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Baha'is Speak on Homosexuality  

All of the following quotes are pulled from the BNASAA (Baha'i Network on AIDS, Sexuality, Addiction and Abuse) website, under the section "Sexuality", subsection "Homosexuality".  Emphases (ALL CAPS) are mine.

 

This is an attempt on my part to give us "the flavor," if you will, of the Baha'i teachings on homosexuality, and I have intentionally not made footnotes or given the specific reference for each quote, so as not to clutter the effect.  I can supply the source, however, for any individual quote if necessary.  As I said, all the material was drawn from the BNASAA website, under "Homosexuality" - I suggest that if you are interested, you go directly to the website and read through the material offered for yourself.  There are many sweet and loving words couching the hardcore animosity toward homosexuality - I have purposely pulled forth the quotes from the surrounding sweetness so that the actual attitude toward homosexuality is quite clear.

 

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Ye are forbidden to commit adultery, sodomy, and lechery.  [This reference from Baha'u'llah is offered without any explanation of what the terms translated as "sodomy" and "lechery" mean in the original Arabic, and how they might relate to the subject of homosexuality today, or how they relate to heterosexual activity.  The infamous "subject of boys" passage in the Aqdas (Book of Laws), which is also offered under the heading of "homosexuality" clearly refers to pederasty, or pedophilia, an altogether different subject, although the Guardian, according to the Universal House of Justice, is supposed to have interpreted it to apply to all homosexual relationships.  There are no references offered from Abdu'l-Baha specifically regarding homosexuality.  The remaining references are pulled from letters WRITTEN BY SECRETARIES on behalf of the Guardian, or from correspondence from the Universal House of Justice or, in the case of the final three quotes,  from a paper published on the BNASAA website.]

 

IMMORALITY of every sort is really forbidden by Baha'u'llah, and homosexual relationships He looks upon as such, besides being AGAINST NATURE...through the advice and help of doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this HANDICAP.

 

Baha'u'llah makes provision for the Universal House of Justice to determine, according to the degree of offence, penalties for adultery and sodomy.

 

Sex relationships, of any form, outside marriage, are not permissible...whoso violates this rule will not only be responsible to God, but will INCUR THE NECESSARY PUNISHMENT FROM SOCIETY.

 

Baha'u'llah has spoken very strongly against this SHAMEFUL SEXUAL ABERRATION, as He has against adultery and immoral conduct in general.

 

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 Baha'u'llah and that ONE SO AFFLICTED SHOULD STRUGGLE AND STRUGGLE AGAIN TO OVERCOME IT.

 

The 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 every effort 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.  The Guardian does not think, however, that a Baha'i body should take it upon itself to denounce him to the Authorities unless his conduct borders on INSANITY.

 

Homosexuality...IS SPIRITUALLY CONDEMNED...we do not believe that it is a permissible way of life.

 

We must struggle against the EVILS IN SOCIETY by spiritual means, and medical and social ones as well.

 

The thing people need to meet THIS TYPE OF TROUBLE, as well as every other type, is greater spiritual understanding and stability.

 

...any friends who are FLAGRANTLY IMMORAL should be assisted, and, if possible, restrained.  If their activities overstep all bounds and become a matter of PUBLIC SCANDAL, then the Assembly can consider depriving them of their voting rights.

 

Homosexuality is HIGHLY CONDEMNED...Any individual SO AFFLICTED must, through prayer, and any other means, seek to overcome this HANDICAP.

 

...no sexual act can be considered lawful unless performed between lawfully married persons.

 

...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 OR OVERCOME.

 

If an individual violates the spiritual laws for his own development HE WILL CAUSE INJURY NOT ONLY TO HIMSELF BUT TO THE SOCIETY IN WHICH HE LIVES.

 

...Baha'i law restricts permissible sexual intercourse to that between a man and the woman to whom he is married.

 

Thus, it should not be so much a matter of whether a practicing homosexual can be a Baha'i as whether, having become a Baha'i, the homosexual can OVERCOME HIS PROBLEM.

 

While recognizing the divine origin and force of the sex impulse in man...it must be controlled, and Baha'u'llah's law confines its expression to the marriage relationship.

