Homosexuality

homosexuality

what the bahá'í faith says about it

facts, quotes and perspectives

considerations

homosexuality is quite a difficult topic. i must admit it can be hard to comprehend the religious perspective on this subject bECAUSE OF our cultural, social and personal background. when reading this article please keep in mind a few things:

1. My goal with this article is not to criticize, judge, debate or preach TO anyone. The goal is to express the bahá'í point of view on the subject of homosexuality in a SIMPLE, compact and hopefully complete way.

2.I would like to emphasize the fact that no one is perfect. and that includes us, that just try to be bahá'ís.

3. This article was written as an individual initiative of a bahá'í. some of it may not represent the writings accurately, due to paraphrasing in the video and in the summary. Therefore, this article may be considered bahá'í inspired. with that said, i would like you to know that i did my absolute best not to share any personal opinions, or to change or manipulate the writings in any way.

- SUMMARY -

Bahá'í view on homosexuality

(summary of the words of bahá'u'lláh, shoghi effendi, and the universal house of justice)

They will need (If it is their choice to do so):

–       A greater spiritual understanding and stability that is only found in the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh;

–       Acknowledgement that it may require a hard struggle;

–       The best available medical assistance, help and advice;

–       To seek appropriate counseling;

–       To seek the assistance of their National Spiritual Assembly;

–       Strong and determined effort and prayer to overcome it;

–       To exercise self-control, which is beneficial to the progress of the soul;

–       Meditation;

–       Self-abnegation;

–       To give as much time as possible to serving the Cause;

–       Confidence;

–       Courage to face one’s problems;

–       To firmly resolve to change their life. But they must have the desire to do so;

–       To resist wayward impulses each time they arise, if sincerely intending to overcome the problem. And the best way to do this is by turning to the Writings to redirect their thoughts into spiritual channels, concentrating on what can be done to help others and teaching the Faith;

–       To be patient with their own selves;

–       To persevere and only focus on their accomplishments, rather than dwelling on the dark side of things;

–       To accept that Bahá’u’lláh’s commandments come from God to benefit mankind;

 

* It is left to the individual believer to determine whether counselling or some other approach would be of personal assistance in this regard.

Bahá’ís should:

–       Help them;

–       Show love towards them;

–       Accept them;

–       Respect them;

–       Look only at their good qualities;

–       Have a sin-covering eye;

–       Advise them lovingly;

–       Sympathize with them;

–       Maintain harmony;

–       Be compassionate with them;

–       Be fair with them;

–       Be supportive;

–       Be infinitely patient;

–       Be tolerant but uncompromising;

–       Be understanding but immovable in their point of view;

–       Conform to the Bahá’í teachings and assist the seeker to recognize the station of Bahá’u’lláh with kindness and goodwill;

–       Consort with all in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship;

–       Ask God to guide them;

–       Associate with humanity with tolerance, unity and love;

–       Not contend with them;

–       Not try to prove to anyone that their beliefs or way of life is wrong;

–       Not show prejudice;

–       Not be unkind;

–       Not show disdain;

–       Not judge;

–       Not impose values on them;

–       Not gossip;

–       Not backbite.

–       To help the individual achieve true freedom and spiritual happiness in this world and the next.

–       To foster the wellbeing of the world and its peoples.

–       To heal the sickness of a divided humanity. 

Homosexuality:

–       Is forbidden;

–       Is spiritually condemned;

–       Is a distortion of human nature;

–       Is immoral;

–       Should be controlled;

–       Should be overcome (whether it’s physical or psychological);

–       Is against nature;

–       Subverts the purpose of human life;

–       Is not recognized as a permanent phenomenon.

–       Not imposing their values on others.

–       Not judging others based on one’s own moral standards.

–       Not considering homosexuals as outcasts.

–       There should be no expectation for non-Bahá’ís to obey Bahá’í law.

–       Without prejudice or disdain.

–       No. It is against Bahá’í law. Could lead to partial or complete suspension of administrative privileges.

–       There is little in the Bahá’í literature that specifically points to the causes of homosexuality.

–       No. Homosexuality is not a choice. But the individual can choose the way of life he or she wants to live, for example, abstaining from sexual acts.

–       No. They should receive support and encouragement from the community.

–       They should also learn that acquiring spiritual insight and greater understanding is a gradual and ever-unfolding process that requires time, continued study, reflection on action, and consultation with others.

–       They must adhere to their Faith, and not withdraw from active service because of the tests they experience. In one way or another, we are all tested; and this must strengthen us, not weaken us.

–       The question is not whether sexual orientation can be changed, but whether, as a Bahá’í, one endeavors to abide by Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings.

–       Heavy sanctions would only be fair if they were imposed on all Bahá’ís who infringe Bahá’í law – which would create an impossible and ridiculous situation.

–       The Institutions should offer patient loving advice and repeated warnings.

–       Assistance should be provided in cases of flagrant immorality. If possible, it should be restrained.

–       Individuals involved in public scandals are subject to the deprivation of voting rights. However, this is not advised, and applies only to very flagrant cases, after a period of probation in which no improvement is seen. 

–       Bahá’ís should not impose their values on others, nor judge others’ moral standards.

–       it is the duty of the Assembly to determine whether the immoral conduct is open and scandalous and could bring the name of the Faith into disrepute, in which case the Assembly must take action to counsel the believer and require him to make every effort to mend his ways. If he fails to rectify his conduct despite repeated warnings, sanctions should be imposed. Assemblies, of course, must exercise care not to pry into the private lives of the believers to ensure that they are behaving properly.

–       There may be times when an individual who shows complete indifference to the counsels of the institutions and firm resolution in his or her desire to maintain the status quo has no apparent interest in engaging in the life of the Bahá’í community. In such a case, provided that his or her conduct has no significant bearing on the good name of the Faith, the Assembly may decide to allow the individual to go his or her own way, neither insisting on continued contact nor feeling obliged to impose sanctions.

 

–       It is unknown. God will judge each soul based on its own merits.

–       Yes. Thus, it should not be so much a matter of whether a practicing homosexual can be a Bahá’í as whether, having become a Bahá’í, the homosexual can overcome his problem through knowledge of the teachings and reliance on Bahá’u’lláh.

–       Yet, it would be a profound contradiction for someone to profess the intention to be a Bahá’í, yet consciously dismiss, reject, or contend with aspects of belief or practice ordained by Bahá’u’lláh.

–       Chastity outside of marriage.                       

–       Prohibition of homosexual marriage.

–       Free will.

–       Independent investigation of the truth.

