosexuality, and its incongruence with the anachronistic Baha'i faith.
We are now living in the 21st Century. Society has developed since the mid-1800's, thank God. Understandings are much greater. Life is more complex, and as we rise in consciousness we should all be to handle more.
I want to ask the supporters of homosexuality one question. You say you feel you attraction towards a person of same sex is natural, and because of that you have to indulge it. Does that mean everyone has to indulge every natural feeling that they have? Almost every man has a natural feeling of getting aroused when he sees a young woman: does that mean he has to go ahead and have sex with every young woman he sees? We as a society have a natural tendency to have it all( I mean to say, we want to be the richest, the most famous,....). does that mean we have the right to go after everything we want with no limitations? I think that's where religion(or faith, or belief in God) comes. As of me, religion is what lets us know how to control our urges, and show us the ways that are acceptable to God. We have 2 natures, one of animalistic and another of spiritual. Gods messengers teach us that we have to strive towards reaching our full spiritual qualities, and subduing our animalistic nature. It's true that we can't fully control it, especially our sexual needs(it is also necessary for the continuiation of our species). So, God gave us marriage. With marriage, we can fulfill the necessities of our sexual needs and guarantee our species will continue. We can love a person of the same gender as much as we want, but the line is drawn at sex. If the urge is there, I think God wants us to fight it as any of the other urges we have which we should not indulge, and find a way of prevailing over it. By the way, this is my own opinion. I think if God planned for a man to have sex with another man, or a woman with another woman, He would have provided us organs to be used for that purpose. As it stands, what we are given shows that He didn't intend that to happen. so, what homosexuals are doing is against God's or the natural laws.
I do not wish to be one side of a dual debate on this website and hence I stayed quiet for a while so that others could comment too. In the meantime, I tried to enter a couple of paragraphs in the Wikipedia pages on the Baha’i’ faith. The Wikipedia rejected my comments on the basis that they were “non-constructive”. I wonder who is in control of the Wikipedia? Wasn’t it supposed to be a free platform open to all? Is it yet another plot by those who want to control your minds? Please help me. I’m lost
It's amazing to see how this discussion has evolved over the last six years. I haven't played any part in it, until now, other than approving the comments that were submitted. I have approved them all -- as they all seemed to have genuine and sound intent. However, I had a long pause before ahenafi's comment made in December, as, for the first time, I felt there was something objectionable about the way it was expressed. I've approved it now, as I thought it better to let everyone judge the comments for what they are than to reserve that right for myself.
I don't want to get drawn into the details of the exchanges -- I don't know much about the Baha'i faith beyond what I wrote at the top of this page -- and I wonder if the time is coming to draw this to a close (sorry, Sheela, to say this at the point where you're feeling lost, but the protocols of Wikipedia are quite a long way from where this discussion started). But I'll leave it open for a few weeks yet, and if enough people disagree I'll reconsider.
One problem I have seen several people is put labels such as "liberal" and "conservative" on the Baha'i Faith, when neither of these terms adequately define something as organic as the Baha'i Faith. Ironically, I know of one former Baha'i who left the Faith because we were not “liberal” enough, and I know one former Baha'i who left because we were not “conservative” enough. The truth is that you're not going to please all the people all of the time, but you can still show love and compassion to all.
As Baha'is, we're taught, by Abdul-Baha, that if a part of religion goes against science it is merely superstition, and should be abandoned. Another point people seem to be tripping up on are the stations of Baha'u'llah, Abdul-Baha, and Shoghi Effendi. Baha'u'llah was a prophet or divine messenger the same as Christ, Buddha, Zoroaster, Krishna, Mohammad, and so on.
Abdul-Baha was the Perfect Exampler, and through his life, he gave an example how Baha'is should live. He, also, was given authority in the Covenant, which is central to maintaining unity amongst such a diverse group of people as Baha'is, and to expound upon the teachings of Baha'u'llah. He did such in both the Paris Talks and Some Answered Questions, and in numerous other talks and writings. As regarding Shoghi Effendi, he was an ordinary human being who was given the authority to lead the Baha'is until the Universal House of Justice could be established. The truth is that Shoghi Effendi felt over burdened, at first, with this unexpected responsibility thrust upon him. But it should be noted that there were two sides to Shoghi Effendi (at least, this is my own limited understanding ... correct me if I'm wrong): 1.) Shoghi, the preserver of unity in the Faith and interpreter of the teachings, and 2.) Shoghi, the ordinary human being. It was not the role of either Abdul-Baha or Shoghi Effendi to add new teachings (and they never did this, although they did elucidate on many points made by Baha'u'llah). In short, Baha'u'llah said it all. Therefore, a lot should be left up to the conscience of the believer. Yet, Baha'is should not be engaging in flagrant behavior which tarnishes the image of the Faith. As Baha'is, we are all imperfect, and we are all working on our own challenges, and as such, we should not be prying into other peoples' business, unless it is causing great harm to the Faith: and I'm pretty certain such cases are few and far between, although they do exist. Correct me if I'm wrong, but being gay is not one of them.
O Son Of Being!
How canst thou forget thine own faults and busy thyself with the faults with others? Whoso doeth this is accursed of Me.
Baha'u'llah (The Hidden Words)
Also, Baha'is are taught that “backbiting” is the worst of all sins. Unfortunately, or fortunately, several former Christian and Moslem Baha'is (or those coming from such backgrounds) have brought the vigilance of their preceding dispensations into the Faith. I say “fortunately” as vigilance is needed for anything to move forward in this world. I say “unfortunately” as many of these vigilant Baha'is apply their own personal standard to those around them. Sorry, but we're not all there yet.
Of note, Baha'u'llah forbade the confession of sins, as it is done in the Catholic church, as confession only brings shame and humiliation to the confessor, and Baha'u'llah wishes shame for no one. So if Baha'u'llah does not want us to “backbite” about one another or create “shame” for others, why is it that some of the most stalwart members of the Faith engage in such activity?
