Having girlfriend/boyfriend even though you are a Bahai?

All research or scholarship questions
Badnaz
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 5:47 am

Having girlfriend/boyfriend even though you are a Bahai?

Postby Badnaz » Wed May 06, 2009 5:48 am

Hello,

Can someone please provide some in-depth information from the Baha’i writings about the following two questions?

1) Can a Baha’i have a girlfriend or boyfriend relationship?
2) What do the writings say about kissing or making out with your respective girlfriend or boyfriend?

The reason I am asking about the following questions is because I have come across several elderly active Baha’i youths who have mentioned that it is OK to have a (normal society-like) relationship, because apparently the Baha’i writings does not clarify this matter. Due to their point of view, many younger Baha’i youths are now in a relationship and their parents seem OK with the outcome. However, there are other Baha’i adults who are against these views, as they are claiming that there are Baha’i writings that do forbid such relationships (except for being engaged or married).

Thank you for sharing your information!

Kind Regards,

Truth
Posts: 79
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 6:19 am
Location: Oz

Re: Having girlfriend/boyfriend even though you are a Bahai?

Postby Truth » Wed May 06, 2009 6:34 am

A relationship is something that can be defined in a number of ways. If you're in a relationship to investigate one another's character, then i personally don't see a problem with it. This can have a boyfriend/girlfriend title if it really wants. Being in a relationship for physical means, i.e. swapping spit, is in my personal opinion obviously not permissible.

There is a pilgrims note that I'm sure most people have read from the guardian on easy familiarity, and embracing one another. That is, hugging the opposite sex, and it not being allowed, but alas, it's a pilgrims note.

I think kissing and everything that comes with it taps into the sexual impulse. It's obviously a physical thing.

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 vigour. 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.


The world today is submerged, amongst other things, in an over-exaggeration 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 fellow-men who are, typical of all decadent periods in history, placing so much over-emphasis 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'ís 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 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)


Chastity is one of the hardest challenges youth face today, no doubt. We're primed by everything that's around us subconsciously, whether we like it or not. But i think saying there's no direct writings on the matter of kissing is a case of living in denial.

More quotes can be found at http://bahai-library.com/compilations/chaste.life.html
No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I bowed myself before one who is the object of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain!

coatofmanycolours
Posts: 100
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 7:14 pm
Location: near Niagara Falls, Canada
Contact:

Re: Having girlfriend/boyfriend even though you are a Bahai?

Postby coatofmanycolours » Wed May 06, 2009 9:45 am

First things first.

If there is a girl/boy that is your friend, the first thing to do
is to bring her/him to the doctor, to find out for sure
what sex she/he is.

-Peter

Highmountain
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Apr 18, 2008 9:50 am

Re: Having girlfriend/boyfriend even though you are a Bahai?

Postby Highmountain » Wed May 06, 2009 11:07 am

By "elderly Baha'i youth", I take it you mean 17-20 year olds? I don't know that there any rigid guidelines other than what was already stated by Truth. Personally, they are enough. I don't see why a Baha'i can't have a bf/gf relationship. How else are you to know someone in life without having a relationship with them? It would be silly to marry someone without knowing them, agree? Might as well have an arranged marriage then. With that being said, I think there is a big difference between a kiss and "making out".

Ask yourself this question, does making out usually end at "making out"? My experience at that age says otherwise. Sadly in todays society, there is a HUGE overemphasis on sex which makes it all the more difficult to follow the laws, it's everywhere you look. Also try to remember that these laws were put in place for your protection as well (STDs, premature pregnancy, societal abasement).

