Re: Male and Bahai Faith

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Posted by Jonah on May 11, 2101 at 02:56:13:

In Reply to: Male and Bahai Faith posted by Masoud on May 10, 2101 at 22:08:43:

This is a decision that would be left up to the individual. In other words, yes, a Baha'i would be allowed to do any of those things. Having said that, this is also a question that would have different answers in different contexts. A white businessman in Minnesota wearing earrings would convey a very different statement than a native African male wearing earrings in Botswana. In other words, the character of the statement the man is making by his earrings and his make-up may be a factor to consider, but the act itself would bear little meaning outside its context. Similarly, shaving the chest would be a normal thing to do for a bicycle racer. For another example, the Kitab-i-Aqdas says to pare one's nails, i.e. not have them too long. But when I was a classical guitarist I had to have long fingernails. The point of the law is cleanliness and neat appearance, not necessarily *literal* obedience.

The character of the statement being made is something Baha'is would want to consider carefully, for Baha'u'llah enjoins his followers to be respectful, humble, and not ostentatious. For a more extreme example, a punk with a bright mohawk and safety pin earrings in 1979 England could be encouraged by his local Baha'i community, were he a member, to tone down his appearance. However, there would be no explicit requirement for him to do so, and I doubt that he could be expelled from the community for something so minor and personal. I'm reminded of the Universal House of Justice's instructions to National Spiritual Assemblies not to pry into individual's private lives.

You might find the book _Unrestrained as the Wind_ useful. It's a compilation of Baha'i teachings about behavior, appearance, sexuality, and other issues designed primarily for Baha'i youth. I don't know if it's still in print, but if not your local Baha'i library will probably have a copy.

For some specific notes on appearance for men, where some of these questions are explicitly answered, see, especially notes 68, 69, 167, 175

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