baha'i writings addressing pornography specifically?

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baha'i writings addressing pornography specifically?

Postby Guest » Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:41 am

Are there any Baha'i writings addressing the issue of pornography specifically? If so, I'm interested to see in what manner it is spoken against (as I can imagine).

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Mon Nov 21, 2005 3:51 pm

Not as far as I know. The Writings don't tell us "this is wrong" for every single thing. From our understanding of the Writings, we already know what the answer is.

We can put many different quotes together to fully understand what a chaste and holy life entails.

Baha'u'llah:

"Disencumber yourselves of all attachment to this world and the vanities thereof. Beware that ye approach them not, inasmuch as they prompt you to walk after your own lusts and covetous desires, and hinder you from entering the straight and glorious Path."

Viewing pornography is walking "after your own lusts and covetous desires" in my opinion. The Guardian states:

"Outside of marital life there can be no lawful or healthy use of the sex impulse."

Viewing pornography is a form of sexual gratification. It is not the same thing, but it pollutes your mind and makes you less spiritual. Don't believe me? How many people, after viewing pornography, become revitalized with spirituality and go to read prayers and study the Word of God? We are missing the whole point if just "abide" by the Laws but not by exhortations.

Also the Guardian states:

"Amongst the many other evils afflicting society in this spiritual low-water mark in history is the question of immorality, and overemphasis of sex."

Just look at the media. You cannot avoid sex. It's always in movies, music, magazines, etc. On a personal note, I used to enjoy going over to the magazine rack to look at body building magazines (being a body builder), but even those have become polluted with pictures of loose women. When you see such things, you know what Shoghi Effendi meant by "prostitution of the arts and literature," and it is in fact very literal.

Shoghi Effendi:

"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."


Think about it. If someone who is not a Baha'i finds out that you are one and he sees you looking at pornography on your computer, what is he going to think? He may associate that bad action with the Baha'i Faith, even though he shouldn't. I usually like to think of it this way: would 'Abdu'l-Baha do what you are doing? Or, would you be embarrassed if 'Abdu'l-Baha was visiting your house and caught you looking at pornography on your computer? Now, 'Abdu'l-Baha is even closer to us and so we should take that into account before we do something. That's just what I think.


Also, if someone could locate this, I believe Shoghi Effendi stated somewhere that Baha'is should not read love novels, meaning corrupt love novels that raise passions. If anyone can locate that I'd appreciate it...

Guest

Postby Guest » Mon Nov 21, 2005 4:55 pm

Hmmm, out of curiosity: what is the Baha'i view on viewing pornography "for fun" after you're married, say, with your spouse? Not even alone, but viewing as a couple.

Guest

Postby Guest » Mon Nov 21, 2005 4:55 pm

Forgot to add: I already have an idea of whether this is good or not, but I want to see what others say about it.

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Mon Nov 21, 2005 6:50 pm

My friend,

What others have to say about this matter, I believe, should be in accordance with the Writings. That's what I hope I am doing.

About your question if married people can view pornography together. Well, let me put it this way: you certainly won't find yourself burning in hell in the next world if you did. However, as far as I can tell, you probably shouldn't. In the Hidden Words, Baha'u'llah states: "Hear no evil, and see no evil, abase not thyself, neither sigh nor weep." I take, for example, "hear no evil" to mean not to listen to others backbiting, or not to listen to messages that go contrary to our beliefs. "See no evil" to me would mean, in this case, not viewing fornicators engage in intercourse. I'm not married so I'd have no idea if that kind of thing "improves" a marriage, but still to the best of my knowledge I would think that part of keeping the mind pure would include not viewing others engaging in sin. Watching pornography gets you more into the carnal aspects of sex, rather than its main purpose which is to bring man and wife closer. That’s just what I think, however, I could be completely wrong and am always open to correction.

anoinette

Porn

Postby anoinette » Mon Nov 21, 2005 7:18 pm




I have a problem with porn. I didn't like it when I was married and I wasn't a Baha'i at the time.To be paid for having sex and filming it is something I don't understand. :oops:
he ones that I did see were under aged girks which is also against what I feel is right, It is exploting the girl.

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Mon Nov 21, 2005 7:42 pm

well, i would not hesitate to call porn itself evil. anoinette, you are right, it is much worse if the porn involves underage girls, but that's the kind of stuff porn addicts like anway.

you must be a man and fight your perverse, animal nature! that is what i would call a real man. a man that gives in and becomes a slave to his passions is, as the Writings state, not a man but a mere animal. in fact, in such a case the animal is better than the man.

now we all have our weaknesses. through prayer we should try to overcome them. we are not "bad" people because of our weaknesses—that is part of being human. but if we do not make any effort to improve ourselves, then how can we say we are better than animals?

antoinette

Porn

Postby antoinette » Mon Nov 21, 2005 9:36 pm



As Baha'i we are not to judge a person for his actions. It of course doesn't mean we will do it.
the world is changing daily. Slowly, but it is still changing. The views of a lot of the people of the world are trying to grow up. The issues are not always clear as to what is best.
One group I am in , we talk about unconditional love and what that means to each individual.
So....... Again we must not judge or look down on anyone since we do not walk in their shoes

I understand that Porn to some degree is a form of expression and that since we are in the free world we can't take their right away to decide for themselves.
Of course that means that I also have the choice NOT to watch it.
We all have to look at the moral issues in everything that we do.
Antoinette

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Tue Nov 22, 2005 12:59 pm

Yes, you are correct Antoinette, we should not judge others. We should only worry about ourselves, because each person will be accountable for his own actions before God, and not for the actions of others. Baha'u'llah, in the Hidden Words, states:

"O SON OF MAN!

Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself a sinner. Shouldst thou transgress this command, accursed wouldst thou be, and to this I bear witness."



So we can generally say things like what I said, "porn is evil," but that doesn't mean we can automatically draw the conclusion that a person who is viewing porn is evil. Like you said, we don't walk in other people's shoes, and we should always keep this in mind before judging others. We all have our weaknesses, and it is best if we focus on our own.

Antoinette

Porn

Postby Antoinette » Tue Nov 22, 2005 2:36 pm

Yes. I have a dear friend of whom I adore and though he is not a Baha'i I respect him and love him very much. We do not have the right to judge, but love them anyway. I don't always agree with my friends decisions, however they are his decisions to make . Not mine.


KY

Re: Porn

Postby KY » Fri Nov 25, 2005 3:28 pm

anoinette wrote:

I have a problem with porn. I didn't like it when I was married and I wasn't a Baha'i at the time.To be paid for having sex and filming it is something I don't understand. :oops:
he ones that I did see were under aged girks which is also against what I feel is right, It is exploting the girl.


woa! ok hold on a sec. Pornographic material which portrays underaged persons is illegal. I'll say it again, ILLEGAL. It isn't "what we feel is right" it is illegal. Say it with me: ill - e - gal. It is also illegal to portray mature persons as though they were underage. ok? Glad that's clear.

Now for the main event. Before you can even talk about this you have to define clearly what you mean by pornography. What you may consider pornographic may not be what others do. Take for example someone from Utah and someone from the south of France. Their views are radically different.

