Living alone with someone of the opposite gender?

Feb 2011
39
Australia
I am moving out of a refuge soon, the government here in Australia has organised a housemate for me to live with in an apartment. This is my one chance to not be homeless. They have apparently chosen a girl around my age who they think I would be compatible to live with. However, a Baha'i has informed me that is is apparently against the religious laws for me to live alone with a girl and I need a third person with me. Can anyone show me evidence of this law?

I don't think it's fair for this law to prevent me from what may my one chance of having somewhere to live outside of this refuge.

Anyone know the Writings concerned?
 
May 2011
507
Australia
Dear Gusash,

I feel for you and have been in a similar situation, but not as bad. But still I felt a kind of homelessness (insecure housing) and my options for accommodation were limited, both because of the unique health problems I had and financial limits.

I don't think it is quite 'baha'i law', in the sense that it is something that might be changed. It is not a law like the marriage laws or the prohibition on alcohol. It is the kind of rule that is not the same in every country as I understand, because different countries have different social norms of what is seen as acceptable.

It is true that in Australia we are asked, that if we are sharing accommodation with someone of the opposite sex, that there be at least three people in the household.
I was told that this is because we're not meant to look as though we are living with someone as a couple.
So 2 guys and a girl, or two girls and a guy is seen as fine.

I had always thought that as long as I was trying to live by spiritual principles it shouldn't matter what others might think if what they assume is erroneous, but -whatever. People might assume two women living together are lesbian.

-Back on subject, it can be found in the LSA handbook. I will try to find it and post it if you wish. But I just need to retire for now.

Perhaps you can tell the Government agency of your preference for a male flatmate, or for a household of at least 3 people?

Talking to you as a friend I would encourage you to do what you need to take care of yourself. Is it possible that another offer could come up soon?

It is so common in Australia for females and males to share house on a share-only basis, so I know first-hand how difficult it can be looking for accomm that suits your needs, and this requirement as well.

I hope that you have people (baha'is) around you that are supportive of you and understanding and that things will work out for the best.
 
Jul 2009
78
Athol MA USA
I am moving out of a refuge soon, the government here in Australia has organised a housemate for me to live with in an apartment. This is my one chance to not be homeless. They have apparently chosen a girl around my age who they think I would be compatible to live with. However, a Baha'i has informed me that is is apparently against the religious laws for me to live alone with a girl and I need a third person with me. Can anyone show me evidence of this law?

I don't think it's fair for this law to prevent me from what may my one chance of having somewhere to live outside of this refuge.

Anyone know the Writings concerned?
I'm not sure whether this is good advice or not, but if you have no other choice then I think you should choose to live with this person until you have a chance to change your situation. Again, I'm no expert in the writings, but it just seems unreasonable that you should be homeless.
 
Aug 2010
728
New Zealand mainly
There is no fundamental religious objection to living in the same house with someone of the opposite sex. That was an Islamic law, abolished by Baha'u'llah in the Aqdas:

And he who would take into his service a maid may do so with propriety.
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 41)

It's also true that the teaching work (not just winning converts, but persuading people that Bahai teachings can be implemented) will benefit if the great majority of the Bahais, almost all the time, are SEEN to live by Bahai teachings. Our reputation as a community is a common good, and we all have a stake in maintaining it.

In a case such as yours, where the household is set up by a government agency, I see no problem. If you were in a society where mixed flatting was a scandal, the government agencies would recognise that.
 
May 2011
507
Australia
Perhaps 10.8.6 is the even more relevant extract.

LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY HANDBOOK
Fourth Edition © National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Australia Inc.
Last updated 15 February 2011 - Chapter 10 Page 41 -

10.8.5 What is the Bahá’í stance on a man and a woman who are not married
sharing the same accommodation?
The situation of a man and a woman who are not married to each other occupying the
same household raises a number of issues of which individual Bahá’ís and Local
Spiritual Assemblies should be aware.
The following Bahá’í principles are involved:-
1. The high station of marriage in the Bahá’í Teachings must be preserved:-
The institution of marriage is upheld and strengthened in the Bahá’í
Teachings, being described by Bahá’u’lláh as a ‘fortress for well-being and
salvation.’ It is contrary to Bahá’í law for a couple to commence to live
together in an unmarried state when either one or both are Bahá’ís.
(letter from the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly,
dated May 3, 1987)
2. Chastity must be observed in all our relationships:-
A chaste and holy life must be made the controlling principle in the
behaviour and conduct of all Bahá’ís, both in their social relations with
members of their own community, and in their contact with the world at
large.
(Shoghi Effendi, “Advent of Divine Justice”, p.25)
3. The good name of the Faith must be upheld, taking account of the way our actions are
likely to be perceived in the general community:-
The Cause in ... is growing very rapidly, and the more it spreads the more the
attention of the public will be fixed upon it. This imposes a heavy
responsibility on the believers...
(letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated February 18, 1947, quoted
in the compilation on “Living the Life”, p.26)
The Local Spiritual Assembly should share these three principles with Bahá’ís who
intend sharing accommodation and are uncertain about the appropriateness of their
plans.