–       No. Every believer needs to remember that an essential characteristic of this physical world is that we are constantly faced with trials, tribulations, hardships and sufferings and that by overcoming them we achieve our moral and spiritual development.

–       Man’s physical existence on this earth is a period during which the moral exercise of his free will is tried and tested, in order to prepare his soul for the other worlds of God, and we must welcome affliction and tribulations as opportunities for improvement in our eternal selves.

–       Homosexuality is a difficult problem. However, its solution lies within each person’s power, for Bahá’u’lláh has assured us that God will never deal unjustly with anyone, neither will He task a soul beyond its power.

–       Homosexuals are not the only ones going through tests and trials. Every human being has to overcome his or her own inner promptings if he or she is to fulfill the purpose of their human existence.

–       Yes. Bahá’ís are exhorted to be upholders and defenders of the victims 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.

–       However, Bahá’ís should avoid being drawn into debates, as their results may not be ideal.

–       Only if their actions are flagrantly immoral, after a period of probation where no improvement is seen.

–       If a homosexual Bahá’í marries someone of the same sex, he or she may become subject to partial or complete suspension of administrative privileges.

–       With the intention to reinforce the integrity of the Bahá’í community, the institutions may be required to intervene, with the utmost delicacy and wisdom, in any specific case.

–       Only in circumstances where a believer, ignoring all admonishments, persists in misconduct and knowingly and consistently violates the law, would it be necessary for the Assembly to consider applying administrative sanctions.

–       Such sanctions should only be applied in extreme cases.

–      With love and acceptance. Such an attitude, however, should not imply agreement with his or her attitude towards homosexuality.

–      They should seek appropriate counseling and assistance from the National Spiritual Assembly.

–      The parents should pray and have faith in God, patience and loving consultations.

–      They should also seek to deal with this difficulty in a manner consistent with the spirit of the Cause of God, which is neither harsh and maledictory nor excessively liberal and forbearing.

–       The parents should avoid dwelling on any conflicted thoughts or emotions which they may experience, while continuing to demonstrate wholehearted and unconditional love, support and acceptance towards their son or daughter.

–       No. These teachings are set forth in the Sacred Text and are not susceptible to change by the Universal House of Justice.

–       The Faith cannot progress along the course intended by Bahá’u’lláh if individual believers add their personal views.

–       No. This is not a question of the relationship between science and religion. Sacred Texts contain various laws and admonitions that, in one way or another, redirect or restrict behaviors that arise from inclinations and desires which occur naturally in human beings.

–       Homophobia is against the principles of this Faith.

–       Where occasion demands, it would be appropriate to speak out or act against unjust or oppressive measures directed towards homosexuals.

 

references

“Certainly the problem confronting you is a difficult one. However, its solution lies within your power, for Bahá’u’lláh has assured us that God ‘will never deal unjustly with anyone, neither will He task a soul beyond its power’.* And again, ‘Whensoever he hath fulfilled the conditions implied in the verse: “Whoso maketh efforts for Us,” he shall enjoy the blessings conferred by the words: “In Our Way shall We assuredly guide him.” ‘ You can be confident that with the help of doctors, by prayer and meditation, by self-abnegation and by giving as much time as possible to serving the Cause in your community you can eventually succeed in overcoming your problem.”

 

(Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 106, 1982 U.S. edition)

 


 

“When a person wishes to join the Faith and it is generally known that he has a problem such as drinking, homosexuality, taking drugs, adultery, etc., he should be told in a patient and loving way of the Bahá’í teachings on these matters. If it is later discovered that a believer is violating Bahá’í standards, it is the duty of the Assembly to determine whether the immoral conduct is open and scandalous and can bring the name of the Faith into disrepute, in which case the Assembly must take action to counsel the believer and require him to make every effort to mend his ways. If he fails to rectify his conduct in spite of repeated warnings, sanctions should be imposed. Assemblies, of course, must exercise care not to pry into the private lives of the believers to ensure that they are behaving properly.”

 

“Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh” (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1983), p.106

“Regarding the question you asked him about one of the believers who seems to be flagrantly homosexual — although to a certain extent we must be forbearing in the matter of people’s moral conduct because of the terrible deterioration in society in general, this does not mean that we can put up indefinitely with conduct which is disgracing the Cause. The person should have it brought to his attention that such acts are condemned by Bahá’u’lláh, and that he must mend his ways, if necessary consult doctors, and make every effort to overcome this affliction, which is corruptive for him and bad for the Cause. If after a period of probation you do not see an improvement, he should have his voting rights taken away. The Guardian does not think, however, that a Bahá’í body should take it upon itself to denounce him to the Authorities unless his conduct borders on insanity. “

 

Shoghi Effendi – (20 June 1953 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, published in “Messages to Canada” [Ed. – p. 39]) 

 


 

“Amongst the many other evils afflicting society in this spiritual low water mark in history, is the question of immorality, and over-emphasis of sex. Homosexuality, according to the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, is spiritually condemned. This does not mean that people so afflicted must not be helped and advised and sympathized with. It does mean that we do not believe that it is a permissible way of life; which, alas, is all too often the accepted attitude nowadays.”

“We must struggle against the evils in society by spiritual means, and medical and social ones as well. We must be tolerant but uncompromising, understanding but immovable in our point of view.”

“The thing people need to meet this type of trouble, as well as every other type, is greater spiritual understanding and stability; and of course we Bahá’ís believe that ultimately this can only be given to mankind through the Teachings of the Manifestation of God for this Day.”

 

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 21, 1954)

 


 

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

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

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

 

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

 


 

“The question of how to deal with homosexuals is a very difficult one. Homosexuality is forbidden in the Bahá’í Faith by Bahá’u’lláh; so, for that matter, are immorality and adultery. If one is going to start imposing heavy sanctions on people who are the victims of this abnormality, however repulsive it may be to others, then it is only fair to impose equally heavy sanctions on any Bahá’ís who step beyond the moral limits defined by Bahá’u’lláh. Obviously at the present time this would create an impossible and ridiculous situation.”

“He feels, therefore, that, through loving advice, through repeated warnings, any friends who are flagrantly immoral should be assisted, and, if possible, restrained. If their activities overstep all bounds and become a matter of public scandal, then the Assembly can consider depriving them of their voting rights. However, he does not advise this course of action, and feels it should only be resorted to in very flagrant cases.”

 

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 20, 1955)

 


 

“But through the advice and help of doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap.”


(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 365)

 


 

“Homosexuality is highly condemned and often a great trial and cause of suffering to a person, as a Bahá’í. Any individual so afflicted must, through prayer, and any other means, seek to overcome this handicap. But, unless the actions of such individuals are flagrantly immoral, it cannot be a pretext for depriving them of their voting rights.”

