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Old 06-06-2017, 05:40 AM   #1
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In which terms can a legally married gay couple join the Bahai Community?

Dear all

One of my best friends... maybe the best one I have had over the last 20 years, is gay and legally married to his husband. (Same-sex marriage was approved in Mexico City since 2007)

Both are extraordinary people, full of generosity, intelligence and spirit of service to everyone. I look up at both of them as an example of spiritual development, even when they are not affiliated to any religion as such.

If I start sharing with them my enthusiasm with the Bahai's Faith, could they attend the devotional services and introduce themselves as a couple? What would be your recommendation? Do you know any similar examples in any local assembly in countries or states where gay marriage is legal?

Last edited by camachoe; 06-06-2017 at 05:48 AM.
 
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Old 06-06-2017, 11:11 AM   #2
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By the way, one hour after I wrote the above post, I learned that my friend is at the hospital undergoing surgery. May God assist him and people like him at any operating room in this planet. God is the All-Knowing Physician, The Help in Peril, The Protector.
 
Old 06-06-2017, 06:40 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by camachoe View Post
Dear all

One of my best friends... maybe the best one I have had over the last 20 years, is gay and legally married to his husband. (Same-sex marriage was approved in Mexico City since 2007)

Both are extraordinary people, full of generosity, intelligence and spirit of service to everyone. I look up at both of them as an example of spiritual development, even when they are not affiliated to any religion as such.

If I start sharing with them my enthusiasm with the Bahai's Faith, could they attend the devotional services and introduce themselves as a couple? What would be your recommendation? Do you know any similar examples in any local assembly in countries or states where gay marriage is legal?
I pray that your friend has a successful surgery and recovers quickly.

The issue of homosexual relationships is very delicate and will require spiritual strength on the part of Baha'is and anyone who may wish to become a Baha'i.

The Teachings of Baha'u'llah make clear that humans are essentially spiritual beings that are born and live in this world for a time. The soul is neither male nor female and has no sexuality. Our bodies are either male or female (except rare persons who have both traits), and the main purpose of sexuality is reproduction, within marriage, between male and female. The attraction of souls together who happen to be the same sex is wonderful, but sexual activity between them is contrary to the Teachings.

There are many homosexuals who are wonderful, spiritual people and have high moral standards. The fact that some choose to take advantage of legal homosexual marriage where it is available shows they have good intentions. Likewise, there are many wonderful people who are in heterosexual relationships without being married, and they don't feel they need to be. In both cases, their relationships are contrary to the Teachings of Baha'u'llah, even though other aspects of their lives may be very much in accordance with the Teachings, even more then certain Baha'is .

In all cases, the Baha'i community should warmly welcome everyone to attend devotional services and should not act differently if they are a homosexual couple, or anyone else. If someone is interested in joining the Faith, they should be made aware of the Teachings regarding sexuality and marriage.

It will be a great challenge for anyone who is in a committed homosexual relationship to accept this aspect of the Baha'i Teachings. Even for many Baha'is it is a challenge. It requires a rethinking of the spiritual nature of man and the role of sexuality. It also requires the greatest degree of love and understanding.
 
Old 06-07-2017, 05:23 AM   #4
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This is a very prudent, kind and thoughtful response, Jcc.
I appreciate it a lot.

If I understood you correctly, I see two options:
1) if they want to become members they should convert their marriage into a communion of the souls, so to speak, without sexual activity.
2) if they are not willing to take this difficult step, they could remain as "students/sympathizers of the Baha'i Faith" (for example as I am right now), attending the devotional meetings and practicing the faith but without administrative rights.
Did I summarize it correctly?

Last edited by camachoe; 06-07-2017 at 05:52 AM.
 
Old 06-07-2017, 12:42 PM   #5
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It is a difficult problem and question. On the one hand, the Baha'i position is clearly stated by Baha'u'llah, and elucidated upon by 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi so it is really a settled matter. In the Baha'i faith, marriage is between a man and a woman.

On the other hand, heterosexuality is not a requirement of being a Baha'i but chastity is, according to the standards of chastity established in the writings which are applicable to both genders and anything in between, regardless of sexual orientation.

On the other other hand, there is also the matter of Baha'is being required to follow the law of the land. There are some exceptions to this, however, where Baha'is would be defiant, ie recanting faith, for one. I don't think, however, that we are in a position where we can accept homosexual unions even when they may be lawful according to national laws, since they are in direct opposition to divine law.

