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Old 03-22-2017, 08:20 AM   #1
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That whole hugging / kissing thing

Dear Friends, I wonder if I can write this succinctly but still get my message across.
I feel really troubled by this entry below in Lights of Guidance, which I must have read two decades ago.:

Now, I realise it starts out referencing a Pilgrim's note, however, Shoghi Effendi, through His secretary, conveys 'we should strive to achieve this exalted standard', a standard described in the Pilgrim's note.
I also realise it is not 'law' per se, but surely, something the Guardian affirms as the true spirit of the teachings on the subject of sex', which is also shared in a letter by the House of Justice to an NSA, is something normally baha'is will feel compelled to endeavour to follow, right?


My 'issue' with it, is that I feel, -at least in a place where I am, that is, Australia, that it is extremely unrealistic, and maybe not possible to achieve for a majority of people.
Perhaps easy if you've grown up with very traditional upbringing and traditional parents, and culture.

Also given that I've had baha'is encourage me to date non-baha'is, I feel it would not work at all.
How many males who have no religious leaning, would accept to get engaged without even having embraced their loved one, like, more than once??
For I have found, in my experience, that most men in my country are non-religious, and don't have much appreciation for the Faith's standard of chastity sorry to say. - More like, many have that 'derisory attitude' towards virtue and solid worth that the Guardian mentioned some people have in this (modern) world.

But getting back to myself.. I have difficulty, for I feel this perceived requirement, actually lead to severe self-harm /self-neglect in my life, which lead to a long-term worsening of health problems - (not really deliberate, but inadvertent).

For I felt for a while that I couldn't even date.. I remember during a very difficult period, I had a (non-baha'i) man show interest. We went out a few times, but , -What if I wanted to hug him, or kiss him even?? It just seemed too hard to avoid, so after a number dates I avoided him after a while, yet he may have even made a nice partner for me..

It is very late as I write, so I will need to cut this short, but in a nutshell, I don't believe that hugging someone has to lead to sex or undue temptation..- at least not for all people, and I have to wonder how many single people in the western world would become baha'is if they knew of this exhortation.
Again, I don't feel this 'standard' is realistic, - or necessary (?)

Is it such a good thing if it leads to withdrawal from relationships and total isolation?
I just read this posted by Esmeryld on another thread and it spoke to me...

'If any faith is too difficult to follow for most people, it will not grow and thrive..'

This is the entry in Lof Guidance I'm referencing:
"The pilgrim's note reports the Master as saying: 'Women and men must not embrace each other when not married, or not about to be married. They must not kiss each other... If they wish to greet each other, or comfort each other, they may take each other by the hand.' In a letter to an individual written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi it is said: 'The Master's words to... which you quoted, can certainly be taken as the true spirit of the teachings on the subject of sex. We must strive to achieve this exalted standard.' (October 19, 1974)
(From a letter of the Universal of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, February 10, 1974)
(Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 439)

I hope I have not saddened anyone with what I have written.
 
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Old 03-22-2017, 08:32 AM   #2
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I will add by saying, I don't know if I could or would want to date someone I liked a lot and not demonstrate any kind of affection or closeness.
That sounds like a very cold way to live!
 
Old 03-22-2017, 11:33 AM   #3
Tony Bristow-Stagg
 
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Rani, good to see you post. The key here is the advice that "We must strive to achieve this exalted standard".

As Abdul'baha said, Little by Little day by day and this is achieved by each individual with their choices.

Yes morality has reached very low levels and it is very hard now to see the wisdom in what is offered as the elixir. It is only by taking the elixir and allowing it time to work, does its all embracing cure remove all the disease from the body of man.

Thus we have to find the strength in our own selves to become the New Race of Men that Baha'u'llah has asked us to be. When we find this strength within, we do find the wisdom in these Laws. Rest assured Rani, that if we do obey and ask for the wisdom to understand, it will be given and a path of contentment found. If we do not obey, the wisdom will be found, but it takes many more years and the outcome of not following the law will result in events needing much reflection.

