Questions: Continent; On Behalf of Shoghi Effendi

All research or scholarship questions
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Questions: Continent; On Behalf of Shoghi Effendi

Postby Guest » Wed Feb 08, 2006 4:29 pm

I have a couple of question
"Sex is a very individual matter, some people are more passionate by nature than others, and might consequently suffer more if forced to be continent"

In this quote by Shoghi Effendi what is meant by the word continent, doesnt continent mean Asia, NorthAmerica, Europe etc. I dont understand how the word continent can make sense in that statement made above by Shoghi

Also what doesn it mean when it says "written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi"
does this mean that the thing written was reviewed by Shoghi Effendi, and are we suppose to take this as Shoghi Effendi's word or as just some bahais word, cuz the writings are more credible and worth understanding if they are written by a key figure of the bahai faith such as Shoghi not just some person.

Also the second post in this thread given which was a response by the universal house of justice to an individual believer
"(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, a copy of which was sent to the compiler with a letter dated March 8, 1981; quoted in Lights of Guidance, no. 1220)"
So is the stuff wrote in that reply posted by brettz9, was that written and put together by just one of the members of the UHJ or by all 9 of the members when they site together and pray and have the presence of God with them.

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Postby onepence » Wed Feb 08, 2006 6:37 pm

continent

adj 1: having control over urination and defecation [ant: incontinent] 2: abstaining from sexual intercourse; "celibate priests" [syn: celibate] n 1: one of the large landmasses of the earth; "there are seven continents"; "pioneers had to cross the continent on foot" 2: the European mainland; "Englishmen like to visit the Continent but they wouldn't like to live there" [syn: Continent]

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=continent

first of all ... I am surprised that you didn't go to an online dictionary to look up the word continent ...

secondly ... you have a long list of questions ... some of which would take hours of research ...

third ... I wish youl luck with your studies and I am glad you posted your questions here

fourth ... the research methods and letters formed from The Universal House of Justice are as boundless as the universe itself ... what is important though is that the believers accept the letter{s} as being sent with the majority vote of The Universal House of Justice, and for the most part it should be expected that the believers accept the the letter{s} as being sent as being sent by unamious decesion of The Universal House of Justice ...

... granted if you wanted to discuss the intimate details of how The Universal House of Justice arrives at the decission to send out any specific letter you would need to write to The Universal House of Justice

fifth ... take some time to do some research here ... ... if you happen to find anything at this site that answers some of your questions. please most them within this thread ... it is always fun to see people awaken to their own inherent potential ... and personally I believe you have the potential to become a guiding light to all those that seek fellowship, unity and love.

a person of oneness,
Dean Hedges

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Re: Questions: Continent; On Behalf of Shoghi Effendi

Postby Hasan » Wed Feb 08, 2006 11:25 pm

Anonymous wrote:what doesn it mean when it says "written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi" does this mean that the thing written was reviewed by Shoghi Effendi, and are we suppose to take this as Shoghi Effendi's word or as just some bahais word, cuz the writings are more credible and worth understanding if they are written by a key figure of the bahai faith such as Shoghi not just some person.

Both types of letters are authoritative, the Guardian check all letters "on his behalf", but the style and expression is not the same.

http://bahai-library.com/uhj/authenticity.texts.html

Guest

Postby Guest » Thu Feb 09, 2006 6:12 pm

I dont want to extend this talk of masturbation, but it is as of now a hard task to overcome for me.

I find myself constantly trying to restrain from thinking of masturbation. I have tried very hard to not masterbate whenever I feel like it and I try so hard to overcome it, and it does work. And when I dont feel like this I always think to myself why was I thinking like that.

The thing here is, especially for people in there high teens, even if they dont think about masturbation and fight off the thoughts, and keep a clean mind, this feeling or this impulse naturally comes to you. I find that even if I do not think about this topic and keep my mind on clean things, this impulse just arises and is something comes by itself.
Like for instance, if somebody dislikes somebody as a result of his carnal desires, this person may try to not think about his hate and try to overcome it with love.
But with the sex impulse, I feel that the longer it is forgotten and left alone, and fought off, it just comes back to you at times naturally, even if u dont want it. For instance in the shower u might out of nowhere feel this feeling coming to u, and u really dont want to act on it but it stays there. I find it almost impossible to not have this feeling come to u, and it sometimes annoys me cuz I dont want to feel it and know that its wrong, but it just wont go away. And when Im in the shower or something after a long time that I have tried to fight off these thoughts and have not acted on them, and the opportunity presents itself I find that I give in sometimes and feel really guilty afterwards. And I dont think unchaste thoughts or dirty things when I mistakenly act on the feeling when the opportunity presents itself, I just act on this sex impulse.

"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."

In this quote by Shoghi Effendi it says that some might suffer if forced to keep it in than other. Im wondering are those who feel this urge even though they have done everything to fight it off, are they forced to keep it in and not act on it. Cuz in the quote it says some would suffer more if forced to be continent, or in other words would suffer if forced to not act on this urge.

Im wondering are we forced to not act on the urge that we get, cuz in the quote above it says if forced, so are we forced?

I was just wondering and wanted to confirm, is it a definite no for masturbation in the Bahai Faith?

Guest

Postby Guest » Thu Feb 09, 2006 6:17 pm

In other words would we suffer in the other world after we die if we masturbate at times when we've tried to hold it off as hard as we could. Is masturbation a wrong act and against his laws in the eyes of Bahaullah?

Guest

Postby Guest » Thu Feb 09, 2006 7:20 pm

Anonymous wrote:In other words would we suffer in the other world after we die if we masturbate at times when we've tried to hold it off as hard as we could. Is masturbation a wrong act and against his laws in the eyes of Bahaullah?


Adultery is the penalized in other world not masturbation, but if a person’s priority all his life is masturbation instead of other principal/important things, he is wrong.

Guest

Postby Guest » Thu Feb 09, 2006 10:18 pm

u know what, ive come to a conclusion that we should do what it says in the scriptures and what we know is correct, u can never go wrong if u do the correct thing. So I guess the more we control this urge and dont act on it, since it says in the writings that outside of marriage there is no healthy use, then we should follow this. Trying to find reasons to overcome this and trying to convince ourselves that its okay is no good cuz truly inside we know we are doing something wrong

Ive heard that AbdulBaha said that hes not upset at those who dont know and do the wrong thing, hes upset and dissappointed at those who know the correct thing but still continue to do the wrong.