On that note, what I am going to say next is not to be taken as a confession, but as an example. Here it goes: I am an alcoholic Baha'i. Always have been! Always will be (whether I ever drink again or not)! That's my challenge. I look at a bottle the same way most people look at someone they are sexually attracted to, and I doubt the situation will ever change. But I've learned a way to deal with it. To be honest, I was dry for more than two decades, and never imagined that I'd fall back on the bottle again. But some things happened in my life and one thing led to another. I then drank for three years straight without any other Baha'is, excluding my wife, knowing about it. I never got drunk. I never drank in public. I never experienced a hangover. I just needed my one shot at night to help relax me and get me to sleep. I kept trying to quit for a long time, all to no avail. Then about a year ago I went to the doctor who said I had liver damage, and that if I didn't quit immediately I would probably be dead within 10 years. Still, that was not enough to take me off the bottle. Then about six months ago I devised a means to stop drinking. I started making 1 month plans to keep me off the bottle, and each month I would renew my 1 month plan for another month. So far, this has been going on for six months and I’m going strong. Can I commit that I will never fall off the wagon again? I don't know. All I can do is try my best. But by making my goals realistic (1 month at a time), I don't need to feel overwhelmed by the height of the whole mountain. After all, Baha'u'llah's standard is too high for anyone to adhere to completely, but is laid out for the progress humankind. And it’s going to take a mighty high standard to turn this ship around, whether some parts of that standard fit into our own personal scheme of things or not. It’s not all easy. Being a Baha'i can be very challenging, indeed, yet very joyous when we arise for the occasion. I feel great joy being dry right now, but not one day goes by without feeling tempted, at least once, to go back on the bottle. I hope and pray that the fast, which I'm now doing, will make me stronger and more detached (but each day I have to make an extra-concerted effort that I'm sure some Baha'is do not have to deal with).
Still, some of the more stalwart Baha'is (and I honestly mean “stalwart” in a good way) could show a little more love and compassion with those who are struggling, but trying their best. We’re not all there yet, and probably never all will be. After all, it’s starting the process that counts first and foremost, and then the flame must be kindled afterward. We’re all trying within our own capacity. But we do not all have the same backgrounds and/or capacities.
As a note, and getting back to the original intent of this thread, I do have a gay friend who left the Faith upon his return to North America. He declared his Faith in Asia where the community was very open and accepting of him. We knew of his orientation, but it was never an issue. Then upon returning to North America, he was hounded by some local Baha'is to the point that he left the Faith (a terrible shame, and complete lack of understanding on part of the local Baha'is). Another friend of mine once put it this way "As Baha'i we are stalwart, yet tolerant". I feel very sad that my friend’s community in North America were not so open. I hope I'm not stepping on any proverbial toes, but just my own humble opinion here, but I believe Baha'is could demonstrate a little more tolerance before they stifle the growth of their own Faith. After all, we pride ourselves in "Unity in Diversity". I could be wrong, but just my take on things here.
In all fairness, the challenge that some Baha'is have towards acceptance of gay people is endemic in society as a whole and is not limited to just Baha'is. Hopefully through such fruitful discussion and dialogue as you have started here, David, we can all become a little more educated on the issues. Thanks!
PS...I’m fasting right now, and I have prayed and meditated that this posting will not be taken in the wrong way. Please enlighten me if I'm off the mark.
Thank you John W. for your thoughtful and inspiring comment. It echoes many of my own sentiments on this topic.
One person’s opinion and encounter is not that of the Baha’i’ faith in total. There, is the Universal House of Justice with 9 quite HUMBLE MEN who love help to rescue the Jews and Gentiles from hating and killing each other. I love to support them. Please don’t use personal encounters as a measure of the Baha’i’ doctrine in total.
As for homosexual tendencies, I personally think that with the progress in the genetic engineering field, we will soon have the possibility to choose the sex of our children well before birth. Homosexuality may therefore be not an issue in the future. As for now, I shall respect the homosexuals and the lesbians. They are as human as the rest of us. I do also think that when it comes to adoption rights. We should respect the right of a child not to be subjected to our sexual orientation. Children should have a right to know and choose who their adoptive parents are going to be. In that sense, the adoption rights should be threaded a lot more carefully.
Everyone approaches the Baha’i’ faith from a different angle. I have come to realise that the Baha’i’ total ban on alcohol was based on an Islamic tradition. Muhammad the Muslim prophet did not ban it for the first ten years of his prophethood until his followers killed each other while drunk. Baha’u’llah perhaps never drank himself but he enjoyed having sex with three women and suffered from the problems amongst his children. Yet, he allowed having two wives in his Ketabi Aghdas (The most holy book). His son Abdul-Baha who had suffered from the enmity of his half brothers, abandoned his father’s allowance and banned bigamy - allowed by his father - and polygamy in total for ever. Do you see? Muslims and us both are subjects and victims of the PERSONAL EXPERIENCES of the so known as "HOLLY MEN". I think Christians suffer in the same manner.
Let’s wake up.
You have mentioned some factual points on both the Baha’i Faith and Islam, which have some truth to them. However, I would just like to correct a few minor elements, and give some context to others. Firstly, Baha'u'llah never had any concubines although His father did. Secondly, yes, you are absolutely right that Baha'u'llah had three wives. But it should be remembered that Baha'u'llah was married all three times under Islamic Law – not Baha’i Law – as the Kitabi-Aqdas had not been revealed yet. During the dispensation of Mohammad, polygamy had a very important societal function. In Arab society, before the time of Mohammad, the Arabs were engaged in bitter tribal warfare and women were given very few rights. Therefore, polygamy was a way to elevate the rights of women in context of those times. Men were often dying early while they engaged in fighting. Correspondingly, men who did not die were often left to provide social security for widowed or outcast women. It should be noted that one of Baha’u’llah’s wives was in fact a widow. Baha’u’llah’s stating that bigamy was permitted in the Kitabi-Agdas was conditional on whether a man could treat two women completely equal and just or not. This was meant as a transition from polygamy towards monogamy as Abdul-Baha later indicated that no man can possibly treat two women completely “justly” and “equally”, Baha'u'llah's law indeed was stating that polygamy was now outmoded, although it served a clear function in the days of Mohammad.
I think a similar comparison could be made with the wearing of chadors and veils. Rape of women was rampant in traditional Arab society, so the wearing of chadors and veils was a way to discourage rape in those days. But eventually the wearing of such constrictive clothing also became outmoded. When Tahireh first removed the veil, she said she was doing so for the "emancipation of all women".
So times change, and the social teachings change, too. But the spiritual teachings or truths remain the same and are actually expanded upon as human understanding increases. I hope this explanation makes sense.