On the other other hand, There are the spiritual laws, ie worship of God, virtues, etc., and material laws, ie thou shalt not eat this, or wear that. For me, homosexuality falls into the category of material laws since the soul does not have gender at all and the prohibition seems to be centered around the fact that from male and female unions (ie the sexual counterparts) material beings (with souls) are brought forth for the advancement of civilization.

These will be challenging things for the House to sort out, for sure. Personally, if I were homosexual, I would be a Baha'i and strive for the lofty goal of Baha'i chastity, knowing it is very hard but believing my life in this world is only for a time. If I fell short, then I would still be a Baha'i, but perhaps try and conceal my sin (which means to miss the mark) and strive to live the life in every other way. If I could not do that, then I would still be a Baha'i, even if one without full administrative rights, because, as awful as that is, I would still be a Baha'i and to be a Baha'i at whatever level and capacity I can is still better than not being a Baha'i, in my opinion.

I wish them well.
 
Old 06-08-2017, 12:27 PM   #6
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According to Bible, Quran, Granth Sahib and Kitab i aqdas Marriage exist only between man and woman, in "Nazarethan Baha'i faith" gay marriage can't be legitimise, for gay people get respect and love, but they bond as couple only
 
Old 06-08-2017, 04:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fadl View Post
These will be challenging things for the House to sort out, for sure. Personally, if I were homosexual, I would be a Baha'i and strive for the lofty goal of Baha'i chastity, knowing it is very hard but believing my life in this world is only for a time. If I fell short, then I would still be a Baha'i, but perhaps try and conceal my sin (which means to miss the mark) and strive to live the life in every other way. If I could not do that, then I would still be a Baha'i, even if one without full administrative rights, because, as awful as that is, I would still be a Baha'i and to be a Baha'i at whatever level and capacity I can is still better than not being a Baha'i, in my opinion.

I wish them well.
This is a very sincere and beautiful response, Fadl.
Indeed, I do not consider "awful" to live without administrative rights. In my personal case, I could die tomorrow and be grateful for the opportunity to have met Bahá'u'llah Teachings... discovered the touch of God in the short obligatory prayer, listened to the uplifting hymns and songs from Tom Price and enjoyed your company in this forum.
I know I will be able soon to meet with Bahai families and some day visit a continental House of Worship and even plan for a Pilgrimage.

In my personal case, what stops me from signing up as a member is that I remain very skeptical about the permanent infallibility of the Central Figures, which seems to be a prerequisite to become a Bahai. However, such skepticism does not prevent me from admiring many aspects of the Bahá'i Faith to a level that makes my heart melt. To me having found the Bahá'i Faith is like having fallen in love with the most beautiful princess who, for other reasons, I can't marry.

Last edited by camachoe; 06-08-2017 at 04:59 PM.
 
Old 06-08-2017, 06:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camachoe View Post
This is a very sincere and beautiful response, Fadl.
Indeed, I do not consider "awful" to live without administrative rights. In my personal case, I could die tomorrow and be grateful for the opportunity to have met Bahá'u'llah Teachings... discovered the touch of God in the short obligatory prayer, listened to the uplifting hymns and songs from Tom Price and enjoyed your company in this forum.
I know I will be able soon to meet with Bahai families and some day visit a continental House of Worship and even plan for a Pilgrimage.

In my personal case, what stops me from signing up as a member is that I remain very skeptical about the permanent infallibility of the Central Figures, which seems to be a prerequisite to become a Bahai. However, such skepticism does not prevent me from admiring many aspects of the Bahá'i Faith to a level that makes my heart melt. To me having found the Bahá'i Faith is like having fallen in love with the most beautiful princess who, for other reasons, I can't marry.
Yes we are to search and discover all things for our own selves. Upon that journey we are faced with many aspects that assist us to free our selves from the confines of this world.

It has been great reading of your journey on this Forum, I have enjoyed all your posts and questions. many have answered prior to me seeing your questions and as they have supplied many valid points, there is no need to add to them

Regards Tony
 
Old 06-11-2017, 11:37 AM   #9
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the permanent infallibility of the Central Figures

Quote:
Originally Posted by camachoe View Post
In my personal case, what stops me from signing up as a member is that I remain very skeptical about the permanent infallibility of the Central Figures, which seems to be a prerequisite to become a Bahai. However, such skepticism does not prevent me from admiring many aspects of the Bahá'i Faith to a level that makes my heart melt. To me having found the Bahá'i Faith is like having fallen in love with the most beautiful princess who, for other reasons, I can't marry.
Camachoe,
It strikes me that you are independently investigating the truth in conformity with: "to see with your own eyes and not through the eyes of others"

When we look for the sun, coming perhaps from an overgrown forest, we see glimmers of sunlight through the thickness of the leaves and tall trees. Maybe we need to climb these trees to get a better view, or climb a mountain.