So I guess we know the correct thing regarding this subject and the only thing that would be acceptable to God would be to follow this and restrain from masturbation

Guest

Postby Guest » Thu Feb 09, 2006 10:21 pm

the greater the urge to commit this requires a stonger will to not do it, and if we can overcome our desires for the plane sake that we know that God does not desire us to do it, this is very rewarding and fulfulling

Guest

Postby Guest » Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:13 pm

Just have one further question regarding this subject. In the Bahai Faith u can only have sexual intercourse with ur wife when married. I have read somewhere that Shoghi Effendi says that the primary purpose of sex is to make babies who will grow up to understand God or something like this.

But I dont think that married couples only have sex so that they can make babies that will grow up to know God. Like when they are having sex I dont think that people are thinking about this, its just an outcome of it but people dont consciously think about it while having sex. Like for instance when I host a feast I am thinking that I am serving God and while I am in the process of hosting the feast I know that I am serving God but sex is different. Many people wear condoms while having sex which shows that there intent is not to make babies. If it is true that our only intent when having sex is to make babies then I guess using condoms should be against the Bahai Faith since condoms prevents this. Is this true or are we allowed to have sex without the intent of making babies?

If we are allowed to have sex without the intent of making babies, then this shows that we are having sex to express our sexuality and that it is a need of humans. For instance if I want to make a car I make one, u dont see me just going through labour without an outcome(which is car) for my own pleasure. This example can be related to sex, if I want to make a baby then I have sex and I should not want to have sex without having an outcome(which is baby).

But we see that this is quite the contrary, couples want to have sex and the majority of the time the motive or the intent is not to have babies its for pleasure.

So how is Shoghi Effendi statement suppose to be lived by when sex is something that people do to get pleasure out of the majority of the time instead of wanting to have babies.??

Also within a marriage, we are allowed to have sex, are we also allowed to lick our wifes vagina or to let her suck our penis with her mouth, or is this against the Bahai Faith and if it is why??

Id appreciate it if anyone could provide answer to these question, thanks

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Postby onepence » Mon Mar 13, 2006 6:23 am

http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/se/LDG2 ... hlight#gr2

"Bahá’u’lláh says God has created all the good things in the world for us to enjoy and partake of."

I chose not to discuss specifics of crude and mechanical techniques.

theapostledean

MatW

Postby MatW » Mon Mar 13, 2006 5:46 pm

This is about conduct with partners before marriage. After marriage it is up to the partners how they wish to express that closeness to one another.

Masturbation by definition is by oneself. Do your best not to be consumed by it as any such endulgence can be taken to far. Eating, sleeping, watching TV, so many more self endulgences that can get carried away when done without regard to ones spiritual life.

This is my own opinion which matters in the Bahai faith. I do not see any reason for complete abstinence from masturbation. If it does not interfere with your daily life or the way you interact with others then you should feel confident in your own limits.

If others feel this is too much of a responsiblity for them then abstinance would be the best policy for them. But that is there own opinion for themselves and no judgement is proper, in my opinion.

Mat

Guest

Postby Guest » Mon Mar 13, 2006 8:12 pm

I dont know how reliable the Guardian's secretary's word are, can someone please clarify how the Gaurdian's secretary's writings are validated.

Is the secretary have a special station or are they just some ordinary Bahai person appointed by the Guardian . When the secretary is writing something, do they just write whatever they believe is correct and seems to abide with there own view of the Bahai way of life, or is the secretaries words the absolute truth. And also did the Guardian check all of the writings which the secretary wrote before validating them, and did he read them with attention or did He just sign the writings of the secretary without reading them assuming they were correct.

One instance where I see that the Guardian's secretary's are not correct is this. The Guardian's secretary wrote "The Baha'i Faith recognizes the value of the sex impulse, but condemns its illegitimate and improper expressions such as free love, companionate marriage and others"
I dont see how companionate marriage is against the Bahai Faith. According to msn dictionary the definition of companionate marriage is "marriage based on love: marriage based on mutual affection and shared interests as opposed to purely economic or dynastic considerations" how is this not in accordance with the Bahai Faith, it actually something good.
Also in this same quote it says "...and others" this does not look complete and its like AbdulBaha(He did not write this Im just trying to make a point) writing this when wanted to list all the things against the Bahai Faith: "stealing, lying and many things are against the Bahai law" this does not explicitly indicate that backbiting, adultery, are against the Bahai Faith which they are and how would I know from "many things" that this also include backbiting and adultery.
This is what the Guardians secretary has done. The secretary writes "...and others" how am I suppose to know what "...and others" is?

Guest

Postby Guest » Mon Mar 13, 2006 8:14 pm

Gaurdian Secretary wrote:

The Baha'i Faith recognizes the value of the sex impulse, but condemns its illegitimate and improper expressions such as free love, companionate marriage and others, all of which it considers positively harmful to man and to the society in which he lives.

Concerning your question whether there are any legitimate forms of expression of the sex instinct outside of marriage: According to the Baha'i Teachings no sexual act can be considered lawful unless performed between lawfully married persons. Outside of marital life there can be no lawful or healthy use of the sex impulse.


My own comments: In the first paragraph above it seems to say that sex with others is not all allowed without marriage. It mentions that free love, companionate marriage are condemned. It seems that in this paragraph its assuming that sexual acts occur between two people.

Also in the second paragraph above it seems to be talking about sexual acts performed between a male and a female again. I think that the secretary at that time was thinking that sexual acts occur between two people, cuz maybe the secretary was married or something and thought that sex occurs between two people and probably thought that when other people talk about sexual activity they are talking about sexual activity between man and female, cuz this is what comes to mind when thinking about sex.


Universal House of Justice wrote:

Masturbation is clearly not a proper use of the sex instinct, as this is understood in the Faith. Moreover it involves, as you have pointed out, mental fantasies, while Baha'u'llah, in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, has exhorted us not to indulge our passions and in one of His well-known Tablets Abdu'l-Baha encourages us to keep our 'secret thoughts pure'. Of course many wayward thoughts come involuntarily to the mind and these are merely a result of weakness and are not blameworthy unless they become fixed or even worse, are expressed in improper acts.

My comments: From these things as well as "mental fantasies" the House concludes that masturbation is wrong. A person doesnt have to have mental fantasies in order to want to masturbate. If a person abstains from sexual activity for a couple of days especially young people, they will feel like masturbating since they have this sexual impulse in them. I for example when I abstain from all sexual things after 3 days or so if I go to the washroom to pee, or when I am taking a shower I will feel like masturbating. And I will feel like masturbating without any mental fantasies or any dirty thoughts, its a feeling that I get when I havnt done anything sexually for a long time.

MatW.