I understand your anguish, but all I can offer is it must be you that finds the treasures of wisdom in all what is given in the Laws of Baha'u'llah.

Yes Austrailia is not an easy culture to practice these virtues, but what a place to try to embody these virtues, one will be a bright light in a dark room!

Regards Tony
 
Old 03-22-2017, 03:26 PM   #4
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Thanks for replying Tony! I appreciate your post.



I want to clarify that I don't see the recommendation, if that's the best way to refer to it, as 'law'. I don't think it's a law, but a recommendation or strong exhortation perhaps.
Seeing as it is given by the Guardian and shared by the House of Justice however, as baha'is we do take it take it to heart, and try to follow it as best we can.

I think part of what upsets me, is that as a young baha'i, when I was a young baha'i, I did have one or two people I respect encourage me to date non-baha'is, including the non-religious or atheists.
I mean no discouragement to you Tony, as from what I remember, you are married to an atheist, unless something has changed since I was last visiting this forum.

It might be easier for a baha'i man to date and marry, a woman who doesn't have a faith; but in my own situation, I think it caused just way too much difficulty and major stress. I personally would not ever recommend to a female (baha'i) to date a person who is non-religious.
For I don't think I have ever met a non-religious man who strove or had a stated desire to attain to the standard of no-sex before marriage. (let alone, not embracing! ) yikes.

Could be different in America where there is a lot more religiosity in general.

I feel it puts undue pressure and expectation on the (female) person of faith, to not only control her own self and emotions and biology, but that of her date also. Not fair, and not helpful to a young lady's growth, I feel.

So, having been a christian in my teen years, and expecting to marry another believer, the fact that some baha'is encourage you to date people with no faith at all, has never made any sense to me.

Much better to date and marry someone who shares common goals and values, and I can only speak for myself.. I didn't and don't find that with atheists.

At least, I feel, if you are in a dating process with someone who is attracted to the same goal, you have a better chance of coming close to or reaching the standard.

Again, I hope I have not hurt or offended you, or anyone, Tony, as I have much respect for you and your posts.

Last edited by Rani; 03-23-2017 at 12:13 AM.
 
Old 03-22-2017, 04:55 PM   #5
Tony Bristow-Stagg
 
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Yes Rani, no you could never offend me, we all learn from each other. Yes I see it also a recommendation and that is why I posted the comment from Shoghi Effendi that we should strive to live to the new set standards.

Yes my situation changed and that is why I offer the advice I have given.

I strongly recommend trying to find someone with Faith as the Love of God can not be surpressed or compromised for connections in this life, no matter how good the intentions may have originally been. The possibility of a cancerous disunity entering a relationship when there is no God that can be discussed, needs to be strongly considered.

This is why we are guided to seek like minded Souls when considering a relationship.

I hope it all works out for you, your heart will attract what God has destined for you. I am sure of that.

Regards Tony
 
Old 03-24-2017, 04:22 PM   #6
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Dear Rani,

I noticed your avatar. It's terribly difficult to go against one's nature. And isn't really a koala's life all about hugging? So please go on doing what you know best!

greetings

from

gnat
 
Old 03-24-2017, 04:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rani View Post
Thanks for replying Tony! I appreciate your post.



I want to clarify that I don't see the recommendation, if that's the best way to refer to it, as 'law'. I don't think it's a law, but a recommendation or strong exhortation perhaps.
Seeing as it is given by the Guardian and shared by the House of Justice however, as baha'is we do take it take it to heart, and try to follow it as best we can.

I think part of what upsets me, is that as a young baha'i, when I was a young baha'i, I did have one or two people I respect encourage me to date non-baha'is, including the non-religious or atheists.
I mean no discouragement to you Tony, as from what I remember, you are married to an atheist, unless something has changed since I was last visiting this forum.