Baha'u'llah is such a mountain, a Mount Everest among hills, but you have to come to this conclusion on your own. The sun provides its own evidence and resources.

The Light of the Sun of Truth cannot shine with falseness. It is inherent in the nature of the sun to give nothing but true light. There is no darkness in it. When we thus identify with the Sun of Truth, by immersing ourselves in His Light, we find no shadows.

You have to discover these truths for yourselves, and my testimony and that of others is simply that we attest that we have climbed these trees and discovered that yes, this Mountain is very high - Baha'i ... ;-)
 
Old 06-11-2017, 11:58 AM   #10
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Oh, it's all so simple, camachoe. Do your recognize Bahá'u'lláh? The rest takes more than one lifetime to come to terms with :-)

gnat

Last edited by gnat; 06-11-2017 at 01:55 PM.
 
Old 06-12-2017, 04:28 AM   #11
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I do.
And I will say like the man who wanted Jesus to heal his son and was challenged by Jesus about the sincerity and strength of his faith: "I believe, Help my unbelief!"
(Mark 9:24)

I believe in you, Bahá'u'lláh. Help my unbelief!

Thanks to all of you for your guidance and patience. I appreciate it a lot.
 
Old 06-12-2017, 11:37 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by camachoe View Post
I do.
And I will say like the man who wanted Jesus to heal his son and was challenged by Jesus about the sincerity and strength of his faith: "I believe, Help my unbelief!"
(Mark 9:24)

I believe in you, Bahá'u'lláh. Help my unbelief!

Thanks to all of you for your guidance and patience. I appreciate it a lot.
Thank you, you bring much joy 😊 I would say that, what you have asked, is the journey we all walk. It is discovering the power within, that over time and with effort, we find and use to help subdue our worldly self to allow God within with His laws to shine from within.

Your journey has commenced and may God help all of us with unbelief. We must find our true Unity.

Be well, be happy and regards Tony
 
Old 06-12-2017, 01:12 PM   #13
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Greetings Camachoe,

Despite some criticism that has been levelled against the Bahá'í Faith by some individuals in this subject matter, I have personally found that mature homosexual couples often welcome discussions pertaining to the Bahá'í Faith; especially within the security of their own homes. So I have never experienced any challenges or difficulties with teaching homosexual couples about the Bahá'í Faith should they wish to learn about it. The notion that homosexual couples will be adverse to Bahá'ís or the Bahá'í Faith is actually a short sighted assumption. This is because all people will face personal issues with some of its teachings. So if your friends have an interest to learn about why you are attracted to the Bahá'í Faith, then you have a natural opening for a conversation. As you might not have done this before do appreciate that when presenting a personal belief to close friends they are more interested in the way that you perceive it and how it has affected your outlook towards life. So just be guided to speak from your own heart and allow your love of the Faith to penetrate through your character in an entirely natural way. People with insight are naturally attracted to beautiful souls. So just allow the the beauty to flow through you.

Over the years some guidance for intersex believers has been misrepresented by inferring they are intended for homosexuals. Indeed some Bahá'ís have made the same mistakes too. In reality a number of assumptions about homosexuality within the Bahá'í Faith are actually incorrect. Studying the history behind these sexual misrepresentations is an interesting field in its own right. Intersex believers were personally known to 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the Guardian. However, they both went to great lengths to protect the indentity of these believers and because of this some of their responses to them have been taken out of context. Once people learn to view such guidance in the correct context the Bahá'í Faith will be more fairly judged in such matters.

A persons sex is rather like their skin tone. People are not just black, white, yellow and red, they naturally vary. This is why people are males and females by degrees. Indeed as I am sure you are aware, the human foetus evolves from a baseline female construct. This is why all males have visible sealing scars on their external genitals. The reproductive organs of males and females essentially begin life the same way. So in a manner of speaking humans mutate during embryonic development in order to develop the sexual organs to reproduce. However this is not always a smooth process.