Second, pornography (the legal kind) does not "exploit girls". In fact, if you think about it for a bit you will acknowledge that it is the buyer/user of pornography who is being exploited. The people creating the material are well compensated financially - one of the few jobs in which women get paid much more than men btw.

Third, pornography is not explicitely mentioned in the Faith (much like homosexuality). And Shoghi Effendi's words (or his secretaries words) are not Baha'i law. The Guardian's sphere of authority excludes creating, modifying or eliminating Baha'i laws. So quoting him re some vague 50's notion of puritanism is not really helpful.

Instead of trying to find some way for the Bahai Faith to regulate each and everything in a person's life with do's and don'ts why don't we concentrate on its mystical elements? why not build a communtiy that will attract the world?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to write an email to the House of Justice to inquire as to whether it is sacriligous to eat overcooked basmati rice with a 4 pronged fork or whether a spoon (wooden or ssteel?) would be the Baha'i way to go.

Guest

Re: Porn

Postby Guest » Fri Nov 25, 2005 4:33 pm

KY wrote:Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to write an email to the House of Justice to inquire as to whether it is sacriligous to eat overcooked basmati rice with a 4 pronged fork or whether a spoon (wooden or ssteel?) would be the Baha'i way to go.

+1 for the wooden spoon, defo. wooden spoon FTW.

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Re: Porn

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Fri Nov 25, 2005 6:40 pm

KY wrote:woa! ok hold on a sec. Pornographic material which portrays underaged persons is illegal. I'll say it again, ILLEGAL. It isn't "what we feel is right" it is illegal. Say it with me: ill - e - gal. It is also illegal to portray mature persons as though they were underage. ok? Glad that's clear


So you are saying kiddy porn would have been okay if it were legal, because we might "feel" it is right?



KY wrote:Second, pornography (the legal kind) does not "exploit girls". In fact, if you think about it for a bit you will acknowledge that it is the buyer/user of pornography who is being exploited. The people creating the material are well compensated financially - one of the few jobs in which women get paid much more than men btw.


And women get paid more than the men because the men would even do it for free. So, no, on the contrary, the buyer/user is no exploited, he is sitting on his couch with a big smile on his face. In my opinion, no one is really exploited, not even the girl, because she knows what she's getting into (no pun intended).


KY wrote:Third, pornography is not explicitely mentioned in the Faith (much like homosexuality). And Shoghi Effendi's words (or his secretaries words) are not Baha'i law. The Guardian's sphere of authority excludes creating, modifying or eliminating Baha'i laws. So quoting him re some vague 50's notion of puritanism is not really helpful.


And the Writings also don't explicitly say you can't eat your wife's feces, so I must then conclude that it is okay to do so (and I'll also forgot all the Baha'i principles because they don't address this issue directly) :roll:


KY wrote:Instead of trying to find some way for the Bahai Faith to regulate each and everything in a person's life with do's and don'ts why don't we concentrate on its mystical elements? why not build a communtiy that will attract the world?


KY, if you read the first post, someone asked "Are there any Baha'i writings addressing the issue of pornography specifically?" I think he deserves an answer. It's kind of hard to be "mystical" while getting up every day to look at porn. And no, you don't need to write the UHJ about that.


KY wrote:Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to write an email to the House of Justice to inquire as to whether it is sacriligous to eat overcooked basmati rice with a 4 pronged fork or whether a spoon (wooden or ssteel?) would be the Baha'i way to go.


It's too bad that wasn't funny, because I heard God loves laughter.

KY

Re: Porn

Postby KY » Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:59 pm

Baha'i Warrior wrote:So you are saying kiddy porn would have been okay if it were legal, because we might "feel" it is right?


Thanks for the attempt to put words in my mouth but its kind of full right now...mmph! chocolate cake...yummy. Now, what were you saying? Uh, right. I have no idea why you want to make kiddie porn legal, personally I'm against that so we wouldn't be able to hug and sing kumbaya on that issue. I think most people would also agree with me and disagree with you on that point. But hey, unity in diversity and all that.


Baha'i Warrior wrote:And the Writings also don't explicitly say you can't eat your wife's feces, so I must then conclude that it is okay to do so (and I'll also forgot all the Baha'i principles because they don't address this issue directly)


ok you're officially weirding me out now. --slowly moving away from the computer -- If you want to get all wacky and go totally fundamentalist, then actually according to Baha'i scripture you can eat whatever is pleasing to you (halal) since whatever is not pleasing to you is forbidden (haram). So umm... really, its um...you know, up to you...according to the Kitab-i-Aqdas. But again, I think you'll prolly be in the minority on this issue also.


Baha'i Warrior wrote:KY, if you read the first post, someone asked "Are there any Baha'i writings addressing the issue of pornography specifically?" I think he deserves an answer. It's kind of hard to be "mystical" while getting up every day to look at porn. And no, you don't need to write the UHJ about that.


ummm...yeah thanks for the new offer of some new words to be stuffed in my mouth but I'm really full. Thanksgiving meal and all that - I really shouldn't have eaten that much. My point was that instead of asking what does the Faith say about this esoteric topic or about that minutia, ad naseum maybe we should you know, use our noggin - the one God gave us. And you know, live our lives as Baha'is...trying our best to be Baha'is and follow Abdu'l-Baha's example.


Baha'i Warrior wrote:It's too bad that wasn't funny, because I heard God loves laughter.


No worries mate. To find it funny you have to have a sense of humour. But you've heard correctly. Baha'u'llah says one of God's names is the Humorist. Doubt me? Go ahead and make a plan in life and then listen very closely...if you listen closely enough you will hear the sound of muffled giggling coming from up there. Try it. Never fails to work.

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Re: Porn

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Sat Nov 26, 2005 3:25 pm

KY wrote:Third, pornography is not explicitely mentioned in the Faith (much like homosexuality). And Shoghi Effendi's words (or his secretaries words) are not Baha'i law. The Guardian's sphere of authority excludes creating, modifying or eliminating Baha'i laws. So quoting him re some vague 50's notion of puritanism is not really helpful.


Pornography is a "sexual vice." Period. No matter if it's a 2 y.o. girl or a 101 y.o. granny. So yeah, Shoghi Effendi's words "are not Baha'i law," but there's something called exhortations.

Therefore, according to the Baha'i exhortations and the many references to "sexual vices" that the Guardian makes, an intelligent person would certainly conclude that pornography is indeed bad. Case closed.

KY

Re: Porn

Postby KY » Sat Nov 26, 2005 7:12 pm

Baha'i Warrior wrote:Case closed.


Except that we still don't have a definition of pornography.

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Re: Porn

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Sat Nov 26, 2005 7:20 pm

KY wrote:
Baha'i Warrior wrote:Case closed.


Except that we still don't have a definition of pornography.



Here is the definition of pornography: images/videos (esp. pornographic ones) that raise the (animal) passions. You can figure that out if you read the Writings.

KY

Re: Porn

Postby KY » Mon Nov 28, 2005 3:34 pm

Baha'i Warrior wrote:
KY wrote:
Baha'i Warrior wrote:Case closed.


Except that we still don't have a definition of pornography.



Here is the definition of pornography: images/videos (esp. pornographic ones) that raise the (animal) passions. You can figure that out if you read the Writings.


Thanks for proving my point: its subjective. I could look at La Maja Desnuda and appreciate it for its beautiful composition and lighting technique but someone else will find...how do you put it? their animal passions? oohh lala.