It might be easier for a baha'i man to date and marry, a woman who doesn't have a faith; but in my own situation, I think it caused just way too much difficulty and major stress. I personally would not ever recommend to a female (baha'i) to date a person who is non-religious.
For I don't think I have ever met a non-religious man who strove or had a stated desire to attain to the standard of no-sex before marriage. (let alone, not embracing! ) yikes.

Could be different in America where there is a lot more religiosity in general.

I feel it puts undue pressure and expectation on the (female) person of faith, to not only control her own self and emotions and biology, but that of her date also. Not fair, and not helpful to a young lady's growth, I feel.

So, having been a christian in my teen years, and expecting to marry another believer, the fact that some baha'is encourage you to date people with no faith at all, has never made any sense to me.

Much better to date and marry someone who shares common goals and values, and I can only speak for myself.. I didn't and don't find that with atheists.

At least, I feel, if you are in a dating process with someone who is attracted to the same goal, you have a better chance of coming close to or reaching the standard.

Again, I hope I have not hurt or offended you, or anyone, Tony, as I have much respect for you and your posts.
Rani, the quotation states that embracing is permitted for those "about to be married" Who knows what "about to be married" actually means? I don't.
 
Old 03-29-2017, 06:36 AM   #8
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Greetings Rani,

Unfortunately reading and dwelling on some material can actually distort the positive elements of being a Bahá'í. It can promote not only negative attitudes but also led to depression. This is why it is important to cultivate a positive mental attitude and choose your own destiny in life by using the teachings like a yardstick. In essence all you really need at this point is to develop some constructive dating approaches that will help resolve this issue for you. If you do this well you will naturally attract the right people to you without compromising your own standards.

Faith is always unique to each person regardless of their family heritage. So try to understand that multiple generation believers do not always behave in an appropriate manner. The Guardian was well aware of this because he witnessed it within his own family. So in order to place any guidance into the correct context you have to know who it was originally produced for, why it was produced, the consequences as well as knowing if it was later modified, superseded or repealed. Simply citing material is not enough to justify any argument. As an example of this there is little value in promoting the idea that Bahá'ís believe in sexual equality within any country that already has robust legislation to promote equal rights and opportunities. This does not nullify the Bahá'í teachings over the equality of men and women, but it can result in them being viewed as patronising if these values are not fully practiced within the Bahá'í Faith itself. Such concerns go well beyond the limitations of females not being permitted to serve the Supreme Institution, they extend into how women within the Bahá'í Faith approach marriage within wider society itself. All forms of equality begin with cultivating the right state of mind.

Do appreciate that Lights of Guidance is actually a historic reference file that was largely produced by Helen Hornby in her later years of life. It was first published in 1983. Hornby had every right to request assistance from Bahá'í Institutions to help her produce this book. However, it would be a mistake to assume this is an official Bahá'í publication. Indeed a number of National Spiritual Assemblies have had issues with this book. Any examination into some of its contents will help you to appreciate why this was the case. Just contrast this material with what was being produced by Bahá'í Institutions during the same time period and you will soon see why. The editorial principle of Bahá'í review is actually executed at a national level by all National Spiritual Assemblies. That is to say a Bahá'í publication can actually pass Bahá'í review in one country but fail to pass it within another. The second edition of Lights of Guidance was published in 1988 and it was not reprinted again. It is therefore important to understand that its contents do not contain any fresh material by Bahá'í Institutions on these various topics. The fact that the Supreme Institution started to produce dedicated compilations on various subjects from around the same time period suggests that it is better to examine material produced by official bodies. Hornby's main contribution therefore was to stimulate the Supreme Institution into producing compilations for the Bahá'í Community in a standard format. In other words women can and do bring about direct changes to the way the Supreme Institution operates.

On a practical level always be open to your dates about your beliefs. Indeed if you can it should be the first thing you put to them before a prospective relationship starts developing. As strange as it might appear sincere people will not be put off by a persons beliefs, instead they will work to accommodate them. This way you will have the choice in deciding how close you want your relationship to be. It might appear odd addressing the prospect of marriage to people with a secular background, but it really does work if undertaken in a positive and intelligent manner. For instance it worked so well for me I really would encourage other Bahá'ís to employ the same approach.