Like it or not human society has been transfixed into grading babies as being either male or female throughout recorded history. Indeed some societies would offer children as human sacrifices if they had any apparent sexual deformity. This gruesome prejudice still transpires today thought forced genital mutilation of infants in many western countries. Indeed few realise that while female circumcision is illegal in some western countries they still engage in the genital mutilation of intersex children. Such is the social obsession of grading people as being either male or female. When we consider the most common intersex condition affects 1 in every 64 people, the introduction of gender X in German legislation makes perfect sense; even if it took until 2013 to establish. Because of gender X we can now better differentiate between the sexual guidance offered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the Guardian. In short the misrepresentation of intersex issues being about homosexuals can now be better be understood. This is also true with some clinical studies because some intersex studies have been passed off as being homosexual studies. Naturally this violates scientific standards and it is also why the Universal House of Justice contests them too. So there is actually a significant amount of scientific misrepresentation in existence that is often employed for political reasons. The Intersex Forum is now starting to address how intersex scientific studies have being misrepresented by some homosexual groups, but it is also important to understand that they will work in partnership with some homosexual groups too. This is because it is socially important to ensure that people are not victimised because of their sexuality. The point to appreciate here is that an intersex person cannot be a homosexual because they were created with male and female components. This is why an intersex person who is registered as gender X in Germany can freely choose to legally become a male or female once they reach adulthood. Hopefully you can begin to see that marriages are going to become much more interesting, but in reality this has always been the case. Some have simply chosen to remain ignorant that such marriages have been transpiring for thousands of years.

Peoples genitals are a private matter. Therefore the Bahá'í Faith accepts a persons legal sex as being their actual sex. Providing the couple are legally registered as being a male and female a Bahá'í marriage can transpire. However, the notion that a Bahá'í marriage is always between a man and a women is only correct in a legal context, not necessarily a biological one. Bahá'í marriage is therefore based on trust. On a point of interest the Kitáb-i-Aqdas has a few interesting lines with regards to choosing discretion or annulment after marriage but before sexual consummation. Reading these lines might help you look at Bahá'í marriage in a very different way. It should also be pointed out that the same type of trust applies when electing males to serve the Universal House of Justice. This is because there is no requirement for candidates to perform a genital check prior to taking up the position. Once again it is based on the persons legal sex. So a gender fluid individual could in theory serve the Universal House of Justice. The point to really appreciate here is the extent of trust that exists within the Bahá'í Community. It is really difficult to articulate this because it something that has to be experienced in a mature community to be fully appreciated. This is why Bahá'ís tend to be very open and honest in their communications with Bahá'í Institutions. However there is nothing to prevent a Bahá'í from employing discretion.

Bahá'í Institutions will comply with domestic laws. As you will know different countries hold different legal positions towards homosexuality. Therefore it is not too difficult to understand why an international religion cannot condone homosexuality. It is not just an issue about religious teachings, it is also about protecting members that live within countries that oppose homosexual practice too. So for instance while your friends are legally married due to municipal law, same sex marriages are not as yet legally recognised at a national level in Mexico. It is important to understand this matter along with appreciating how it might affect a Bahá'í response too. But do understand that if Mexico adopts national legislation things will change, even if it requires case law to enforce it.

Do appreciate that there is a difference between being a Bahá'í and being a member of the Bahá'í Faith. One is not conditional upon the other because by international law all religious texts constitute as public domain and all individuals are permitted the right of independent belief within any country that is a signatory of the relevant section of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. So for instance a person can freely claim to be a Bahá'í, even if they are not a registered member to any Bahá'í religious organisation. This of course means that in secular terms the Bahá'í Faith ranks as being a religious denomination. Members of the Bahá'í Faith are welcome to have their religious beliefs, but they cannot prevent others from choosing to be Bahá'ís or initiating their own religious organisations outside of their own purview. At this point in time the Bahá'í religion has largely survived sectarian challenges and this is why it is often seen as being synonymous with the Bahá'í Faith. However, once a religion start removing people from membership it naturally invites competition. This is why the subject matter you have raised here is also a very important one too.