Also, I realized I said something in my initial posting that was not fair. In re-reading my post, I realized I was a little bit harsh on so-called stalwart Baha’is, and saw that my posting could be taken the wrong way. Baha’is should never look to people around them to define their standard as they will always be let down and discouraged. Also, we should not set the bar too high for ourselves, either, as we will eventually reach a breaking point ourselves. Baha’u’llah mentions that the first Taraz (effulgence) is “knowing oneself” – knowing and accepting oneself and one’s limitations is very important – but he also goes on to mention recognizing that which leads to “loftiness and abasement”. Everything in this world is temporal and is meant for the progress of the soul. Thus, our ultimate standard (if we accept Baha'u'llah, of course) should be the standard set by Baha’u’llah, although we should realize that such a lofty goal is in its entirety beyond the grasp of any human. The first step is recognizing Baha’u’llah, and if we accept Him, follow His laws and ordinances (which implies respecting the Central Figures of the Faith and its institutions). But we should never become too hard on ourselves when we fall short of Baha’u’llah’s lofty ideals: we ALL do. I guess it comes down to taking the first step, and the rest will follow.
“O COMPANION OF MY THRONE!
Hear no evil, and see no evil, abase not thyself, neither sigh and weep. Speak no evil, that thou mayest not hear it spoken unto thee, and magnify not the faults of others that thine own faults may not appear great; and wish not the abasement of anyone, that thine own abasement be not exposed. Live then the days of thy life, that are less than a fleeting moment, with thy mind stainless, thy heart unsullied, thy thoughts pure, and thy nature sanctified, so that, free and content, thou mayest put away this mortal frame, and repair unto the mystic paradise and abide in the eternal kingdom for evermore.”
(Baha’u’llah – Hidden Words)
“O My servants! Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane, things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you. Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your eyes. You are destined by Him, in this world and hereafter, to partake of their benefits, to share in their joys, and to obtain a portion of their sustaining grace. To each and every one of them you will, no doubt, attain.”
(Baha’u’llah – Gleanings)
It looks like we are going round the one circle here. Well above, in this posting it was outlined that Baha’u’llah declared himself as the “the Revelation of God himself” well more significant than all previous revelations. i.e. the summation, the conclusion and the promised one by all previous revelations. What is the difference then? If Baha’u’llah like Muhammad had to wait for the “word of God” to come to him later in his life in Akka in the Kitabi Aqdas - then what makes him different to Muhammad? What does the “Full Revelation of God” mean then? His son and successor Abdul-Baha later said that the actual revelation happened to him when he was in the Dark Pit prison in Tehran/Iran.
Muhammad didn’t bother to go through such trouble. He declared himself above the LAWS he had set for his followers, so he could do what he wanted.
Baha’u’llah himself said in the Tablet of Ahmad – revealed in Aderneh Turkey 1865 – that he was abiding by the rule of Bayan as set by the Bab.
Well, the Bab allowed bigamy but not three-gamy. Why did Baha’u’llah marry three women then? Wasn’t it a disobedience to the law of Bab as set in the Bayan? Abdul-Baha was trying to justify everything that his father did. But it does not fit the logical mind.
In the so much vehemently dark background of the Shiite Islamic oppression in Iran – during the 19th century and afterwards - I think the Baha’i’ Faith is like a shining lump coming from the darkest corner of our suffering planet. The problem is that this lump used some of the contaminated oil which existed in the background Shiite Muslim oppression in Iran. I sadly feel sorry for the lump.
Corrections inserted;Please replace [moderator note: in keeping with blog conventions of maintaining a full history of discussion, I'm posting the corrections, but not 'destructively editing' the past comments]
In the vehemently dark background of the Shiite Muslim oppression in Iran – during the 19th century and afterwards - I think the Baha’i’ Faith came up like a shining lamp coming from the darkest corner of this planet.
The problem is that this lamp used some of the contaminated oil which existed in the background Shiite Muslim oppression in Iran. It's a pity to see the lamp got so contaminated that today, membership of the supreme body i.e. The Universal House of Justice is allowed to men only.
It is heart warming to see such various topics being discussed from variour points of view, though it seems that some are clinging to a few points that they have to emphasise their points without understanding the times - the culture and customs.
For example, we need a better understanding, though mentioned above in some of the comments, about the non-station of girl child and women before prophet Mohammad came. He came to tribes that use to bury their daughters alive. This is the kind of people. So, this practice also made the equilibrium between men and women not equal. Also, you cannot take your teaching in one dispensation from one extreme to another as people will be dump founded, and don't think they were not tested along the way on this new path of faith. So, now coming to Mohammad himself, he had many, to the outside world, wifes. The main reason for that is not that he wanted to have sexual intercourse with all of them. The main reason was his love for them as many had lost their fathers, husbands to the wars. He was simply protecting and supporting them. Does everything we think about have to do with SEX. Is is possible that there would have been other possibilities - we should all be open to such so we can all grow and move on to higher levels of Consciousness.
We all should realize that we are seeking the same truth but with different lenses and until we are not able to try to see through the eyes of others we will continue to think we are right and our ideas are the best - which is erroneous (I like that word :))
I read about the drinking, sex, etc. and that the Baha'i Faith is outdated, that it was meant for the 19th century, etc. But be reasonable and look into society. It does not take a rocket scientist to realize, if looked objectively, that we have major sexual, drug, drinking, etc. problems in the world today.
As Baha'is we are told that we have one life to live and that is our own and that if we are spending our times looking to see how this person or that person is doing we are wasting precious time: "... Each of us is responsible for one life only, and that is our own. Each of us is immeasurably far from being 'perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect' and the task of perfecting our own life and character is one that requires all our attention, our will- power and energy. If we allow our attention and energy to be taken up in efforts to keep others right and remedy their faults,we are wasting precious time. We are like ploughmen each of whom has his team to manage and his plough to direct, and in order to keep his furrow straight he must keep his eye on his goal and concentrate on his own task. If he looks to this side and that to see how Tom and Harry are getting on and to criticize their ploughing, then his own furrow will assuredly become crooked."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 12, 1925: Living the Life, pp. 2-3)
I have another great quote of Shoghi Effendi for reflection which lets people understand what this Faith is about. That it if progressive and believes in that process:
If long-cherished ideals and time-honored institutions, if certain social assumptions and religious formulae have ceased to promote the welfare of the generality of mankind, if they no longer minister to the needs of a continually evolving humanity, let them be swept away and relegated to the limbo of obsolescent and forgotten doctrines. Why should these, in a world subject to the immutable law of change and decay, be exempt from the deterioration that must needs overtake every human institution? For legal standards, political and economic theories are solely designed to safeguard the interests of humanity as a whole, and not humanity to be crucified for the preservation of the integrity of any particular law or doctrine.