 

You can be confident that with the help of doctors, by prayer and meditation, by self-abnegation and by giving as much time as possible to serving the Cause in your community you can eventually succeed in OVERCOMING YOUR PROBLEM.

 

If you are sincerely intent on OVERCOMING YOUR PROBLEM...The more we occupy ourselves with teaching the Cause and serving our fellow-man in this way, the stronger we become in resisting THAT WHICH IS ABHORRENT TO OUR SPIRITUAL SELVES.

 

...we must WELCOME AFFLICTION AND TRIBULATIONS as opportunities for improvement in our eternal selves.

 

Both you and your Baha'i friend must first recognize that a homosexual relationship SUBVERTS THE PURPOSE OF HUMAN LIFE and that determined effort to overcome the wayward tendencies which promote this practice which, like other sexual vices, IS SO ABHORRENT TO THE CREATOR OF ALL MANKIND...

 

...the Faith does not recognize homosexuality as a "natural" or permanent phenomenon.  Rather, it sees this as AN ABERRATION SUBJECT TO TREATMENT...To the question of ALTERATION OF HOMOSEXUAL BENTS, much study must be given, and doubtless IN THE FUTURE CLEAR PRINCIPLES OF PREVENTION AND TREATMENT WILL EMERGE.  As for those now afflicted, a homosexual does not decide to be a PROBLEM HUMAN, but he does...have decision in choosing his way of life.

 

The Universal House of Justice does not feel that the time has come for it to provide detailed legislation on subjects such as abortion, homosexuality and other moral issues.

 

Baha'u'llah has clearly forbidden the expression of sexual love between individuals of the same sex.

 

...there are certain laws that are so fundamental to the healthy functioning of human society that they must be upheld whatever the circumstances...

 

...one must remember that the purpose of this life is to prepare the soul for the next.  Here one must learn to control and direct one's ANIMAL IMPULSES, not to be a slave to them.

 

Homosexuality has been forbidden by Baha'u'llah in His Book of Laws, just as it was forbidden by other Prophets of God.

 

The House of Justice was SORRY TO LEARN...that your son has recently informed you that he is a homosexual.

 

...You will, no doubt, want to urge your son to seek appropriate counseling; in this connection you are encouraged to seek the assistance of your National Spiritual Assembly, which has often dealt with such cases, and can most probably assist you in indentifying individuals who are experienced in this area and whose views on homosexuality are basically compatible with those of the Baha'i Faith.  Regarding your husband's refusal to permit your son to return home, IT IS UNDERSTANDABLE THAT A PARENT MIGHT FEEL DEEPLY CONFUSED AND ANGRY when confronted with such questions which go to the very root of WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A HUMAN BEING.

 

You mention recent research which indicates that there may be a genetic basis for homosexuality; you accept the Baha'i view of this matter, but you question the use of such terms as "ABNORMALITY, HANDICAP, AFFLICTION, PROBLEM, ETC." since they can create misunderstandings.  ON THE CONTRARY, THE HOUSE OF JUSTICE FEELS THAT JUST SUCH WORDS CAN BE A GREAT HELP TO THE INDIVIDUALS CONCERNED.

 

Some people nowadays maintain that homosexuality is not an abnormality...The Faith, on the contrary, makes it abundantly clear that HOMOSEXUALITY IS AN ABNORMALITY, is a GREAT PROBLEM for the individual SO AFFLICTED, and that he or she SHOULD STRIVE TO OVERCOME IT.  The social implications of such an attitude are very important.

 

The primary purpose of sexual relations is, clearly, to perpetuate the species.

 

One could have concluded that HOMOSEXUALS COULD WELL ESTABLISH STABLE RELATIONSHIPS WITH ONE ANOTHER FOR MUTUAL SUPPORT, similar to the marital relationship of a heterosexual couple who cannot have children.  This, indeed, is the conclusion that some churches and governments have come to.  BUT BAHA'U'LLAH...SHOWS THAT SUCH A RELATIONSHIP IS NOT A PERMISSIBLE OR BENEFICIAL SOLUTION TO A HOMOSEXUAL'S CONDITION.

