Is the Virginity so important for a bahá'í?

All research or scholarship questions

Is the virginity so important for you?

Poll ended at Fri Mar 17, 2006 1:08 am

Very much, is a vital condition to get married!
0
No votes
important
1
50%
not so important (morality is more important)
1
50%
 
Total votes: 2

Hasan
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Is the Virginity so important for a bahá'í?

Postby Hasan » Thu Mar 17, 2005 1:08 am

ok, I am not the 'poll man', but the answers reflects in some way what is the currently thinking and the comments show us in some way too our development.
Want to vote? :oops:

Tony

Postby Tony » Thu Mar 17, 2005 11:43 am

Hasan - Your poll is inappropriate because the Baha'i Faith is God-given religion. It is not a political party influenced by popular opinion. There is a democratic element in the Baha'i Faith, but only as concerns the administration. The Baha'i Teachings are not subject to alteration, except where there is explicit provision for the UHJ to do so at some time in the future. The Baha'i Teaching encouraging marriage and prohibiting sexual intercourse otherwise is not going to change, so it is wrong for believers to question it. The right view is to regard all such moral absolutes as Divine blessings and the only proper foundation of society.

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Postby Hasan » Thu Mar 17, 2005 2:14 pm

Tony wrote:Hasan - Your poll is inappropriate because the Baha'i Faith is God-given religion. It is not a political party influenced by popular opinion. There is a democratic element in the Baha'i Faith, but only as concerns the administration. The Baha'i Teachings are not subject to alteration, except where there is explicit provision for the UHJ to do so at some time in the future. The Baha'i Teaching encouraging marriage and prohibiting sexual intercourse otherwise is not going to change, so it is wrong for believers to question it. The right view is to regard all such moral absolutes as Divine blessings and the only proper foundation of society.


I don't understand why you say this poll is "inappropriate", maybe the problem is the way you understand it.
You may think I am talking about the law of Bahá'u'lláh as the note # 36 of the Aqdas explains "The Arabic word "ziná", here translated as "adultery", signifies both fornication and adultery. It applies not only to sexual relations between a married person and someone who is not his or her spouse, but also to extramarital sexual intercourse in general", NO, my question is not going on that direction.

The question here is, for you (all people who want to respond the poll) how important is the matter that your chosen couple is whether "virgin" or not when you want to choose a couple in order to establish a relationship or get married? Of course, it is supposed that a Bahá'í woman or man (men can't be proved so far) reached the marriage as "virgin", but the fact the law says "it is forbidden any extramarital sex before marriage" doesn't assures that all Bahá'ís will practice it. Of course it is a Divine law, and I highly respect it. But, can you assure all single bahá'ís are "virgin"? I don't (you could get surprised how the reality is!)

I supposed this poll can be easily understand as I see it, but unfortunately some people want to distort everything. :shock:

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Thu Mar 17, 2005 9:50 pm

Ok, guys...

Hasan, thank you for clarifying your intention...Given the environment in other discussions as well, however, I think it is understandable that its intention could be misunderstood by some...

In response to your point that it is not possible to tell for a male, I might add that, were such an agreement to be made by the couple prior to marriage (and it is possible, as the House of Justice clarified: "In one of these cases you cite, for example, that of a wife who is found by her husband not to have been a virgin, the dissolution of the marriage can be demanded only "if the marriage has been conditioned on virginity"; presumably, therefore, if the wife wishes to exercise such a right in respect to the husband, she would have to include a condition as to his virginity in the marriage contract." (cited in 27 June 1996)), the discovery would not necessarily need to be proved by physical means. Even for a woman, it seems possible that a woman could seem to have lost her virginity due to some kind of accident, whereas she had not in reality.

A couple of topics are also raised in my mind about this topic:

1) What do people think about the principle established in the Qur'án, and apparently endorsed in an untranslated Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Bahá that only virgins should marry virgins, and non-virgins marry non-virgins (though in the Qur'ánic version, it seems to discourage the latter from occurring at all, whereas the Kitáb-i-Aqdas Questions and Answers #13 has Bahá'u'lláh indicate implicitly that it is permissible, since He requires consent of both parents' parties to marriage where one party is not a virgin)?

2) There are also those who fall into the category of "secondary virgin" whereby someone who is not a virgin has decided to live celibately after the fact...

3) Another question I have is that also in the Questions and Answers, #47:

QUESTION: Supposing that a man hath wed a certain woman believing her to be a virgin and he hath paid her the dowry, but at the time of consummation it becometh evident that she is not a virgin, are the expenses and the dowry to be repaid or not? And if the marriage had been made conditional upon virginity, doth the unfulfilled condition invalidate that which was conditioned upon it?

     ANSWER: In such a case the expenses and the dowry may be refunded. The unfulfilled condition invalidateth that which is conditioned upon it. However, to conceal and forgive the matter will, in the sight of God, merit a bounteous reward.



Does the last sentence mean, do you think, that by concealing and forgiving the matter, that He is suggesting that the marriage remain in place, or simply that the reasons for the annulment be concealed? I guess forgiveness would imply keeping the marriage?

