It’s nice to know that you are considering marriage, and are concerned about the Baha’i laws of marriage. One thing I would tell you from the beginning is that if you are not a Baha’i then you are not obligated to any of the marriage laws. However, this may only be a technicality, since, and I would argue this, if you believe in Baha’u’llah in your heart, then you are Baha’i enough and should obey his commandments.
If you don’t yet believe in Baha’u’llah, then I have shown you a loop hole. But I wouldn’t take it if I were you, since I think the teachings of Baha’u’llah will have the greatest benefit for all people, and will lead to a good marriage. The other way may be easier, but comes with much greater risks than if you follow what God has chosen as the best path.
I am married to a non-Baha’i, and her father was at first very opposed to the idea of his daughter marrying an American. He can't speak a word of English, and had lived most of his life as a proud Soviet and Russian citizen, who could not imagine anything worse than losing his daughter to an American, who can’t speak Russian and worse isn’t even a Christian! He and his daughter were very close, and his prejudice towards me caused her a lot of tears and suffering. She was also very worried; because she knew that I couldn’t and wouldn’t marry her without his consent. Imagine how happy he must have been to learn that without his permission I couldn’t take her from him after all!
I won’t bother you with all the details, but I’ll tell you that the story has a happy end, and now I have a very close relationship with my Russian father-in-law. Not only did his consent comply with the Baha’i law, but it gave our marriage day a great blessing. It gave a feeling of rightness and legitimacy that would have otherwise been impossible. As an American, it would have been completely normal to get married whether anyone liked it or not! As a Russian, it would have been OK for her too, to marry me defiant of her father. But if we had done that (even if I weren’t a Baha’i) there would be a dark cloud hanging over our marriage. We would have caused harm to her father, and, I might never have the trust and respect from him that I now have. You know, it took me more than one year to get that consent, and I’d never have it otherwise if I could do it again. For one year he refused to speak to me or even acknowledge me. Once we did speak everything changed quickly. You see, it’s much easier to hate someone you don’t even know. Once people get acquainted, there are no more monsters; only people. To this day, 2 years later, he and I still chat, and enjoy each other’s friendship.
In this day, the cause of God is for unity. Aside from the estrangement between your fiancé and his father affecting your prospects for marriage, do you imagine that this unhealthy situation between your fiancé and his father is causing them no other harm? If you hope to be this man’s wife, certainly you must also care about what is good for him—and even his father too. All too many marriages these days are built selfishly on the myth that a marriage is only about two people in love and everyone else need only butt out! It is this false idea which leads to so many marriage tragedies. I’m sure that anyone who has been married, had children, and then put them through the pain of divorce would not stand behind the notion that a marriage is only about two people.
Brittany, you should try and get the consent. You know, to get the consent will require the healing between two estranged souls who should love each other. What a wonderful beginning for your marriage if the first thing it did was cause the healing between a father and his son. Can you see how great a thing this would be? I hope your marriage will be so blessed as to have such a unifying effect. If you love each other, you will be willing to sacrifice some time in order to enjoy the long and lasting results of a healthy and blessed marriage. After all, no one would hasten to long term unhappy consequences and suffering just for expediency. Would they?
If after awhile, it becomes clear that even speaking with his father is impossible, because he truly has no feeling of fatherhood, or who was maybe an unloving and abusive parent who has “forfeited the rights of fatherhood” then you should go to your LSA and see if it is appropriate to marry without his consent. I don’t know if it will work or not, the LSA would have to make its own determination based on the facts. But I can tell you, if you spent a lot of effort trying to contact him, to make a relationship, to get his consent, then your chances will likely be much greater.
Your fiancé must also understand your need to do this. If he can’t then I would be worried about the depth of his concern and feeling for you. After all, he needn’t ever become a Baha’i but he must be able to respect your need to do so. If he doesn’t like Baha’i laws for himself, then he should be able to see it as something he is willing to do for you, if not Baha’u’llah.
I wish you success, Brittany, and I will pray that you have the strength and wisdom to do what will be best. Remember that no test lasts forever, and that bad times are eventually replaced by better times!
Baha’u’llah wrote:Dissipate not the wealth of your precious lives in the pursuit of evil and corrupt affection, nor let your endeavours be spent in promoting your personal interest. Be generous in your days of plenty, and be patient in the hour of loss. Adversity is followed by success and rejoicings follow woe. Guard against idleness and sloth, and cling unto that which profiteth mankind, whether young or old, whether high or low. Beware lest ye sow tares of dissension among men or plant thorns of doubt in pure and radiant hearts. (Tablets of Baha'u'llah [Lawhi Hikmat,Tablet of Wisdom], 138)
Take care, and remember that we are here for you when you need us.
PS The link you have to your Myspace seems to be incorrect or is not working!