Postby MatW. » Tue Mar 14, 2006 1:00 am

It is between you and God only. If you feel it is unlawful for you then it is your capacity to deal with it as you wish. I do not read the same things into those writings since to me they were in context of a man and women relationship. I understand the statement of keeping your thoughts clean. I also read those comments to me a more active thoughts. One that would direct you to treat someone diferently. Like a violent fantasy.

And even that is between the believer and God, if it is not acted upon. We all have capacities that are maybe less or more then the other. It is only for God and our personal relationship with him that those judgements are permissible. You can believe that these things are irrefutable. And to you that is true. I only offer my insight and opinion.

Mat

Guest

Postby Guest » Fri Mar 17, 2006 11:29 pm

I have just came upon this statement in the Kitabi Aqdas and I have a question, cuz I dont know if I am just accusing myself of being wrong or if I am actually indeed wrong.
My question is this:

In the Kitabi Aqdas it says "In the Bayán it had been forbidden you to ask Us questions. The Lord hath now relieved you of this prohibition, that ye may be free to ask what you need to ask, but not such idle questions as those on which the men of former times were wont to dwell. Fear God, and be ye of the righteous! Ask ye that which shall be of profit to you in the Cause of God and His dominion, for the portals of His tender compassion have been opened before all who dwell in heaven and on earth."

What type of questions are wrong to ask??

Would it be wrong to ask such a question as "are we allowed to lick our wifes vagina or let her suck on our penis with her mouth?" Does this question go against what is being said in the Kitabi Aqdas, if we are trying to confirm whether this is right or wrong?

How am I suppose to know that the question I am asking would go against the Kitabi Aqdas or not??

Guest

Postby Guest » Fri Mar 31, 2006 7:52 pm

in the Kitabi Aqdas it says that we are forbidden to commit sodomy

What is meant by "sodomy", in the dictionary it has two definitions
one of the defintions is "sexual intercourse with an animal"
and another is "anal intercourse"

Does the word sodomy used in the Kitabi Aqdas take on both of these definitions or is it just forbidden to have intercourse with an animal, but anal intercourse is okay

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Postby Jonah » Fri Mar 31, 2006 8:44 pm

"Sodomy" in the Aqdas was discussed on an email list in 1996, but I unfortunately can't find the archive at the moment. But this is what I remember: the word for "sodomy" as used in the Qur'an and in the Aqdas is "luwat" or "liwat" (I've also seen it transcribed as "lavat"), or the "crime of Lot". As in, the Lot from the Bible. Now, neither the word "sodomy" or the act of Lot as told in the Bible seem to refer to anal sex per se. Rather, it seems that "luwat" encompasses a range of what some would term "un-natural" sex. Indeed, our contemporary word "sodomy" itself has a range of unclear meanings, which Western law continues to struggle in attempting to define (this came before the US Supreme Court just a couple years ago).

In sum, according to my memory of an earlier extensive discussion, it is not clear what either the Qur'an or the Aqdas were prohibiting exactly. It is commonly assumed by Muslims and Baha'is that both animal and anal sex are prohibited. I think it's obviously appropriate to interpret "luwat" as banning bestial sex, if for no other reason than other teachings banning cruelty to animals. But as for other acts banned by "luwat" or "sodomy," that seems left to future rulings by the House, should they decide to rule on it. See more at http://bahai-library.com/search/?gq=liwat

-Jonah

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Postby Jonah » Fri Mar 31, 2006 8:56 pm

I found what I was looking for! It was spelled "liwat." Here are some excerpts and links. -Jonah

<hr>

<b>From http://bahai-library.com/?file=winters_ethics_survey :</b>

40. Is genital sex the only morally permissible type?

The Bahá'í Faith has no explicit statement on this. Bahá'u'lláh did expressly forbid liwat, but there is some disagreement on the exact meaning of this Arabic word. It almost exactly translates as Sodomy, in that the word liwat means "the crime of Lot," i.e. the escapee from Sodom. However, just as the English word "sodomy" has multiple legal meanings, so did liwat. Its application to the Bahá'í context has yet to be clarified by the Universal House of Justice. More detail is found at http://bahai-library.com/conferences/sex.aqdas.html .

Shoghi Effendi provides some general principles:

On the question of sex the Bahá'ís are, in most of their fundamental views, in full agreement with the upholders of traditional morality. Bahá'u'lláh, like all the other Prophets and Messengers of God, preaches abstinence, and condemns, in vehement language, all forms of sexual laxity, unbridled licence and lust. The Bahá'í standard of sex morality is thus very high, but it is by no means unreasonably rigid. While free love is condemned, yet marriage is though not forced, to perform. Sex instinct, like all other human instincts, is not necessarily evil. It is a power which, if properly directed, can bring joy and satisfaction to the individual. If misused or abused it brings, of course, incalculable harm not only to the individual but also to the society in which he lives. " 6 April 1936
Unfolding Destiny, pp. 434-435