 

Shoghi Effendi – (6 October 1956)

 


 

“Amongst the many other evils afflicting society in this spiritual low water mark in history is the question of immorality, and over- emphasis of sex. Homosexuality, according to the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, is spiritually condemned. This does not mean that people so afflicted must not be helped and advised and sympathized with. It does mean that we do not believe that it is a permissible way of life; which, alas, is all too often the accepted attitude nowadays.”

 

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 21, 1954; cited in LG, #1221, p. 364)

 


 

“The question of how to deal with homosexuals is a very difficult one. Homosexuality is forbidden in the Bahá’í Faith by Bahá’u’lláh; so, for that matter, are immorality and adultery. If one is going to start imposing heavy sanctions on people who are the victims of this abnormality, however repulsive it may be to others, then it is only fair to impose equally heavy sanctions on any Bahá’ís who step beyond the moral limits defined by Bahá’u’lláh. Obviously at the present time this would create an impossible and ridiculous situation.

He feels, therefore, that, through loving advice, through repeated warnings, any friends who are flagrantly immoral should be assisted, and, if possible, restrained. If their activities overstep all bounds and become a matter of public scandal, then the Assembly can consider depriving them of their voting rights. However, he does not advise this course of action and feels that it should only be resorted to in very flagrant cases.”

 

 (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 20, 1955; cited in LG, #1230, p. 367-368)

“A number of sexual problems such as homosexuality and transsexuality can well have medical aspects, and in such cases recourse should certainly be had to the best medical assistance. But it is clear from the teaching of Bahá’u’lláh that homosexuality is not a condition to which a person should be reconciled, but is a distortion of his or her nature which should be controlled and overcome. This may require a hard struggle, but so also can be the struggle of a heterosexual person to control his or her desires. The exercise of self-control in this, as in so very many other aspects of life, has a beneficial effect on the progress of the soul. It should, moreover, be borne in mind that although to be married is highly desirable, and Bahá’u’lláh has strongly recommended it, it is not the central purpose of life. If a person has to wait a considerable period before finding a spouse, or if ultimately, he or she must remain single, it does not mean that he or she is thereby unable to fulfil his or her life’s purpose.”

 

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, January 12, 1973: cited in Messages from The Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, p. 110-111)

 


 

“Thus, it should not be so much a matter of whether a practicing homosexual can be a Bahá’í as whether, having become a Bahá’í, the homosexual can overcome his problem through knowledge of the teachings and reliance on Bahá’u’lláh.”

 

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 14, 1973)

 


 

 “While recognizing the divine origin and force of the sex impulse in man, religion teaches that it must be controlled, and Bahá’u’lláh’s law confines its expression to the marriage relationship. The unmarried homosexual is therefore in the same position as anyone else who does not marry. The Law of God requires them to practise chastity.

“Even though you feel that the conflict between sensuality and spirituality is more than you can bear, your affirmation—’I do know I am a Bahá’í’ is a positive factor in the battle you must wage. Every believer needs to remember that an essential characteristic of this physical world is that we are constantly faced with trials, tribulations, hardships and sufferings and that by overcoming them we achieve our moral and spiritual development; that we must seek to accomplish in the future what we may have failed to do in the past; that this is the way God tests His servants and we should look upon every failure or shortcoming as an opportunity to try again and to acquire a fuller consciousness of the Divine Will and purpose.”

 

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, January 9, 1977)

 


 

“There should be real incentive for you to courageously face the problems inherent in the situation you describe in your letter, and to firmly resolve to change your way of life. But you must desire to do so. Both you and your Bahá’í friend must first recognize that a homosexual relationship subverts the purpose of human life and that determined effort to overcome the wayward tendencies which promote this practice which, like other sexual vices, is so abhorrent; the Creator of all mankind will help you both to return to a path that leads to true happiness.”

 

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 23, 1982)

 


 

“The House of Justice comments that while there is little in Bahá’í literature that specifically points to the causes of homosexuality itself, there is much that concerns the nature of man, his inner life and growth, and the way to a true Bahá’í life. If you are sincerely intent on overcoming your problem, you must yourself determine to resist wayward impulses each time they arise and the House of Justice feels that there is no better way than to turn to the Writings to divert our thoughts into spiritual channels, perhaps to concentrate on what we may do to help others along the way to discovering the Bahá’í Faith. The more we occupy ourselves with teaching the Cause and serving our fellow-man in this way, the stronger we become in resisting that which is abhorrent to our spiritual selves.

“Man’s physical existence on this earth is a period during which the moral exercise of his free will is tried and tested in order to prepare his soul for the other worlds of God, and we must welcome affliction and tribulations as opportunities for improvement in our eternal selves. The House of Justice points out that homosexuals are not the only segment of human society labouring at this daily task—every human being is beset by such inner promptings as pride, greed, selfishness, lustful heterosexual or homosexual desires, to name a few which must be overcome, and overcome them we must if we are to fulfil the purpose of our human existence.”

 

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 16, 1980)

 


 

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


(Universal House of Justice, 27 October 2010 to an individual believer)

 


 

“The House of Justice was sorry to learn from your letter that your son has recently informed you that he is a homosexual. It commends your attitude of compassion and your efforts to both maintain harmony in your marriage and to keep open the lines of communication to your son.”


(The Universal House of Justice, 1993 Jun 05, Homosexuality, p. 10)

 


 

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


(Universal House of Justice, 27 October 2010 to an individual believer)

 


 

“You write that you cannot explain to a friend why her way of love, homosexual love, is wrong and that your lack of understanding on this point also hampers your teaching efforts. Until there is wide recognition of Bahá’u’lláh as the Revealer of the Divine Will, there is no answer that will satisfy all questioners, particularly one who has a vested interest in maintaining that his behavior is innocuous. Homosexuality has been forbidden by Bahá’u’lláh in His Book of Laws, just as it was forbidden by other Prophets of God.”


(The Universal House of Justice, 1993 Jun 05, Homosexuality, p. 10)

 


 

“Man’s physical existence on this earth is a period during which the moral exercise of his free will is tried and tested in order to prepare his soul for the other worlds of God, and we must welcome affliction and tribulations as opportunities for improvement in our eternal selves. The House of Justice points out that homosexuals are not the only segment of human society labouring at this daily task — every human being is beset by such inner promptings as pride, greed, selfishness, lustful heterosexual or homosexual desires, to name a few which must be overcome, and overcome them we must if we are to fulfil the purpose of our human existence.