In Italy no one will bat an eyelash at a Cosmo (mag) but in Saudi Arabia you could get your hands (and maybe nads) chopped off for reading it.

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Re: Porn

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Mon Nov 28, 2005 5:09 pm

Ok, you win. It's subjective, if you want to call it that. So if La Mojo Disuni doesn't raise your animal passions—and you know what I mean by that—then it's okay. So one of those classic paintings of a naked lady holding flowers isn't going to be harmful, or an image of a naked women in an anatomy book. But explicit images and video smut of women being defiled—based on what I have read in the Writings—made and shown with the intention of raising "carnal desires," as Shoghi Effendi puts it, is wrong:

"It demands daily vigilance in the control of one's carnal desires and corrupt inclinations."

So if you view porn and find that as a result you have lost your control over your carnal desires and corrupt inclinations, then, according to Shoghi Effendi, it is bad for your spiritual health. This is what I get out of the Writings, and you certainly don't have to agree with my conclusions because I don't have an explicit statement saying "Pornography is bad." Obviously, as I have demonstrated, there are different levels of "pornography," and where you draw the line most likely will be decided by the House in the future.

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I'd like to add that...

Postby temersonjr » Tue Nov 29, 2005 10:14 pm

...I think, for the most part, we know what constitutes porn and what doesn't. Pornography is by definition appealing to our animal nature, the intent of pornography is to appeal to carnal desires absent of any spiritual/artisitc value and is not subjective. The original question dealt with pornography, not whether there is value or not in erotic art. There is an intrinsic difference between the INTENT of a Jenna Jamison film and a Fellini film. The question of what constitutes erotic art is a different discussion -- still possibly valuable and should be discussed, but that is not the question being asked.

I believe that Baha'i Warrior has adequately answered the original question of what the Baha'i writings imply about pornography (though I question the value judgement of "porn is evil" - I think "not conducive to spiritual development" is more accurate). Dragging this discussion through child porn, erotic art, what constitutes porn, etc. is straying from the topic.

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Re: I'd like to add that...

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Wed Nov 30, 2005 3:02 pm

temersonjr wrote:I believe that Baha'i Warrior has adequately answered the original question of what the Baha'i writings imply about pornography (though I question the value judgement of "porn is evil"


'Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions:

    "Nevertheless a doubt occurs to the mind--that is, scorpions and serpents are poisonous. Are they good or evil, for they are existing beings? Yes, a scorpion is evil in relation to man; a serpent is evil in relation to man; but in relation to themselves they are not evil, for their poison is their weapon, and by their sting they defend themselves. But as the elements of their poison do not agree with our elements--that is to say, as there is antagonism between these different elements, therefore, this antagonism is evil; but in reality as regards themselves they are good.

    "The epitome of this discourse is that it is possible that one thing in relation to another may be evil, and at the same time within the limits of its proper being it may not be evil. Then it is proved that there is no evil in existence; all that God created He created good. This evil is nothingness; so death is the absence of life. When man no longer receives life, he dies. Darkness is the absence of light: when there is no light, there is darkness. Light is an existing thing, but darkness is nonexistent. Wealth is an existing thing, but poverty is nonexisting."



Porn = evil in relation to man

Porn by itself is not evil because locked up in a basement it can do no harm

But there really exists no evil.

So

"This evil is nothingness."

Therefore

Porn = nothingness

nothingness = bad, because it is the absence of good.

speaking in terms of its relation to man

That's how I look at it

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a moment of time frozen in a picture

Postby majnun » Fri Dec 02, 2005 10:56 am

Again, relations with pictures, real of mental,
is treated in valley no 2. After the unification (tauhid)
process is completed (valley no 4), pictures,
or moving pictures, even commercial adds, wont have
any effect on you, they wont either excite nor repulse you,
because you now know deeply that it is only a picture.

People who did not realized these small first steps
react to whatever is aroung them, moving of not,
because of reasons we dont explain, because it is
a part of the educative course titled: The valleys.

Show a picture of a person to a tribe in deep africa,
and they may cook you for supper, or elect you as
the medecine man of the village.
Taking pictures, and
moving picture, was a trend around 1965, but it rapidly decayed.
Maybe men are tired of always looking at their
physical self with pictures. Maybe it depends on the evolution
of some groups.
Young singers showing their bodies
to attract attention, maybe this is only a temporary trend too.

Anyways, i dont listen to Mariah Cary nor to Céline.


Majnun.

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a moment of time frozen in a picture

Postby majnun » Fri Dec 02, 2005 11:00 am

Again, relations with pictures, real of mental,
is treated in valley no 2. After the unification (tauhid)
process is completed (valley no 4), pictures,
or moving pictures, even commercial adds, wont have
any effect on you, they wont either excite nor repulse you,
because you now know deeply that it is only a picture.

People who did not realized these small first steps
react to whatever is aroung them, moving of not,
because of reasons we dont explain, because it is
a part of the educative course titled: The valleys.

Show a picture of a person to a tribe in deep africa,
and they may cook you for supper, or elect you as
the medecine man of the village.
Taking pictures, and
moving picture, was a trend around 1965, but it rapidly decayed.
Maybe men are tired of always looking at their
physical self with pictures. Maybe it depends on the evolution
of some groups.
Young singers showing their bodies
to attract attention, maybe this is only a temporary trend too.

Anyways, i dont listen to Mariah Cary nor to Céline, nor the
Jackson girl pop-ups. What is in a boob ? Oh it's booby trapped !

How about Enya for a change,
for harmonious melodies and decent songs ?

Majnun.

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Re: a moment of time frozen in a picture

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Sun Dec 04, 2005 9:25 am

majnun wrote:Again, relations with pictures, real of mental,
is treated in valley no 2. After the unification (tauhid)
process is completed (valley no 4), pictures,
or moving pictures, even commercial adds, wont have
any effect on you, they wont either excite nor repulse you,
because you now know deeply that it is only a picture.


and if someone says something to anger you, you should never react because they are only words. but very few people can do that all the time

but majnun, if we took a scan of your brain while you viewed certain pictures that "excite or repulse," i promise you that we would see some sort of neural response to those pictures (maybe unless you have a damaged amygdala or whatever).

so therefore, pictures are not only pictures. to understand this, you have to get out of the Valleys for a moment and check out some other baha'i texts. if you want to understand, that is

Guest

Postby Guest » Sun Dec 04, 2005 12:21 pm

Pictures, moving or not, have no influence
on a baha'i who realized the valleys. Unless
he only "think" he realized them.

So does television and other earth stuff.
It does mean a thing for a bahai on the
right way. The bahai vision distinguishes
the real from the unreal in the instant.

Majnun.

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Tue Dec 06, 2005 5:17 pm

Majnun, you are constantly, deliberately forming opinions that go contrary to the Writings and the guidance from the House. If you call yourself a Baha'i, I would suggest you find out what it means to be a Baha'i and try to follow that. You might need to look at something other than the Valleys for that.

Let's say for the sake of argument that you are right, that "pictures, moving or not, have no influence on a baha'i who realized the valleys." That is still no good, because as we know from 'Abdu'l-Baha in Some Answered Questions, the absence of good is nothingness: "Good exists; evil is nonexistent" (p. 264).

