Homosexuality, Advice on
by / on behalf of Universal House of Justice1994-05-03
The Research Department has studied carefully the letter of ... dated 17 August 1993 in which she raises a number of questions about the Bahá'í view towards homosexuality. These questions are of immediate and urgent concern to her, as she is herself in love with another Bahá'í woman, and is perplexed about how to reconcile what seem to her to be natural desires with the laws and principles of the Faith. We provide the following response.
By way of introduction, it may be useful to recall that the laws and ordinances of this Dispensation Bahá'u'lláh has specifically characterized as "the breath of life unto all created things", as "the mightiest stronghold", as the "fruits" of His "Tree", as "the highest means for the maintenance of order in the world and the security of its peoples", as "the lamps of His wisdom and loving providence", as "the sweet-smelling savour of his garment", as the "keys" of His "mercy" to His creatures. "This book" (The Kitab-i-Aqdas), He Himself testifies, "is a heaven which we have adorned with the stars of Our commandments and prohibitions." (Shoghi Effendi, extracted from God Passes By and published in The Kitab-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book [Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1992] pp. 15-16)
As stated in the attached letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice,
"Bahá'ís believe that the love of God is evident in all His laws, no matter how severe some of them may appear to be, because He is revealing to us the purpose and true pattern for which we are created."
Regarding ...'s question about the areas of the Guardian's infallibility, we note that the letters written on his behalf on the subject of homosexuality represent his interpretation of the revealed Word on the subject, and are authoritative. They do not, for example, stray into the realm of science, a field in which, as the Guardian himself points out, he is not infallible, by speculating on the possible biological or psychological cause of a predisposition to homosexual tendencies. They do reflect the Guardian's interpretation based on an infallible understanding of the entire Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, and form a coherent and consistent whole with the entire body of Bahá'í Sacred Literature and authoritative texts.
We provide two attachments for ...'s consideration. The first is a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of justice to an individual who was investigating the Faith and expressed a concern about the subject of homosexuality. The letter provides a clear summary of the Bahá'í point of view. Regarding the possibility of marriage between two people of the same sex, one of ...'s central questions, the letter quotes the letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi which 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." The letter of the House goes on to clarify that
"the basic concept taught by Bahá'u'lláh is 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."Interestingly the letter also states that
"The prohibition of sexual intercourse outside the marriage bond does not by any means imply that there cannot be strong bonds of friendship between persons, whether of the same sex or not. On the contrary, affection and friendship are qualities highly praised in the Bahá'í teachings. This whole question of love and friendship is distorted these days because our civilization has exalted sex and sexuality to a level of importance far beyond its proper place in our lives. Sex has also been wrenched out of its proper context. On the one hand our current culture suffuses every aspect of our lives with sex but, on the other, it isolates the sex act from its natural corollaries of marital life and the bearing and rearing of children."On the question of whether or not there is a biological predisposition to homosexuality, the letter indicates that the question is still open to dispute. In this regard, 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.