The House of Justice asks us to point out that the recognition of the Manifestation of God is but the beginning of a process of growth and that as we become more deepened in the Teachings and strive to follow His principles, we gradually approach more and more the perfect pattern which is presented to us. Bahá’u’lláh recognizes that human beings are fallible. He knows that, in our weakness, we shall repeatedly stumble when we try to walk in the path He has pointed out to us. If all human beings become perfect the moment they accepted the call of Bahá’u’lláh, this world would be another world.

Recognizing imperfections, which we all have, is a positive step towards spiritual growth. Every living thing must change; it is the very nature of life. This growth and change can be imperceptible and slow or dramatic and rapid. It is said in a letter dated 6 October 1954 written by the beloved Guardian’s secretary on his behalf to an individual believer:

When a person becomes a Bahá’í, actually what takes place is that the seed of the spirit starts to grow in the human soul. This seed must be watered by the outpourings of the Holy Spirit. These gifts of the spirit are received through prayer, meditation, study of the Holy Utterances and service to the Cause of God.”

Another letter written on 22 October 1949 on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer states:

“We must be patient with others, infinitely patient!, but also with our own poor selves, remembering that even the Prophets of God sometimes got tired and cried out in despair! …He urges you to persevere and add up your accomplishments, rather than to dwell on the dark side of things. Everyone’s life has both a dark and bright side. The Master said: turn your back to the darkness and your face to me.”

 

(2 December 1980 on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)

 


 

“The House of Justice comments that while there is little in Bahá’í literature that specifically points to the causes of homosexuality itself, there is much that concerns the nature of man, his inner life and growth, and the way to a true Bahá’í life. If you are sincerely intent on overcoming your problem, you must yourself determine to resist wayward impulses each time they arise and the House of Justice feels that there is no better way than to turn to the Writings to divert our thoughts into spiritual channels, perhaps to concentrate on what we may do to help others along the way to discovering the Bahá’í Faith. The more we occupy ourselves with teaching the Cause and serving our fellowman in this way, the stronger we become in resisting that which is abhorrent to our spiritual selves.”

 

(16 July 1980 on behalf of the Universal House of Justice)

 


 

“…the Faith does not recognize homosexuality as a “natural” or permanent phenomenon. Rather, it sees this as an aberration subject to treatment, however intractable exclusive homosexuality may now seem to be. To the question of alteration of homosexual bents, much study must be given, and doubtless in the future clear principles of prevention and treatment will emerge. As for those now afflicted, a homosexual does not decide to be a problem human, but he does, as you rightly state, have decision in choosing his way of life, i.e. abstaining from homosexual acts.

Your plea for understanding of and justice extended to homosexuals is well taken in many respects, and the House of Justice assures you of its concern for the large number of persons so afflicted. Your work with the homosexual community is praiseworthy, and it permits you personally to exercise the support which is necessary for these often harassed persons, support which you call for in your essay. Moreover, your interest cannot but be therapeutic, at least for the more superficial elements of the problem; however, definitive therapy of the underlying predisposition, which you consider to be innate but the Teachings do not, may have to await additional investigations. As for the responsibility of Assemblies and of individual Bahá’ís, certainly all are called upon to be understanding, supportive and helpful to any individual who carries the burden of homosexuality.

As a young physician, you may wish to use this quotation, taken from a letter written by the Guardian to an individual believer in March l9S0, as your guidance: “To be afflicted this way is a great burden to a conscientious soul. But through the advice and help of doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap.”

 

The Universal House of Justice (22 March 1987)

 


 

“The Universal House of Justice understands the concern you feel upon discovering that the Faith includes teachings about homosexuality which differ so markedly from your own views. This discovery may best be regarded not as a challenge to your faith in Bahá’u’lláh but rather as an opportunity for you to acquire a deeper understanding of the Baha i teachings and their implications.

When an individual becomes a Bahá’í, he or she accepts the claim of Bahá’u’lláh to be the Manifestation of God bringing a divinely-inspired message from God for the benefit of mankind. Implicit in the acceptance of this claim is the commitment of the believer to embark on the lifelong process of endeavouring to implement the teachings on personal conduct. Through sincere and sustained effort, energized by faith in the validity of the Divine Message, and combined with patience with oneself and the loving support of the Bahá’í community, individuals are able to effect a change in their behaviour; as a consequence of this effort they partake of spiritual benefits which liberate them and which bestow a true happiness beyond description.

As you know, Bahá’u’lláh has clearly forbidden the expression of sexual love between individuals of the same sex. However, the doors are open for all of humanity to enter the Cause of God, irrespective of their present circumstance; this invitation applies to homosexuals as well as to any others who are engaged in practices contrary to the Bahá’í teachings. Associated with this invitation is the expectation that all believers will make a sincere and persistent effort to eradicate those aspects of their conduct which are not in conformity with Divine Law. In the case of homosexuality, the Guardian has stated, in a letter written on his behalf on 26 March 1950, that “through the advice and help of doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap!”.

As to why Bahá’u’lláh forbade the expression of sexual love between people of the same sex, this question relates to the broader and more fundamental question of the purpose of the laws of Bahá’u’lláh and of the Bahá’í teachings on sexual morality The laws do not represent a sterile and inhumane legal code, but rather the divine prescription, a definition of how an individual must act in order to achieve true freedom and spiritual happiness in this world and the next. Bahá’u’lláh wrote that:

The Prophets of God should be regarded as physicians whose task is to foster the well-being of the world and its peoples, that, through the spirit of oneness, they may heal the sickness of a divided humanity. To none is given the right to question their words or disparage their conduct, for they are the only ones who can claim to have understood the patient and to have correctly diagnosed its ailments …

The whole of mankind is in the grip of manifold ills. Strive, therefore, to save its life through the wholesome medicine which the almighty hand of the unerring Physician hath prepared. “

(“Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh”, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1984) sec. XXXIV, pp. 80-81)

 


 

“In general, the House of Justice urges you to avoid dwelling on thoughts of guilt which you, as a parent, would likely experience, and to continue to demonstrate love and acceptance toward your son; such an attitude, however, should imply no agreement with his attitude towards homosexuality. You will, no doubt, want to urge your son to seek appropriate counselling; in this connection you are encouraged to seek the assistance of your National Spiritual Assembly, which has often dealt with such cases, and can most probably assist you in identifying individuals who are experienced in this area and whose views on homosexuality are basically compatible with those of the Bahá’í Faith.