Members of the Bahá'í Faith often have different views over matters of membership and how conflicts of interests should be resolved. National Spiritual Assembly members often have two liabilities. One to their religion as national religious heads and the other to their religious charity as charity directors. This means anyone that is denied assess to a registered charity service has legal grounds to issue a compliant to their countries charity regulator. This can even be done with political support and/or legal support if necessary. As the charity regulator is afforded the right to initiate court action in the public interest, it should be quite evident why this approach should be considered when individuals face a secular conflict of interests. In all fairness National Spiritual Assemblies are likely to accept any reasonable requests made by the charity regulator and will modify their charity services to meet any requirements rather than face litigation. Such is their conciliatory nature. However, always understand that a charity regulator can only challenge National Spiritual Assemblies in relationship to their charity role, not their religious role, and only in matters that are legislated within domestic law. This means they do not have the legal right to deny the National Spiritual Assembly its religious rights, only to modify its charity procedures to ensure that it is not party to violating domestic law. Reflect on this and you will soon come to understand that your friends are not as powerless as it might appear. For instance, if Mexico nationally adopts same sex marriage, it would not be unreasonable to request the charity regulator to obtain a formal explanation as to what charity services couples in a same sex marriage are entitled to attend. This can be particular important if either or both of them have children because this would open up a whole new series of legal requirements. So all people need to learn how to use the charity regulator if they ever face any discrimination from a religion. Do understand that charity directors can face both civil and criminal prosecution because religious laws will not protect them if they have violated secular law.

It is important to understand that all religions have the legal right to control their membership. This is why the Universal House of Justice can instruct a National Spiritual Assembly to remove a person from membership or to raise or downgrade their administrative standing. Such an issue cannot be contested, but it is possible to instigate a charge of slander or discrimination against anyone that misrepresents a person before any Bahá'í Institution. This is achieved through a court order that forces a Bahá'í Institution to release its minutes and supporting documents where an allegation has been made with the aim of unfairly forcing an innocent person to face administrative redress. I have personally witnessed a few such instances and this is why all Bahá'ís need to learn how to legally enforce their religious rights in a court of law if required. Always understand that respect is earned and it also has to be enforced when one is subject to unethical slander with malicious intent.

Hopefully you can begin to see that teaching people about the Bahá'í Faith is also about empowering them how to become more informed about protecting both their secular and spiritual rights too. If you wish to offer a specific response to these questions to your friends then you are within your rights to write to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Mexico to request a formal response. As strange as this might appear, you might be pleasantly surprised now you are better informed about their liabilities because you can cite specific assurances that have been made on official Bahá'í websites to them, like the following for instance:

"Individuals who are openly homosexual are not prevented from enrolling in the Bahá’í Faith or in joining in community life. This acceptance is not an endorsement of personal conduct, rather it is a recognition that becoming a Bahá’í is not conditional on their complete and strict compliance with all Bahá’í standards and laws." https://bahaikipedia.org/Homosexuali...e-sanctions-10

Do appreciate that official Bahá'í guidance in this subject matter varies based on comprehension of the subject matter long with where and when it was published. As homosexuality has been or remains a crime within some countries, naturally the tone and content of material can vary enormously. So try to place all material into domestic and historical context. In reality your friends might need to wait until same sex marriage laws are enshrined into national legislation before being entitled to the type of legal rights I have sought to infer with you here. However, at least they might be better prepared if such litigation transpires. Naturally the Bahá'í Faith cannot be held responsible for the legislation a government chooses to employ. So at this point in time your friends will need to adopt an open mind with what they might choose to read for themselves about the Bahá'í Faith.

Do appreciate that in times of social change it is possible to witness a culture of blame develop towards innocent parties. This is why it is not uncommon to evidence a series of homophobic accusations being hurled towards the Bahá'í Faith, Bahá'í Institutions and the Bahá'í Community as governments strive to implement domestic legislation. Naturally we can only hope and trust that governments might be guided to adopt the type of legislation necessary to enable all of their people to be free from personal discrimination and to become more unified with one another. If this requires the implementation of national same sex marriage legislation, then this is the will of the people and it should be honoured. This is why it is never appropriate to discriminate against those in a same sex marriage when their legal rights are enshrined into domestic law. But it is important to understand that laws exist to protect people's religious rights too. This is why the Bahá'í Faith can never be legally obliged to sanction a same sex marriage. Domestic laws are implemented with the intention of granting legal rights to all people that have earned them. In this respect your friends will have a role to play in the unfolding nature of Mexican legislation, just like the Bahá'ís of today are playing their part towards the creation of a unified human society. We all have a positive role to play on the road towards human unity and appearances are often more illusionary than we realise.