(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 42)
in a nutshell:
The only mention of homosexuality that Bahais consider having some level of authority were penned in the 1930-50s by secretaries writing on behalf of Shoghi Effendi. Some Bahais consider these letters as being akin to Bahai Scripture, others, such as myself don't.
However the issue is that currently the Universal House of Justice, the head of the Bahai Administration, quotes these letters in support of their statements that homosexuality is not OK while stating that Bahais are not to be prejudiced towards others including homosexuals.
There is nothing from Baha'u'llah or Abdul-Baha on this topic although there is mention of sodomy being probihited and some Bahais argue that this means homosexuality. Baha'u'llah also mentions the shame of 'sex with boys' which seems from the context to be about pedastry, sex with minors. A practice of the times.
As a Bahai myself and believing in the importance of equality and being pro-gay, the dilemma I have is when gay and lesbian Bahais are treated differently to straight Bahais. I know some Bahai communities welcome their gay and lesbian Bahais, but they do this under the radar. Google the words "Bahai" and "gay" and you'll find many more examples of gays being rejected and discriminated against. I've blog which goes into more details on the 'hot' topic of homosexuality and the Bahai community: http://justabahai.wordpress.com
The Baha'i belief that every word of its scriptures are absolutely true and inspired, marks the biggest gulf between it and post-modernism, which sees such texts entirely (Baha'is say partly) as products of their times and cultures. The actual content of these texts is secondary, but yes, includes items offensive to most gays, feminists, evolutionary biologists, etc.
I blame the doctrine of the "Covenant" for this state of affairs. Other religions have retrograde scriptures, but manage to interpret the bad stuff out if they really want to. The Baha'is have been strong-armed into endorsing a whole lineage whose theological opinions have failed to keep up with the times, to put it mildly.
Speaking of which, I dimly recall Shoghi Effendi (a closeted homo if ever I saw one) affirming the Baha'i Faith to be "pacifist." What this practically amounts to is that Baha'is in the military are instructed to request assignment to non-combatant roles. (Cue discussion of the military policies of the future world commonwealth.)
"It's the homosexuality thing that most undermines my confidence in accepting the revelation."
Baha'i Laws only apply to Bahai's. It's impossible to apply a Bahai Law to a non Bahai. If some was gay, didn't want to give up drink, drugs, chasing women or men ! , (I was the chasing women sort !) don't become a Baha'i! The important thing for me is that if the Baha'i Faith becomes bigger over the next few centuries which I think is likely , but its up to people what they do , drinkers , gay people , women and men chasers won't be discriminated against. As A Baha'i I've seen no evidence in the Faith of Bahai's being anti gay they are just not pro. Even that can be a little bit complicated because I was very happy that gay marriages were legitimated in the UK and don't see those marriages as a threat to my beliefs or anyone else's. The important thing is just to accept people as they are and not make judgements!
Warmest Paul Saunders-Priem
I think it imperative for us to separate the scripture from the following. Usually we find followers defend and interpret their religion as if they have exclusive rights to do so. It should be free for all to analyse. By not allowing an analytical approach, leads to ignorance within that institution through 'disagreements'
''If they agree on a subject, even though it be wrong, it is better than to disagree and be in the right, for this difference will produce the demolition of the divine foundation. Though one of the parties be in the right and they disagree that will be the cause of a thousand wrongs, but if they agree and both parties are in the wrong, as it is in unity the truth will be revealed and the wrong made right. --Abdul Baha
While the founders sagely prescribed wisdom, the followers overlook the intent of their adopted faith. The INTENT is unity and peace. However it appears that mankind is increasing drifting from this intent. My view is that we are spiritually Devolving due to our struggles to prove the stations of our faith's founder.
Many adherents of religious traditions argue that their Prophets/Founders of particular tradition represents true revelation of God and that others are false Prophets, or at least inferior to their own. Followers have grown increasingly desperate to announce their religions. This rising tide of religious extremism fuels division which continue to threaten security and efforts towards peace. Violation of such extremism have compromised human development.
We are in 2011, landed on the moon, achieved medical breakthroughs yet cannot find it in our hearts to accomplish 'agreements'. Does this not contradict what Abdul Baha said?
Evidently humanity has outgrown religion.
Peace in Wisdom
My patience is dwindling as I continue to read some of this slander about the Baha'i faith draped in very unimpressive reasoning and seemingly deliberate mischaracterization. There has been no mention made of progressive revelation and the relationship of each dispensation to its preceding and succeeding as some of these clowns continue to complain about drivel that is clearly addressed and explained throughoutly and in full by the Baha'i writings, succession and authority being another such point. Some of this rambling should never have been posted and has contaminated the quality of this thread by distorting and misleading others that might be genuinely ill informed about the faith, and enabling others that seem to be taking aim at it for not according doctrinally with their own perspectives, particularly on the blantantly abnormal and unhealthy, not to mention counter intuitive, nature of homosexuality. Modern psychology on the subject has been butchered by the political climate and the 'political correctness' movement. Ignorance and malice, especially when mixed into a cocktail of error, are far more disgusting than anything about the Baha'i revelation. Baha'u'llah took 3 wives before his first revelation prescribing monogamy.
The only reason your post was the least bit contentious to me is because, you, like almost every other Baha'i I know assumes that Baha'u'llah actually said these things about homosexuality.
"However, like past Messengers of God, Baha'u'llah prohibited homosexuality. Moreover, He has explained that it is possible to heal oneself and change one's sexual orientation. This presupposes that heterosexuality is the normal and natural state for human beings. It also presupposes that, in the future, we will understand more about sexual behaviour and orientation, as well as sexual, physical and spiritual healing."
None of that was ever said by Baha'u'llah and you are misquoting Baha'i Scripture.
What you are talking about is attributed to Shoghi Effendi in the Kitab-i-Aqdas. The Universal House of Justice has currently interpreted letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to mean what you are saying. However, by the same letters, Shoghi Effendi states that these letters are not meant for interpretive purposes, but are personal and anecdotal. And that he would prefer if none of the letters were recorded and published. Look it up using Ocean, I paraphrased but its there. Furthermore, there is also a letter (if we must insist on using letters) written by Ruhiyyih Khanum on behalf of Shoghi Effendi which explicitly says that no opinion whatsoever should be formed on the matter of homosexuality, because Baha'is have not come to such a state of moral perfection that they should judge the private lives of other people. Again, the letter is available on the internet or on research databases like Ocean. It is okay to adhere to these beliefs, but it is FALSE to say that Baha'u'llah ever said that. And Shoghi Effendi himself never said it either. If it was such an important issue wouldn't he meantion it in the section on chastity in Advent of Divine Justice?