Regarding your husband’s refusal to permit your son to return home, it is understandable that a parent might feel deeply confused and angry when confronted with such questions which go to the very root of what it means to be a human being and what it means to educate and raise a child. Prayer, faith in God, loving consultation and patience will aid you to deal with this difficulty. As for your family members who are causing you further anguish, it is perhaps also to be expected that reactions to such inherently perplexing questions, nowadays compounded more than ever by the general disarray in moral thinking, tend toward extremes, either of resignation or condemnation. You are obliged to hew your own course, as illuminated by the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. Whether you can persuade anyone of the correctness of your responses, which seek to preserve your relationship to your son and also to avoid alienating your husband, is secondary; the main thing is that you strive to deal with these difficulties in a manner consistent with the spirit of the Cause of God, which is neither harsh and maledictory nor excessively liberal and forbearing.”

 

(l March 1992 on behalf of the Universal House of Justice)

 


 

“The primary purpose of sexual relations is, clearly, to perpetuate the species. The fact that personal pleasure is derived therefrom is one of the bounties of God. The sex act is merely one moment in a long process, from courtship through marriage, the procreation of children, their nursing and rearing, and involves the establishment of a mutually sustaining relationship between two souls which will endure beyond life on this earth.

Some couples are unable to have children, and that, in itself, is an affliction, but this fact does not vitiate all the other bounties of the marital relationship. Some individuals for various reasons are unable to find a spouse, or choose to remain single; they must develop their natures and talents in other ways. One could have concluded that homosexuals could well establish stable relationships with one another for mutual support, similar to the marital relationship of a heterosexual couple who cannot have children. This, indeed, is the conclusion that some churches and governments have come to. But Bahá’u’lláh, having divine knowledge of human nature, shows that such a relationship is not a permissible or beneficial solution to a homosexual’s condition. If a homosexual cannot so overcome his or her condition to the extent of being able to have a heterosexual marriage, he or she must remain single, and abstain from sexual relations. These are the same requirements as for a heterosexual person who does not marry.

This law is no reason for Bahá’ís to consider homosexuals as outcasts. If they are not Bahá’ís there is also no reason to expect them to obey the Bahá’í law in this respect any more than we would expect a non-Baha i to abstain from drinking alcohol.”

 

(16 March 1992 – The Universal House of Justice)

 


 

“According to the Bahá’í Teachings, 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. This is set forth in the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh and in the authoritative statements of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi and is not susceptible to change by the House of Justice. However, the Bahá’í community does not seek to impose its values on others and does not pass judgement on others on the basis of its own moral standards. Rather, Bahá’u’lláh enjoins the believers to manifest tolerance and respect towards all, and therefore, to regard those with a homosexual orientation with prejudice or disdain would be entirely against the spirit of the Faith.”

 

(From a letter dated 22 December 2009 written on behalf of the Universal
House of Justice to an individual believer)

 


 

“The Guardian’s statements that homosexual practice is forbidden by Bahá’u’lláh are expositions of the meaning of the Text made in his role as authorized interpreter of the Bahá’í Writings. The import of his interpretation for Bahá’ís is clear enough:
sexual relations are confined to marriage, which is a union between a man and a woman. Naturally, 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. Indeed, it would be a profound contradiction for someone to profess the intention to be a Bahá’í, yet consciously dismiss, reject, or contend with aspects of belief or practice ordained by Bahá’u’lláh.”

 

(From a letter dated 12 August 2012 written on behalf of the Universal
House of Justice to an individual believer)

 


 

“The Bahá’í teachings on marriage and sexual morality are explicit: marriage is between a man and a woman and sexual relations outside of marriage are prohibited, including sexual relations between members of the same sex. These teachings are set forth in the Sacred Text and are not susceptible to change by the Universal House of Justice. If the statements of Bahá’u’lláh about homosexual relations are considered by some to be unclear, the unambiguous interpretations provided by Shoghi Effendi constitute an authoritative and binding exposition of His intent.

The House of Justice sympathizes with those individuals and families who struggle to understand and uphold the teachings, especially in light of the dominant attitudes in many societies. However, the Faith cannot progress along the course intended by Bahá’u’lláh if individual believers, no matter how sincere, are determined to apply their personal and necessarily limited views, especially when they contradict the clear text, or insist on arguing that something is true because it appears desirable or necessary, or because it conforms to the prevailing standards of the day. “Service to the Cause of God”, the House of Justice has explained, “requires absolute fidelity and integrity and unwavering faith in Him.” And it adds: “Our part is to cling tenaciously to the revealed Word and to the Institutions that He has created to preserve His Covenant.”

It is obvious that the Bahá’í teachings on sexual morality are not in accord with currently accepted practices of certain societies. In one of his utterances, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá provides the following analysis which offers a framework in which the distinctions pertaining to moral questions can be understood: There are three types of freedom. The first is divine freedom, which is one of the inherent attributes of the Creator for He is unconstrained in His will, and no one can force Him to change His decree in any matter whatsoever….

The second is the political freedom of Europeans, which leaves the individual free to do whatsoever he desires as long as his action does not harm his neighbour. This is natural freedom, and its greatest expression is seen in the animal world. Observe these birds and notice with what freedom they live. However much man may try, he can never be as free as an animal, because the existence of order acts as an impediment to freedom.

The third freedom is that which is born of obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Almighty. This is the freedom of the human world, where man severs his affections from all things. When he does so, he becomes immune to all hardship and sorrow. Wealth or material power will not deflect him from moderation and fairness, neither will poverty or need inhibit him from showing forth happiness and tranquillity. The more the conscience of man develops, the more will his heart be free and his soul attain unto happiness. In the religion of God, there is freedom
of thought because God, alone, controls the human conscience, but this freedom should not go beyond courtesy. In the religion of God, there is no freedom of action outside the law of God. Man may not transgress this law, even though no harm is inflicted on one’s neighbour. This is because the purpose of Divine law is the education of all—others as well as oneself—and, in the sight of God, the harm done to one individual or to his neighbour is the same and is reprehensible in both cases. Hearts must possess the fear of God. Man should endeavour to avoid that which is abhorrent unto God. Therefore, the freedom that the laws of Europe offer to the individual does not exist in the law of God. Freedom of thought should not transgress the bounds of courtesy, and actions, likewise, should be governed by the fear of God and the desire to seek His good pleasure.

As this passage indicates, God is unconstrained in setting forth His will and purpose. Many contemporary societies provide space for moral behavior within the limits of that which does no harm to others. For Bahá’ís, however, the boundaries of moral behavior are defined by the Divine laws and teachings set forth in the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. Bahá’ís do not expect others to honor the standard to which they aspire, nor should they impose their views on or adopt judgmental attitudes towards others. Rather, the friends are enjoined to consort with all people with fellowship and love and to work with them for the betterment of the world.