 

Human beings need not only assistance in defining acceptable behavior of one person towards another, but also guidance which will help them to refrain from doing that which is SPIRITUALLY DAMAGING TO THEMSELVES.

 

Whether DEFICIENCIES are inborn or acquired, our purpose in this life is to overcome them...

 

You state that "homosexuals cannot be altered into heterosexuality, all such trials have failed and homosexuals remain so until the day they die."  THIS IS A STATEMENT WHICH IS STILL OPEN TO DISPUTE, AND WHICH BAHA'IS SHOULD QUESTION.

 

Baha'i Assemblies can testify to the number of Baha'is who, although having had homosexual orientations, have been able to lead normally happy married lives and raise families.

 

...the kind of sexuality purposed by God is the love between a man and a woman...

 

The condition of being sexually attracted to some object other than to 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 Baha'i who suffers from such a DISABILITY...should be helped to control and overcome it.

 

...homosexual intercourse by a Baha'i is AN OFFENCE AGAINST THE LAW OF GOD and is STRONGLY CONDEMNED.  Strict laws of sexual behaviour are important, we believe, not merely for the individual, but also for society in general...we certainly do not fully understand their long-term implication; THESE WILL BECOME APPARENT AS SOCIETY EVOLVES.  Baha'is believe that the LOVE OF GOD IS EVIDENT IN ALL HIS LAWS, NO MATTER HOW SEVERE SOME OF THEM MAY APPEAR TO BE.

 

...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...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.  Furthermore, contrary evidence may will exist but may be overlooked by scientific reporting that is, for one reason or another, biased.

 

...the Baha'i Faith STRONGLY CONDEMNS all blatant acts of immorality, and it includes among them the expression of sexual love between individuals of the same sex.

 

The view that homosexuality is a condition that is not amenable to change is to be questioned by Baha'is.

 

...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.

 

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., he should be told in a patient and loving way of the Baha'i teachings on these matters.

 

If the individual fails to rectify his conduct in spite of repeated warnings, sanctions should be imposed.

 

...the standard which they are called upon to uphold is the Baha'i standard.  A flagrant violation of this standard DISGRACES THE BAHA'I COMMUNITY IN ITS OWN EYES even if the surrounding society finds the transgression tolerable.

 

...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.

 

...if persons involved in homosexual relationships express an interest in the Faith, they should not be instructed by Baha'i institutions to separate so that they may enrol (sic) in the Baha'i community, for this action by any institution may conflict with civil law.  The Baha'i position should be patiently explained to such persons, who should also be given to understand that although in their hearts they may accept Baha'u'llah, they cannot join the Baha'i community in the current condition of their relationship.  They will then be free to draw their own conclusions and act accordingly.

 

To regard homosexuals with prejudice or disdain would be entirely against the spirit of Baha'i teachings.  [Editor's note:  Irony here, in case someone doesn't recognize it.]

 

 

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[The following quotes are from a paper published on the BNASAA website, and are the author's own words]

 

There is nothing in the Baha'i teachings to justify prejudice against any person because he or she happens to be dealing with issues of homosexuality.

 

To change one's self-definition requires much effort.

 

In the past few years awareness has grown that there are some materials and resources that can be of assistance in dealing with issues of homosexuality.  One such resource in North America is a small group of mental health professionals - psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers - who have continued, despite discouragement from their professional organizations, to offer therapy to persons wishing to overcome their homosexuality.  In 1992, a group of these professionals formed a new organization, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).  Four Baha'i mental health professionals attended the annual meeting of NARTH in Philadelphia in May 1994.

 

Within the Baha'i community a committee was recently appointed to assist Assemblies and individuals dealing with issues of homosexuality.  In November 1989 a group of Baha'is first met, under the auspices of the Baha'i International Health Agency (BIHA), which is an agency of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Canada, to consult about issues related to AIDS and human sexuality.  The aim of BNASAA is to explore issues related to AIDS, sexuality, addictions and abuse within the framework of the Baha'i Covenant, and to assist individuals in their personal struggles with these issues through support, encouragement and discussion.  Its second aim is to assist with the education of the Baha'i community with regard to these issues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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