Also on this topic, the above-cited statement of the Research Department also states, "We note, however, that this particular law is one that is not currently binding on the believers in the West. No doubt, when the appropriate time for its application comes, the Universal House of Justice will provide the necessary elucidations and any supplementary legislation that might be required in order for the law to be applied with justice."

best wishes,
Brett

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Postby Guest » Fri Mar 18, 2005 12:20 am

however, I think it is understandable that its intention could be misunderstood by some...


My poll probably is not well formulated, my first language is Spanish.

Even for a woman, it seems possible that a woman could seem to have lost her virginity due to some kind of accident, whereas she had not in reality.


Ok. Which would be the weight the man gives to the woman's virginity in this particular case? It depends how important is it for the man.

1) What do people think about the principle established in the Qur'án, and apparently endorsed in an untranslated Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Bahá that only virgins should marry virgins, and non-virgins marry non-virgins (though in the Qur'ánic version, it seems to discourage the latter from occurring at all, whereas the Kitáb-i-Aqdas Questions and Answers #13 has Bahá'u'lláh indicate implicitly that it is permissible, since He requires consent of both parents' parties to marriage where one party is not a virgin)?


To be honest, I don't know that principle, for me more important is the relationship, if it has a true spiritual base, then no problem since the Aqdas permits that combination.

2) There are also those who fall into the category of "secondary virgin" whereby someone who is not a virgin has decided to live celibately after the fact...


The person who is not virgin is so bad? Why this person decide to limit his life only by the fact that he lost his virginity? I don't understand that.

Does the last sentence mean, do you think, that by concealing and forgiving the matter, that He is suggesting that the marriage remain in place, or simply that the reasons for the annulment be concealed? I guess forgiveness would imply keeping the marriage?


Maybe in the East, they usually do that type of contract; I can't conceive that kind of precondition to get married. If I really love my bride, the first thing I observe is her morality whether is Bahá’í or not. It is a general rule for me. If she made a mistake in her life and I love her, then should I repeal her just because she is not "virgin"? If there is a real change we can forgive that mistake. Of course the couple have to talk about this before the marriage, freely and confident.

My conclusion is that the Divine Laws are to make the humanity happier, healthier, and to make progress in all aspects. It is clear that the Bahá’ís MUST perform that laws.

That particular law of prohibition of extramarital sex is important, but to exaggerate it (in a social sense, that is to say the manner we see others who are not virgins or the weight we give to the virginity) would lead to fanaticism. For example, here in my city the Mormons don’t see good women that are not virgin (I know some cases where women were expelled from their communities); personally I think this is very stupid. What we have to see is the real change, the morality. We remember in the history, even Maria Magdalena has her second chance, and she really took advantage on it! Then ‘Abdu’l-Bahá praised her change. The power of the Revelation has the force to change the people's hearts.

Another issue related, is the abstinence. Here, sometimes there are interviews on the radio, TV, news, where the religious leaders (say Catholic or others) talk about this matter and its solution. For example in a subject as the prevention of AIDS, the frequent answer of these leaders is that the best thing the youth should do is the abstinence. Of course, it would be ideal if the youth would be able to do that, but unfortunately that is not the reality. The "Liberals" often say that the free distribution of condoms is the solution; the "Conservatives" often say the "abstinence". But nobody say the fundament of the problem is spiritual in nature, we know that a plant which grow bent from the beginning is hard to straighten up. “Children Classes” are a priority now because the children are the future. I would ask the religious leaders what do they do if somebody hits their heads, they would take some aspirins or try to stop the attacker? :shock:

majnun
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Postby majnun » Fri Mar 18, 2005 12:42 am

The above text lays down many questions
concerning the author's personal life, if i interpret
the sentences accordingly with the amount of the
pronoun "my" in that text (my town, my bride, etc.).

Fortunately, an answer pops-up from the gentleman
in the last line. So take two before bedtime, and relax,
life is not that complicated.

Guest

Postby Guest » Fri Mar 18, 2005 6:43 am

Not a Baha'i, so you probably don't want my opinion of virginity.

It is interesting that the UHJ seems to realize that no satisfactory test of virginity exists, or can exist. Traditional Middle Eastern societies expect torn hymens on wedding nights, evidence of which (bloodied sheets) might then be paraded around for the approval of witnesses, but this cannot be counted upon. And what of the situation of men? Are we to imagine Baha'i women discovering with shock upon their wedding night, that the groom is not really a virgin? :lol:

Hasan
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To Anonymous

Postby Hasan » Fri Mar 18, 2005 4:30 pm

Not a Baha'i, so you probably don't want my opinion of virginity.


Your opinion is important, this issue of virginity is still a "taboo" for some people. :o

It is interesting that the UHJ seems to realize that no satisfactory test of virginity exists, or can exist. Traditional Middle Eastern societies expect torn hymens on wedding nights, evidence of which (bloodied sheets) might then be paraded around for the approval of witnesses, but this cannot be counted upon.


I am not sure if the House says exactly that, but the woman's hymen is not "infallible"! :shock:

If we talk about a marriage in the background of 'previous contract' (a contract probably related to Eastern societies) according to the Aqdas the annulment of the marriage is legitimate since the basis of it was the woman's virginity.