At the same time, Bahá’ís cannot disregard the teachings or modify them to conform to the standards current in society. Bahá’u’lláh counsels not to weigh “the Book of God with such standards and sciences as are current amongst you, for the Book itself is the unerring Balance established amongst men”, and states that in “this most perfect Balance whatsoever the peoples and kindreds of the earth possess must be weighed….” The Manifestation institutes His laws and ordinances in accordance with His inherent knowledge of human reality and His intended aims for individual and collective transformation. From a Bahá’í perspective, then, it is the teachings of the Manifestation of God that clarify the essential elements of human nature and identity. In The Advent of Divine Justice, when describing the chaste and holy life to which the friends are called, Shoghi Effendi explains: “It can tolerate no compromise with the theories, the standards, the habits, and the excesses of a decadent age. Nay rather it seeks to demonstrate, through the dynamic force of its example, the pernicious character of such theories, the falsity of such standards, the hollowness of such claims, the perversity of such habits, and

the sacrilegious character of such excesses.” A believer in Bahá’u’lláh accepts His teachings and, out of love for Him, strives to obey His commandments; all Bahá’ís struggle in different ways to adhere to these teachings, and they are encouraged to remain steadfast and active in community life despite their shortcomings.”

 

(From a letter dated 12 June 2013 written on behalf of the Universal
House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)

 


 

“The Bahá’í attitude towards the condition of homosexuality differs from its attitude towards those who engage in homosexual practices. The Guardian states that a Bahá’í who faces this challenge must strive daily to come closer to the Bahá’í standard and, in this process, should be treated with tolerance and receive help, advice, and sympathy. In one instance he encouraged the believers in question to adhere to their Faith and not to withdraw from active service because of the tests they experienced. In this connection, it may be helpful to consider that the challenge of striving to live a chaste and holy life is one that confronts every Bahá’í who is seeking to align his life with the principles of the Faith.”

 

(From a letter dated 22 December 2009 written on behalf of the Universal
House of Justice to an individual believer)

 


 

“As to the points you raise about homosexuality, this is not a question of the relationship between science and religion. Sacred Texts contain various laws and admonitions that, in one way or another, redirect or restrict behaviors that arise from inclinations and desires which occur naturally in human beings. As you are well aware, Bahá’u’lláh exhorts: “Weigh not the Book of God with such standards and sciences as are current amongst you, for the Book itself is the unerring Balance established amongst men”. The fundamental Bahá’í teachings pertaining to sexual behavior are found in the explicit statements of Bahá’u’lláh and the authoritative interpretations of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi and are not subject to change by the House of Justice.”

 

(From a letter dated 21 July 2011 written on behalf of the Universal
House of Justice to an individual believer)

 


 

“With respect to the causes of homosexuality, this appears to be a complex question and further inquiry will no doubt be conducted by scientists in future. While there are passages from letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi suggesting that individuals might benefit from medical counsel when dealing with aspects of the challenge they face, the perspective of the medical community on homosexuality, which has changed significantly over the years, is one that only it can determine. The House of Justice does not wish to comment on the merits of particular forms of intervention, some of which are quite controversial. It is left to the individual to determine whether a medical approach or counseling will be of personal assistance.”

 

(From a letter dated 12 August 2012 written on behalf of the Universal
House of Justice to an individual believer)

 


 

“You have also asked whether the House of Justice “can point to effective treatments of homosexuality that have a track record of success.” This is a matter for science to determine, and, clearly, the perspective of the medical community on homosexuality has changed significantly over the years. The question, however, is not whether sexual orientation can be changed, but whether, as a Bahá’í, one endeavors to abide by Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings. It is left to the individual believer to determine whether counselling or some other approach would be of personal assistance in this regard.”

 

(From a letter dated 7 July 2014 written on behalf of the Universal House
of Justice to an individual believer)

 


 

“To recognize Bahá’u’lláh is to have faith in His authority to make the judgments necessary to guide the progress of humanity through the course of the dispensation. Someone who is not a Bahá’í, of course, is not expected to adhere to the teachings, while a believer, just as naturally, will struggle to conform to the divine standard in its entirety.

As you are aware from your reading, the Bahá’í attitude towards the condition of homosexuality differs from its attitude towards those who engage in homosexual practices. To regard homosexuals with prejudice and disdain would be entirely inappropriate for a Bahá’í. The House of Justice urges you to avoid dwelling on any conflicted thoughts or emotions which you may experience and to continue to demonstrate wholehearted love and acceptance toward your daughter. Such an attitude does not in any way imply agreement with her actions. As a parent, the main thing is that you strive to deal with these challenges in a manner consistent with the spirit of the Cause of God, which is neither harsh and maledictory nor excessively liberal and forbearing.”

 

(From a letter dated 5 June 2005 written on behalf of the Universal House
of Justice to an individual believer)

 


 

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

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

In attempting to reconcile what may appear to be conflicting obligations, it is important to understand that the Bahá’í community does not seek to impose its values on others, nor does it pass judgment on others on the basis of its own moral standards. It does not see itself as one among competing social groups and organizations, each vying to establish its particular social agenda. In working for social justice, Bahá’ís must inevitably distinguish between those dimensions of public issues that are in keeping with the Bahá’í Teachings, which they can actively support, and those that are not, which they would neither promote nor necessarily oppose. In connection with issues of concern to homosexuals, the former would be freedom from discrimination and the latter the opportunity for civil marriage.”

 

(From a letter dated 27 October 2010 written on behalf of the Universal
House of Justice to an individual believer)

 


 

“In a letter written on his behalf concerning the Bahá’í teachings on homosexuality, Shoghi Effendi explained that “the young believers in question must adhere to their Faith, and not withdraw from active service, because of the tests they experience. In one way or another, we are all tested; and this must strengthen us, not weaken us.” All Bahá’ís struggle to meet the Bahá’í standard in different ways, and this effort is, except in limited circumstances, between the individual and God. The attitude an individual believer is to hold toward the imperfections of others is explicitly set forth. We are to be forbearing, concerned with our own shortcomings and not the shortcomings of others; we are to dwell only on good qualities and ignore the bad; and we are not to gossip, backbite, or “breathe … the sins of others”. Yet, we are not to deny or contend with the authoritative texts, try to impose personal views on others, or insist that the community evolve in a manner that conforms to our personal desires. Thus, it is entirely against the spirit of the Bahá’í teachings to regard those who have a homosexual orientation with prejudice and disdain. At the same time, all Bahá’ís embrace the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh in their entirety and make every effort to uphold the standards set forth.”

