Relationship advice before marriage from a non-bahai

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orion811
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Relationship advice before marriage from a non-bahai

Postby orion811 » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:02 am

So for starters, I am not Bahai, but am looking for some advice on how everyone feels on living with someone before marriage who is Bahai (which as I understand is forbidden in your laws)? Correct me if wrong?

Does this make a difference even if sex is not involved? I myself have always believed I would live with someone before marriage, the idea being to make sure we are completely suited to one another, and to find out how it truly is to live with someone day in and day out before taking the leap.

Thanks for any replies.

brettz9
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Re: Relationship advice before marriage from a non-bahai

Postby brettz9 » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:09 pm

Hello and welcome Orion!

Yes, cohabitation before marriage is forbidden in the Baha'i Faith, and for the purpose of protecting the believers, those who violate it could be subject to administrative sanctions (not being permitted to e.g., contribute to the Baha'i Funds, attend Feasts where administrative matters are discussed, to have a Baha'i marriage, to vote or be voted for, etc.). This might not be universally familiar or applied in all local communities, but it is what it is to happen if a believer persists after being lovingly told of the law.

There are some edge cases as I recall where this would not apply (like maybe an elderly woman renting out a room, etc.), but that does not seem to apply here.

While the Baha'i Writings would agree that it is wise and praiseworthy to take enough time to get well acquainted with the character of the person before undertaking the serious commitment of marriage (as we just were discussing in this forum), it is not necessary or even helpful to "sample the goods" so to speak, if this is meant in a physical sense.

Although Baha'i marriage is to join both the physical and spiritual, it is the spiritual which is seen as having primacy, with the physical being of lesser importance given its impermanence. When two people genuinely love each other, with a commitment born not solely out of mere fickle passion, but out of a tender friendship and commitment to adhere to heavenly principles regardless of feelings, they can overcome all issues together. The spiritual love naturally and beautifully becomes manifest in the physical realm as well.

If one has problems in the area of sex, one may seek the advice of doctors or counselors, but much of physical "compatibility" relates to the willingness of each to adhere to the "Golden Rule" and that springs from one's character, something which one can (carefully) observe outside of a physical context.

Indeed, in my opinion, the physical intimacy before marriage is in fact a barrier to objectivity when choosing a spouse; one becomes tied emotionally and focused on trying to "make it work" (with reluctance to decide against the person due to a fear of guilt at leaving or of uncertainty for being left alone) rather than taking the time to see fairly whether the person is really suitable.

And on the other hand, if one later decides against the person, it can cause serious heartbreak and bad feelings between either or both and future spouses, something which the unity of the Baha'i Faith is meant to help us avoid, and moreover cause one to sully "that unique and priceless bond that should unite man and wife." (ref).

This is similar, in my opinion, to the Baha'i view on voting which while endorsing elections, prohibits campaigning. We are not well served by the person exposing for us external matters such as their promises, self-praise, or pandering, but rather by witnessing their character in action, by their demonstrated experience of love and service to their family, friends, and community.

As far as day-to-day life, while daily living does indeed expose one to another's character, I think one can witness much of this by working together in service with the other person, and in the company of others as well, whether family, friends, or community.

Best wishes,
Brett

SusanG
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Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2012 9:14 pm

Re: Relationship advice before marriage from a non-bahai

Postby SusanG » Tue Apr 10, 2012 8:31 pm

Two quotes come to mind which might shed light on this question. The first answers whether people can live together before marriage, even without sex:

"… even if the relationship between a Bahá’í man and woman is entirely innocent, it is vitally important that they should not live together in a way that would give the wrong impression. If there is any doubt about the perceived morality of a particular situation they should unhesitatingly avoid it and seek alternative arrangements in order to preserve the good name of the Faith. In following the standards of the Faith, the friends must be not only righteous, but also wise. Naivete can do great harm, especially in the present unstable condition of social morals in the world at large." (Universal House of Justice, http://www.mail-archive.com/bahai-st@li ... 01089.html )


And the second explains why sex outside of marriage is forbidden - it's the ONLY WAY to a happy and successful marriage:

"Briefly stated the Bahá’í conception of sex is based on the belief that chastity should be strictly practised by both sexes, not only because it is in itself highly commendable ethically, but also due to its being the only way to a happy and successful marital life. Sex relationships of any form, outside marriage, are not permissible therefore, and whoso violates this rule will not only be responsible to God, but will incur the necessary punishment from society." (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 344-345)

danieldemol
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Re: Relationship advice before marriage from a non-bahai

Postby danieldemol » Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:17 am

Hi Brett,

Thanks for your informative answer.

According to my understanding people who are co-habiting could be given a Baha'i marriage subject to mutual consent and parental agreement as this would be the means of changing a sinful situation into a praiseworthy arrangement.

Kind regards,
Dan.


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