But, in a case where a couple that love each other and the girl had not have any sex. So then, in the wedding's night, after sex the man notices that apparently his woman was not virgin. So, what happen? Did the woman lie to him? Or something is wrong with her hymen? The last is a medical possibility, of course isn't? :oops:

What happen in such cases? Does any man have to prove what his bride says? Would be that a true and spiritual relationship? That is one reason I don't get the point of that type of 'contract'.

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Postby brettz9 » Fri Mar 18, 2005 6:38 pm

The point is that this would be a prenuptial agreement...The woman would presumably be aware of her condition upon allowing such a condition for marriage...

This is simply one among many possible agreements a couple could come to as preconditions for marriage, and as nature has it, this particular one is not as easy to prove for a man (though again, the House of Justice states that the law does apply reciprocally if a woman wished to make this precondition on her husband).

Brett

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Postby brettz9 » Fri Mar 18, 2005 7:09 pm

One other point...

I think it is a fallacy not to consider chastity as a moral issue...

As it is phrased in Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-86:

With reference to the question you have asked concerning the
Bahá'í attitude towards the problem of sex and its relation to marriage: The Bahá'í Teachings on this matter, which is of such vital concern and about which there is such a wide divergency of views, are very clear and emphatic. Briefly stated the Bahá'í conception of sex is based on the belief that chastity should be strictly practiced by both sexes, not only because it is in itself highly commendable ethically, but also due to its being the only way to a happy and successful marital life. Sex relationships of any form, outside marriage, are not permissible therefore, and whoso violates this rule will not only be responsible to God, but will incur the necessary punishment from society. The Bahá'í Faith recognizes the value of the sex impulse, but condemns its illegitimate and improper expression such as free love, companionate marriage and others, all of which it considers positively harmful to man and to the society in which he lives. The proper use of the sex instinct is the natural right of every individual, and it is precisely for this very purpose that the institution of marriage has been established. The Bahá'ís do not believe in the suppression of the sex impulse but in its regulation and control. (From a letter dated 5 September 1938, to an individual believer) The question you raise as to the place in one's life that a deep bond of love with someone we meet other than our husband or wife can have is easily defined in view of the teachings. Chastity implies both before and after marriage an unsullied, chaste sex life. Before marriage absolutely chaste, after marriage absolutely faithful to one's chosen companion. Faithful in all sexual acts, faithful in word and in deed. The world today is submerged, amongst other things, in an overexaggeration of the importance of physical love, and a dearth of spiritual values. In as far as possible the believers should try to realize this and rise above the level of their fellowmen who are, typical of all decadent periods in history, placing so much overemphasis on the purely physical side of mating. Outside of their normal, legitimate married life they should seek to establish bonds of comradeship and love which are eternal and founded on the spiritual life of man, not on his physical life. This is one of the many fields in which it is incumbent on the Bahá'í's to set the example and lead the way to a true human standard of life, when the soul of man is exalted and his body but the tool for his enlightened spirit. Needless to say this does not preclude the living of a perfectly normal sex life in its legitimate channel of marriage. (From a letter dated 28 September 1941, to an individual believer)
126.7c Concerning your question whether there are any legitimate forms of expression of the sex instinct outside of marriage: according to the Bahá'í Teachings no sexual act can be considered lawful unless performed between lawfully married persons. Outside of marital life there can be no lawful or healthy use of the sex impulse. The Bahá'í youth should, on the one hand, be taught the lesson of self-control which, when exercised, undoubtedly has a salutary effect on the development, of character and of personality in general, and on the other should be advised, nay even encouraged, to contract marriage while still young and in full possession of their physical vigor. Economic factors, no doubt, are often a serious hindrance to early marriage, but in most cases are only an excuse, and as such should not be overstressed. (From a letter dated 13 December 1940, to an individual believer)


and

Concerning the positive aspects of chastity, the Universal House of Justice states that the Bahá'í Faith recognizes the value of the sex impulse and holds that the institution of marriage has been established as the channel of its rightful expression. Bahá'ís do not believe that the sex impulse should be suppressed but that it should be regulated and controlled. Chastity in no way implies withdrawal from human relationships. It liberates people from the tyranny of the ubiquity of sex. A person who is in control of his sexual impulses is enabled to have profound and enduring friendships with many people, both men and women, without ever sullying that unique and priceless bond that should unite man and wife.


If a spouse is made to feel inadequate because their spouse has acquired certain experiences or expectations outside of this relationship, it can be a strain on that relationship. Whereas society today often argues that the couple should gain experience beforehand, this does not take into account the power of love (and medical doctors if necessary) to overcome shortcomings in the physical relationship. Nor does it take into account that people pursuing merely the physical are more apt to cheat or leave such relationships as well.

'Abdu'l-Bahá in a Tablet criticizes those parents who do not teach their children in such a manner as to be chaste.

This is not to say that there is not forgiveness, and that people cannot gain purity through strength as 'Abdu'l-Bahá indicates, rather than through ignorance, or that there are not great heroes or heroines in the past who were not originally very chaste, but while the Writings themselves admit it can be difficult, especially in this age, the directive to struggle for self-control is clearly enjoined on us (yet in moderation, as it is, except for a rare few who cannot contract marriage, advised for Bahá'ís to marry and thus enjoy these bounties of God within that relationship).