 

(From a letter dated 21 July 2011 written on behalf of the Universal
House of Justice to an individual believer)

 


 

“Although they affirm their conviction that Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings reflect God’s purpose for humankind in this Day, Bahá’ís do not seek to impose their values on others. They do not pass judgement on others on the basis of their own moral standards and can never presume to know the standing of any soul in the eyes of God. Rather, the friends are enjoined to show forth unconditional love, to engage in fellowship with all, and to be forbearing, concerned with their own shortcomings and not those of others. They are to have a sin-covering eye, focusing on good qualities and ignoring the bad, and they must eschew backbiting and gossip. As the Bahá’í community continues to grow and develop, increasing its involvement with the wider society, such characteristics will become more pronounced and a hallmark of Bahá’í culture.”

 

(From a letter dated 22 April 2013 written on behalf of the Universal
House of Justice to an individual believer)

 


 

“…the House of Justice agrees that a sympathetic approach to the question of homosexuality is warranted and that the efforts of those with a homosexual orientation who struggle to live the Bahá’í life are worthy of admiration. The Guardian made it clear that such friends should not withdraw from the community and should receive its support and encouragement. All believers struggle in different ways to live a Bahá’í life, and there is no reason that the challenge of being attracted to persons of the same sex should be singled out above others. The friends must guard themselves against succumbing to the standards of the wider society that do not conform to Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings, and this is equally true for those who may absorb or manifest prejudicial attitudes toward homosexuals.”

 

(From a letter dated 2 July 2013 written on behalf of the Universal House
of Justice to an individual believer)

 


 

“The teacher should not contend with anyone, nor concentrate on proving to others that their beliefs or way of life are wrong. Rather, the goal of teaching is to assist the seeker to recognize the station of Bahá’u’lláh so that, out of love for His Beauty, he or she will accept whatever has been revealed by His Pen. Ultimately, however, there must be a hearing ear. As Bahá’u’lláh states:

Consort with all men, O people of Bahá, in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship. If ye be aware of a certain truth, if ye possess a jewel, of which others are deprived, share it with them in a language of utmost kindliness and goodwill. If it be accepted, if it fulfill its purpose, your object is attained. If anyone should refuse it, leave him unto himself, and beseech God to guide him. Beware lest ye deal unkindly with him.

Thus, whether someone is interested in becoming a Bahá’í or not, Bahá’ís are encouraged to associate with all humanity in a manner governed by tolerance, unity, and love. Given the polemical nature of discussions concerning homosexuality in many societies, the friends should avoid being drawn into the debate, lest they be led to one or another extreme, either compromising Bahá’u’lláh’s Teachings by weighing them according to contemporary social standards or allowing judgmental and prejudicial attitudes to creep into their community life. Enclosed for your assistance is an excerpt from a letter dated 9 May 2014 written on behalf of the House of Justice to an individual believer that explores these issues.”

 

(From a letter dated 7 July 2014 written on behalf of the Universal House
of Justice to an individual believer) 

 


 

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

 

(From a letter dated 22 April 2013 written on behalf of the Universal
House of Justice to an individual believer) 

 


 

“Any Bahá’í who enters into wedlock with a partner of the same sex has clearly violated Bahá’í law. Despite their personal affection for the individual, the members of the community, including family members and especially members of Local Assemblies, cannot condone the conscious violation of the laws of the Faith; in such circumstances, they may themselves become subject to partial or complete suspension of administrative privileges.”

 

(From a letter dated 30 June 2013 written on behalf of the Universal
House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)

 


 

 

“While Bahá’ís hold specific beliefs about human identity, sexuality, personal morality, and individual and social transformation, they also believe that individuals must be free to investigate truth and should not be coerced. They are, therefore, enjoined to be tolerant of those whose views differ from their own, not to judge others according to their own standards, and not to attempt to impose these standards on society. To regard a person who has a homosexual orientation with prejudice or disdain is entirely against the spirit of the Faith. And where occasion demands, it would be appropriate to speak out or act against unjust or oppressive measures directed towards homosexuals.          

Bahá’ís must also be on their guard lest condemnatory attitudes stemming from the public debate take root in their communities. Backbiting and gossip, prejudice and estrangement, have no place. All recognize the need to transform themselves in accordance with Bahá’u’lláh’s Teachings, all struggle in different ways to live a Bahá’í life, and there is no reason that the challenge of being attracted to persons of the same sex should be singled out and treated differently from other challenges. The Guardian made it clear that Bahá’ís with a homosexual orientation should not withdraw from the community and should receive its support and encouragement. The House of Justice sympathizes deeply with those individuals, and their families, who strive in this respect to understand and hold fast to the Teachings while buffeted by the controversy unfolding within their societies.”

 

(The Universal House of Justice – Department of Secretariat – 9 May 2014

 


 

“Apart from the measures noted above, which serve to reinforce the integrity of the Bahá’í community, there may be times when specific action is required on the part of the institutions to protect it and to uphold the law. Intervention in any specific case needs, of course, to be carried out with the utmost delicacy and wisdom. Such cases present themselves when the breach of Bahá’í law is public and flagrant, potentially bringing the Faith into disrepute and damaging its good name, or when the individual demonstrates a callous disregard for the teachings and the institutions of the Faith, with harmful consequences for the functioning of the Bahá’í community. In these circumstances, Spiritual Assemblies should follow a middle way: They should not adopt a passive approach, which would be tantamount to condoning behaviour contrary to the teachings and which would undermine the imperative to obey Bahá’í law in the eyes of the members of the community. Neither, however, should they act rashly or rigidly to enforce the law, imposing administrative sanctions arbitrarily.

Should the conduct of a believer become so blatant as to attract the attention of the Assembly, it would want, after gaining a relatively clear picture of the issues, to offer loving but firm advice to the friend involved. In most cases it is necessary, in the first instance, to determine to what extent the believer understands the Faith and its standards. Dispassionate counselling, not infrequently over an extended period, to assist the individual concerned in gaining an appreciation of the requirements of Bahá’í law is generally required. So, too, is patience needed, and he or she should be given sufficient time to bring about a change. The Assembly, often aided by the Counsellors or the members of the Auxiliary Boards, may have to help the individual reflect on his or her particular circumstances, apply relevant principles, and explore available options. In deciding on what approach to take, the Assembly should be guided by the understanding that its objective is to assist the friends to draw closer to the Faith while taking care to protect the Bahá’í community from the negative influence of those who have no intention of adhering to its standards. When a believer demonstrates an allegiance to the Cause and a willingness to rectify the situation, continued patience and loving guidance are in order. All throughout, of course, care is taken to ensure that an individual’s struggles do not become a source of backbiting or disunity in the community. In this the members of the community need to remember that they should each focus their energies on their own spiritual development and on overcoming their personal shortcomings.