Opium in itself is not evil, but when a person uses opium, in relation to him the opium is now evil:

"The epitome of this discourse is that it is possible that one thing in relation to another may be evil, and at the same time within the limits of its proper being it may not be evil."

So viewing pornography is nonexistent and "evil" in relation to the man viewing it. You cannot look at pornography any other way. "Evil" and "nonexistent" are not strong enough words. They lead someone on the right path onto the wrong path. They are material things that tear you away from God and kill your soul. 'Abdu'l-Baha says that we have 2 natures: that of the spiritual and that of the animal. When a person is not spiritual, he is worse than an animal. Viewing porn does not keep one in a spiritual state. The only people that would try to combat what I'm saying are those who feverishly view pornography every day and want to fool themselves into thinking that they are doing nothing wrong viewing porn. I hate to break that to you. If you are going to look at porn that is one thing, but keep it to yourself. Don't try to make other Baha'is think that it is something that is okay because it is very clear that we are exhorted to have a stainless and pure minds, so that we may return to God that way. Any Baha'i that tries to make other Baha'i believe that a sin such as viewing porn is "okay" is doing a great disservice to not only himself, but to others also, and causing much harm. This cannot be overstated.

Again, I would encourage the Baha’is and non-Baha’is on this message board not to take anything I say or anything someone else says who claims to be a Baha’i as true. Always go to the Writings. My biggest mistake when I was a junior youth was to look at other Baha’i youth doing bad things and assure myself that since they are doing it, it must not be wrong. At the back of my mind I knew I was only fooling myself. So the conclusion is always investigate for yourself, and educate yourself!

CJ

Postby CJ » Mon Jan 02, 2006 4:01 am

i had to reply to this subject and say that in a way I do think that pornography exploits women, in the way that we know that there are not as great job opportunities for women right now as there are for men, and for this reason, many women get into this business when they wouldn't have if there were better opportunities for them. as well, there is such a huge pressure in many parts of the world for women to be seen as objects with their only worth as trophies and only value in their looks, so many women, I believe, look to this type of job for a sense of self. not all women, but a lot. this is what many men need to understand. would you be okay with your daughter, mother or wife doing porn? then why would you accept to watch someone else's daughter do this? and if you're married, why would you ever want to look at another woman other than your wife in a lustful way? because really whoever you're watching, when you watch porn, is someone else's wife or husband and if they're not, how do you know that God doesn't have a plan for them that doesn't involve you rubbing yourself to their naked image?

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Mon Jan 02, 2006 3:41 pm

CJ wrote:i had to reply to this subject and say that in a way I do think that pornography exploits women, in the way that we know that there are not as great job opportunities for women right now as there are for men, and for this reason, many women get into this business when they wouldn't have if there were better opportunities for them.


If I was a women I don't think I'd sell myself for cash and have some fat bald guy all over me even if my son was dying of hunger. I'd go flip some burgers, clean some toilets, maybe even steal, but not that.

CJ you make some very insightful points. The girl you are lusting over is going to be someone's wife someday, or she's someone's daughter at least. If you think to yourself that she could have been your daughter, then you might think twice before being a pervert. That is a thing that makes a man very angry, to know that another man is lusting over his wife (I don't have a wife but I'd sure as hell feel that way :evil: ).

Anyway, at least for men one of the biggest tests God has given them is women.

—Warrior

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Re: baha'i writings addressing pornography specifically?

Postby Chad » Fri Apr 03, 2020 1:02 am

Muhammad, pbuh, said that beauty clears one's eyesight (Al-Kafi). The human body is very beautiful, so I think it can rightly be portrayed as art in the nude. However, this profession as an artist would need to take into consideration the values of their locality and the artist's true intentions would need to be pure.

There is a big difference between porn and nude art, and because the Bab , in the Arabic Bayan, declared masturbation forgiven by God, I don't know if a Bahai would necessarily pervert the purity of nude art and the purity of masturbation by mixing them.

Muhammad, pbuh, said that masturbation is just having sex with oneself (and also sanctioned it) (Al-Kafi), so would masturbation while looking at nude art be dwelling in the Second Valley? I think it would be left to the individual conscience. But Ruhi Book 1, Unit 1, says that a Bahai would not read pornography.

People in public dwell so actively in the Third Valley as well as when teaching the Faith, through words, dwells in the Third Valley, so that such masturbation might put one into a realm of consciousness where they are seen as outsiders.

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Re: baha'i writings addressing pornography specifically?

Postby Fadl » Tue Apr 07, 2020 12:33 pm

Here are some quotes on the subject:

Masturbation is clearly not a proper use of the sex instinct, as this is understood in the Faith. Moreover it involves . . . mental fantasies, while Bahá’u’lláh, in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, has exhorted us not to indulge our passions and in one of His well-known Tablets ‘Abdu’l-Bahá encourages us to keep our “secret thoughts pure”. -Universal House of Justice, 1981, Lights of Guidance, p. 364

"God forgiveth you your nocturnal emissions and masturbation. But know ye the value of your seed, for your seed is the cause of the creation of one who worshippeth God. Keep your seed in the exquisite place. The purpose of this command is that perhaps the fruit of your existence will come to the aid of the religion of God. When semen cometh out by your own free will, make the ablutions, prostrate yourself and say this verse nineteen times: 'Thou art the Most Pure and Sublime, O my God! Thou art free from error and lack. There is none other God save Thee! I proclaim Thy sublimity, and I am of those who know that Thou art the Pure.'" -Báb, Arabic Bayan, Vahid 8, Báb 10; provisional translation
"Thus doth the Nightingale utter His call unto you from this prison. He hath but to deliver this clear message. Whosoever desireth, let him turn aside from this counsel and whosoever desireth let him choose the path to his Lord." - Baha'u'llah

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Re:

Postby brettz9 » Sun Jun 28, 2020 8:28 pm

Baha'i Warrior wrote:Also, if someone could locate this, I believe Shoghi Effendi stated somewhere that Baha'is should not read love novels, meaning corrupt love novels that raise passions. If anyone can locate that I'd appreciate it...


Quite a belated reply, but FWIW, and if for those coming by search engine if nothing else, here is the quote:

"The subjects to be taught in children's school are many...the avoidance of materialistic works that are current among those who see only natural causation, and tales of love, and books that arouse the passions. To sum up, let all the lessons be entirely devoted to the acquisition of human perfections. Here, then, in brief are directions for the curriculum of these schools."

('Abdu'l-Bahá, from a Tablet to an individual believer, published in "The Baha'i World: 1972-1976, vol. 16, pp. 36-37, at http://bahai-library.com/compilation_wr ... iting#2221 or http://bahai-library.com/compilation_bahai_education#77 )


You may be interested in the following, which includes one elucidation from the House on the above passage (in how it is indeed about those which arouse the passions and not all): https://bahai9.com/wiki/Romance

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Re: baha'i writings addressing pornography specifically?

Postby Chad » Tue Aug 11, 2020 12:28 am

In the Third Valley of The Four Valleys it says, "to be seated amidst the sandals by the door is the same as to abide at the place of honor, and in the path of the Beloved the retreats of earthly beauty differ not from the field of battle waged". It's interesting that the place where nothing can exist but the "countenance of love", the earthly beauty would be like a battle waged.