Best wishes,
Brett

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Postby Guest » Fri Mar 18, 2005 10:47 pm

But, in a case where a couple that love each other and the girl had not have any sex. So then, in the wedding's night, after sex the man notices that apparently his woman was not virgin. So, what happen? Did the woman lie to him? Or something is wrong with her hymen? The last is a medical possibility, of course isn't?


It's more than possible--it's actually fairly common. To say that something is "wrong" with her hymen is misleading, I think. Better to say that something is wrong with the virginity test!

There are other theoretical problems. For example, what is "virginity"? Does it only refer to heterosexual, penetrative intercourse? We usually say that rape can take away virginity, but is this fair? Etc.

My personal opinion is that any man who insists on marrying a virgin is going to miss out on a lot of wonderful women. And it will serve him right.

But I do respect very much the idea of chastity. In our culture we very easily become jaded about sex, love, and relationships. Many of us treat each other as disposable, and not surprisingly, have trouble trusting or committing. I don't want to say that everyone should marry their first love (maturity is more important, I think), but that feeling does tend to get diluted with every change of partner.

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Postby brettz9 » Sat Mar 19, 2005 1:20 am

The Bahá'í writings assert that one of the most heinous crimes is the crime of rape. Clearly, such a case is different than when it is done by choice.

Although it probably goes without saying, in the case of rape, the Scriptures do not blame the woman.

"And compel not your maid-servants to prostitute themselves, if they be willing to live chastely; that ye may seek the casual advantage of this present life; but whoever shall compel them thereto, verily GOD will be gracious and merciful unto such women after their compulsion."

(Qur'án, 24:33, Sale's translation)


Even the Hebrew Bible established this (albeit explicitly only for married women):

"But if out in the country a man happens to meet a girl pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die. Do nothing to the girl; she has committed no sin deserving death. This case is like that of someone who attacks and murders his neighbor, for the man found the girl out in the country, and though the betrothed girl screamed, there was no one to rescue her."


I think most of us would agree that the suitability of the law on the topic of the proving of virginity from the Hebrew Bible is most definitely not a suitable one for today, however:

If a man takes a wife and, after lying with her, dislikes her and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, "I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity," then the girl's father and mother shall bring proof that she was a virgin to the town elders at the gate. The girl's father will say to the elders, "I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes her. Now he has slandered her and said, 'I did not find your daughter to be a virgin.' But here is the proof of my daughter's virginity." Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town, and the elders shall take the man and punish him. They shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the girl's father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.

If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl's virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father's house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father's house. You must purge the evil from among you.


Brett

Hasan
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Postby Hasan » Sat Mar 19, 2005 1:33 am

brettz9 wrote:One other point...
I think it is a fallacy not to consider chastity as a moral issue...
As it is phrased in Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-86


brettz9, you took some points and I need to explain my opinion.

I'm clear by saying these comments and poll are not to criticize in any way the Bahá'í law of prohibition of extramarital sex.

I see chastity as a way of living, an "attitude" it has spiritual implications, that is why I refer "morality is more important". Of course chastity implies also virginity, but chastity is a term bigger than virginity.


brettz9 wrote:'Abdu'l-Bahá in a Tablet criticizes those parents who do not teach their children in such a manner as to be chaste.


By the way, I never mentioned that. I agree with you in this point so far.

Anonymous wrote:There are other theoretical problems. For example, what is "virginity"? Does it only refer to heterosexual, penetrative intercourse? We usually say that rape can take away virginity, but is this fair? Etc.


Ok, I think virginity refers to any form of sex, oral, anal, vaginal and more than that any 'genital contact'.

Of course the rape is the worst thing for a woman, regrettably that is what happen to unfortunate women. But of course if she was chaste before such horrible crime, she can continues being chaste, because (as I said) it is an attitude, nobody except God can take away it from her. :)

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Postby Hasan » Sat Mar 19, 2005 2:20 am

Anonymous wrote: My personal opinion is that any man who insists on marrying a virgin is going to miss out on a lot of wonderful women. And it will serve him right.


I need to comment on this: I agree with you. You get my point.

That is the kernel of this issue of "virginity". I say when a person want to choose a couple see the morality the 'chaste attitude' (see new post) and if the woman (or man) is virgin is best for both. Is best for both if the two are virgins (because this high standard is the ideal bahá'í).

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Postby Dawud » Sun Mar 20, 2005 8:25 pm

Ok, I think virginity refers to any form of sex, oral, anal, vaginal and more than that any 'genital contact'.


Hasan, did you really mean to include kissing?

A more precise definition of "sexual contact" was attempted by Bill Clinton's judge (who however missed one crucial possibility).

Brett, if these scriptural sources are so wise, why didn't Baha'u'llah or somebody simply declare, "Stipulating virginity in a marriage contract is useless and wrong," or something to that effect? Rather than leave it to future exegetes to read it in between the lines, the way they did with monogamy...?