It's an arduous road to travel, but not impossible I think. Definitely a big test though. Just try your best, pray for guidance and make your way. Here are a couple quotes I found:

From Unfolding Destiny (The Guardian):

In connection with your question relative to the Bahá’í solution of sex problems. On the question of sex the Bahá’ís are, in most of their fundamental views, in full agreement with the upholders of traditional morality. Bahá’u’lláh, like all the other Prophets and Messengers of God, preaches abstinence, and condemns, in vehement language, all forms of sexual laxity, unbridled licence and lust. The Bahá’í standard of sex morality is thus very high, but it is by no means unreasonably rigid. While free love is condemned, yet marriage is considered as a holy act which every human being should be encouraged, though not forced, to perform. Sex instinct, like all other human instincts, is not necessarily evil. It is a power which, if properly directed, can bring joy and satisfaction to the individual. If misused or abused it brings, of course, incalculable harm not only to the individual but also to the society in which he lives. While the Bahá’ís condemn asceticism and all extreme forms of self-mortification they at the same time view with disfavour the current theories of sex ethics which cannot but bring ruin to human society. In the Bahá’í Cause marriage has been encouraged, but made somewhat difficult, conditioned as it is upon the consent of the four parents. Divorce, on the other hand, has been made relatively easy, and the sociologists are just beginning to realise the importance of this law….


From Light of Divine Guidance (Vol.2) (The Guardian)
Regarding your questions: by holiness in our Bahá’í teachings is meant attachment to God, His Precepts and His Will. We are not ascetics in any sense of the word. On the contrary, Bahá’u’lláh says God has created all the good things in the world for us to enjoy and partake of. But we must not become attached to them and put them before the spiritual things. Chastity in the strict sense means not to have sexual intercourse, or sexual intimacies, before marriage. In the general sense it means not to be licentious. This does not mean we Bahá’ís believe sexual relations to be impure or wrong. On the contrary they are natural and should be considered one of God’s many blessings. He does not know anything about whether albumen and delicious food affect sex; this is a medical question. Sex is a very individual matter, some people are more passionate by nature than others, and might consequently suffer more if forced to be continent. But when the world becomes more spiritual there will not be such an exaggerated emphasis on sex, as there is today, and consequently it will be easier for young people to be chaste and control their passions. A man of noble character and strong willpower, could certainly remain faithful to his wife during a long absence!


Best of luck,

HM

brettz9
Posts: 1361
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:12 pm
Contact:

Re: Having girlfriend/boyfriend even though you are a Bahai?

Postby brettz9 » Wed May 06, 2009 11:45 am

Hello Badnaz,

Kissing is definitely forbidden:

"What Bahá'u'lláh means by chastity certainly does not include the kissing that goes on in modern society. It is detrimental to the morals of young people, and often leads them to go too far, or arouses appetites which they cannot perhaps at the time satisfy legitimately through marriage, and the suppression of which is a strain on them.

"The Bahá'í standard is very high, more particularly when compared with the thoroughly rotten morals of the present world. But this standard of ours will produce healthier, happier, nobler people, and induce stabler marriages."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 19, 1947, in Lights of Guidance, no. 1210)


"The pilgrim's note reports the Master as saying: 'Women and men must not embrace each other when not married, or not about to be married. They must not kiss each other... If they wish to greet each other, or comfort each other, they may take each other by the hand.' In a letter to an individual written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi it is said: 'The Master's words to ..., which you quoted, can certainly be taken as the true spirit of the teachings on the subject of sex. We must strive to achieve this exalted standard.' (October 19, 1947)"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, February 10, 1974, Lights of Guidance, no. 1438)


The above-mentioned pilgrim's note is at http://www.bahai-library.org/file.php?f ... amiliarity

There are more quotations on the topic also at http://bahai-library.com/?file=hornby_l ... 0Education

The Baha'i Writings are our authority (along with the institutions), and the infallible guidance has flowed continuously from Baha'u'llah to 'Abdu'l-Baha, to both Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice. So, it is not an adult vs. youth issue--the question should always be what do the Writings say (though the Writings also say that the young and old have things to learn from each other). Baha'i youth have a difficult task on this topic, especially in countries like the U.S. where it is so extreme. Although Shoghi Effendi admits that Baha'is will inevitably be affected by it to some degree, we are also to rise above it--and not only relatively speaking.

best wishes,
Brett

coatofmanycolours
Posts: 100
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 7:14 pm
Location: near Niagara Falls, Canada
Contact:

Re: Having girlfriend/boyfriend even though you are a Bahai?

Postby coatofmanycolours » Wed May 06, 2009 12:44 pm

hi Brett; Good stuff. I quoted you to http://wanderings.teacherjay.net/ where
the discussion is about a prom with distinct moral standards of dress. etc...