I will leave you with a personal prayer produced by Marta Root. This is actually a very powerful prayer and it was read during the funeral service of the Guardian. The history of Martha Root is extremely interesting. In time, hopefully, you might learn more about her https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8teej1FAew4

Earth
 
Old 06-13-2017, 06:19 AM   #14
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Thanks a lot, Earth, for this comprehensive response in which, alongside the topic of human rights and ethics, you also covered the special case of intersex believers.

I am so amazed with your insights, as well as the insights from other people in this Forum, that I wonder if Bahai's should publish a book with a collection of essays written by members, sharing their personal opinions on a wide variety of topics showing how real people think and live the principles.

I guess it would be a hit.

It would have a disclaimer at the beginning, stating that these would be non-binding, unofficial and potentially wrong statements that only reflect the personal views of the authors.

Just as posts in this Forum do not need to go through review by the UHJ to be published, I guess this collection of essays wouldn't need that review neither. Am I right?

Is there anything like that currently?
 
Old 06-14-2017, 09:23 AM   #15
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In my personal case, what stops me from signing up as a member is that I remain very skeptical about the permanent infallibility of the Central Figures, which seems to be a prerequisite to become a Bahai.
Friend,

In my experience, issues over infallibility usually arise from a misunderstanding of the terms. The term infallible has slightly different meanings in the faith than a straight Webster definition of the word, and there are two types of infallibility in the faith. The most great infallibility and conferred infallibility. The most great infallibility most closely aligns with Webster's and the meaning that you probably attach to infallibility; It is confined the manifestations of God. Conferred infallibility is that which flows through the central figures and UHJ and is bestowed by the covenant. In this variant it doesn't mean incapable of mistakes, but it does mean incapable of error or blame. There are important differences, if you reflect on them.

Cheers
 
Old 06-14-2017, 04:14 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Fadl View Post
Friend,

In my experience, issues over infallibility usually arise from a misunderstanding of the terms. The term infallible has slightly different meanings in the faith than a straight Webster definition of the word, and there are two types of infallibility in the faith. The most great infallibility and conferred infallibility. The most great infallibility most closely aligns with Webster's and the meaning that you probably attach to infallibility; It is confined the manifestations of God. Conferred infallibility is that which flows through the central figures and UHJ and is bestowed by the covenant. In this variant it doesn't mean incapable of mistakes, but it does mean incapable of error or blame. There are important differences, if you reflect on them.

Cheers
Does the House declare when it acts infallibly?
 
Old 06-15-2017, 10:58 AM   #17
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Greetings Camachoe,

Thank you for your kind comments. Naturally I am delighted that you have found the views offered by all the users of this forum helpful.

Hopefully you can see we are all very diverse individuals with different values, understandings and outlooks. As the Bahá'í Writings forbid us from judging others it is often a very liberating experience to explore questions like these because it allows us to demonstrate how we seek to view people through a universal prism.

As you have an interest in reading how Bahá'ís explain their religious beliefs to others, you might find it interesting to read some stories of how some people became Bahá'ís. Not quite the same thing, but some of these stories are rather interesting because they write about the challenges they had to overcome as individuals. They all offer a real human dimension to them. So perhaps reading some of these might help for now https://bahaihistoryuk.wordpress.com

Earth
 
Old 06-16-2017, 04:12 AM   #18
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Does the House declare when it acts infallibly?
No, I don't recall ever seeing that, because all decisions made by the Universal House of Justice as a whole ( not individual members) are infallible guidance. As I understand it, this means we can be assured that whatever the House asks the Baha'i community to do is the right thing to do at this time. The guidance may change in the future, but that doesn't mean the previous guidance was wrong, just that conditions changed and required different guidance at a latter time.

You will notice that the House is always careful to not make statements about issues which are not immediately applicable, and there are many issues which are deferred to be legislated upon at a later time. They will certainly quote the Teachings of Baha'u'llah and the interpretations of Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi. The House of Justice does not interpret the Writings, but makes use of the clear interpretations made by Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi as we all do, but where there is no explicit teaching or clear interpretation, the House has the authority to legislate. The difference is that the interpretations are for all time, but the legislation of the House of Justice may be changed at any time by a future House of Justice, and that is according to the explicit teaching of Baha'u'llah in the Aqdas.
 
Old 06-16-2017, 05:50 AM   #19
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As you have an interest in reading how Bahá'ís explain their religious beliefs to others, you might find it interesting to read some stories of how some people became Bahá'ís. Not quite the same thing, but some of these stories are rather interesting because they write about the challenges they had to overcome as individuals. They all offer a real human dimension to them. So perhaps reading some of these might help for now https://bahaihistoryuk.wordpress.com

Earth
Thank you, Earth.
Very much appreciated!
 