Unfortunately some believers in small religions can be prone to becoming too judgemental in their views. This is nothing to do with the Bahá'í Faith itself. It is a sociological difficulty faced by all believers in all small religions. One of its downside is that it can promote insecurities. This is why some Bahá'ís will not consider taking a spouse outside of the Bahá'í Faith. However there is an upside to this. People in the wider world that have an appreciation for human values will often view themselves as being extremely fortunate if they are able to date a Bahá'í. It might really surprise you to see how attractive your faith can make you appear to others once you really learn how to fully embrace your faith within your own unique cultural framework. This is an international religion that respects all cultures of the world. So be loyal to your beliefs and your culture and you will find many doors will naturally open for you. But do understand that the force behind this transformation is your own character. Successful marriages are not forged through faith, they are forged through learning how to respect one other. It is here were equality and unity are such important features to a successful marriage.

If you wish to explore this question further then you might find it interesting to read what the Universal House of Justice once shared with the Bahá'í maidens of Tahiti. This was in relationship to their cultural belief that they should have as many sexual encounters with men as possible before marriage. It is not appropriate to share their guidance with you here but suffice to say Hornby would have been extremely shocked to learn about it. This is why all Bahá'ís need to learn how to trust in their own intuition when coming to understand how they can best practice the Bahá'í Faith within their personal life.

The Australian comedian, songwriter and singer Kevin Wilson once wrote a song about asking Australian woman if they made love on first dates. While this song was sexist it was designed to question the cultural illusion that Australian males think they are very masculine in their attitudes. In contrast think about how daring it is to say you are a Bahá'í and only believe in sex within marriage and then invite the person concerned if they are interested in working towards a healthy marriage with you? This is a very bold assertion for any Bahá'í to make, but it certainly puts any person that has expressed an interest in you on the spot. All single Bahá'ís need to learn the value of doing this because it can help revolutionise the way they approach marriage. Rather than feeling tied to the Bahá'í Community they learn how to better integrate into secular society in a healthily way. Australian women are learning how to create a feminine rebuttal to ignorant masculine attitudes. Naturally this assertive behaviour is actually driving sexual equality forwards within Australia and because of this it must be welcomed.

Whatever you decide to do in your private life always understand it is your own business. While relationships are also about learning how to compromise, they are about fostering mutual respect too. Truth be told men and women that are genuinely attracted to a Bahá'í will often come to study and respect the Bahá'í Faith. They can also come with family members that can develop a keen interest in the Bahá'í Faith too because they can witness the positive benefits firsthand. So the experience can be entirely unifying between both families. The beautiful thing is there is often no inherent competition over matters of faith between such couples because they can mutually respect one another's beliefs. While subjective I tend to think they are among some of the more successful marriages around because they are forged through genuine friendship and are truly interfaith in nature. By international law children possess the beliefs of both parents until they reach age of adulthood that is usually set around sixteen in most countries. Therefore in most modern countries children can freely confirm themselves in the religions of both parents without any legal consequences.

The only people that have any right to make a comment about a prospective spouse to you are your parents and only then once you have made a choice. In other words no one has any right to come between you and a potential spouse, but they have no right to come between others too. As the move towards engagement can be a very private matter it means that potential recommendations can actually be more problematic than realised because some are designed to break unannounced engagements. Therefore do not be naive about the marriage tactics employed within some Bahá'í families. The Guardian deplored such marriage tactics because they go against the very spirit and fabric of Bahá'í marriage, but both he and his prospective wife were subject to them too. If you reflect on this with care it might help you to understand some of his marriage guidance a little better. Namely reflect on what he might have shared with Mary Maxwell before marrying her because as a Canadian she was subjected to intense scrutiny.

Earth

Last edited by Earth; 03-29-2017 at 06:43 AM.
 
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