Also, in the Call of the Divine Beloved in "other tablets" it states, "The ascendancy of God's names and attributes will so surround a soul as to leave it no place either to stay or to flee". This is often where I get the urge to look at women in swimsuits and masturbate, because I'm so surrounded by "God's names and attributes" that the Beauty Divine gets mixed up with earthly female beauty, and I question whether seeing the invisible Beauty is better than the earthly beauties. A war indeed!

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Re: baha'i writings addressing pornography specifically?

Postby Chad » Thu Aug 13, 2020 10:31 pm

Baha'u'llah says that "chaste eyes enjoy the beautific vision of the Lord". Jesus said to even look at a woman with lust is fornication. Muhammad puts masturbation in the same category as fornication. Muhammad and the Bab said masturbation was okay and forgiven respectively.

Chaste eyes when it comes to looking at women are in degrees: porn, nude art, bikinis, one-piece, and fully clothed. Thus, enjoying beautific vision of the Lord is also in degrees to the lust that is manifested and the degree that one breaks with social norms. I know that in Africa in some tribes unmarried women go topless while men often walk openly with their penis shown to all. Obviously social norms count for something when the degree of lust is manifested in men. Muhammad told His followers never to wear clothing where one would be seen as an outsider (al-Kafi).

Also, what is missing in my vision if lust for a lady overwhelms the field of beauty and then to regard my safety in the next world and my humanity in this world as naught when I commit this sin? Moreover, there is a sense that I have no humanity at times if I don't show lust through ejaculation - like I hold myself above others whereby the poison of lust remedies my pride now knowing that I'm "just another man like all the rest". In fact, it is this pride in righteousness that has made me sin more than anything else in my life.

I've been told that the idea is not to feel too bad about these things as we are "children of the half light", but it is small doses of remorse that limit me from vaunting my righteousness over others and thus inwardly judging them. Truly a battlefield of virtues.

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Re: baha'i writings addressing pornography specifically?

Postby Chad » Sun Aug 16, 2020 10:59 pm

In the Four Valleys when talking about the "countenance of love" in the third valley: "In this station, neither the reign of the intellect is sufficient nor the rule of self. Thus one of the Prophets of God asked, "O my Lord, how shall I reach Thee?" and the answer came: "Leave thy self behind, and then approach Me."

When overcome in the battle of beauties, the "reign of the intellect" means that reason is out-thought and cannot fight the good fight, it is circumscribed. The "rule of self" is the Law of the Covenant embodied, so no child-like yearning for obedience is sufficient to help me fight it. Therefore, just as late at night when I'm not satisfied with stopping what I'm doing, so too is the inclination for that bedazzling beauty. I can only "leave the self behind" meaning I just have to give up and go to bed, or sometimes, I just have to put away all desire and simply sit leaving "my self" as a kind of trance.

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Re: baha'i writings addressing pornography specifically?

Postby Chad » Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:26 am

After coming to many victories over the instinctual sins (as Kant called this level of evil) with the words from the Third Valley, leaving myself behind proved to be very hard as how do I leave behind that which all my esteem is tied to? Therefore, when I started looking at women on Pinterest, I started writing poems about my experience looking at them. Some of them were quite romantic, and after only two different pictures, I tamed the animal-spirit and could sleep. In fact, this new mastery was so impressive that I soon woke up and did the same thing again (I usually go overboard with a spiritual bounty). What guided me was what my Baha'i mentor said about porn: never let your consciousness fall asleep, always analyze what you're doing, even if it's of the lower nature.

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Re: baha'i writings addressing pornography specifically?

Postby Chad » Wed Sep 30, 2020 10:19 pm

Another problem I've been having with this instinctual nature is the idea of becoming a child again. For a child does not necessarily act on his sexual thoughts, which are not as complex as full sexual function, but instead display thoughts of wanting to hug or kiss the opposite sex. A part of this is what Jesus said that 'Abdu'l-Baha repeated: One must become like a child to enter the kingdom. What is contrary to this is what is in the DSM-5 called "Male Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder". It occurs when a male has "both low/absent desire for sex and deficient/absent sexual thoughts or fantasies... which must occur for a period of at least 6 months". It doesn't occur when someone has less sexual activity desire than a partner. Therefore, it seems that for a man to be healthy, he must have both a desire for sex AND sexual thoughts/fantasies. As a male that has been single for over three years, my chastity "belt" has started making me into an inner child, which seems a little "dumb" as an old term for people without such desires. Also, Baha'u'llah's Voice seems to be telling me the same thing - that it's not right for a man to feel sexually numb (asexual). Thus, pictures of women help feed the thoughts and fantasies of sex, or at least romance. However, I understand that Shoghi Effendi said that Baha'is should have the strictest deeds which do not feed sexual fantasies in art, literature, and music too. Therefore, it's not amazing that a married man such as Shoghi Effendi could say this, nor did he have a DSM-5 with the evolution of mental health.

It's also interesting that "Gender Dysphoria" is in the DSM-5, which relates to transgender, which the Baha'i Faith is okay with (a sex changed woman into a man can marry a woman and vice versa - I got an email reply from National Secretariat about this question), yet homosexuality was struck out of it a year before Shoghi Effendi died. Moreover, it's not true that Baha'is believe that Science and Religion should agree, but rather that the Baha'i Faith has the right religion and science should conform to it. However, Paul Lample, in a talk, mentioned the Big Bang, which is contrary to 'Abdu'l-Baha's idea of an infinite universe, which better science has come out to agree with and disprove the Big Bang... and on and on.

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Re: baha'i writings addressing pornography specifically?

Postby Chad » Wed Sep 30, 2020 10:57 pm

I didn't mean to threaten the belief of Baha'i diehards, I know it's tough in today's world to stay a stalwart Baha'i in society. But my dad gave me pretty simple advice to my dilemma: don't let society tell you how to act or what to think.

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Re: baha'i writings addressing pornography specifically?

Postby brettz9 » Fri Oct 16, 2020 6:41 am

Apologies for a delayed contribution, but I think there were a number of disparate points here so not so easy to respond. My apologies too if I neglect any of your points (I have some issues with "brain fog").

I don't think with quotes like those at https://bahai9.com/wiki/Guardianship#Sp ... allibility that one could hold a consistent position that these teachings are merely contextualized to the Guardian's lack of being a scientist. The Guardian in preparing the Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, interpreted the point about homosexuality being forbidden in his own handwriting no less, and quotes on his behalf were approved. Likewise is the elucidation on masturbation from the House.

As far as not feeling right about being sexually inactive, I think there is some truth in this, but I think such a feeling (or other feelings of difficulty in self-control) may be meant toward urging us to the following ends (apologies if you've already read me make such points elsewhere on these forums)...

1. A very strong prompt for us to recognize the need to marry--for the majority who can or should try. Bahá'u'lláh even seems to make this connection in speaking of it being "conducive to" or that it "will demonstrate fidelity"--and as an "assistance":

"Enter ye into wedlock, that after you someone may fill your place. We have forbidden you perfidious acts, and not that which will demonstrate fidelity."

(Bahá'u'lláh, cited in Promised Day Is Come, par. 256)

"Enter ye into wedlock, that after you another may arise in your stead. We, verily, have forbidden you lechery, and not that which is conducive to fidelity."