Only in circumstances where a believer, ignoring all admonishments, persists in misconduct and knowingly and consistently violates the law, would it be necessary for the Assembly to consider applying administrative sanctions—this, after warning the individual of the consequences of his or her continued disregard for the teachings. The decision in such matters is left to the National Spiritual Assembly, which is to proceed with the utmost care and circumspection. What is at stake is the participation of the individual in those aspects of community life internal to the body of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings, not his or her civil rights. In some cases, partial sanctions may be adequate, allowing the Assembly to deal with a situation in a flexible manner. For example, if the hope is to reawaken in the individual a desire to participate in community life, full sanctions may be counterproductive; an appropriate partial sanction, such as suspending his or her right to be elected to an Assembly, may prove sufficient, for, in any event, it would not be reasonable for a person who flagrantly violates Bahá’í law to be in a position to govern the affairs of the community. Restricting the believer from other forms of service—for instance, acting as a tutor of a study circle or as a children’s class teacher—may also be considered. Full removal of administrative rights should be reserved for the most severe and intractable cases, especially when the protection of the community becomes a concern. The wise use of partial sanctions thus provides the Assembly with another means of strengthening the individual and the community. In letters written on behalf of the Guardian advising Assemblies on such matters, he explained that, “although it is sometimes necessary to take away the voting rights of a believer for purposes of discipline,” this prerogative of the National Assembly “should be used only in extreme cases.” If heavy sanctions are applied to certain acts of immorality, he also observed, “it is only fair to impose equally heavy sanctions on any Bahá’ís who step beyond the moral limits defined by Bahá’u’lláh,” which would obviously, given the circumstances of humanity today, “create an impossible and ridiculous situation.”

One final point deserves mention: There may be times when an individual who shows complete indifference to the counsels of the institutions and firm resolution in his or her desire to maintain the status quo has no apparent interest in engaging in the life of the Bahá’í community. In such a case, provided that his or her conduct has no significant bearing on the good name of the Faith, the Assembly may decide to leave the individual to go his or her own way, neither insisting on continued contact nor feeling obliged to impose sanctions. Equally, however, the Assembly need not be anxious about quickly removing the name of the individual from its rolls, given that circumstances change and a person may, over time, decide to mend his or her ways and return to participate in the life of the community.

In considering matters such as those outlined above, both in handling particular cases and in addressing the broader question of cultivating an attitude of love and respect towards Bahá’í laws and standards, you will no doubt find ongoing consultation with the Counsellors both essential and illuminating.

With loving Bahá’í greetings, The Universal House of Justice – Department of the Secretariat

 


 

“Thus, it should not be so much a matter of whether a practicing homosexual can be a Bahá’í as whether, having become a Bahá’í, the homosexual can overcome his problem through knowledge of the teachings and reliance on Bahá’u’lláh. “

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 14, 1973; cited in LG, #1225, p. 365)

 


 

“The condition of being sexually attracted to some object other than a mature member of the opposite sex, a condition of which homosexuality is but one manifestation, is regarded by the Faith as a distortion of true human nature, as a problem to be overcome, no matter what specific physical or psychological condition may be the immediate cause. Any Bahá’í who suffers from such a disability should be treated with understanding, and should be helped to control and overcome it. All of us suffer from imperfections which we must struggle to overcome, and we all need one another’s understanding and patience. “

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, Sept. 11, 1995; published in “The American Bahá’í”, Qawl 152 BE/Nov. 23, 1995, p 11.)      

SO, I GUESS THat's IT. MANY PEOPLE warned ME NOT TO DO THIS TOPIC BECAUSE IT WOULD BE TOO DIFFICULT AND CONTROVERSIAL, AND AT SOME MOMENTS I FOUND MYSELF rather UPSET WITH THE WRITINGS, BUT THE MORE I READ ON THE SUBJECT THE MORE I WANTED TO SHARE, BECAUSE BAHÁ'U'LLÁH'S WISDOM is SO POWERFUL. EVEN THOUGH HOMOSEXUALITY IS FORBIDDEN BY GOD, THE SAME IS TRUE FOR PREJUDICE AND INTOLERANCE. I THINK this IS BEAUTIFUL, BECAUSE IT DOESN'T MATTER IF THE PERSON IS HOMOSEXUAL OR NOT - THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS LOVE; OUR LOVE for each other, AND our LOVE for GOD. EVERYONE HAS WEAKNESSES, EVERYONE! AND THAT'S THE BEAUTY OF IT ALL, WE ARE ALL HERE TO GROW AND OVERCOME THese weakness, AND GOD'S HELP IS ALWAYS AVAILABLE TO ALL. I WOULD JUST LIKE TO SHARE THE MOST AMAZING THING THAT I FOUND FROM ALL THIS, BESIDES OF THE FACT THAT WE SHOULD TREAT ALL WITH LOVE AND RESPECT. this WOULD BE THE ADMIRATION THAT THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE HAS FOR HOMOSEXUALS, FOR THEY HAVE A VERY HEAVY BURDEN TO BEAR, WHICH MEANS THEY ARE VERY VERY STRONG! SO, FOR EVERY HOMOSEXUAL OUT THERE, AND FOR EVERYONE - MY SINCERE ADMIRATION. GOD KNOWS HOW STRONG YOU ARE, THAT'S WHY YOUR TESTS ARE SO HEAVY. I WILL JUST END UP WITH THIS BEAUTIFUL QUOTE FROM 'ABDUL'-BAHÁ. I HOPE THIS ARTICLE has been OF SERVICE. 🙂

"The more difficulties one sees in the world the more perfect one becomes. The more you plough and dig the ground the more fertile it becomes. The more you cut the branches of a tree the higher and stronger it grows. The more you put the gold in the fire the purer it becomes. The more you sharpen the steel by grinding the better it cuts. Therefore, the more sorrows one sees the more perfect one becomes . . . The more often the captain of a ship is in the tempest and difficult sailing the greater his knowledge becomes. Therefore I am happy that you have had great tribulations and difficulties… Strange it is that I love you and still I am happy that you have sorrows. "

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. XIV, No. 2, p. 41.)

Much love,

Tay