I would like to amend my previous post and say that by "its alright to adhere to these beliefs" I do not mean that I think it is spiritually acceptable or permissible to think like what you were saying. It is simply understandable. I am a Baha'i and I was not born into the Faith. I however have chosen to remain in the Faith despite my homosexuality. I know other gays and lesbians who are welcomed and accepted into the community, without having to change or accept celibacy (something Abdu'l Baha vehemently opposed!). As a fellow believer in Baha'u'llah you know that we are called to dispense with traditions, superstitions, myths and biases. Baha'u'llah says that "honesty is the foundation of all human virtues." I would be dishonest to myself, to God, to my friends and family if I said that I think I might one day be heterosexual. I could live and practice a heterosexual lifestyle, as long as it did not include sex and intimacy. That would be unfair to my hypothetical wife. That would be dishonest. Furthermore, Baha'u'llah has called us to use justice in our understanding of Creation. Justice, He has properly defined, is seeing through your own eyes and not through the eyes of someone else (or the Universal House of Justice). The truth is, there are many Baha'is from all walks of life for whom the currently accepted interpretation on homosexuality does not fit with their ideas of equality and justice. I do not mean to abuse you, to vilify you or to come across as I know more. I simply have come to this conclusion through my studies of the Baha'i Writings, and through the Writings on the Covenant. I will not reconcile myself with "maybe we just don't know yet." Baha'u'llah never asked anyone to agree with anything that went against their fundamental sense of what is right and what is wrong. Disagreeing with the Universal House of Justice is not the same as opposing it. I recognize the beauty and the grace and the mercy that is woven into the very atoms and words that represent this institution. And through my love and understanding of the Covenant, I recognize that the Universal House of Justice is in its infancy. What it says is what God wants it to say, what it promotes is the very Will of God. But it does not mean it is eternally true. It has only power over social laws, and marriage is a social law. And so is women being on the House for that matter. It is possible for both positions to change as humanity understands more about what true justice is, and what true sexual deviancy is, and what true reliance to the Covenant is. I would be a liar if I didn't stand up for this, and if I said this is not what God has chosen to make me understand right now. I am one person, but I promise I am not the only one who feels this way.
A fascinating discussion on the Bahai faith! I too am a Bahai and have wondered recently on the faith's attitude to homosexuality.
Perhaps there will one day be a decree from the Universal House of Justice, though I hope it will not be too black and white in its view.
One of the things I love about the faith is its ability to evolve in the light of science and progress of knowledge. All religions have had to dovetail themselves onto the society in which they appear.
Bahaullah managed to make it clear that all religions share the same fundamental truths concerning our relationships with one another and with the physical world. To make sexual orientation a point of contention or even a reason to leave the faith is not, it seems to me, a fault of the Bahai faith but merely the fault of some believers who perhaps wish to have their own views confirmed by Holy writ.
Surely it is far too early for our faith to be crystalizing into stone with attitudes that are more akin to the older faiths. A world of diversity and without prejudice and an ability to evolve, through understanding and knowledge, is where we are headed and we should avoid at all cost cementing our personal views into a liturgy of do's and dont's.
At least not for a thousand years!
The Bahai Faith is frozen at this moment on the words and the words of secretaries of ONE Guardian in history. THere were to be many more Guardians who would interpret the laws of the Faith according to the needs of the time. What homosexuality meant in the time of Bahaullah, in the time of Shoghi Effendi even, is WAY different from what it can mean today. HOmosexuals have proven that they can, just as heterosexuals, create loving stable families (fortresses of well-being) that will ever advance civilization. For Bahais to not see this makes them backwards and prejudiced- placing dogma over principle. The Faith of Bahaullah was supposed to change and adapt to the times- it was not supposed to be some strict Shariah law for humanity to accept at some point. But again, dogma per principle. Unfortunately Bahais are blind to see their own obvious homophobia since they consider themselves to be so tolerant and free from prejudice. Oh and before you think I'm totally clueless regarding the topic, I am 5th generation Persian Bahai and gay- I grew up inside the belly of the beast per say.... so yeah I know.
It is sad to me to read the comments of Baha'is and others who want to parse the meaning of the words written by Baha'u'llah, Shoghi Effendi, and the UHJ regarding the stance of the Faith on homosexuality. Homosexual acts are forbidden to believers, just as is alcohol, recreational drug use, and backbiting. The laws revealed by all Manifestations, past and present, are given to us to guide our SPIRITUAL development. Baha'u'llah says that the laws are like the ocean and men are the fish. Each of us has struggles adhering to these laws, and each of us has been given free will to choose to obey or disobey. When we leave this world as each is bound to do we will enter a new life unencumbered by "labels" by which we define ourselves here - male, female, black, white, American, French, middle class, poor, heterosexual, homosexual, whatever. Our responsibility in this life is to develop spiritual attributes and apply them in our daily lives for the betterment of ourselves and others as we strive to build a united world. All who understand the beauty and strength of Baha'u'llah's message are welcome in our community with any and all baggage they bring with them. Come, fight your spiritual battles and I'll fight mine while we do our part to change this world into a "rose garden" where justice, peace, and love rule.
A fascinating, and long thread. I had an encounter at boarding school with an older boy. Amazingly ( I was only 13) I remember an astonishing sense of relief that I had not been struck down by a thunderbolt! That night is imprinted in my memory very clearly to this day.
Though I was not bought up in a religious atmosphere at home, I went to sunday school and at my boarding school we had to attend chapel every day except saturday. I would imagine the stonework falling down on the man giving us the sermon to keep me amused. Such are the musings of an adolescent at public school in the 60's.
Following school, psychedelia seemed to shout the loudest with more meaning and tolerance than I ever picked up in school. I took up a bit of writing as my friends were doing the same and following the jimmy Hendrix Isle of White festival I sailed across the atlantic to Antigua with three acquaintances. I was still fairly confused about my own sexuality and many other things as well, so I wrote a journal, sometimes ranting about my fellow sailors, sometimes writing poetry to reflect the ocean and the universe as it passed by us. I left the yacht shortly after arriving, smoked too much weed and got arrested about a month later! (Ah the folly of youth)
An american woman who had been married 7 times and ran a hotel was the only person who showed me any compassion and was instrumental in seeing that I did not go to gaol. One day she asked to see my poetry and then she told me about the bahai faith and I saw my poetry in a different light altogether! ( not just hippie ramblings ). She was a pillar of the local bahai community and said to me one day whilst waiting to go to court, "You're a Bahai, you just don't realize it yet". She never once made any judgements about me. She was extreemly kind and supportive of my own path in life. On my flight home I read Thief In the Night and decided that I had found what I was looking for. It was not until the eighties when I married, that I declared officially and became a statistic in the faith.