-Peter

brettz9
Posts: 1361
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:12 pm
Contact:

Re: Having girlfriend/boyfriend even though you are a Bahai?

Postby brettz9 » Wed May 06, 2009 2:06 pm

Ok, I've started a bare page (npi) on sex at http://bahai9.com/wiki/Sex . If anything is likely to get more participation at the wiki, for better or worse, I think this may be it. :)

Let's try to build the pages informatively yet respectfully, everyone, eh? And let's try to cover it, as with the other topics at the site, in a balanced manner, trying to anticipate angles and present the moderate yet principled view which our Writings offer.

The specific topic that inspired me to do this was to find a place for this great quote (which was inspired by trying to recognize one valid point raised in the blog you mention, Peter), though maybe someone can help come up with a logical and succinctly-named topic where this would fall:

"If Bahá'í youth combine such personal purity with an attitude of uncensorious forbearance towards others they will find that those who may have criticized or even mocked them will come, in time, to respect them. They will, moreover, be laying a firm foundation for future married happiness."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a Local Spiritual Assembly, July 9, 1973, emphasis added)


(Btw, by including this quote on "uncensorious forbearance", I don't at all mean to imply that Baha'is are to refuse to countenance standards by a school administration, Baha'i or otherwise (on the contrary, our Writings employ a different standard for institutions than for individuals and support the former enforcing them in certain cases--see the wiki), but I thought it was worth bringing up.)

I also placed a few quotations at http://bahai9.com/wiki/Sex_and_the_arts and http://bahai9.com/wiki/Sex_and_dress to address the other side of the blog post. We are dealing with an ever-evolving wiki, so it can't be expected to exhaustively cover the topics, especially at once, though contributions can help round it out more, as is the whole idea...

best wishes,
Brett

Again, I want to make clear, the intention, as is hopefully clear, is to study together and learn about the topic from first-hand-sources, rather than make anyone feel bad, etc. (and there are quotes to that effect too).

Badnaz
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 5:47 am

Re: Having girlfriend/boyfriend even though you are a Bahai?

Postby Badnaz » Wed May 06, 2009 5:42 pm

brettz9 wrote:Hello Badnaz,

Kissing is definitely forbidden:

"What Bahá'u'lláh means by chastity certainly does not include the kissing that goes on in modern society. It is detrimental to the morals of young people, and often leads them to go too far, or arouses appetites which they cannot perhaps at the time satisfy legitimately through marriage, and the suppression of which is a strain on them.

"The Bahá'í standard is very high, more particularly when compared with the thoroughly rotten morals of the present world. But this standard of ours will produce healthier, happier, nobler people, and induce stabler marriages."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 19, 1947, in Lights of Guidance, no. 1210)


(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, February 10, 1974, Lights of Guidance, no. 1438)


The above-mentioned pilgrim's note is at http://www.bahai-library.org/file.php?f ... amiliarity


Dear Brett,

You have cited the Lights of Guidance as a source for the letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the individual believer, however the number given and the link provided does not match with the pages in Lights of Guidance. I can not find the quotes given anywhere. Could you please look into this issue and provide me with the details of where to find the information?

Thank you!

brettz9
Posts: 1361
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:12 pm
Contact:

Re: Having girlfriend/boyfriend even though you are a Bahai?

Postby brettz9 » Wed May 06, 2009 6:36 pm

Hello Badnaz,

There have been different versions of Lights of Guidance... This edition is the third edition, 1994. If "kissing" is not in index in your copy either, you may be able to find it under a similar section as this one (even if different numbering): XXIX. LAWS AND ORDINANCES, H. Chastity and Sex Education, 1210. "Kissing in Modern Society is Detrimental to Morals". (The other quote, FYI, was under XXXVIII. PILGRIMS' NOTES, 1438. "Pilgrim's Notes Reporting the Master's Words on Embracing and Kissing".)

I can't testify for whether the fourth edition even kept this quotation (or whether it had been in the previous editions), but you can definitely confirm for yourself that it is in the third edition if you can find a copy.

best wishes,
Brett


Return to “Discussion”