Old 06-16-2017, 09:49 AM   #20
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As I understand it, this means we can be assured that whatever the House asks the Baha'i community to do is the right thing to do at this time.
As I understand it, this is not exactly the case. From what I understand, the assurance is given that following the House is the better course of action even if it errs in judgement.

Furthermore, we know it can err in judgement as there are protocols set in place for scenarios when the Guardian feels the House's judgement is incorrect with the spirit of the teachings: The Guardian had the power issue a sort of "veto" to cause the House to reconsider the issue in light of the Guardian's advice.

Overall, I think the instructions we are given are more about the survival of the faith, in that it is probably more dangerous to schism the Faith than it is to stay united even if the leadership issues an incorrect decree.

This is comparable to the Baha'i stance on Arius. Arius caused a schism in Christianity after the Council of Nicene was held. Now Arius was correct in his theological beliefs (Unitarianism over Trinitarianism, in other words Arius believed the Baha'i views on the nature of God and Jesus and dissented over the Christian Church's adoption of Trinitarian beliefs), however the Baha'i writings admonishes him anyway because he caused strife and division within the Faith, and the resulting religious violence between Trinitarians and Arians was not right, even if Arius was only acting against the Church because the Church had adopted a false belief.
 
Old 06-16-2017, 12:44 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Walrus View Post
As I understand it, this is not exactly the case. From what I understand, the assurance is given that following the House is the better course of action even if it errs in judgement.

Furthermore, we know it can err in judgement as there are protocols set in place for scenarios when the Guardian feels the House's judgement is incorrect with the spirit of the teachings: The Guardian had the power issue a sort of "veto" to cause the House to reconsider the issue in light of the Guardian's advice.

Overall, I think the instructions we are given are more about the survival of the faith, in that it is probably more dangerous to schism the Faith than it is to stay united even if the leadership issues an incorrect decree.

This is comparable to the Baha'i stance on Arius. Arius caused a schism in Christianity after the Council of Nicene was held. Now Arius was correct in his theological beliefs (Unitarianism over Trinitarianism, in other words Arius believed the Baha'i views on the nature of God and Jesus and dissented over the Christian Church's adoption of Trinitarian beliefs), however the Baha'i writings admonishes him anyway because he caused strife and division within the Faith, and the resulting religious violence between Trinitarians and Arians was not right, even if Arius was only acting against the Church because the Church had adopted a false belief.
Walrus,
I think we are in agreement as far as the need for Baha'is to follow the guidance of the House of Justice. The most essential teaching of the faith is unity, but not uniformity. That doesn't require everyone to do the same thing, but to work cooperatively, not in competition, and also don't act in a way that causes disunity. In the realm of beliefs, the Faith does not enforce a system of uniform or orthodox beliefs. People are free to have their own understanding of the teachings, but neither can they try to force their understanding on others. This is different from how Christianity developed, where there were competing beliefs that led to schism, because they were used as a test of who is Christian or heretic. This should not occur with the Baha'i faith because people do not need to have exactly the same beliefs about spiritual realities (most of which we can't really experience until after death anyway) or use that as a test of who is or is not a Baha'i. What is required is acceptance of the authority of the Central Figures and the House of Justice in accordance with the Covenant.

With regard to the possibility of the Guardian "over ruling" the House of Justice, you will find that only applies to matters of interpretation, which is the function of the Guardian, but not the House of Justice. It does not apply to legislation, development of plans, or any other guidance which defines how we should act. Had the Guardian served together with the House of Justice, he would have had only one "vote" and could not countermand the decisions of the House of Justice operating within its sphere of authority.

As far as the possibility of a decision of the House of Justice being "wrong" in retrospect, how can anyone possibly know this? How do we know that a decision which someone thinks is "wrong" 50 years later won't be revealed as the best possible decision 500 years later? Just the fact of a different decision being made later is not proof, only that the Legislative function of the Faith is adapting to the needs of the age, which is exactly how Baha'u'llah intended it to work.
 
Old 07-01-2017, 12:02 AM   #22
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... 1) if they want to become members they should convert their marriage into a communion of the souls, so to speak, without sexual activity.
Unfortunately, this is not correct. They would have to divorce to become acceptable members of the community, under current policies. But they may not be told that, in as many words. As of 1999 the policy is that institutions should not tell those in homosexual relationships to separate, as such an instruction might be against the law (and a united, happy family could be disrupted):

Quote:
"…. 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 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. Within this context, the question you pose about the possibility of the removal of administrative rights should, therefore, not arise.

