Engagement and Cohabitation

Dec 2018
1
USA
#1
Allah’u’abha friends,

My non-Baha’i boyfriend and I are thinking of getting married this summer, and while we have not yet become engaged, it would likely be timed so that the wedding can happen a bit after I graduate from college in May; this way, I will not have to plan everything while still in school and will have a bit more time to save money. However, I also received a job in the area, and I will have to start right after I graduate. My current lease ends in May, and so for at least a month or two before we are married, I will be without housing. Is it against Baha’i law for me to be staying at his place for that bit of time that we are engaged, also considering that he respects my beliefs and we will not be having sexual relations until after marriage? I do not want to jeopardize my position in the Baha’i community, but I also do not want to jeopardize my job or my economic security when I know that I already have a safe option.

Thank you for your help!
 
Mar 2013
526
Edwardsville, Illinois, USA
#2
Congratulations for your graduation, your job and your upcoming marriage! So much wonderful news!

As to your question, it would certainly be preferable if you live in separate apartments before marriage. It demonstrates a very different standard that Baha'is have compared with most people in the world today. If you have a Local Spiritual Assembly in your area, you could consult with them about it and ask for suggestions and help. Maybe you or your fiancé can find an alternative place to stay for a couple of months. You will need a Local Assembly to officiate the marriage in any case, and that is something that brings great joy to the community.
 
Likes: daniel
Sep 2018
39
usa
#3
dude, go stay with your fiancé. Based on what you said, there is absolutely nothing that would jeopardize your position in the Baha’i community.
 
May 2018
83
New Zealand
#5
Why not get married in May already?

Best,

from a

gnat
I sometimes wonder if the Baha'i rule about an engagement not being longer than 3 months is to limit the time to plan an extravagant wedding 🙈

So many people put all the emphasis on the wedding and not the marriage ..
 
Jun 2014
1,022
Wisconsin
#6
Allah’u’abha friends,

My non-Baha’i boyfriend and I are thinking of getting married this summer, and while we have not yet become engaged, it would likely be timed so that the wedding can happen a bit after I graduate from college in May; this way, I will not have to plan everything while still in school and will have a bit more time to save money. However, I also received a job in the area, and I will have to start right after I graduate. My current lease ends in May, and so for at least a month or two before we are married, I will be without housing. Is it against Baha’i law for me to be staying at his place for that bit of time that we are engaged, also considering that he respects my beliefs and we will not be having sexual relations until after marriage? I do not want to jeopardize my position in the Baha’i community, but I also do not want to jeopardize my job or my economic security when I know that I already have a safe option.

Thank you for your help!
Baha'i NSAs have ruled that cohabitation is perfectly allowed in the situation you describe.

Some Baha'is are unaware of this, and bringing their own moral sensibilities into it and will insist that it is better if you remain in different houses, but the important thing to note is there is absolutely no Baha'i Law that forbids cohabitation of unmarried persons so long as chastity is observed (outside of the imaginations of some people and Kitab-i-Hearsay) and Baha'i institutions have ruled that it is perfectly acceptable as long as there are no sexual activities, and it doesn't give non-Baha'is a bad impression of the Faith (but people you're close with will know you aren't engaging in sexual relations, and random strangers won't know you are a Baha'i, so you should be clear on that front too).

So there is no reason to place yourself in a financial burden of maintaining two households even after your lease expires.

If there are those that will tell you otherwise (and from personal experience, I can tell you, unfortunately, there will be people misinformed who will try to tell you otherwise), point them to the following UHJ guidance: "With respect to Bahá'ís living in the same residence with a person of the opposite sex, such an arrangement would by no means be automatically considered unacceptable. It is not uncommon, for example, for a person to let out bed-sitting rooms in his or her house to students, vacationers, or others. Similarly, a man or woman may employ a housekeeper or servant of the other sex. What is considered proper in such arrangements varies from country to country. The laws and principles of our Faith, on the other hand, are meant to apply across all cultures, and what Bahá'ís would consider immoral is people who are not married living together as husband and wife, and indulging in sexual relations."

When I was living with my fiance before my marriage I had the underlined portion memorized because I found it ended up being quite useful when meeting Baha'is who thought it was unlawful. It was useful to have a bit of UHJ ruling memorized to quote against the Kitab-i-Hearsay assumption that cohabitation is unlawful.

