infidelity

All research or scholarship questions
tommy
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infidelity

Postby tommy » Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:06 pm

I recently read an article on Baha'i' thought about adultery by Phillipe Copeland and how people survive it and get through it when possible. It made me think about this question which no one mentioned in the discussion and maybe it was because the answer is so obvious.
From your understanding of the Writings/religion/spirituality should unfaithful acts be told to your spouse?
Is it dishonest to conceal them from your spouse?

" The sinner, when his heart is free from all save God, must seek forgiveness from God alone. Confession before the servants (i.e. before men) is not permissible, for it is not the means or the cause of Divine Forgiveness. Such confession before the creatures leads to one’s humiliation and abasement, and God—exalted by His Glory—does not wish for the humiliation of His servants. Verily He is 85 Compassionate and Beneficent. The sinner must, between himself and God, beg for mercy from the Sea of Mercy and implore pardon from the Heaven of Forgiveness. "
-is this quote just about forgiveness before others and separate from honesty within a marriage, ie one tells their spouse out of honesty and not as a confession?

Is it a case by case decision or a self evident spiritual law to tell your partner? "
Does i tmake any difference if technical adultery was not committed but betrayal through unchaste acts was. Does the degree of offence even matter with regards to 'confessing' to spouse.
What does God want from us? other than obviously breaking His laws in the first place.

Jonah
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Re: infidelity

Postby Jonah » Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:33 pm

Thanks for your post, Tommy

Two very quick thoughts on the matter.

1) Monogamy is not, according to evolutionary biologists, intrinsic in our genes (at least for males). Hence the need for the prophets to have been stressing it for the last 2500 years (the pre-Mosaic religions did not address adultery). In other words, while it is a failing on our part when we do it, also understand that it's "natural" and quite common. My point is not to excuse it, but to better understand it.

2) You can't hide things from your spouse without causing friction, both within your own psyche and between the two partners. As long as it's kept hidden, the relationship will suffer. Best to get it out in the open and let the healing process begin, as soon as possible. The longer one waits before telling, the harder the healing process will be - because the original misdeed (the affair) is now compounded by the second misdeed (deceit).

-jonah

onepence
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Re: infidelity

Postby onepence » Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:23 am

God is Most Glorious!

The following quote is from The Kitáb-i-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book):



"He who dealeth faithlessly with God shall in justice meet with faithlessness himself; he, however, who acteth in accordance with God’s bidding shall receive a blessing from the heaven of the bounty of his Lord, the Gracious, the Bestower, the Generous, the Ancient of Days."




~ Bahá'u'lláh

tommy
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Re: confession to spouse

Postby tommy » Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:09 am

onepence: thanks for your response and for sharing this powerful quote.
Do you know of any quotes addressing my specific question?

thanks,

onepence
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Re: confession to spouse

Postby onepence » Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:20 pm

tommy wrote:onepence: thanks for your response and for sharing this powerful quote.
Do you know of any quotes addressing my specific question?

thanks,



Q: Is it a case by case decision or a self evident spiritual law to tell your partner?

A: It is a case by case decision. As indicated by Bahá’u’lláh

in The Kitáb-i-Aqdas

"God hath imposed a fine on every adulterer and adulteress, to be paid to the House of Justice: nine mithqáls of gold, to be doubled if they should repeat the offence. Such is the penalty which He Who is the Lord of Names hath assigned them in this world; and in the world to come He hath ordained for them a humiliating torment. Should anyone be afflicted by a sin, it behoveth him to repent thereof and return unto his Lord. He, verily, granteth forgiveness unto whomsoever He willeth, and none may question that which it pleaseth Him to ordain. He is, in truth, the Ever-Forgiving, the Almighty, the All-Praised."

Thus we find it possible that a person who committed adultery could approach the House of Justice, pay a fine,and have a case dismissed without having to inform anyone else, i.e. the faithful spouse not knowing about a cheating spouse; however, in the real world application of this Law the faithful spouse would likely find out just because married partners tend to be aware of each others good health or lack thereof, including financial health.

It is possible that the faithful spouse may turn a blind eye, as our True Brother would say, a sin covering eye unto the unfaithful one.