<hr>

<b>From http://bahai-library.com/essays/aqdas.107.html :</b>
<blockquote>[The following discussion was conducted on the listserv Talisman One in, I believe, 1996. -J.W.]</blockquote><P> Hello dear friends,<P> Through a private E-mail one of the friends brought up the gist of an ongoing discussion in soc.religion.bahai on the question of homosexuality and how it is treated in the Book of Aqdas. One of the postings which was forwarded to me and captured my attention was a posting by xxxx who wrote:<P> <blockquote><blockquote> "Though I do not speak Arabic, I understand that the word "boys" in context is slave boys. These boys were the objects of their owner's homosexual acts which they as slaves were not free to reject."</blockquote></blockquote> <P> Hello dear xxxx, I hope you do not mind me jumping into this discussion. I must respectfully disagree with this approach, and in the following lines I have attempted to clarify this.<P> <blockquote><blockquote> "Since this is the word Baha'u'llah uses, it is not clear how much of the shame he feels is due to the paederastry which is occuring with a boy and how much shame is due to the fact that the boy is a slave."</blockquote></blockquote> <P> I also disagree with this issue. Hopefully, I have been able to reason out my disagreement. <P> <blockquote><blockquote> "I think too that in fairness it should be stated that Baha'u'llah attaches no penalty to homosexuality though He does to many other things. Perhaps that tells us something about the importance He gave to this."</blockquote></blockquote> <P> xxxx, you are not a pioneer in advancing the theory of "lack of importance of homosexuality". Every other Muslim writer who has written something on the Faith has advanced the same theory. However, they did not remain content with that theory. They ridiculed the Author of the Faith and went on to suggest that Baha'u'llah has in fact been a promoter of homosexuality.<P> Due to the lack of time I have not been able to read soc.religion.bahai for the past two months. As a result I am not sure to what extent this issue has been discussed in this forum within the past week. The following material is an extract from a commentary I am working on, which I appended here with some modification, I hope the following lines offer a historical perspective for the consideration of this issue. Moreover, I hope that I am not repeating what has already been said. In any case please accept my apologies for the length of this reply.<P> <P> Baha'u'llah reveals in verse 107 of the Book of Aqdas:<P> "ennaa nastah-yi an nazkora hokma'l ghelmaane et-taqo'r-rahmana yaa mala'el emkaane wa laa tartakiboo maa nohitom 'anho fil-lohe wa laa takoonoo fi haimaa ash-shahavaate minal haa'emina"<P> This is translated by the Universal House of Justice as:<P> "We shrink, for very shame, from treating the subject of boys. Fear ye the Merciful, O peoples of the world! Commit not that which is forbidden you in Our Holy Tablet, and be not of those who rove distractedly in the wilderness of their desire." Verse 107 of the Book of Aqdas<P> The Arabic term "Ghelmaan" is the plural form of the term "Ghulaam" which according to the Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic is defined as: boy; youth, lad; slave; servant; waiter. "Ghulaamiya" and "Ghuluma": youth, youthfulness.<P> The Haim Persian English Dictionary defines the Persian implications of the Arabic term "Ghulaam" as: Slave, Page; lad, Servant, while defining the term "Ghelmaan" as Handsome lads dwelling in Paradise. This particular meaning associated with the term Ghelmaan comes from the following verse of the Qur'an wherein this term is used:<P> "They shall there exchange one with another a (loving) cup free of frivolity free of all taint of ill. Round about them will serve (devoted) to them youths (handsome) [The Arabic term similar to the Book of Aqdas is used: "Ghelmaan". KH] as Pearls well-guarded." Qur'an 52:23-24<P> NOTE: It is important to point out that the term "Ghelmaan" used in this Passage of the Qur'an has nothing to do with "slave boys" and its meaning is specifically "youths" or "boys".<P> There are other Arabic-Persian compound terms such as: "Ghulaam-bacheh": Young slave, Page. "Ghulaam bareh" or "Ghulaam pareh": Sodomite (i.e. one who practices sodomy); Also "Ghulaam zadeh": Slave's child; My child or son. "Ghulaam siah": Negro slave.<P> I hope that the definitions I have offered above offer the differences in usage of the term Ghulaam and Ghelman in relation to such variables as language and context. Let us move on. We will come back to this discussion later on.<P> In a separate Tablet revealed on the 17 of Jamadi-2 of the year 1291 AH (1875 AD), around the same time frame as the revelation of the Book of Aqdas, Baha'u'llah reveals:<P> "Ye are forbidden to commit adultery, sodomy and lechery. Avoid them, O concourse of the faithful. By the righteousness of God! Ye have been called into being to purge the world from the defilement of evil passions. This is what the Lord of all mankind hath enjoined upon you, could ye but perceive it. He who relateth himself to the All-Merciful and committeth satanic deeds, verily he is not of Me. Unto this beareth witness every atom, pebble, tree and fruit, and beyond them this ever-proclaiming, true and trustworthy Tongue." Baha'u'llah, from a Tablet translated from the Arabic, cit. Ganjineh Hodud wa Ahkaam pp. 338-339 Baha'i Publishing Trust of Iran<P> In order to gain an appreciation of why Baha'u'llah addresses this issue in the Book of Aqdas as the "subject of boys" and in other Tablets as "sodomy" one must, in my humble opinion, examine the human practices in the realm of sexual behavior throughout the written history. While no detail information on this issue can be found from antiquity nevertheless, one can indirectly get a sense of the prevalent social norms by studying the literature, Scriptures, etc... and develop a reasonable context for considering verse 107 of the Book of Aqdas. <P> <P> Among Greeks sexual relationship between a wise man and his young patron was a socially acceptable norm. Such relationships have been eulogized in some books of poetry and history. An expanded discussion of this dealing with the acceptability of such an act within the Greek society or its class-dependence are clearly outside of the scope of this article. <P> It is believed that Greeks pre-occupation with sodomy in male-male sexual intercourse had an effect on other cultures as well. Of course this is not to imply that other cultures were less innovative, in sexual matters, than Greeks :-). According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica: <P> "The Greek's congeniality for homosexuality is said to have influenced such neighbors as Persians and to have been transmitted along with other Greek traditions into the Roman Empire." Vol. 16 p. 604<P> A close look at the Zoroasterian theological treaties of around this time period and the imagery they adopted in their presentation clearly hints at the existence of sodomy among the Persians. By sodomy male-male sexual relationship is intended here. Perhaps females were too unimportant a class for histories and Scriptures to have commented on female-female modes of sexual norms. <P> Regarding his Ascension and Vision of Hell, Arta-Viraaf, the Great Dastur (Zoroasterian High Priest) of the time of Ardashir the first of the Sassanid Kings of Persia (226 A.D.) said: <P> "I saw the soul of a man where a snake had entered his end and exited from his mouth. I asked Suroosh [i.e. the Zoroasterian synonym for Arch- angel Gabriel in the Semitic Theologies. KH] about the nature of his sin. Suroosh replied: 'He committed sodomy in his life." ( Arta Viraaf-Namih: Farkard 19. translation by myself.) <P> The vision of the High-priest of the Sassanid Era appears to basically hint at two points:<P><ul> 1- Sodomy existed among the Zoroasterian population of the Sassanid Empire. Else, there would have been no need for Arta Viraaf to portray such a horrible picture of this event in the Vision of his Ascension. The vision appears to generally portray a message in the context of an imagery which people were able to relate to and a thought which they would abhor.<P> 2- Implications of unacceptability of such act within the realm of Zoroasterian dogma is apparent. Abstinence is implied as the solution in preventing such a horrible torment in after life.<P></ul> Sodomy must also have been a social norm within the Hebrew society of the time of Moses, else there was no reason for the Torah to mention the episode of Sodom [Genesis 18:19], or prescribe punishment for such an act. According to Torah: <P> "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood [shall be] upon them." Leviticus 20:13<P> The term "Sodomy" is in fact a derivative of the name "Sodom" and the Biblical account of what the people of Sodom did.<P> Since Hebrews lived among Egyptians for a long time they must have adopted some of their customs into their culture, one might assume that sodomy could have also been a social norm within the Egyptian society of that time period.<P> The Christian Scriptures does not directly deal with the question of sodomy, however, Paul addresses issue of effeminacy which some Christians have associated with homosexuality:<P> "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." I Corinthians, 6:9-10<P> Similar references to effeminacy can also be found in Islamic Hadith which is, in a sense, a verification of the account of the New Testament. Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:<P> The Prophet cursed the effeminate men and those women who assume the similitude (manners) of men. He also said, "Turn them out of your houses." He turned such-and-such person out, and 'Umar also turned out such-and- such person. Sahih Bukhari 8.820<P> There doesn't appear to be too much room for effeminate men within the Muslim community. However, effeminacy might not exactly equate with sexual tendencies toward another man. Furthermore, both the Qur'an and the Hadith deal with male-male sexual relationship in particular.<P> The mentioning of the story of Lot, the nephew of Abraham and the people of Sodom in the Qur'an appear to imply that Arabs of the time of Muhammad must have also had similar social norms regarding sodomy. Else there was no reason for Prophet Muhammad to repeat, by the virtue of inspiration, the Biblical account of Sodom and Gomorah in the Qur'an.<P> Such tendencies could still be seen today in both east and the west. While sodomy between men and boys is an acceptable norm in preliterate societies particularly during initiation rites, its presences in the more advanced and modern societies can also sensed. <P> Admittedly the human sexual creativity and artfulness in modern societies has far ascended above that of the preliterate societies whose childish and primitive methods of male-male sexual engagement is still confined to sodomy in its simplest form between strong and weak. In the more modern societies this element appears to have expanded into the complex territory of consentual sex among adults, marriage, etc... above and beyond the act of sodomy.<P> If, we are to ascend above the phobia of political correctness, and look beneath all progressive forms and variations in sexual expression, sodomy alone appears to represent the most basic arch-type of male-male sexual activity and capture, as a metaphor, the gist of all that which might be placed under the modern umbrella term known as homosexuality. Perhaps this might begin to hint at why the archaic term of sodomy is used as a synonym for the modern term of homosexuality in translations. <P> The Qur'an does not directly refer to "lavaat", "sodomy" or the homosexual act. On the contrary the Qur'an treats this issue in a peripheral manner. The following verses of that Book describe the story of "Lot" and the people of Sodom and hint at sodomy by implication:<P> "For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bonds." Qur'an 7:81 Moreover;<P> "Would ye really approach men in your lust rather than women? Nay ye are a people grossly ignorant." Qur'an 27:55<P> Surih Sho'ara:105 of the Qur'an reiterates further on this same theme.<P> Imam Ali describes the reason behind the injunction of the Qur'an against sodomy in a rather practical manner:<P> "Amir al-mu'menin, peace be upon him, said: Allah has laid down...abstinence from sodomy for increase of progeny..." (Nahj-ul-Balagha, selection from the preachings of Ali, # 253, p. 621)<P> Regardless of such admonishment and unlike the severe approach of the Torah in punishing those guilty of sodomy, the Qur'an appear to treat this issue in a far more lenient manner than the Torah:<P> "And as for the two of you [i.e. The sentence structure refers exclusively to two men and not a man and a woman. KH] who are guilty thereof [guilty of sexual relationship. KH], punish them both. And if they repent and improve, then let them be. Lo! Allah is Relenting, Merciful." ( Qur'an 4:16)<P> Qur'an while speaking of "punish them both", does not prescribe any form of punishment, as in the case of adultery, for sexual relationship between two men and prescribes acceptance of their repentance. However, there are some Ahadith (i.e. Traditions, saying of Prophet Muhammad) that prescribe the severe punishment of the Torah for those guilty of this charge. For example the following two Ahadith are from Sunan of Abu Dawood vol 4, chapter on the people of Lot. The Arabic text reads as follows:<P> <ul> "man laata beh ghulaam faqtaloo al-fa'il val-maf'ool." Which translates to:<P> "When a man commits sodomy with a boy: kill the doer and the one done to."<P></ul> Please note that the usage of the term "Ghulaam" simply means "boy" in Arabic and has nothing to do with a slave-boy. <P> Also; <P> "qala an-nabi man vajde tamooh ya'mala 'amale qawme Lot fa-aqtaloo al-fa'il val-maf'ool."<P> Which translates to:<P> "Prophet said: He who commits that which the people of Lot committed [i.e. People of Lot committed Sodomy. KH]: kill the doer and the one done to."<P> Since the Qur'an has not clearly prescribed a punishment for sodomy, some Schools of Thought in Islam have considered sodomy as "mobaah" [i.e. meaning allowable in an impunible and indifferent sense.] while others have considered it "jaa'iz" [i.e. meaning allowable, permissible and lawful.]. For example Maleki, the founder of the Maleki School of Thought within Sunni Islam says: <P> "Having sex with a young man (without beard) is fine for a man who is not married and who is on a trip." ( cit. Hesaam Noqaba'i, Hoquq-i Zan, pp. 126-127 (section on "lavaat"/"sodomy"))<P> The Shi'ah books of law also leave the door unlocked for the cases of "Oops, I forgot! sodomization of boys. The following Shi'ah ruling hints at this:<P> "If he has had sexual intercourse with a boy according to precautionary rule, it becomes unlawful for him forever to marry the boy's mother, his sister, or his daughters even if they are boys not adults. If one is married to one of such ladies before such act, it does not affect the already existing marriage, although it is a precautionary rule to avoid such marriage. Extending this rule to the case wherein one doing the act is a minor the one letting it done to him is an adult, is objectionable, according to a clear view it does not apply. The daughter or brothers and sisters of the one letting it done to him do not become unlawful to one who has done the act." ( Islamic Laws of Worship and Contracts, p. 614, CR #1259 Ayatullah Al-'Uzma Al-Sayyid Muhammad Al-Husayni Shirazi)<P> In the Ottoman Empire the Khalifs use to keep young boys in the Harems for satisfying their sexual appetites [Such reference may be found in books such as: "The Spirit of Laws" by Montesquieu and "Chronichles of Shirly Brothers"]. Within the Iranian society "bache-bazi" or "sexual play with young boys" has been an under the carpet social norm for many centuries and the ambiguous nature of the Qur'anic prescription has not been able to bring halt to this social illness. Will Durant refers to this issue in his book "History of Civilization". He writes:<P> "Sexual indulgence was apparently more abundant and enervating in Islam than in Christiandom, though it was usually kept within the orderly limits of polygamy. Turkish society was almost exclusively male, and since there was no permitted association of men with women outside the home, the Moslems found companionship in homosexual relationships, Platonic or physical. Lesbianism flourished in the zenana." ( Will &amp; Ariel Durant, History of Civilization vol 7 (The Age of Reason Begins) p. 520) Also;<P> "The women were 'very richly habited,'wrote Tavernier, and 'little otherwise than the men...They wear breeches like the men.' The women lived in the privacy of the zenana, and seldom stirring from their homes, and then rarely on foot. There were three sexes. Much of the love poetry was addressed by men to boys, and Thomas Herbert, and Englishman at Abbas' [i.e Shah Abbas of the Saffavid Dynasty. This Dynasty appeared before the Qajar dynasty, during which The Bab and Baha'u'llah proclaimed Their revelations. KH] court, saw 'Ganymade boys in vests of gold, rich bespangled turbans, and choice sandals, their curled hair dangling about their shoulders, with rolling eyes and vermilion cheeks.'<P> Chardin noted a decrease in population in his time and ascribed it to<P> First, the unhappy inclination which the Persians have, to commit that abominable sin against nature, with both sexes [Here he is referring to sodomy. KH].<P> Secondly, the immoderate luxury [sexual freedom] of the country. The women begin there to have children betimes, and continue fruitful but a little while; and as soon as they get on the wrong side of thirty they are looked upon as old and superannuated, The men likewise begin to visit women too young, and to such an excess, that though they enjoy several, they have never the more children for it. There are also a great many women who make themselves abortive, and take remedies against growing pregnant, because [when] they have been three or four months gone with the child, their husbands take to other women, holding it ... indecency to lie with a woman so far in her time.