10.8.6 What arrangements for shared accommodation are acceptable in Australia?
The National Spiritual Assembly feels that the following arrangements for shared
accommodation would be acceptable in many parts of Australia:
• where one of the parties is a bona fide housekeeper.
• where the believer lives in a boarding house, residential college, hostel,
nurses’ quarters, etc.

• where the believer lives in rented accommodation that is shared by at least
two other tenants and the believer is not generally understood to be in a
“relationship” with one of the other tenants.


• where a believer lives with a family.
In doubtful cases it is the responsibility of the Local Spiritual Assembly to determine
the acceptability of living arrangements within its area of jurisdiction in the light of
the three principles outlined in the question above and within point three of the
question “What is meant by the ‘laws’ of the Faith” at the beginning of this chapter.
The Local Assembly must look at each case on its merits and decide, irrespective of
the guidelines listed above, if the living arrangements are acceptable in the
community or may be perceived as suggesting an immoral relationship.

It should be noted that the Universal House of Justice has written in a letter to a
National Assembly on September 3, 1974, that “the age of the parties or their capacity
to father or conceive children” are not relevant criteria.


I would hope that an Assembly or the baha'is around you would understand that you are in difficult circumstances. Have you thought of talking to them?
*-Or, hopefully if you tell the Agency you'd prefer to wait for something else, that is another consideration. I would fully expect a government agency would be required to respect the needs of people with certain religious requirements.
They are used to taking into account all sorts of special needs and considerations.
 
Last edited:
Mar 2010
1,349
Rockville, MD, USA

But that said, please see post #17 in the "Trial Marriages" thread for the official Baha'i stance.

Peace,

Bruce
 
May 2011
507
Australia
I think it is clear though that Gusash is not part of a couple with the girl they are suggesting he share house with. He is not planning on having a trial marriage.

There is a distinction between two people who move in together as a couple, to live as a married couple (without being married), and those who are simply living as friends or housemates and sharing the rent.
And I think the Faith, at least in Australia recognises this distinction.
 
May 2011
507
Australia
I think this part of the passage from the LSA handbook is interesting:

From 10.8.6
'In doubtful cases it is the responsibility of the Local Spiritual Assembly to determine
the acceptability of living arrangements within its area of jurisdiction in the light of
the three principles outlined in the question above and within point three of the
question “What is meant by the ‘laws’ of the Faith” at the beginning of this chapter.

The Local Assembly must look at each case on its merits and decide, irrespective of
the guidelines listed above, if the living arrangements are acceptable in the
community or may be perceived as suggesting an immoral relationship.'


From what Gusash says, I am imagining that this Government agency really has his interests in mind. He says they have selected someone whom they think he'd be compatible to live with. It is also possible that many other young fellows who have to live in refuges (and who they are selecting from) might come from pretty rough backgrounds; they can see Gusash is a sweet guy and just want a nice flatmate for him.

While it is common for people to live together in Australia who are (sexually) involved couples and unmarried; it is also very very common for males and females to share house together *without being sexually involved & where they are just housemates.

Australia is not America, or another part of the world, and that is why what is seen as acceptable re house-sharing might vary from country to country at different times.

I have had a couple of friends tell me in the past that they thought this Baha'i request (?) that there be at least 3 in a mixed shared household and that a male and female should not share house on a platonic basis was 'very strange' because they know how common and accepted it is.
There might be some who will jump to conclusions but I know there are many who don't.

I had a christian friend for eg. who was sharing house with someone of the opp sex. and they both had a prospective girlfriend /boyfriend. I don't think we all assume here that two people living in the same house are sleeping together.

Gusash, from what I remember from his posts is a young man, only 16 or 17. His father committed suicide and he may have had a difficult r'ship with him. (Sorry Gusash, I am not sure of details.) He is currently 'homeless' in that he doesn't have independent accomm. It would be helpful for him to have good/nice people around him, not ruffians.

Just seems to me that we or some in the Faith can be good at telling people what to do, but what about being there for people -young people who need support?
But it is all left up to the civil authorities.

That's why, speaking purely as an individual, I kind of concur with Ewla, and think it would be okay to live in that situation until something else comes along. -Or wait for a situation where there's three. I don't want to speak against ideals of the Faith, but these might be extenuating circumstances.

Ideally in the future, I'd say, a mixed household of three or more, or maybe in time living on your own, or sharing with some baha'i guys perhaps could all be good situations.


Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility. 286

(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 285)
 
Sep 2010
4,631
Normanton, Far North West Queensland
As Rani Posted this could be your answer

I think this part of the passage from the LSA handbook is interesting:

From 10.8.6
'In doubtful cases it is the responsibility of the Local Spiritual Assembly to determine
the acceptability of living arrangements within its area of jurisdiction in the light of
the three principles outlined in the question above and within point three of the
question “What is meant by the ‘laws’ of the Faith” at the beginning of this chapter.

The Local Assembly must look at each case on its merits and decide, irrespective of
the guidelines listed above, if the living arrangements are acceptable in the
community or may be perceived as suggesting an immoral relationship.'


You could put it to the LSA

Regards tony
 
Aug 2012
32
Mid Atlantic
I think this is one of those times not to be too judgmental. Take the housing and get back on your feet. Once there then work on getting your own place. In the mean time treat the woman as you would a sister. Keep your head up you can do it!