(Bahá'u'lláh, cited in Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 49)


"Marry, O people, that from you may appear he who will remember Me amongst My servants; this is one of My commandments unto you; obey it as an assistance to yourselves."

(Bahá'u'lláh, Bahá'í Prayers, p. 105)


"God hath prescribed matrimony unto you...Enter into wedlock, O people, that ye may bring forth one who will make mention of Me amid My servants. This is My bidding unto you; hold fast to it as an assistance to yourselves.

(Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, par. 63)


2. Apparent encouragement even to remarry:

"As regards your question whether it would be advisable and useful for you to marry again: he feels unable to give you any definite answer on that point, as this is essentially a private affair about which you, and the friends around you or your Local Assembly, are in a much better position to judge. Of course, under normal circumstances, every person should consider it his moral duty to marry. And this is what Bahá'u'lláh has encouraged the believers to do. "

(On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, cited in Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-86, no. 126.7d, p. 234)


3. In the urge to be engaged physically as possible within marriage:

"“Sensuality” covers a wide range of meanings, all related to the pleasures to be obtained from the physical senses or sensations. Again, it is the extremes of this quality that are reprehensible. To renounce all sensual pleasures, or even to go beyond this and to inflict pain upon oneself falls in the region of asceticism, which the Kitáb-i-Aqdas prohibits. On the other hand, to be self-indulgent in regard to food, drink, and sexual enjoyment, giving oneself up to the gratification of one’s appetites, becomes the licentiousness which is, likewise, forbidden in the Faith. As in the case of passion, individuals vary in the sensuality of their natures; some may need to restrain this quality, others may need to foster a greater warmth of feeling.

(On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Sexuality, Relationships and Spiritual Growth, p. 137, cited in Marriage Can Be Forever—Preparation Counts! (archived))


(See also https://bahai9.com/wiki/Satisfying_one% ... ge_partner )

That all being said, I think there is potential truth and/or understandability in much of what you said.

There is, for example, the allegory of human love for the divine love which may sometimes seem to blur the line. However, some quotes at https://bahai9.com/wiki/Human_love_as_a ... ivine_love seem to caution about lines of this kind of thinking that may go in a certain non-prescribed direction.

(I personally wonder whether it may be like the guidance on psychic powers--to the extent they may not just be superstitions, they are not something to be developed in this world, but perhaps evident to a degree as a sign of the next.)

There is indeed the nature of self-righteousness you mention, or the excessive view that one can reach perfection, and that God is not as forgiving as we imagine. But obviously we don't want to too freely; as was said in the context of homosexuality:

"God judges each soul on its own merits. The Guardian cannot tell you what the attitude of God would be towards a person who lives a good life in most ways, but not in this way. All he can tell you is that it is forbidden by Bahá'u'lláh, and that one so afflicted should struggle and struggle again to overcome it. We must be hopeful of God's mercy but not impose upon it. (26 March 1950)"

(On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Homosexuality (compilation), no. 4, at http://bahai-library.com/compilation_ho ... lity_bwc#4 )


(Incidentally, while back on the topic of homosexuality, the Research Department of the World Center also raised questions about whether it may be possible that some have indeed overcome it:)

it may be important to note that while science may find that a predisposition to homosexuality is caused by genetic aberration, and in that sense may be considered "natural", it does not follow that it is "natural" for some people to be homosexual. A comparison can be drawn with the evidence which suggests that there is a genetic flaw which produces a predisposition to alcoholism. Most people would hesitate to conclude from such evidence that a person with such a genetic aberration would be destined to become an alcoholic in spite of any efforts to the contrary. As the letter states, "The statistics which indicate that homosexuality is incurable are undoubtedly distorted by the fact that many of those who overcome the problem never speak about it in public, and others solve their problems without consulting professional counselors." Furthermore, contrary evidence may well exist but may be overlooked by scientific reporting that is, for one reason or another, biased.


But in any case, the last resort is considered celibacy:

But marriage is by no means an obligation. In the last resort it is for the individual to decide whether he wishes to lead a family life or live in a state of celibacy.

(On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, from a letter dated 3 May 1936, to an individual believer, cited in Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-86, no. 126.7d, p. 234)


To me, the strong lesson here is for us to view it as an urgency to get married. Just because some others may not be able to enjoy it, does not mean it is not important to try. I came across a quote in Star of the West I cannot find now which was I believe an interpretation of a verse of the Bible and spoke to the idea that knowing others are disabled should make us more grateful to God. This is not to detract from sympathy for others, but that there is truth in the need to avoid undue suffering as other quotations testify.

For those who have no choice--and even some who are married may not be able to have their needs met for a variety of possible reasons--I think it is clear that it will not be easy. As Shoghi Effendi said:

"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!"

(On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Light of Divine Guidance, vol. 2, p. 71)


Perhaps some might view the above as being more about not cheating in person. However, the standard as per other quotes seems to be even about lust in one's heart.

But perhaps of most immediate relevance to someone in such a situation, think it is interesting that the House mentions:

You should remember, however, that it is only one of the many temptations and faults that a human being must strive to overcome during his lifetime, and you should not increase the difficulty you have by over-emphasising its importance. We suggest you try to see it within the whole spectrum of the qualities that a Baha'i must develop in his character. Be vigilant against temptation, but do not allow it to claim too great a share of your attention. You should concentrate, rather, on the virtues that you should develop, the services you should strive to render, and, above all, on God and His attributes, and devote your energies to living a full Baha'i life in all its many aspects.


While this is clearly emphasizing to a good degree on the need to sublimate, and while some might interpret this more as being strictly about not concentrating too much on the problem to make it worse, I think it might also be for some an indication, in line with the Báb's mention of forgiveness, something perhaps along the lines of the phrase from society, "Do what you have to do and then get on with it". It doesn't say this, of course, but to me, such a very strong and, among males at least, seemingly universal impulse, seems it may be impossible to completely overcome, at least for every given cycle.

Moreover, it can become a near test of one's sanity and lead one to other immoral behavior of greater consequence to others, such as becoming very irritable, anxious, or dogmatic, or even more preoccupied with lust. I don't mean to weaken the effort to avoid overindulgence, but I think there is an equally dangerous phenomenon of being too severe. In any case, again, I think the real goal for most should be to enjoy the full bounties of marriage as at all possible so that one's conscience can be properly satisfied (I personally think both the means of self-release and the resulting guilt may both be evolutionarily adaptive in prompting even non-religious people toward sanity in times of scarcity on the one hand, and social fulfillment, on the other).

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Re: baha'i writings addressing pornography specifically?

Postby Chad » Mon Oct 19, 2020 2:27 am

I liked the last reply. It had a lot of good points. As to psychic powers, to be clear, Shoghi Effendi only prohibited the psychic power of communication with spirits, and actually said there is no reason not to develop other psychic powers. It is a hard quote to find, but I remember what it said well.

Also, I was married, and I feel it overemphasized sex in my life. Even though I have a profile on TwoDoves, I am very regarded in thinking about marriage again. I like the whole battle to be celibate and found some quotes I wanted to share here, and, like bretz9 said, the issue can be over talked about:
From Advent of Divine Justice; "They that follow their lusts....have erred and dissipated their efforts." ~Baha'u'llah Many times I felt like I had missed out on an invisible bestowal for committing adultery by looking at women. Baha'u'llah says we are to make ourselves worthy of His invisible bestowals.