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Postby Hasan » Sun Mar 20, 2005 10:10 pm

Dawud wrote:Hasan, did you really mean to include kissing?


Not kissing, but maybe any kind of sex is the same any "conscious genital contact", I don't know if term "sexual contact" has been fully defined by Bahá'ís texts so far.

Dawud wrote:Brett, if these scriptural sources are so wise, why didn't Baha'u'llah or somebody simply declare, "Stipulating virginity in a marriage contract is useless and wrong," or something to that effect? Rather than leave it to future exegetes to read it in between the lines, the way they did with monogamy...?


I don't know what you mean, but that kind of contract could be a more common custom in the East.

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Postby Dawud » Mon Mar 21, 2005 2:24 am

Does it count if you have Conscious Genital Contact with yourself?

:D

My point is that the supposedly progressive Baha'i scriptures are actually regressive in that they accept as normative a sexist--and let's face it, repulsive--Middle Eastern folk custom.

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dawud

Postby Hasan » Mon Mar 21, 2005 7:22 am

Dawud wrote:Does it count if you have Conscious Genital Contact with yourself? :D
My point is that the supposedly progressive Baha'i scriptures are actually regressive in that they accept as normative a sexist--and let's face it, repulsive--Middle Eastern folk custom.


Obviously I was talking between "contact" two persons. :lol:

Are you bahá'í? I don't think the Scriptures are "regressive", however it depends what meaning you give to that word. There a lot of texts that support this, if you accept the Faith as Divine in origin, then you think God is "regressive"?

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Postby brettz9 » Mon Mar 21, 2005 10:27 am

Brett, if these scriptural sources are so wise, why didn't Baha'u'llah or somebody simply declare, "Stipulating virginity in a marriage contract is useless and wrong," or something to that effect? Rather than leave it to future exegetes to read it in between the lines, the way they did with monogamy...?


Well, first of all, I don't think that it is necessarily useless and wrong for someone to stipulate that. It is up to them, and I can see reasons for their doing so.

It has already been pointed out that this law applies for men or women. There is also the letter (cited earlier) on this topic from the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice which clearly stated:

With regard to Miss xxxx's specific questions about the application of this law, the Research Department has not been able to locate any references in the Bahá'í Teachings that shed light on her questions. We note, however, that this particular law is one that is not currently binding on the believers in the West. No doubt, when the appropriate time for its application comes, the Universal House of Justice will provide the necessary elucidations and any supplementary legislation that might be required in order for the law to be applied with justice.

(Memorandum, 29 June 1996)


Sections 1 and 2 in the same above-cited document (here) are quite lucid and illuminating in explaining the progressive nature of the application of the monogamy law within the Bahá'í Dispensation.

It is possible, as with the law outwardly permitting bigamy, that this law was intended to progressively lead cultures out of their current practice of it, or, conversely or in addition, depending on how it is applied, it could draw attention to and uphold the value of virginity within a marriage.

best wishes,
Brett

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Postby Guest » Mon Mar 21, 2005 10:28 am

Hi Dawud,

I see your point but if I may submit a possible different angle. In respect for the time of those teachings. And how the teaching was revealed through direct questioning, would it not make more sense to be approptiate for the time?

And isn't it still a good lesson that ANY contract once agreed if founded untrue can be nulled and voided?

Now since this practice was a cross the board accept in the Islamic world at the time, why would it be regressive to suggest that we forgive and forget as Bahaullah suggests?

Just a different angle.

Mat

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Postby Dawud » Mon Mar 21, 2005 7:20 pm

Hasan. no--I'm not a Baha'i. By "regressive" I mean basically, a step backwards from the best, wisest, or most enlightened voices in the world today.

Mat suggests that this was a concession to Baha'u'llah's immediate cultural context. Fine, so should we start regarding parts of the Baha'i faith as superseded by better practices (the way Baha'is regard other religion's laws)? And so on with the whole of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, which is as unenlightened a text as was ever composed? (By conventional standards of course; I suppose the Sahib al-Zaman does whatsoever he wills!) :twisted:

Brett takes the age-old Baha'i "out" that the bad Baha'i laws are not yet in effect, that the world situation is "not yet" suitable for them. This wrongly suggests that the future world in which they could be applied, would be an improvement on the present world.

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Postby Guest » Tue Mar 22, 2005 12:09 pm

Hi Dawud,

No actually what I meant was this is an example of a contract. It was used in context and now we can use it as a guideline. It is as right today as it was then. That ANY contract no matter how small must be honored to the letter. Even in matters of the heart.

It is odd how it goes on to show that it was written in the context of the answered question by stating they would be blessed if they forgive and conceal. But that is from my point of view. And your research and investigation is your own:)

Mat

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Postby brettz9 » Tue Mar 22, 2005 1:45 pm

Brett takes the age-old Baha'i "out" that the bad Baha'i laws are not yet in effect, that the world situation is "not yet" suitable for them. This wrongly suggests that the future world in which they could be applied, would be an improvement on the present world.


I don't see it or any other Bahá'í law as a bad law at all. If you are living where lives are ravaged by AIDS or the like, don't you think it would be understandable that people would want some kind of guarantee for their own health and safety and for that of their family? Just because it might be too late in some cases when it was discovered that the person had not been a virgin, does not mean that making such a condition could not deter some from entering into such a situation.