So this homosexuality issue seems more contentious than it should be. Having experienced both sides of the coin, I am surprised and disappointed to see the faith described as homophobic by people who sound to me every bit as good a Bahai as the rest of us apart from their sexual preference. And judging by their comments, far more active than I am at this moment within the faith. I would concur with the principal of the ideal union of a man and a woman as being the foundation of all life and a bedrock of society. But sex is a deeply personal and private experience and it should probably remain so from whatever side it is practiced. I have through out my life always had at least one close friendship with another male and others probably thought we were gay. It is true I went through much confusion because of that experience and it took some experimenting to make up my mind.
I was eventually married for 7 years, some good, some not so good. But I have two beautiful and loving girls. I realized that for me marriage was often uncomfortable and I put this down to my parents fighting a lot and my own selfishness. I adored my dad up until I was 13 which probably accounts for the strong friendships I have formed with other men through my life but have never felt sexually attracted to any of them and realized early on that It would break that friendship.
I know the Bahai community has very high standards and so It should, but to read the laments of lifetime believers who are gay and have been shut out by their communities, this seems a travesty of love and compassion, and we should not, and Baha'u'llah would not, shut them out.
So come on bahai communities wherever you are, lets not allow prejudice, based on scant references to sexuality in the writings, to push away those who struggle to conform lest we turn away everyone else and render Baha'u'llah's faith impotent! The law of this country says that it is wrong to discriminate against someone's sexual orientation. Are we not exhorted to obey the laws of our country?
Dear people , My opinions : People do not have to talk about their sexual feelings , their sexual preferences , and their sexual activities . If people do want to talk about these things , maybe it would be good to talk with people who humbly listen . People need to make their own decisions about what they believe about sexuality . Physical sex is not the only way to express love . People need to be accepted and loved based on spiritual and mental interaction . People do not have to talk , about their religious beliefs , with people who feel offended by those beliefs . Sexual feelings and religious beliefs can be kept private , when people do not want to hear about them . We don't have to listen to young people gossiping and joking about whether or not someone is a virgin . A lot of the talk about sexuality is juvenile gossip and bullying . Each person's sexuality doesn't have to be any one else's concern . If people do want to talk about sexuality , people can listen intelligently , or leave the place of the conversation . We can have polite conversations . We do not have to think about what goes on in people's bedrooms . Concerning giving personal , social , legal , civil , and human rights to people , I think we need a lot more polite discussion , and a lot more improvement . Thank you . John
I am a person who reads a lot, and have divulged in a lot of things about religion.. about homosexuality, I read in one excerpt from Baha'i writings, that no mater how pure the love between 2 people of the same sex is........... it is wrong to express it sexually(pretty much like no matter how pure a love between a brother and a sister is, is wrong to express that sexually)..... and as mentioned in some posts in here, sex should be between husband and wife.......... homosexuality is not against the law, just like having an affair is not against the law per say(only time it comes into a court system is in divorce cases), it is a personal choice, but when one chooses a religion, one is also making a commitment to its moral laws............ about progressive revelation, from what I read, for the most part the "spiritual laws" stay pretty much the same, but physical laws and writings can change, like the laws in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, it will be silly to adhere in today's world to the laws of "if one steals, than the person's hand will be cut off"... Abraham brought the revelation of One God, with no one else, Moses brought forth most of the laws(including 10 commandments) and the actual writings, Buddha brought up that we should not worry about "who is God through physical means" but about becoming closer to God's qualities, Zoroaster brought up that mankind struggles between good thoughts and bad thoughts , Jesus brought that mankind should love each other as siblings, and the message of Love toward God, others and ourselves, Muhammad brought unity to the Arab world, and to being faithful to word of God, and not damage it with "human concepts of the religions of that time", Bab and Baha'ullah brought the start of the fulfillment of the prophecies, and that man should take responsibility of its own actions instead of blaming everything on the "devil", that man is the union of the soul(which is inherently always good) and physical body which can be both good and bad, either we strive to do what our spirit needs, or do what our bodies desire, we can be generous or we can be greedy, and there has to be a balance.... we can't be overly zealous about our faith and hate those who do not believe what we believe, nor should we do whatever physical desires we have, and forget about our moral values
I enjoyed reading this thread. I resigned from the Baha'i Faith because of the issue of homosexuality, I always thought that by the time I became an Adult the UHJ would not be so timid as to tell the conservative Baha'is that homosexuality was accepted and embraced, it just seemed like a matter of time, but that time never came. So I resigned, after having resigned I have become aware of a lot of issues I had with the laws that we as Baha'is were trying to have the whole world follow, laws that read as ancient compared to the international solutions we have today. Some of which are the dowry, punishments, marriage inequality, virgin worship etc...things that just don't have any place in modern society. I just couldn't with any good faith tell others to join a religion that seemed to be going backwards in time instead of forwards. Also, when I was younger youth were encouraged to read all of the writings and be very academic in the approach, now it seems that the Faith wishes to hide a lot of actual content and just hand out the ruhi book version of the faith which seems a lot more streamlined, however IF the faith is the answer to all ills it should show in the holy book, however this book is so ancient sounding in its laws and punishments that it really is hard to tell people that this religion is here to update all other religions and bring about a universal peace when it sounds like medieval law.
This is a blog site worth preserving. There are many intelligent observations. Let me just say, as a Baha'i, that I have had love for many men, but never in a sexual capacity. Some of them who reciprocated that love were homosexuals, but never exerted their sexuality upon me. Let us respect the dignity of such friends, who treat everyone with respect. They knew I was not of the same inclination. They respected that. And when I found out their preferences, I respected them. They remain my dear friends, and me theirs.
In my opinion we should look at the Baha'i faith teaching ( or any other spritual teaching) as a guidelines to improve our lives. Calling it holy and unchangable facts can cause problem and distructive to human kind unity. You should not reject the entir teaching as a whole because you don't like some of the teaching and it contradicts with your own logic. You are responsible for investigating the truth in your term with your knowledge. Bahai faith teaches us if there was a scientific finding that discredit some of the teachings we should disregard those teaching. If genetic research prove 100% without a doubt that there is a part of the genetic building of cromozons that make a human have homosexual tendencies then we have to accept it as a normal condition. And I am sure there are some people that become homosexual just because of their early childhood experiences due to melesation or other experiences. Regardless we should not judge any one or have predijuse toward anyone with different sexual orientation then ours. We are all fighting some personal battles. Continue with practicing the teaching that make you a better human and never ever be ashamed of who you are.