"It must be remembered, however, that the maintenance of such a high standard of moral conduct is not to be associated or confused with any form of asceticism, or of excessive and bigoted puritanism." (abid, Shoghi Effendi)

asceticism: extreme self-denial and austerity
puritanism: strictness and austerity especially in matters of religion or conduct
excessive: exceeding what is usual, proper, necessary, or normal
bigoted: blindly devoted to some creed, opinion, or practice

First, am I following the laws blindly? Meaning is my following based on reason and strength, or innocence and weakness? ('Abdu'l-Baha quote) All too often I look out of weakness and not out of strength, etc.
Second, is my devotion to the female body excessive? Does it take up a large part of my day? Does it preoccupy my attention? Or, is it done discretely?
Third, am I being too strict at times going long periods without loving the charm of a female body (God's art no less)? In other words, like bretz9 said, is beating myself up about the law preoccupying my time (the other swing of the pendulum).

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Re: baha'i writings addressing pornography specifically?

Postby brettz9 » Mon Oct 19, 2020 6:18 am

Re: my own statement on "knowing others are disabled should make us more grateful to God.", I found the source I was thinking of: https://bahai9.com/wiki/Original_sin#Ag ... rmer_state .

Re: psychic powers, if you do find a source, please let me know. I don't see such a quote at https://bahai9.com/wiki/Psychic , but would be interested to find it.

Sometimes I find, though almost exclusively limited to cases in the course of prayer for or service to others, that God may plant a sense of a course of action, or a sense of a need of a person, and it can be confirmed. Of course, inspiration is, as per 'Abdu'l-Bahá a fallible source of truth and it is not a form of proof for anyone else, but the effect might seem like something akin to telepathy or what not, even if, in my experience, it has never manifested as though fully reading someone's mind. But the signs can occasionally be most remarkable.

Was that an autocorrect in stating "very regarded in thinking about marriage again"?

Of course it is a personal choice, but if it is purely because of enjoying the struggle, I wouldn't think the Writings would encourage that as a reason:

"The Bahá'í Teachings do not only encourage marital life, considering it the natural and normal way of existence for every sane, healthy and socially-conscious and responsible person, but raise marriage to the status of a divine institution, its chief and sacred purpose being the perpetuation of the human race--which is the very flower of the entire creation--and its elevation to the true station destined for it by God.

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 15, 1939, in Lights of Guidance, no. 1262, emphasis added)


"Asceticism is not necessary. A soul grows by the exercise of human virtues and the observance of human morals and by divine favor. The extreme asceticism of the saints was superstition. The monasticism of the Christian church was mistaken. St. Paul was responsible for much of this because in one of his epistles he praises those who do not marry and prophesied that sects would arise which would not marry. St. Paul disapproved of marriage. But God did not give us good gifts that we should reject them. He created all these blessings that His servants may bless Him."

(Attributed to Abdul-Baha, article in Fortnightly Review, June, 1911, by Miss E. S. Stevens, in Star of the West, volume 8, issue 6, p. 60, emphasis added)


(Assuming this source is authentic, I think it may get a little more complicated with Christians since the Gospel itself (Matthew 19:12: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?s ... ersion=NIV ) seems to have Jesus suggest a preference for celibacy, but from a Bahá'í perspective, that could be due to a lack of authenticity or some other interpretation such as it being an urgency for the early disciples, though http://bahai-library.com/compilation_consultation#21 would seem to me to go against the latter.)

Those who have no choice but to go through that, however, such as youth, may indeed find it nevertheless positive for their personal development:

"...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 over stressed."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 13, 1940: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, p. 109, in Lights of Guidance, no. 1214, emphasis added)


But again, besides the fact that marriage is encouraged, seeking out celibacy (rather than defaulting to it when there is no choice) also conjures up for me notions of asceticism:

"By enduring ascetic hardships the powers of nature will undergo dissolution which will result in great weakness whereby one is made incapable of doing anything. He will not show any temper. He will not do any evil. He will not cause a riot; he is quiet. He is wronged; he is like a lamb. But this is due to weakness. But he who has attained spiritual asceticism acquires these attributes by strength of character. When a man by nature, that is to say, by some imperfection of nature, is incapable of committing uncommendable acts, that is nothing in his favor. But if he by sheer force of will and spiritual training attains to a state of character which prevents him from doing such things, this is a great credit to him. The insane man is entirely detached from all bonds and ties; he is absolutely free from all attachments. But this is not a commendation to him. But when the disciples of Christ, who were in a normal state of mind and body let go of everything in life, that is indeed commendable."

('Abdu'l-Bahá, Star of the West, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp. 60-61; article in Fortnightly Review, June, 1911, by Miss E. S. Stevens)


And you apparently allude to this passage where 'Abdu'l-Bahá speaks of becoming pure through strength:

"The hearts of all children are of the utmost purity. They are mirrors upon which no dust has fallen. But this purity is on account of weakness and innocence, not on account of any strength and testing, for as this is the early period of their childhood, their hearts and minds are unsullied by the world. They cannot display any great intelligence. They have neither hypocrisy nor deceit. This is on account of the child's weakness, whereas the man becomes pure through his strength. Through the power of intelligence he becomes simple; through the great power of reason and understanding and not through the power of weakness he becomes sincere. When he attains to the state of perfection, he will receive these qualities; his heart becomes purified, his spirit enlightened, his soul is sensitized and tender--all through his great strength. This is the difference between the perfect man and the child. Both have the underlying qualities of simplicity and sincerity --the child through the power of weakness and the man through the power of strength."

('Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 53)


However, all this about the need for strength presumably couldn't mean, however well-intended (as Gandhi was to have done), deliberately exposing oneself to serious temptation unless it was unavoidable. See, for example, the quotes at https://bahai9.com/wiki/Sex_and_the_arts#Dance which discourage this. Avoiding fellowship with the ungodly may be along such lines as well; it doesn't mean judging or refusing to associate with people because of some of their behaviors out of our presence, but it does relate to avoiding an atmosphere where people are inclined to pull us into temptation, especially those who may actively seek to do so. An alcoholic doesn't need to avoid friends who drink alcohol outside of his presence, but should avoid those who would try to tempt him or who can't control themselves not to drink in front of him.

So to me, 'Abdu'l-Bahá in speaking of purity through strength, is on a moderate level of not just shunning society or praising people who are ignorant about the world, but urging one to realize that even to a good extent regardless of one's past, if we exercise our will and intelligence, we can still have hope to become more pure. I don't think it means going to extremes of testing one's detachment. Bahá'u'lláh's reference "Make thy home in taverns, but tread not the path of the mischief-maker." is I think in the context of showing personal sin as a lesser evil than causing trouble or that being a sinner is preferable to being a complete hypocrite, etc., not that He is encouraging the former behavior.

As far as puritanism, I think this might refer indeed to the idea of preferring celibacy to marriage, seeking to label sexual pleasure even within marriage as evil, or to becoming judgmental of others (see, for example, https://bahai9.com/wiki/Attitude_toward ... _sexuality ).