Brett

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Postby Dawud » Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:27 pm

"Love is a promise without a guarantee."

--Milan Kundera

"The courts are not a remedy for every one of life's ills."

--some U.S. judge, throwing out a lawsuit by a high school girl whose boyfriend broke up with her before the prom

One of the wisest things I ever read about relationships was, oddly enough, from Baha'u'llah--his recommendation (requirement?) that prospective brides and grooms take the time to "thoroughly get to know one another's character" (or however it goes). While this would not prevent all surprises, I think this is preferable to reliance on contracts.

If the problem is communicable diseases, then require a blood test. (A bit quaint, in a world where few couples wait until the wedding night to consummate the relationship.) Don't confuse the issue with virginity preservation. And pity the poor Baha'i qadi of our future utopia, who will have to figure out how to determine whether a contract was fulfilled. (Talk about "he said / she said" cases!)

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Mon Mar 28, 2005 4:03 pm

While I agree very much with the general spirit of the quotations you supplied, I think they are not fully applicable in this case.

The first one implies that a promise has already been made. Surely you do not think one should be constrained to marry without discretion ahead of time (as you say so yourself later in the same post).

Secondly, though it is possible, according to the law of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas to make such a stipulation, it doesn't mean that it is necessarily recommended. As perhaps with the case of inheritance laws which are stated in our Writings as being a motivator for everyone in fact writing a will as they please, perhaps this in the future would motivate believers to consider and discuss ahead of time what they expect out of marriage. Or again, for those cultures which have practiced this already, as with the dowry law, it could (at least in part if not entirely) be a way of mitigating the old customs in place by certain cultures.

It is not confusing the issue to see that, especially for those without access to reliable blood tests, virginity would grant some element of protection from disease, not to mention the emotional benefits for the couple. Another effect of such laws, I might venture, is to draw our attention back to the importance of in fact waiting until the wedding night for consummating the relationship.

Brett

Guest

Postby Guest » Sat Apr 02, 2005 8:05 pm

Answering what I think was the original point of the poll:

I personally did not care whether or not my wife was a virgin, or not, and yes it did come up in a frank conversation (one of many we had prior to asking our parents for consent such as what addictions we had/have, how many people we were physically and emotionally intimate with, and so on).

I made the decision regarding viriginity early on before I even met my wife, once I had decided I was ready and interested in finding a partner for life. The decisions was that as I have done things in the past which were not in line with the spirit and teachings and laws of Baha'u'llah and which helped me grow, I must allow similar latitude in anyone who would be wife. I could also marry a non-Baha'i or a person who was previously married, so if I allowed myself to be weirded out by virginity, i would be unnessasarily limiting my choices of marriage partners. Also I figured any problem I had with the past of my future wife would be pure jealousy, and I could just as easily be jealous of emotional intimacy as with physical intimacy, so I must become unjealous before I was a worthy mate anyway.

This decision was made even fully understanding the relativistic nature of our own morality and feelings of guilt and superiority... meaning that yes, if person A is a virgin, presumably there must be extreme internal pressure to have remained such amongst a culture of general promiscuity, and if she marries person B who is not a virgin, she may (subconsciously) harbor feelings of superiority or anger at the previous choice and experience of person B, and so on. However, looking at myself I could say that I was a very open-minded and forgiving person, so that would not be an issue for me (or at least I could deal with it.)

For me, the question of ultimate compatibility is more important than any particular past event in my wife's life or choices she made (though of course our past does shape us to some lesser or greater extent, and so understanding the events in her past help me be sensitive to things that might be affecting her in the present). And by ultimate compatibility i don't mean having similar tastes and enjoying similar activities (though that is a big plus i'm sure). My wife and I for instance have very little in common regarding our tastes in food, movies, literature, etc. But, when it comes to any issue of real importance, how we respond to injustice, extending forgiveness, opening our home to others, etc. we respond in indentical ways. Our cores are aligned. I never have to consult with her about the deepest most important things in life because we agree without discussion (of course we go through the process of consultation, I mean that I can make snap decisions regarding most important questions since I know she would make the same decision).

Our individual lives in the past, and our present personalities are sharply distinct and different, but our inner lives are very compatible. I think that is ultimately the main ingredient for a success marriage.

But that being said, I think in addition to ascertaining the character of one's potential spouse, one must also acquaint himself with his own nature and character (and presumably has been doing so, following Baha'u'llah's advice that we take ourselves into account each day). And if you feel that the viriginity of your future spouse is important, than you should pay heed to that feeling and be guided by it. And perhaps people may think you are snobby or elitist or sexist or some other thing... the important thing to remember is that as much as we try to be enlightened and forward thinking and open minded or whatever, and however much we want to be like other people, we have all been given our own individual judgement, shaped by our experiences and hopes and dreams, it is the same capacity which allows us to seek the Truth and recognize it when we find it. So be comfortable with your own internal sense of things.