I came cross your blog late last night and I typed my original post in my bed using my cell phone! I see that I have a lot of spelling mistake and grammar errors! here is my attempt to make it more readable:) thank you :
In my opinion we should look at the Baha'i faith teaching (or any other spiritual teaching) as guidelines to improve our lives. Calling it holy and unchangeable facts can cause problem and be destructive to human kind unity. You should not reject the entire teaching as a whole because you don't like some of the teaching because it contradicts with your own logic. You are responsible for investigating the truth in your own term with your knowledge and understanding. Baha’i faith teaches us if there were scientific findings that discredit some of the teachings we should disregard those teaching. If genetic research prove 100% without a doubt that there is a part of the genetic building part of the chromosomes that make a human have homosexual tendencies then we have to accept it as a normal condition. And I am sure there are some people that become homosexual just because of their early childhood experiences due to molestation or other experiences. Regardless we should not judge any one or have prejudice toward anyone with different sexual orientation then ours. We are all fighting some personal battles in our own lives. Continue with practicing the teaching that make you a better human and better member of the human race family and never ever be ashamed of whom you are. I am not gay and I will never understand how they feel and what they go through in their daily life trying to fit-in in our society, we should treat them with kindness like the way we treat any other person! Ask yourself how Baha'ullah would have been treated them if he was alive amongst us today!
To open, I am a Baha'i.
I am heterosexual but very open and compassionate to the point that most homosexuals assume or insist I am gay on some level. Cool. I would never ask them to be different. I love them entirely and I know that my love for them is only a mist off of a drop of the ocean of God's love for them.
That, to me, is what being a Baha'i is.
I am sad there is no Baha'i marriage for gays. Any bit of stability we can get for our society ....
That won't make me leave the Faith, though. And I know of a number of Baha'i gay people who live quietly but openly together, very loving and not bothering any one, and their devotion to the Faith and to each other makes the world a lovelier garden.
I would like to celebrate that with them.
I know this Faith is not static but evolving. Baha'u'llah did not write against homosexuality. The time is not ripe. Enough said.
Men and the Universal House of Justice. Have you ever been pregnant? Not if you are a man you havent. You give up everything: caffeine, a waistline, your body as you know it, the good opinion of intellectuals, and you endure vicious nausea and exhaustion and pain and you visit the shores of eternity and come back with a wet being of questionable beauty who takes over every OTHER aspect of your life ... though the waistline and boobs never really come back either.
The men on the Universal House of Justice have to give up their LIVES, folks. And though we respect them and love them enough to trust them with the job... we give them NOTHING in return for the demands we make on them: no limousines, no mansions, no pensions, no party girls, no pomp... and their personal opinions matter not even a little bit, as they must learn to subsume it all into the group mind of the nine-member council.
You cannot perhaps comprehend this without the contextual information about our elections. We have no politicking. No nominations. You cannot aspire to a position in the administrative order. If you do, your companions will not vote for you. The people who are elected to the Universal House of Justice do not want to go. They have to. What they want is to continue their lives and chosen professions, and believe me, they are elected in their PRIMES...but the world calls and you go... after a good cry, some fervent prayers, and a sense of total inadequacy, you pack a bag and leave your life behind.
Yeah. Sounds a lot like pregnancy to me, and no thank you. It would be un-just of the world to require that of even ONE woman who had ever given birth.
BTW... the highest station a human can attain is servitude... and that includes parenthood. If you do it right, you know what I mean.
The difficulty, of course, is that in this glorious Faith, we have turned the standards by which we measure everything upside down. It really is a total change of heart, of perspective, of paradigm. Once you catch the fragrance of sweet holiness from the Eternal Realms even just once, you are willing to do anything for it. That Divine Sweetness is so quietly assured in holding all that the world values as dust, and this sweet servitude as everything. And it is.
This Revelation will endure despite the Baha'is or any opinions, despite the World, which It eschews, but on behalf of the Earth, Whom It loves.
N.B. Baha'u'llah's wives: one was His companion: Navvab. The other two He had to take. A note to remember: being a Messenger from God, He also would have known the difficulties his marriages to these other two would cause His descendents, as their children were a scourge on the Faith, and served to strengthen it and purify it, as in a crucible...
This Faith and Its followers has been tested and will be tested, most often by their own selves.
Come on in. The water's fine!
Yes I am a Baha'i.
From what I have read about the Faith, in regards to this discussion,
1. Baha'u'llah preached against pederasty, which is where you have sexual relations with someone who is a biological minor. Also, it wasn't until the last couple of decades that the LGBTQ community started to become accepted by Americans, which is still only 60% approval, so try not to discredit an entire global religion of anywhere from 5 to 8 million, out of 7 billion, just because some of their members don't agree with you in every respect.
2. Baha'u'llah only preached against consuming alcohol, and other substances, because you will not be able to think properly and therefore not be able to worship God properly. So it can possibly be interpreted that you should focus on keeping a clear mind and moderate your usage. As in, don't let the substance consume you. I know of a couple of other Baha'i's who have no problem with drinking socially, or being promiscuous from time to time. But that is the key part, from time to time, it does not become who they are. They are the ones who keep control, so excuse them for indulging every now and then. Also, Baha'u'llah preached against asceticism, which is where you void your life of all worldly pleasure. That sounds pretty revolutionary for the 19-century where asceticism was a requirement of every other religion. We exist in this world of flesh for a brief amount of time, we should at least be able to enjoy it.
3. Also, read the official website of the UHJ where they specifically say that women are not forbidden from serving on the UHJ. That is just a myth that has permeated amongst the followers from the early days who were 19-century Muslims that still believed they were above women. It is also believed to have been a misinterpretation of a word that can either mean 'men', or 'people'.
4. Please don't discount an entire religion based on a few individuals. That is like calling Islam a religion of terrorists. So please don't think people like Sheela speak for the rest of us and make us look like a bunch of intolerant a*******. Yes I know that last sentence sounds like backbiting.
Hopefully this will be constructive to the conversation.
Then why hasn't there ever been women elected to the UHJ?