The more likely outcome is divorce,as indicated by the following passage in The Kitáb-i-Aqdas : "Should resentment or antipathy arise between husband and wife, he is not to divorce her but to bide in patience throughout the course of one whole year, that perchance the fragrance of affection may be renewed between them. If, upon the completion of this period, their love hath not returned, it is permissible for divorce to take place."

In brief, It is a case by case decision. as noted in footnote 77 from The Kitáb-i-Aqdas

"Although the term translated here as adultery refers, in its broadest sense, to unlawful sexual intercourse between either married or unmarried individuals (see note 36 for a definition of the term), ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has specified that the punishment here prescribed is for sexual intercourse between persons who are unmarried. He indicates that it remains for the Universal House of Justice to determine the penalty for adultery committed by a married individual. (See also Q and A 49.)

In one of His Tablets, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá refers to some of the spiritual and social implications of the violation of the laws of morality and, concerning the penalty here described, He indicates that the aim of this law is to make clear to all that such an action is shameful in the eyes of God and that, in the event that the offence can be established and the fine imposed, the principal purpose is the exposure of the offenders—that they are shamed and disgraced in the eyes of society. He affirms that such exposure is in itself the greatest punishment.

The House of Justice referred to in this verse is presumably the Local House of Justice, currently known as the Local Spiritual Assembly."

brettz9
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Re: infidelity

Postby brettz9 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 6:56 pm

Hello Tommy,

Although this does not answer the question for you about whether to share this or not, it does at least indicate that Baha'is are not forbidden from admitting and apologizing for acts they have done in the name of avoiding confession of sins, nor does it seem to require it:

"It should be borne in mind that all consultation is aimed at arriving at a solution to a problem and is quite different from the sort of group baring of the soul that is popular in some circles these days and which borders on the kind of confession that is forbidden in the Faith. On the subject of confession the Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf to an individual believer: 'We are forbidden to confess to any person, as do the Catholics to their priests, our sins and shortcomings, or to do so in public, as some religious sects do. However, if we spontaneously desire to acknowledge we have been wrong in something, or that we have some fault of character, and ask another person's forgiveness or pardon, we are quite free to do so. The Guardian wants to point out, however, that we are not obliged to do so. It rests entirely with the individual.'"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, March 19, 1973: Consultation: A Compilation, pp. 12-13, in Lights of Guidance, no. 589)


There are some situations at least where it is recommended:

Perhaps the greatest test Bahá'ís are ever subjected to is from each other; but for the sake of the Master they should be ever ready to overlook each other's mistakes, apologize for harsh words they have uttered, forgive and forget. He strongly recommends to you this course of action.

(From a letter dated 18 December 1945 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, in Living the Life, no. 1308)


My personal suggestion to someone in this situation would be to both use their rational judgment and also prayerfully listen to their "Inner Light" on this one and consider whether their offense would merit shaming oneself and/or needlessly disturbing the composure of a partner who may or may not be mature enough to handle it, or whether, on the other hand, it could be a positive step for the relationship in forcing one to confront one's injustices to the other person, in not only the past but also the future, and also potentially win back the partner's trust over time by a sincere effort to make good.

Though it does not deal specifically with adultery, I very much recommend a film called "Fireproof" which reflects, I feel, a genuinely Christian, and thus Baha'i-like attitude toward marriage and bravely and frankly confronts some evils and struggles facing our marriages today.

While our Writings also acknowledge, as Jonah says, that it is human to fail including explicitly in this area, both biology and our Writings also assure us that it is also possible to regulate, albeit not successfully suppress, the sexual instinct, and that the success of the growth of our Faith in fact depends on the extent to which we strive to better uphold such moral standards (along with freedom from racial prejudice and a high moral rectitude in conduct). While some focus on the attractiveness of the social principles of the Faith, either a study of the Writings or an examination of attitudes of the public, will reveal that many are more hungering to find those who will uphold the more challenging moral principles.