<P> Despite polygamy there were many prostitutes. Drunkenness was widespread, though Muhammadan law forbade wine." ( Will and Ariel Durant, History of Civilization vol 7 (The Age of Reason Begins) p. 532)<P> It is important to point out that Durant's observation is not far from the truth. Perhaps the following quotes from the Shi'ah compilations offers a certain measure of validity to Durant's view:<P> "The woman becomes the owner of the dowry by the contract and it is reduced by one half by divorce before sex, also because of death of one party, according to a more clear reason if sex is performed by the front or back the dowry becomes an established right and the same rule applies if he tears her virginity by his finger and without her permission." ( Islamic Laws of Worship and Contracts, p. 626, CR #1350 Ayatullah Al-'Uzma Al-Sayyid Muhammad Al-Husayni Shirazi)<P> <P> If we are to consider the following factors:<P><ul> 1- The usage of the term "Ghulaam" and "Ghelmaan" in the Hadith and the Qur'an compared to the usage of the term "Ghelmaan" in the Book of Aqdas;<P> 2- The fact that slavery was not abolished in Islam, and as a result it was possible for a Muslim to have a slave boy [In the Hadith Prophet Muhammad, while using the term Ghulaam, focuses the punishment on the act of "lavaat", or sodomy, as opposed to associating the term Ghulaam with slavery.];<P> 3- That regardless of the warnings of the Qur'an and the punishments prescribed in the Hadith, yet, some Muslim scholars of both Sunni and Shi'ah schools had the door left unlocked for the practice of sodomy [The quotes offered above clearly hint at this issue in the context of boys, women and even marriage.];<P></ul> Then, it is hard to believe that Baha'u'llah was concerned about slave boys being raped by their masters. On the contrary He appears to be:<P> <ul> 1- Abrogating the rulings of the Muslim clergy who left the door unlocked for such a thing to happen within their communities, regardless of the directives of the Qur'an. <P> Consideration of various verses of the Book of Aqdas indicates that the Manifestation of God is either reinstating, modifying or abrogating certain laws and practices of various Scriptures and peoples. For example in Paragraph 9 of the Book of Aqdas Baha'u'llah refers to the misconception of the religious leaders, regarding the presence of hair and bones of a dead animal invalidating one's obligatory prayer, saying: "the prohibition of its use hath stemmed, not from the Qur'an, but from the misconceptions of the divines." In verse 107, Baha'u'llah appears to refer to yet another misconception of the Muslim divines stemmed from their indifferent attitude toward sodomy which was against the spirit of the laws of the Qur'an and goes on to prohibit such practices;<P> 2- Pointing at an underlying social problem, namely sexual appetite towards young children, particularly boys which has been and continues to be a problem plaguing many societies and cannot really be identified as a culture specific phenomenon;<P> 3- Identifying the "subject of boys" as an arch-type to convey His displeasure with all non-conventional forms of sexual expression we identify as homo- sexuality.<P></ul> This is perhaps why Baha'u'llah reveals in the Book of Aqdas: <P> "We shrink, for very shame, from treating the subject of boys. Fear ye the Merciful, O peoples of the world! Commit not that which is forbidden you in Our Holy Tablet, and be not of those who rove distractedly in the wilderness of their desire." Verse 107 of the Book of Aqdas<P> While the permissivity of our society has reached a point that that we are expected to advocate the discussion of this issue in the name of eliminating homo-phobia, the Manifestation of God states: "We shrink, for very shame, from treating the subject of boys." That is to say, He finds the presence of such an animalistic trait in a human being to be unworthy of the human station to the extent that even its discussion is considered shameful by the Law-Giver of humanity, much less revealing laws dealing with it. He does not associate shame with adultery, murder and theft, yet, He chooses to associate it with sodomy. Perhaps there is a challenge in this statement for both Baha'is and non-Baha'is alike regarding why Baha'u'llah addressed this issue the way He chose to address it in the Book of Aqdas.<P> Unlike the Qur'an, the Book of Aqdas and other Tablets revealed by Baha'u'llah are extremely clear about the question of "lavaat", "sodomy" or homosexual act in general and Baha'u'llah has clearly forbidden it in His Tablets (I have already quoted an example of this from among Arabic Tablets.). Baha'u'llah has relegated the nature of punishment for committing such an act to the Universal House of Justice. Hopefully such an approach will eradicate once and for all this social illness from among humanity.<P> Of course one might ask why did Baha'u'llah address this issue in the Book of Aqdas in the context of "subject of boys" and "sodomy" instead of that which we characterize today by the umbrella term "homosexuality". In my humble opinion:<P><ul> 1- The Manifestation of God is addressing humanity in a context people could relate to it. One hundred years ago, sodomy characterized the most important non-conventional mode in human sexual tendency which has become only an aspect and an element of what we identify today as homosexuality. <P> 2- Sodomy is used by Baha'u'llah as an arch-type or the ultimate example in demonstrating sexual intercourse between two individual of the same sex. This metaphor is quite powerful in its implications that it captures the gist of that which we identify as "homosexuality". Note 134 of the Book of Aqdas (p. 223):<P> "The word translated here as "boys" has, in this context, in the Arabic original, the implication of pederastry. Shoghi Effendi has interpreted this reference as a prohibition on all homosexual relations." <P> 3- The Manifestation of God is perhaps attempting to treat an underlying "root cause" of human problem in the society and not just band-aiding some of its symptoms.<P></ul> The Baha'i teachings on sexual morality center on marriage and the family as the bedrock of the whole structure of human society and are designed to protect and strengthen that divine institution. Baha'i law thus restricts permissible sexual intercourse to that between a man and the woman to whom he is married.<P> In a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi it is stated:<P> No matter how devoted and fine the love may be between people of the same sex, to let it find expression in sexual acts is wrong. To say that it is ideal is no excuse. Immorality of every sort is really forbidden by Baha'u'llah, and homosexual relationships He looks upon as such, besides being against nature. To be afflicted in this way is a great burden to a conscientious soul. But through the advice and help of doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap.<P> Baha'u'llah makes provision for the Universal House of Justice, to determine, according to the degree of the offense, penalties for adultery and sodomy (Q&A 49). <P> Moreover, Shoghi Effendi elaborates on this issue as follows:<P> 21. "Regarding the question you asked him about one of the believers who seems to be flagrantly homosexual-- although to a certain extent we must be forbearing in the matter of people's moral conduct because of the terrible deterioration of society in general, this does not mean that we can put up indefinitely with conduct that is disgracing the Cause. This person should have it brought to his attention that such acts are condemned by Baha'u'llah, and that he must mend his ways, if necessary consult doctors and make efforts to overcome this affliction, which is corruptive for him and bad for the Cause. If after a period of probation you do not see an improvement, he should have his voting rights taken away." Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 6/20/53 to NSA of Canada.<P> 22. "Amongst the many other evils afflicting society in this spiritual low water mark in history, is the question of immorality, and over-emphasis of sex. Homosexuality, according to the Writings of Baha'u'llah, is spiritually condemned. This does not mean that people so afflicted must not be helped and advised and sympathized with. It does mean that we do not believe that it is a permissible way of life; which, alas, is all to often the accepted attitude nowadays. <P> We must struggle against the evils in society by spiritual means, and medical and social ones as well. We must be tolerant and uncompromising, understanding but immovable in our point of view. The thing people need to meet this type of trouble, as well as every other type, is greater spiritual understanding and stability; and of course we Baha'is believe that ultimately this can only be given to mankind through the Teachings of the Manifestation of God for this Day." (Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated 5/21/54 to an individual believer.)<P> The Universal House of Justice wrote in this regard:<P> 24. "A number of sexual problems, such as homosexuality and transsexuality can well have medical aspects, and in such cases recourse should certainly be had to the best medical assistance. But it is clear from the teaching of Baha'u'llah that homosexuality is not a condition to which a person should be reconciled, but is a distortion of his or her nature which should be controlled and overcome. This may require a hard struggle, but so also can be the struggle of a heterosexual person to control his or her desires. The exercise of self-control in this, as in so very many other aspects of life, has a beneficial effect on the progress of the soul. It should, moreover, be borne in mind that although to be married is highly desirable, and Baha'u'llah has strongly recommended it, it is not the central purpose of life. If a person has to wait a considerable period before finding a spouse, or if ultimately, he or she must remain single, it does not mean that he or she is thereby unable to fulfill his or her life's purpose." (The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 2/6/73 to all NSAs.)<P> I hope that these lines offer the readers a small glimpse of the context within which this particular law of the Book of Aqdas should be viewed. <P> Warm regards,<P> Kamran Hakim