I was raised Catholic, but have been agnostic for many years.
i have been spending a lot of time recently reading about the bahai faith and its teachings and history.
on one hand, i have a great amount of respect for the bahai beliefs regarding, pacifism, peace, tolerance, and the unity of mankind.
i think that the three major Abrahamic religions could greatly benefit from some bahai beliefs and ideas. i respect the core ideas of bahai, but also have some criticisms. I believe there are several logical fallacies in bahai doctrine.
"If religion were contrary to logical reason then it would cease to be a religion and be merely a tradition. Religion and science are the two wings upon which man's intelligence can soar into the heights, with which the human soul can progress. It is not possible to fly with one wing alone! Should a man try to fly with the wing of religion alone he would quickly fall into the quagmire of superstition, whilst on the other hand, with the wing of science alone he would also make no progress, but fall into the despairing slough of materialism. All religions of the present day have fallen into superstitious practices, out of harmony alike with the true principles of the teaching they represent and with the scientific discoveries of the time."
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 143.)
Well, this belief is rather problematic. I think that it is a great idea, but the bahai teachings and science are in open contradiction with one another.
Bahai teachings give some ambgiuous but ultimately negative views and problematic views on homosexuality.
Shoghi Effendi said "through the advice and help of doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap."
i dont even have to explain why this view is completely destructive, ignorant, and unscientific.
Not only that, but there is no scientific reason to beleive that baha'ullah was speaking from the mouth of god. i am accepting of anyones religious beliefs, but to hold those beliefs to the same standard of science requires EVIDENCE.
There is no evidence that god exists, we do not see, touch, or speak to him. he has never appeared to a mass of people in any way that can be documented and verified as fact.
Basically, bahai is at the same time in my opinion, the best of and the worst of religion. it speaks of unity, oneness, and tolerance for all.
yet, it clings to the dogma of the time period that the faith came out of.
also, to say that bahai fulfills the prophecies of the other religions is nonsense. you cant read the bible, quran, and bahai texts as one comprehensive narrative, because none of these scriptures fulfill one another.
they are all unscientific and dogmatic beliefs that rose out of bronze age civilization.
thank you all for engaging in this discussion, and may you all find your personal path to enlightenment and truth.
also, i would like to briefly respond to Sheela, i know her post is from five years ago, and hopefully she has become more educated about this subject but,
"As for homosexual tendencies, I personally think that with the progress in the genetic engineering field, we will soon have the possibility to choose the sex of our children well before birth. Homosexuality may therefore be not an issue in the future."
Congratulations Sheela, you are officially the most intolerant Bahai i have ever encountered.
How can you believe in an all knowing, all powerful, infinite, perfect, and loving creator, and simultaneously advocate for eugenics?
if everyone is equal in the eyes of god, why do we need to use technology to eliminate certain people from the genome?
is homosexuality that problematic for you, that you think it should we wiped from existence via selective genetic breeding?
You know you sound like a Nazi right know, right?
What you are talking will never happen in a free and just society. You should be ashamed of yourself.
i just realized that sheelas comment was satire, and satire that i agree with. sorry about the confusion i thought you were serious for a moment there :)
Regarding the gay thing...I believe the purpose of religion is to foster an ever advancing civilization. If homosexuality in of itself was as conducive to the security and development of the family-being the basis upon which civilization is built- as a marriage between a man and a woman I suspect it would have been perceived as such.
As I understand it-the Baha'i faith is not as focused on individual rights as it is on what will bring about the betterment of all humanity. The family is paramount in that development. You might disagree but I believe there is more good to be accomplished by a civilization based on ying-yang families than ying-ying or yang-yang...If you catch my meaning.
My response follows mommy 23 from a couple years back and includes a quoted comment from an opinion before that. I was a Baha'i for over thirty years, though it could be said that I was a "parallel Christian" off and on because I do like church services and singing in choirs. My husband of 26 years is a Baha'i, our two adult sons not.
I found some peace of mind by taking course thru Wilmette Institute for a couple of years; Tablets Baha'u'llah after Kitab-i-Aqdas, Early Mystical writings, Pillars of the Faith and lastly a seven week (which turned into a year) study of The Most Holy Book itself.
Agree with momly23 concerning the seemingly archaic and outmoded laws which are heavy tipped towards male interests and more and more resemble Islamic laws of the present. Of particular disappointment to me was no mention of the punishment for rape which continues to be a scourge and mostly affecting girls and women. The quote:
If rape was rampant in Arab society, why did Baha'u'llah not address this as one of 131 laws? We have arson, adultery and theft and general assault.
I am not asking for clarification because there is no satisfactory answer for this and combined with every other frustration I encountered in my Baha'i life here and abroad I finally mailed in my formal resignation last year.
I agree that open thinking is often characterized as trying to damage the faith and that Ruhi courses are in many ways opposite in their course directives to thinking at all.
Think, probe and God Bless all of you.
Dear everyone and David,
First, thanks for giving us Baha'is the time of day. In Iran we don't get such consideration.
The main message and ultimate purpose of the Baha'i Faith is for us to accept each other unconditionally regardless of Faith, race, nationality, class or gender. All are to be lovingly accepted unconditionally.
All are welcome to be part of the Baha'i Community or choose a different path in life. Our laws state that lawful marriage and sexual relations are only permitted between a married man and a woman. So not everyone will choose to be a Baha'i but Baha'is must treat everyone with equal respect and dignity regardless. A human being is a human being.
Every religion must have the right to freedom of religion. This is the way the Baha'i Faith is and it should be respected and also those who choose different lifestyles which is their right should be respected also and neither has the right to infringe upon the others freedom of choice to be what they want or follow the path of their choosing.
Both should live and let live respecting the choice each has made.
I live among Baha'i and was married to Baha'i for long time, I am well educated and independent. Even my ex-husband Saeed ( Rancho-cugamango, Cal ) claimed he did me a favor by marrying me, typical comment of a Baha'i from Iran. I would like to sayI used to laugh when people told me that Baha'i is a cult. But after what i went through with the member of this cult and how they tried to make my life miserable all because I asked for divorce and just wanted to get away from this cult. All I can say this is a dangerous cult, hope young women would stay away from this cult. My ex lied in all the applications to get government help for his parents and so many illegal activities. He always used to tell me that I am afraid to tell the authority, however he did not realize I have dignity and not afraid. Shame on all of members of this cult.
I was a Baha'i . I loved everything about the faith until I realized they were run by an international house of justice open only to men. I have lived my life as a free woman. Do I need this subjugation? And it is. NEVER. Good bye Baha'i.