As far as devotion to the female body, you may be aware that there are some quotes allowing for nudity in art and even as nude models for art: https://bahai9.com/wiki/Nudity and https://bahai-library.com/uhj_nudity_art , but this is qualified of course. Despite some cultural relativity, it is not like--to biologists either--that sexual attraction to the body is arbitrary and "all in the mind":

"Dancers may appear, but great care should be used that they are not indecently clad or the dances vulgar in any way. Naturally, there should be no dancers at regular Bahá'í meetings. Vocal soloists, of course, may appear."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 19, 1951, in Lights of Guidance, no. 336)


I think one might ask oneself: what is the result of such engagement? Does it lead to loftiness or abasement? One might look at a Venus statue, and come closer to God without any base feelings, while certain clothing and types of dancing might do the opposite, especially when they are oriented for this purpose.

The Qur'án for example speaks both to the role of modesty in clothing (as well as the difference between family vs. strangers in this regard):

And speak to the believing women that they refrain their eyes, and observe continence; and that they display not their ornaments, except those which are external; and that they throw their veils over their bosoms, and display not their ornaments, except to their husbands or their fathers, or their husbands' fathers, or their sons, or their husbands' sons, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male domestics who have no natural force, or to children who note not women's nakedness. And let them not strike their feet together, so as to discover their hidden ornaments.11 And be ye all turned to God, O ye Believers! that it may be well with you.


The Bible also speaks of such modesty:

The LORD says, "The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, strutting along with swaying hips, with ornaments jingling on their ankles.

(Isaiah 3:16)


And a Bahá'í pilgrim's note; see http://bahai-library.com/guardian_easy_familiarity#s1 as well as the authoritative quotation above (at least in regard to Bahá'í dancing, though I wouldn't think it was limited to that).

So while there may be some circumstances where it may be innocent, I think the Writings are clear that the primary appreciation is to be within marriage.

Best wishes,
Brett

Chad
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Re: baha'i writings addressing pornography specifically?

Postby Chad » Mon Oct 19, 2020 4:07 pm

It's very annoying that you would think that I found a quote based on my imagination even though Baha'u'llah has revealed writings in my dreams. It shows how a Baha'i will never believe anything until they see it in writing. However, I posted the quote to a Baha'i friend on Messenger when I had Facebook and showed it to my mentor as well. I did find this quote which alludes to what Shoghi Effendi stated:

The Universal House of Justice does not wish to go into the various definitions and distinctions that you list under the heading "Psychic Powers, Spiritualism etc." It is clear that what 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi had in mind when warning the believers against meddling with psychic forces were those that spiritualists believe come from a deliberate effort on the part of individuals to establish communication with the departed. http://bahai-library.com/uhj_persepolis_psychic_husayn

brettz9
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Re: baha'i writings addressing pornography specifically?

Postby brettz9 » Mon Oct 19, 2020 7:57 pm

Hi,

I didn't suggest the quote was based on your imagination. I merely asked for a source. And the source you offered was pretty satisfying in getting to a general understanding of what Shoghi Effendi was most warning about.

However, note that there are these passages at least which are in connection with not developing certain faculties and do not seem at all limited to communications with the departed:

"Briefly, there is no question that visions occasionally do come to individuals, which are true and have significance. On the other hand, this comes to an individual through the grace of God, and not through the exercise of any of the human faculties. It is not a thing which a person should try to develop. When a person endeavors to develop faculties so that they might enjoy visions, dreams etc., actually what they are doing is weakening certain of their spiritual capacities; and thus under such circumstances, dreams and visions have no reality, and ultimately lead to the destruction of the character of the person."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated May 6, 1952, to an individual believer: Ibid., in Lights of Guidance, no. 1745, emphasis added)


"Truly mystical experiences based on reality are very rare, and we can readily see how dangerous it is for people to go groping about in the darkness of their imagination after the true thing. That is why, as you point out, we are warned against all psychical practices by the Master.

"If we are going to have some deeply spiritual experience we can rest assured God will vouchsafe it to us without our having to look for it."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated October 25, 1942, to an individual believer: Ibid., in Lights of Guidance, no. 1742)


The particular source you cite from the House seems its purpose may be less to comprehensively confine which psychic practices are to be avoided and more to suggest the strong warnings are not necessarily in regard to exploring some more innocent topics like healing practices (even though some doubt seems to be cast on their efficacy--notwithstanding the limited role 'Abdu'l-Bahá does offer for "healing without medicine", a practice which seems primarily to deal with taking advantage of the placebo effect).

As far as having received Bahá'u'lláh's writings in your dreams, without dismissing the possibility, I think the following are of relevance at least as far as questioning the notion that one should just trust a fellow Bahá'í that the dream is authoritative. I am not disputing that you had such a dream, or even insisting that it was not an inspired dream, but that it is not authoritative.

"As regards …'s claim to have direct revelations from God: Such visions and communications as he may receive cannot, from the standpoint of the Cause, be well considered in the nature of a direct and authoritative revelation from God such as experiences by Divine Prophets and Messengers. There is a fundamental difference between Divine Revelation as vouchsafed by God to His Prophets, and the spiritual experiences and visions which individuals may have. The latter should, under no circumstances, be construed as constituting an infallible source of guidance, even for the person experiencing them.

"The Guardian wishes you to fully explain and clarify this point to … that he may have no illusion regarding the true Bahá’í attitude on this and similar matters."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated November 1, 1940, to an individual believer, Mrs. Kathryn Frankland: Ibid., in Lights of Guidance, no. 1741)


"The Guardian thinks that it is best to assume that generally speaking when people claim they are receiving messages or communications from the Master or Bahá’u’lláh, etc., it is a psychic experience or their imagination, and that they are not in real contact with them. These Holy Beings have the channels of the Cause through which to guide us. They do not need to go outside these and send individual revelations."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated December 22, 1947, to an individual believer: Ibid., p. 3, in Lights of Guidance, no. 1743)


Again, by citing the above, I'm not trying to cast doubts on your own experience. There are plenty of other quotes (e.g., at https://bahai9.com/wiki/Vision ) which suggest it is possible:

...True visions, however, can be granted to those who are spiritually pure and receptive, and are not therefore confined to the Prophets alone.

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated November 26, 1939, to an individual believer: Bahá’í News, No. 152, p. 2, April 1942, in Lights of Guidance, no. 1740)


They even speak to how we might better prepare ourselves to have such experiences, even while we should not be strongly seeking them out: http://bahai-library.com/hornby_lights_ ... er=4#n1739 .

My intent in the above therefore is to speak to the lack of authoritativeness or being an "infallible source of guidance" of such experiences ("even for the person experiencing them").

As far as the importance of writing, I think this has a basis in such as the following--and these are even in regard to reports directly about the Central Figures:

"Thou has written concerning the pilgrims and pilgrims' notes. Any narrative that is not authenticated by a Text should not be trusted. Narratives, even if true, cause confusion. For the people of Bahá, the Text, and only the Text, is authentic."

('Abdu'l-Bahá: from a previously untranslated Tablet, in Lights of Guidance, no. 1431)


"Bahá'u'lláh definitely states that only His actual writings are to be relied upon. Such reports may be interesting but not authoritative, no matter who the reporter may be..."

(On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 9 June 1930, Unfolding Destiny, p. 425)


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