Who knows why any of us feel strongly about the things we do. Perhaps one's feelings about the virginity of her spouse might be in some cosmic fatalistic way, a foreknowledge that her future husband might be weirded out if he found out she was not a virigin, and so this desire of the viriginity of her future husband might in turn have helped her remain thus, so that he wouldn't have an issue with it. Who knows, all I am saying is trust your own instincts and don't be bothered by other peoples criticisms (if you are being sexist or snobby or elitest then you should look into that and try to correct yourself, if you aren't then trust your instincts).

Dealing with other points that were raised in the thread:

As a historian or cultural psychologist, especially in the context of social patterns of behavior and law, in the abscence of a personal belief in a particular religion, one of course can pass judgements such as "that law is backwards, or progressive, or regressive, or whatever" relative to one's own theories on social evolution and ultimate course. Of course for a believer what matters is that it was a law that was made by God and sent down to us by His Prophet. Though of course for many of us, our recognition of the Prophethood of the Revealer of any particular religion is based at least on some measure on the appropriateness of His Laws for our day in age.

That being said, as a Baha'i, and as an open minded person able to see things as a non-Baha'i might, I can see why someone might see a particular law of Baha'u'llah (or any Manifestation of God) as socially regressive, or socially progressive. And I can also see why the explanation "That law is not yet enforceable" or "You need to take into consideration the time and place the law was revealed" and such to be simple cop-outs. I really understand that sentiment I do. That being said, let me try to put forth another rationalization that may sit better with the critics not yet persuaded by the Revelation of Baha'u'llah (meaning I don't expect a critic to accept the law as coming from God and thus being perfect, but at least from a theological and rational argument try to more correctly frame ones critique of the Baha'i Faith on its own terms rather than along the terms of some other political or social agenda):

Baha'u'llah claimed to be the Messenger of God for this day, and He also claimed to be the Promised One of All Religions. Presumbly He was also talking to people who were not Muslims, not Christians, not Jews, as well. His laws represent to Baha'is the law of God for this Day. We also believe that, while of course obedience to these laws is conditioned upon acceptance of the Station of Baha'u'llah as the Manifestation of God for our day, these laws are revealed for all people everywhere. We know that various cultures around the world are in various states of social evolution. We also know that people have widely differing moral compasses and social mores. Some of the laws of Baha'u'llah are clearly drastic annulments of, or updates to, or reinstatements of laws of God previously revealed by other religions. Some are also "brand-new." Some may take into consideration the present social situation of this or that minor or major cultural group. Others may take into consider a future state of world civilization as a whole.

So there is some relativity that is found in the laws and ordanices of Baha'u'llah, and this should not be seen as a negative, but a positive, since it is an example of the world embracing character of the Baha'i Faith in general. If you try to frame everything along some absolute political agenda one is baffled by Baha'u'llah's Pen. For instance, the allowance for the condition of virginity in a marriage "contract" seems "sexist" since historically people have only been concerned with the virginity of the female (though as has already been pointed out, the same condition could be made conditional for the man as well). Contrast this with in the Baha'i marriage the dowry is given to the Bride by the Bridegroom. This affirms the wife's right to own her own individual property seperate from that of her husband. A very "progressive" women's liberation idea. The laws of Baha'u'llah only make sense if one takes into account the wide spectrum of "entry points" to the religion people of a diverse world might have.

Washing your feet in the winter? Pairing your nails? Duh! But who knows, there are people out there who might think certain forms of denial are spiritual paths (i will never bathe again as a sacrifice to God). Such a person who becomes a Baha'i will be gifted with liberation from such a concept. That may be a silly example, but i think it makes the point.

I could care less about the virginity of my wife since there are other characteristics that would have attracted me to her in the first place, but someone else might. Any woman I would want to marry would be turned off by such a contract. But in light the general dissolution of the institution of marriage, might it not seem "progressive" that anyone can make anything contractual to a marraige agreement (virginity or otherwise)? It goes to show one that marriage is more than just being hot for someone else, it is a binding comittment . At the same time Baha'u'llah encourages us not to care about such things and be forgiving anyway. So in a round about way, I interpret the wholse thing to mean that He is telling us not to condition marriage on virginity (or anything else for that matter).

I urge anyone serious about disproving the truth of Baha'u'llah to actually take into consideration the whole entirety of His Revelation, not only excerpts of particular passages. One sees the whole question of virginity in a different light if he is fully aquainted with how much that Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha have emphatically and uncategorically announced the full equality of women and men. Under such light is it truly fair to frame questions of virginity in marriage along simple historical gender roles? I think not. The same goes for other laws and principles in the Writings of Baha'u'llah. When viewed in this light virginity applies to women as equaly as to men, and far from being sexist, is shown to be a tool through which we can better ourselves and grow spiritualy. When viewed in the totality of the Revelation virginity does equate to the worth of a woman, it instead uplifts the nature of man and woman to that of spiritual being. And if there is any question to that, the fact that Baha'u'llah encourages to be forgiving and not care about the virginity of our spouse even if they represented otherwise, should be a clear sign that he is not equating virginity to worthiness.

Sorry all that was so unorganized and randomly thrown together. I hope someone finds something useful in my post.

Take care!