While recognizing that Baha'is of the West will to some degree be inevitably influenced by the wider culture, the Baha'i Writings also urge us to not be content with mere relative distinction and indicate that this topic "must claim an increasing share" of our attention:

"...the obligation of chastity and holiness must claim an increasing share of the attention of the American believers, both in their individual capacities and as the responsible custodians of the interests of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. In the discharge of such an obligation, to which the special circumstances resulting from an excessive and enervating materialism now prevailing in their country lend particular significance, they must play a conspicuous and predominant role. All of them, be they men or women, must, at this threatening hour when the lights of religion are fading out, and its restraints are one by one being abolished, pause to examine themselves, scrutinize their conduct, and with characteristic resolution arise to purge the life of their community of every trace of moral laxity that might stain the name, or impair the integrity, of so holy and precious a Faith."

(Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice, p. 29)


Best wishes,
Brett

BritishBahai
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Re: infidelity

Postby BritishBahai » Sun Apr 01, 2012 6:48 am

I could be wrong, but this is how I see it: After you die, other people might also become aware of any adultery-related acts. The two quotes which make me think this are:

(1) Kitab-i-Aqdas, paragraph 49
God hath imposed a fine on every adulterer and
adulteress, to be paid to the House of Justice: nine
mithqals of gold, to be doubled if they should repeat
the offence. Such is the penalty which He Who is the
Lord of Names hath assigned them in this world; and in
the world to come He hath ordained for them a
humiliating torment.
Should anyone be afflicted by a
sin, it behoveth him to repent thereof and return unto
his Lord. He, verily, granteth forgiveness unto
whomsoever He willeth, and none may question that
which it pleaseth Him to ordain. He is, in truth, the
Ever-Forgiving, the Almighty, the All-Praised.  
 

(2) Persian Hidden Words #67,
O CHILDREN OF FANCY! Know, verily, that while the radiant dawn breaketh above the horizon of eternal holiness, the satanic secrets and deeds done in the gloom of night shall be laid bare and manifest before the peoples of the world.
"I have desired only what Thou didst desire, and love only what Thou dost love"

danieldemol
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Re: infidelity

Postby danieldemol » Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:26 am

Hi British Baha'i,

As I understand it, the punishments in the book are reserved for those who don't come to an authentic repentance for past misdeeds.

Kind Regards,
Dan.

BritishBahai
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Re: infidelity

Postby BritishBahai » Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:32 am

@danieldemol

Ah, that makes sense now. Hence the part which says:

"to be doubled if they should repeat the offence. Such is the penalty which ..."
"I have desired only what Thou didst desire, and love only what Thou dost love"

pilgrimbrent
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Re: infidelity

Postby pilgrimbrent » Thu May 31, 2012 10:00 pm

Fidelity in marriage is a very big deal in the Baha'i Faith. The punishment for adultery is in both worlds; in other instances, the punishment is complete in this world, e.g. capital punishment for murder: http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SAB/sab-153.html

In general I agree that in marriage absolute openness is the key; and I think that in general when a person commits a wrong, he or she should own up to it, apologize, ask for forgiveness, change his or her ways, and move on. However, adultery is so grievous a rupture of the trust between the couple, that in this case it may not be best for the marriage to own up to it. The adulterer would feel guilty and would want to feel better, and in general admitting past acts would help to clear those feelings. However, in this case it depends on the people involved -- it might make it worse. In the 12-step program, steps 8 and 9 are these: "Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all." "Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others." In this instance, owning up to the failure in some cases would cause greater harm; the person has to consult his or her conscience.

The problem is that with infidelity, it has polluted the relationship permanently. You have lost the infinite trust that is possible, and the grace that can flow through that absolute trust and openness. It's gone. And if you try to get it back by putting the burden on your spouse by asking him or her to forgive, well, it might work and it might not. You never know till you get there. You may not have the luxury of freeing yourself from your guilty conscience by admitting the act and asking forgiveness; you might not get forgiven.

Better to stay firm in fidelity so the issue never arises. Avoid temptations, avoid relationships that might lead to infidelity; read the Writings especially the warnings about infidelity, read about the havoc wreaked in marriages where a partner has been unfaithful. Hang around with married couples that are firm in their relationship. If you sense a person tempting you to break your wedding vow, head the other direction: "Time and again have We admonished Our beloved ones to avoid, nay to flee from, anything whatsoever from which the odor of mischief can be detected." (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 97)
Brent


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