<hr>

<b>And somewhat related, from http://bahai-library.com/?file=uhj_homosexual_practices :</b>

Baha'i Teachings on Homosexual Practices

by Universal House of Justice

Published in American Baha'i, 1995-11-23

To the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Dear Bahá'í Friends,

The Universal House of Justice has considered your letters of August 27,1993, and September 19,1994, in which you describe the impact of the changing sexual mores and the public debate on homosexuality on some of the members of the American Bahá'í community who are homosexuals.

We are instructed to provide the following guidance in response to the National Spiritual Assembly's requests for a clarification of the Bahá'í law on homosexual practices and for assistance in guiding the believers.

It is important to understand that there is a difference between the Bahá'í attitude toward, on the one hand, the condition of homosexuality and those who are affected by it and, on the other, the practice of homosexual relations by members of the Bahá'í community.

As you know, the Bahá'í Faith strongly condemns all blatant acts of immorality, and it includes among them the expression of sexual love between individuals of the same sex. With regard to homosexual practices, Bahá'u'lláh, in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, paragraph 107, and Questions and Answers, number 49, forbids paederasty and sodomy. The following extract from one of His Tablets reveals the strength of His condemnation:

"Ye are forbidden to commit adultery, sodomy and lechery. Avoid them, O concourse of the faithful. By the righteousness of God! Ye have been called into being to purge the world from the defilement of evil passions. This is what the Lord of all mankind hath enjoined upon you, could ye but perceive it. He who relateth himself to the All-Merciful and committeth satanic deeds, verily he is not of Me. Unto this beareth witness every atom, pebble, tree and fruit, and beyond them this ever-proclaiming, truthful and trustworthy Tongue."

In a letter dated March 26,1950, written on his behalf, Shoghi Effendi, the authorized interpreter of the Bahá'í Teachings, further explicates the Bahá'í attitude toward homosexuality. It should be noted that the Guardian's interpretation of this subject is based on his infallible understanding of the Texts. It represents both a statement of moral principle and unerring guidance to Bahá'ís who are homosexuals. The letter states:

"No matter how devoted and fine the love may be between people of the same sex, to let it find expression in sexual acts is wrong. To say that it is ideal is no excuse. Immorality of every sort is really forbidden by Bahá'u'lláh, and homosexual relationships He looks upon as such, besides being against nature.

"To be afflicted this way is a great burden to a conscientious soul. But through the advice and help doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap."

It is evident, therefore, that the prohibition against Bahá'ís engaging in homosexual behavior is an explicit teaching of the Cause. The Universal House of Justice is authorized to change or repeal its own legislation as conditions change, thus providing Bahá'í law with an essential element of flexibility, but it cannot abrogate or change any of the laws which are explicitly laid down in the sacred Texts. It follows, then that the House of Justice has no authority to change this clear teaching on homosexual practice.

You mention that concern has been expressed by some of the friends that the unique identity of homosexual Bahá'ís is not sufficiently appreciated by the Bahá'í community. It is important to reflect on the fact that the Writings of the Faith not only acknowledge that each individual has a God-given identity, but they also set out the means by which this identity can achieve its highest development and fulfillment.

Bahá'u'lláh attests that through the Teachings of the Manifestations of God "every man will advance and develop until he attaineth the station at which he can manifest all the potential forces with which his inmost true self hath been endowed." 'Abdu'l-Bahá observes that should man's "natural qualities ... be used and displayed in an unlawful way, they become blameworthy."