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual 5 March 1999)
A clarification of this, from the Universal House of Justice’s secretariat, shows that the same exclusion applies to those who are in same-sex marriages:

Quote:
In your email dated 14 March 1999, you ask whether a homosexual who is in a committed same sex relationship, or who is involved in a same sex marriage, may be permitted to stay in such a relationship upon becoming a Baha’i. The answer, as indicated in our previous letter to you of 5 March 1999, is that such persons cannot be accepted as members of the Baha’i community while maintaining such a relationship. However, if individuals involved in a homosexual relationship have a desire to become Baha’i, they should be patiently and lovingly informed of the position of the Faith on homosexuality, but they should not be instructed by Baha’i teachers or by Baha’i institutions to separate in order to become Baha’i; rather, they should be left free to decide for themselves whether or not they wish to change their way of life and apply for Baha’i membership. In other words: armed with knowledge of the Baha’i position as explained to them, they can exercise their own judgment as to what to chose to do. This is the meaning of our previous statement that, ‘They will be free to draw their own conclusions and act accordingly.’

“It is only proper that the response of the Bahá’ís to such persons should be as described here: on the one hand, the law of the Faith must be upheld; on the other, our community must be open to those who choose to abide by that law. By affirming through word and deed their determination to follow the way of Baha’u’llah, they must unhesitatingly be accorded the privileges of Baha’i membership. The same approach applies with regard to those persons who wish to join the Faith but are known to have a problem with drinking, drug abuse, adultery, etc.” (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual 13 April 1999 in response to a request for clarification about the letter dated 5 March 1999)
It is sad to see that people in same sex marriages are treated as analogous to those with drinking and drug problems or adulterers. But we are now 18 years further and the recognition of homosexual marriages is spreading country by country. The question of whether the denial of recognition to same-sex marriages such a core issue of conscience for Bahais, that our Assemblies are obliged to lay aside a government-recognized marriage, and treat the relationship as an immoral one, becomes more pressing by the day.

These policies can change. Neither of these letters is covered by the "infallability" doctrine, since that applies only to the consultations of the members of the House collectively. These letters are written by the secretariat and circulated to get five or more approvals from members, but the members individually, doing paperwork in their offices, are not covered by the infallibility doctrine. And as somebody else has commented already, infallibility in Bahai doctrine does not mean never being wrong, but rather, not doing wrong. Baha'u'llah refers to historical and scientific ideas of his time that are factually incorrect, but that's not what the "infallibility" doctrine is about. Rather it says that when Baha'u'llah changes the religious laws and teachings set out in scripture, he is not guilty of sin transgression rebellion impiety heresy etc.. :

Quote:
Know thou that the term 'Infallibility' hath numerous meanings and divers stations. In one sense it is applicable to the One Whom God hath made immune from error. Similarly it is applied to every soul whom God hath guarded against sin, transgression, rebellion, impiety, disbelief and the like. However, the Most Great Infallibility is confined to the One Whose station is immeasurably exalted beyond ordinances or prohibitions and is sanctified from errors and omissions. Indeed He is a Light which is not followed by darkness and a Truth not overtaken by error. Were He to pronounce water [hallal category] to be wine [haram category] or heaven to be earth or light to be fire, He speaketh the truth and no doubt would there be about it; and unto no one is given the right to question His authority or to say why or wherefore

(Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 108)
I have collected the most up to date statements of policy on same sex marriage on my Bahai studies blog here:

https://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/ema...x-marriages-6/
 
Old 07-01-2017, 12:11 AM   #23
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It is sad to see that people in same sex marriages are treated as analogous to those with drinking and drug problems or adulterers.
Exactly. This is the idea I am opposing in another thread.

Last edited by ahanu; 07-01-2017 at 12:13 AM.
 
Old 07-01-2017, 07:26 PM   #24
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Hey, meatbrain, you're talking like a chewy treat to a monster who feeds off pleasantries like white cars and delay's in your time to act upon others.
 
Old 07-01-2017, 08:36 PM   #25
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Hey, meatbrain, you're talking like a chewy treat to a monster who feeds off pleasantries like white cars and delay's in your time to act upon others.
Excuse me?
 
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