--jpd

Guest

Postby Guest » Sat Apr 02, 2005 8:14 pm

When viewed in the totality of the Revelation virginity does equate to the worth of a woman, it instead uplifts the nature of man and woman to that of spiritual being.


Should have read:
When viewed in the totality of the Revelation virginity does *NOT* equate to the worth of a woman, it instead uplifts the nature of man and woman to that of spiritual being

--jpd

Guest

Postby Guest » Mon Apr 04, 2005 8:43 pm

I wonder if it would be possible to distinguish among different levels of virginity. For example, using the well-known American "baseball" analogy, could a marriage contract specify what "base" each of the partners has gotten to, and how many times? (Perhaps a little chart could present this information in a simple format.) One advantage of this method is that it would eliminate legal ambiguity about virginity in case someone had gay or lesbian sex before but not straight sex, for example.

I realize that many people have doubts about this. However, one either accepts Baha'u'llah as the Manifestation of God for this age, or not. If he is, and if every word revealed by His Pen is true, then we have to set aside our own limited understandings about what is appropriate or inappropriate, and strive to incorporate His suggestions into all our cultures, so that they may at least agree. Therefore a document like this will be something to celebrate--something that a Local Spiritual Assembly ought to be proud to bear witness to, no matter what their personal feelings about publicizing our sexual history.

In fact, a document like this could bear witness to the power of Baha'u'llah's Writings, if presented in the right way. Imagine the effect on a seeker who happens to see the marriage contract framed on the wall of a Baha'i friend, which--after a long list of violations of chastity, organized by date--says "Accepted Baha'u'llah on (date), and then follows a life of chastity. At the risk of introducing ritual, perhaps we could have someone recite these documents during the wedding ceremony itself, allowing a moment for each former partner to wave to the crowd after his name.

Guest

Postby Guest » Mon Apr 04, 2005 9:40 pm

I don't even know how to begin to address that suggestion of the list of one's sexual activities being made public and incorporated into some kind of marriage contract. I can only hope it was made in irony and not seriousess.

We are asked not to breathe the sins of others, and asked not to confess our sins. Such a document would be incouraging both.

Let me sum up this whole debate as succinctly as possible:
We are asked to be chaste until marriage, its a commandment from God, also appearing are examples regarding its application. While yes, it is for everyone on earth, it is really only applicable to those people who believe in the Messenger Who has made that commandment (if you don't believe in Baha'u'llah why would you care what He has asked His followers to do?)
None of us are perfect, God looks at us with a "sin covering eye" and encourages us to look at ourselves and each other as God sees us... so guess what? Sins = no big deal, shouldn't even be looking at them in the first place. Chastity = standard. Reality = whatever it is. Solution: do your best to follow the Laws of God for LOVE of Him. If you fail, beg His (no one else's) forgiveness, assume it is granted, feel ashamed, move on, and try to do better. If you find out someone else has failed, try to forget about it, and even if you can't forget about it certainly don't judge them, focus on remedying your own faults first.

All this discussion regarding "relative" chastity, or "how do you tell one is a virgin", in my humble opinion is extremely silly and will have relatively little benefit. Consider the unwillingness of the Universal House of Justice to legislate on various types of pre-marriage displays of effection (holding hands, kissing, etc.) Now consider the relative silliness of trying to grade or judge the condition of "virginity."

To some extent a discussion of the relevance of Baha'i Law to modern thought is enlightening, but only to a limited extent since, from a believer's perspective, modern thought is to be weighed by the Book of God and not the other way around, so any discussion between believers and unbelievers will be rendered moot at some point since the real distinction is whether or not one should judge a religion's teachings by the standards of society or should one judge the standards of society by the teachings of a religion.

I can also see relevence in discussion of how any particular Law in the Aqdas relates to the Principles of the Baha'i Faith... for example, what relevance (if any) is the law of chastity in light of the concept of the equality of the sexes, etc.

So if I might reframe the questions as:
"How is (or is not) chastity before marraige beneficial to society? to oneself?"

and

"How consistent (or inconsistent) with the other Laws and Principles of Baha'u'llah is the law and application of chastity?"

--jpd

Guest

Postby Guest » Tue Apr 05, 2005 8:26 am

I see this as more of a legal than a philosophical problem. For example, imagine how to word the contract.

"This is to certify that Mary Sue has married / will marry Jim Bob, the validity of said marriage to be conditional of the continued virginity of Mary Sue prior to its consumation.

"Be it further understood that Mary Sue's virginity shall be understood in the sense of full heterosexual voluntary penetrative intercourse, and does not encompass, for example, those events of Prom Night in the back seat of Bubba Joe's car which might otherwise be deemed a contractual violation.

"Should any dispute arise over the fulfillment of this contract, the collective decision of the witnesses to the couple's wedding linen, expressed through whoops, cries, and warbling noises, shall be binding.

"Praise Baha'u'llah, who has wisely allowed for these contingencies. And further deponent saith not.

"Signed, the Local Spiritual Assembly of Buford, Alabama"

Guest

Postby Guest » Fri Apr 22, 2005 4:39 pm

no way!
virginity is the most lack of respect, love and knowledge of ourselves and the beloved people we intimally like!


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