Shoghi Effendi, in a letter dated May 25,1936, writen on his behalf, identifies man's "true self" with "his soul." In describing the nature of "man's inner spiritual self or reality," he notes that the "two tendencies for good or evil are but manifestations of a single reality or self," and that the self "is capable of its highest development and that the self "is capable of development in either way." Underlining the importance of education to the actualization of man's potential, the Guardian concludes:

"All depends fundamentally on the training or education which man receives. Human nature is made up of possibilities both for good and evil. True religion can enable it to soar in the highest realm of the spirit, while its absence can, as we already witness around us, cause it to fall to the lowest depths of degradation and misery."

As a framework within which to consider the subject of homosexuality, it is important to acknowledge, with all due humility, that basic to the Bahá'í Teachings is the concept that it is only God Who knows the purpose of human life, and Who can convey this to us through His Manifestations.

A distinguishing feature of human existence is that we have been given the capacity to know and love God and to consciously obey Him. Thus we also have the converse: the abillty to turn away from God, to fail to love Him and to disobey Him. Indeed, left to himself, man is naturally inclined toward evil. Human beings need not only assistance in defining acceptable behavior of one person toward another, but also guidance which will help them to refrain from doing that which is spiritually damaging to themselves.

By responding to the Message of the Manifestation of God we learn how we should live and draw on the spiritual strength which comes with it. Through studying the Word of God and training ourselves to follow His commandments, we rise to the full stature that He has designed for us.

The material world, in relation to the spiritual world, is a world of imperfections. It is full of dangers and difficulties which have been greatly aggravated by man's neglect and misuse of his responsibilities. Human society itself, which exists in the material world, is in disastrous disarray.

Our appetites and inclinations are strongly influenced by the condition of our physical makeup, and our bodies are in varying degrees of health, depending upon factors such as heredity, environment, nourishment and our own treatment of them. Genetic variations occur, producing conditions which can create problems for the individual. Some conditions are of an emotional or psychological nature, producing such imbalances as quickness to anger, recklessness, timorousness, and so forth; others involve purely physical characteristics, resulting not only in unusual capacities but also in handicaps or diseases of various kinds.

Whether deficiencies are inborn or are acquired, our purpose in this life is to overcome them and to train ourselves in accordance with the pattern that is revealed to us in the divine Teachings.

The view that homosexuality is a condition that is not amenable to change is to be questioned by Bahá'ís. There are, of course, many kinds and degrees of homosexuality, and overcoming extreme conditions is sure to be more difficult than overcoming others. Nevertheless, as noted earlier, the Guardian has stated that "through the advice and help of doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap."

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 even consulting professional counselors.

Nevertheless there are undoubtedly cases in which the individual finds himself (or herself) unable to eliminate a physical attraction to members of the same sex, even though he succeeds in controlling his behavior. This is but one of the many trials and temptations to which human beings are subject in this life. For Bahá'ís, it cannot alter the basic concept taught by Bahá'u'lláh, that the kind of sexuality purposed by God is the love between a man and a woman, and that its primary (but not its only) purpose is the bringing of children into this world and providing them with a loving and protective environment in which they can be reared to know and love God.

If, therefore, a homosexual cannot overcome his or her condition to the extent of being able to have a heterosexual marriage, he or she must remain single, and abstain from sexual relations. These are the same requirements as for a heterosexual person who does not marry. While Bahá'u'lláh encourages the believers to marry, it is important to note that marriage is by no means an obligation. It is for the individual to decide whether he or she wishes to lead a family life or to live in a state of celibacy.

The condition of being sexually attracted to some object other than a mature member of the opposite sex, a condition of which homosexuality is but one manifestation, is regarded by the Faith as a distortion of true human nature, as a problem to be overcome, no matter what specific physical or psychological condition may be the immediate cause. Any Bahá'í who suffers from such a disability should be treated with understanding, and should be helped to control and overcome it. All of us suffer from imperfections which we must struggle to overcome, and we all need one another's understanding and patience.

To regard homosexuals with prejudice and disdain would be entirely against the spirit of Bahá'í Teachings. The doors are open for all of humanity to enter the Cause of God, irrespective of their present circumstances; this invitation applies to homosexuals as well as to any others who are engaged in practices contrary to the Bahá'í Teachings.

Associated with this invitation is the expectation that all believers will make a sincere and persistent effort to eradicate those aspects of their conduct which are not in conformity with Divine Law. It is through such adherence to the Bahá'í Teachings that a true and enduring unity of the diverse elements of the Bahá'í community is achieved and safeguarded.

When a person wishes to join the Faith and it is generally known that he or she has a problem such as drinking, homosexuality, taking drugs, adultery, etc., the individual should be told in a patient and loving way of the Bahá'í Teachings on these matters. If it is later discovered that a believer is violating Bahá'í standards, it is the duty of the Spiritual Assembly to determine whether the immoral conduct is flagrant and can bring the name of the Faith into disrepute, in which case the Assembly must take action to counsel the believer and require him or her to make every effort to mend his ways.

If the individual fails to rectify his conduct in spite of repeated warnings, sanctions should be imposed. Assemblies, of course, must exercise care not to pry into the private lives of the believers to ensure that they are behaving properly, but should not hesitate to take action in cases of blatant misbehavior.

The Spiritual Assemblies should, to a certain extent, be forbearing in the matter of people's moral conduct, such as homosexuality, in view of the terrible deterioration of society in general. The Assemblies must also bear in mind that while awareness of contemporary social and moral values may well enhance their understanding of the situation of the homosexual, the standard which they are called upon to uphold is the Bahá'í standard. A flagrant violation of this standard disgraces the Bahá'í community in its own eyes even if the surrounding society finds the transgression tolerable.

With regard to the organized network of homosexual Bahá'ís mentioned in your letter, the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to say that, while there is an appropriate role in the Bahá'í community for groups of individuals to come together to help each other to understand or to deal with certain problem situations, according to the Bahá'í Teachings there can be no place in our community for groups which actively promote a style of life that is contrary to the teachings of the Cause.

It should be understood that the homosexual tendencies of some individuals do not entitle them to an identity setting them apart from others. Such individuals share with every other Bahá'í the responsibility to adhere to the laws and principles of the Faith as well as the freedom to exercise their administrative rights.

The Universal House of Justice will pray that, armed with the guidance contained in this letter, the National Spiritual Assembly will act with love, sensitivity and firmness to assist the believers both to gain a deeper understanding of their true and ennobling purpose in life and to make a strong and determined effort to overcome every handicap to their spiritual development.

The Universal House of Justice
Department of the Secretariat


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