The UHJ makes it clear that what "crosses the line" in terms of unlawful cohabitation is when sex is involved. Since you've made it clear this is not the case, your situation would be in accordance with the Law.
 
Last edited:
Jun 2014
1,022
Wisconsin
#7
Congratulations for your graduation, your job and your upcoming marriage! So much wonderful news!

As to your question, it would certainly be preferable if you live in separate apartments before marriage. It demonstrates a very different standard that Baha'is have compared with most people in the world today. If you have a Local Spiritual Assembly in your area, you could consult with them about it and ask for suggestions and help. Maybe you or your fiancé can find an alternative place to stay for a couple of months. You will need a Local Assembly to officiate the marriage in any case, and that is something that brings great joy to the community.
The UHJ itself says their situation is fine, so I don't see why you would say separation is preferable.

It doesn't demonstrate anything to people who don't know she's a Baha'i, and people who do know she's a Baha'i likely already know she adheres to those standards.
 
Jul 2017
64
Germany
#8
Dear Walrus,
it's interesting that some NSA's have ruled that cohabitation is permissible. Do you have any documents available in this regard?

I have been in a similar situation before I married my wife and our NSA gave us a deadline to either separate or marry. Sadly the reason we couldn't get married at that stage was not that we were unwilling but that my mother-in-law did not accept the law of consent at all and refused to give us an answer.
 
Jul 2017
238
Kettering, Ohio USA
#9
Baha'i NSAs have ruled that cohabitation is perfectly allowed in the situation you describe.

Some Baha'is are unaware of this, and bringing their own moral sensibilities into it and will insist that it is better if you remain in different houses, but the important thing to note is there is absolutely no Baha'i Law that forbids cohabitation of unmarried persons so long as chastity is observed (outside of the imaginations of some people and Kitab-i-Hearsay) and Baha'i institutions have ruled that it is perfectly acceptable as long as there are no sexual activities, and it doesn't give non-Baha'is a bad impression of the Faith (but people you're close with will know you aren't engaging in sexual relations, and random strangers won't know you are a Baha'i, so you should be clear on that front too).

So there is no reason to place yourself in a financial burden of maintaining two households even after your lease expires.

If there are those that will tell you otherwise (and from personal experience, I can tell you, unfortunately, there will be people misinformed who will try to tell you otherwise), point them to the following UHJ guidance: "With respect to Bahá'ís living in the same residence with a person of the opposite sex, such an arrangement would by no means be automatically considered unacceptable. It is not uncommon, for example, for a person to let out bed-sitting rooms in his or her house to students, vacationers, or others. Similarly, a man or woman may employ a housekeeper or servant of the other sex. What is considered proper in such arrangements varies from country to country. The laws and principles of our Faith, on the other hand, are meant to apply across all cultures, and what Bahá'ís would consider immoral is people who are not married living together as husband and wife, and indulging in sexual relations."

When I was living with my fiance before my marriage I had the underlined portion memorized because I found it ended up being quite useful when meeting Baha'is who thought it was unlawful. It was useful to have a bit of UHJ ruling memorized to quote against the Kitab-i-Hearsay assumption that cohabitation is unlawful.

The UHJ makes it clear that what "crosses the line" in terms of unlawful cohabitation is when sex is involved. Since you've made it clear this is not the case, your situation would be in accordance with the Law.
Actually that quote is ambiguous about whether a couple can live together without marriage and without sex. The UHJ didn't list a situation like that.
 
Jun 2014
1,022
Wisconsin
#10
Actually that quote is ambiguous about whether a couple can live together without marriage and without sex. The UHJ didn't list a situation like that.
Actually, the UHJ says: "what Bahá'ís would consider immoral is people who are not married living together as husband and wife, and indulging in sexual relations." and makes it clear that this is what crosses the line and makes a situation unacceptable.

If you have a problem with that instruction, you should write the UHJ. Until you have done that, the advisory statement is that a living situation only becomes immoral once the condition clearly listed comes about.

I'd say it is rather clear, but even if the statement was ambiguous, then it is permissible until the UHJ chooses to clear such ambiguity up. If you can't cite Scripture or UHJ guidance that forbids a thing, that thing is assumed to be permitted, and it is not proper to present ones own opinion on immorality as authoritative.
 

Similar threads