Notable Individuals

Mark Tobey (1890-1976),

famous artist, dedicated and devout Baha'i, was gay. His life and work were commemorated.. More

Powered by Squarespace

Discussion > Nicholas Snow interview with out gay Baha'i Sean Rayshel

Groundbreaking interview with out gay Baha'i Sean Rayshel , hopefully
Huffington Post picks up this story.
April 17, 2015 | Registered Commentermoderator
Dear Sean,
I am following up on the comment I made on the Huffington Post article regarding your interview with Nicholas Snow. As I stated in my comment, “The letter from the Secretariat was addressed to someone else regarding his/her specific queries and concerns. In my view it does not directly, adequately or with compassion and empathy address Sean's perspective.”
I would like to now share with you as a Bahá'í friend, my personal views based upon my limited understanding of the Bahá'í Sacred Writings regarding this fundamental aspect of our lives.
Briefly, the essence of who we are, our true identity, is we are unique, individual spiritual beings created by God. Our souls, which are created and associated with our bodies at conception, remain connected throughout our brief span of life on this earth which Bahá'u'lláh describes as a “fleeting moment” and then continue to progress throughout the worlds of God striving to fulfill our central purpose to “know and love God” which is the primary purpose of all of creation. We achieve our purpose of knowing and loving God through recognition of the Manifestation of God for this age and obedience to His ordinances.
Our souls do not have a gender; our sexuality and sexual attractions are attributes of our physical selves. Our whole material existence is a testing ground for our spiritual development. The state of the world is really simply a reflection of the spiritual condition of humanity. As spiritual beings living in a material world every action we take has a material and spiritual consequence. The material effects of our actions are visible and evident but the spiritual effects can only be determined by reference to the principles and teachings of the Manifestation of God. The challenge of our lives is to act in ways that foster our spiritual development as Bahá'u'lláh reveals “True liberty is submission unto My commands…”
Our sexuality and physical attraction to others is a major impulse or force of our physical or animal natures. Detachment from our physical desires is essential to learning who we are as spiritual beings and our real life purpose. The standard of behaviour that Bahá'u'lláh calls us to achieve is “And if he met the fairest and most comely of women, he would not feel his heart seduced by the least shadow of desire for her beauty.” (Gleanings, p. 118). As you know, the principle of male/female gender interchangeability applies in the Sacred Writings so this quote also applies to “the most comely of men”.
In this context, true love is a spiritual bond that develops between individuals of whatever age and sex and endures beyond our lifetime on earth whereas a sexual relationship ends as we age. This why I think that absolute chastity is necessary before marriage so that the spiritual bond can be formed. Sexual attraction can be such an overwhelming influence on a relationship that the spiritual connection is not developed and the marriage union breaks up when the sexual relationship inevitably wanes.
From a spiritual perspective, the purpose of sex is procreation. It is permitted within marriage as the relationship is ideally based upon the spiritual commitment “We will all verily abide by the Will of God.”
I am sure you have read in detail the interpretation given by Shoghi Effendi and the guidance from the Universal House of Justice on homosexuality. To clarify a couple of points from your interview: Shoghi Effendi’s authoritative interpretation of Bahá'u'lláh’s revelation in the Aqdas was not based upon current science at the time but upon the Divine authority bequeath to him by 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Secondly, the comments on homosexuality stated in the letter from the House of Justice beginning in the West relates to the current divisive discourse. There is nothing in the Writings that negate the science related to homosexuals or the fact that there have been homosexuals throughout history. My understanding from this guidance is that being gay is not forbidden, neither is the genuine love between two people of the same sex forbidden, but it is the sexual acts of homosexual relationships that are not allowed. These sexual acts are forbidden if homosexuals or heterosexuals perform them. Marriage of a gay couple would not legitimize the sexual relationship, as it is the sexual acts themselves that are forbidden.
I have had very good Bahá'í friends who were non-practicing homosexuals and I know of gay Bahá'ís who have married women.
In closing, you have stated you are a Bahá'í who is gay. I believe it is important for the Faith and especially for the unity of our human family that LGBT people are welcomed into the Faith and every possible means is provided to enable them to live their lives according to the laws and ordinances of the Faith. This is a significant life challenge but we do have the promise that God does not test a soul beyond its power.
Allah-u-Abhá,
Don Brown
,
April 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDon Brown
That the Institutions of the Faith, and that Baha'is themselves are preoccupied with sex is as weird as it is astonishing to me. Why, why, why do you all care so much about what two loving people do in the privacy of their own homes? How does it affect how you sit and listen to your Feasts and Holy Days?

That Baha'is cannot find a way to include EVERYONE into this religion is equally astonishing.

That Baha'is like Mr. Brown here contunally feel the need to school us over and over and over about the tenets of this deeply homophobic hypocritical and out of step religion is as weird and astonishing as it is disappointing.

That Baha'is need to be told how to welcome and treat GLBTq people equitably is as astonishing as it is disappointing as well. It is as if Baha'si cannot think or feel for themselves... and so it is that I say, once again shame on any religious community that cannot for the life it live up to the promises the Blessed Beauty sacrificed his life for.

Shame on you all!

Daniel Orey
April 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDCO
Don,

The Baha'i Faith will slowly fade away with folks with your mindset in it. It's sad that the Faith I grew up in , served , and taught has become absolutist. Progressives , free thinkers, and scholastic minded Baha'is are a rare breed these days. I wish the Faith lots of luck in the New Era, and hope it lives to its true potential.
April 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSean
Don, I am amazed that you wrote so many words which in the end boil down to the idea that it is a Bahai teaching that gays and lesbians are to be treated with less equality and less justice because you think it is a law of God that same sex marriage is not allowed.

you wrote "From a spiritual perspective, the purpose of sex is procreation." - according you or Baha'u'llah?
If you think this is according to Baha'u'llah some quotations to back this up please.

It seems to me that you know little about marriage by your comments. I have been married for over 30 years and I assure you that our marriage is both spiritual and physical.

Sean + Daniel, hear, hear! As a straight Bahai I do what I can to make gays and lesbians feel welcome, respected and to be treated with justice and equality. I hope one day, more Bahais start to stand up for the rights of the oppressed and I agree Sean, I see little hope for the Bahai community while the majority of Bahais look the other way on this topic when Bahais do express views such as those expressed by Don above. I realise Don that your words were intended to be kind or helpful, but for me, they are like rubbing salt onto a wound. Far better to start directly, ok gays and lesbians are not treated with equality, than paragraphs on how the physical doesn't matter (except if you are gay).

I get sick of Bahais focusing on sodomy as if this is what "practising as a homosexual" means. This is degrading Don. And in fact it shocks me that any intelligent person would make such an association in this day and age. This is why all your words on the importance of detachment from the physical run hollow for me and why any gay or lesbian would, as I do, find your comments offensive. Don if you really think that Baha'u'llah condemns homosexuality then please look at this blog of mine where I discuss the context for the reference to punishment for liwaat. https://justabahai.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/a-bahai-view-of-homosexuality-and-gay-rights/#liwaat
April 27, 2015 | Unregistered Commentersonja