Sex before marriage

Aug 2013
I believe that religious laws, regarding sexual behavior in particular, are supremely misunderstood – especially in the United States. We see them as restrictions on our freedom, as intrusions into our personal lives and as barriers to enjoying life to its fullest. After all, why should God care if I have a little fun?

And there is the rub – I don’t think God gives a lick if I have a little fun, I think God even wants me to have a little fun! So why the restrictions, why the caution – especially with regard to Sex?

Here is my take:

One special emphasis in most religions is to do no harm (reference the prevalence of the “Golden Rule”) to others, or to one’s self - but let’s focus on harm to others for now. This emphasis is especially strong in the Baha’i Faith:

“THERE is no paradise, in the estimation of the believers in the Divine Unity, more exalted than to obey God's commandments, and there is no fire in the eyes of those who have known God and His signs, fiercer than to transgress His laws and to oppress another soul, even to the extent of a mustard seed.”

(The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 79)

“He hath cherished and will ever cherish the desire that all men may attain His gardens of Paradise with utmost love, that no one should sadden another, not even for a moment…”

(The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 86)

“Be vigilant, that ye may not do injustice to anyone, be it to the extent of a grain of mustard seed.”

(Baha'u'llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 179)

“O people of Baha! Ye are the dawning-places of the love of God and the daysprings of His loving-kindness. . . Be not the cause of grief, much less of discord and strife.”

(Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 27)

The point is, intimate relations, while physically enjoyable, are very personal, very emotional and very complex. One can even characterize them as “dangerous.” Not in the sense of endangering one physically (although that can be the case), but dangerous to the psychologically – spiritually.

Consider, for instance, that the majority of movies, songs, poems, novels, etc. etc. are about love, and especially lost love; broken hearts. Why. They aren't about broken legs? They aren't about lost shoes? Contemporary art is largely based on the enormous pain and damage that can be done to one emotionally.

Assuming, and I think it can be assumed, that sex is one of the ultimate expressions of love and the ultimate acts of trust and intimacy, it also carries with it the ability to cause some of the ultimate amounts of pain and spiritual/psychological damage: depression, self loathing, suicide...

I digress for a moment...

Regardless of what people say, regardless of one’s insistence that one is only interested in a casual encounter and acceptance of both parties to such an encounter there is NO GUARANTEE that the act will not elicit an emotional response, a “connection,” an attachment. The acts, in and of themselves, because of the degree of intimacy and openness necessary, require trust and some measure of faith in your partner – these are things that are not awarded lightly by the human psyche.

That being said, I submit that it is impossible to know and certainly impossible to guarantee that one can engage in casual sexual relations and not risk doing some emotional harm to one’s self or one’s partner in the endeavor. And we all know that emotional harm can be far more painful, far more life altering and far more enduring than physical harm. Shoot, look how emotional we get just watching someone get their heart broken in a movie! Because we all know how painful it is in real life.

I un-digress...

Marriage is a promise, a contract, an formal agreement between two parties and between those parties and society that, among other things, promises that I (the first party) will do no harm to you (the second party). Our intimacy is sacred to me, our unity is sacred to me, and above all, your trust, is sacred to me. Marriage is the promise to do no harm.

True, this is often NOT what marriage means today – but, IMHO, it is part of what it SHOULD mean.

Therefore, the warnings and restrictions with regard to sexual behavior outside of a social and religious contract (marriage) within the Baha’i Faith – and other faiths – are there to prevent us from doing harm to others. That contract, marriage, is there to, in a sense, guarantee the emotional support and stability necessary to offset, or rather to sanctify and beautify the giving of one’s openness, trust and intimacy to another human being. That marriage doesn’t always work this way is a shame (to say the least) but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t work this way – or that it isn’t meant to.

OK, I am almost done. Therefore, from my perspective, religious laws – especially laws regarding sexual behavior – are there for our spiritual protection and the emotional protection of those with whom we come into contact. They are not draconian limitations on our personal freedoms and our “right” to have fun; they are there to assist us in the very noble goal “that no one should sadden another, not even for a moment…”
Jul 2011
n ireland
IMO extra marital sex can cause feelings of isolation and sometimes self-disgust. Therefore it can be damaging to both people. The best quality sex is between to people totally committed to a loving caring union
Feb 2014
Sex outside marriage

There are many and varied reasons given for what Baha'u'llah teaches. To clarify, the only sexual relationship acceptable in the Baha'i Faith is in the context of a heterosexual monogamous marriage. Nothing outside this is acceptable if you want to be a Baha'i in good standing i.e. having voting rights. I believe this encompasses a prohibition on extra-marital sex whether heterosexual or homosexual. The reasons I remember, off-hand, from the Guardian has to do with the establishment of stronger families, well grounded children and to carry forward an ever-advancing civilisation. As far as what has gone in the past, Baha'u'llah's Will and Testament says that God has forgiven what is past so look to the future. I do believe that, living the Baha'i life and being in a stable marriage and having a happy family is conducive to happiness and spiritual growth. This is my own personal experience.
Aug 2013

This may not be the ideal or correct thread to discuss this, but I think brief mention is necessary . . .

While your statement is accurate, as far as it goes, it is also – in my opinion – misleading. And I am not suggesting that you intend it that way, just that, for those who are not Baha'is, who are new Baha'is, etc., it could use some clarification.

You stated, “...the only sexual relationship acceptable in the Baha'i Faith is in the context of a heterosexual monogamous marriage. Nothing outside this is acceptable if you want to be a Baha'i in good standing i.e. having voting rights.”

I think it is important to clarify what is meant by “acceptable.” If by that you mean that the Baha'i Writings (laws) say that humans will benefit from “sexual the context of a heterosexual monogamous marriage,” and that there are individual and social consequences for venturing outside this guidance … then yes.


It is my understanding that ALL humans are COMPLETELY acceptable in the Baha'i Faith.

I think it should be made clear that the laws of the Faith DO NOT exclude from its ranks those who are not perfect. Homosexuals can be and are Baha'is, people having extra-marital relationships can be and are Baha'is, people who drink alcohol and take illegal drugs can be, and are Baha'is. And, those who don't read the writings every day, say their prayers every day, and recite the Greatest Name every day can be, and are Baha'is.

For those who are not familiar with the Faith:

1) Please understand that there are NOT currently, nor is there any provision in the Writings for there TO EVER BE established in the future any behavior and/or morality police in the Baha'i Faith.

2) Please understand that NO individual Baha'i has the right or the authority to judge, or to condemn anyone, or the quality of anyone's compliance with the laws of the Faith - or any other faith for that matter.

3) Please understand that NO individual Baha'i has the right or the authority to tell any person that they can be or can not be a Baha'i, or that they are acceptable or unacceptable as a Baha'i or as a person who wishes to become a Baha'i.

4) ONLY an Assembly has the power to remove a Baha'is voting rights – or in any way suggest that someone is not a Baha'i in “good standing.” AND this is regulated by an extensive appeals process.

5) Loosing one's voting rights is an ADMINISTRATIVE protection NOT a punishment for “bad behavior” and its purpose is to protect the administrative functions of the Faith from challenges to its authority to administrate, i.e. there are VERY FEW reasons someone can loose their administrative rights (voting rights) and those reasons are all centered around directly denying the authority of the administrative order to be and function as the administrative order – NOT personal violation of specific moral directives within the teachings of the Faith, UNLESS they become a challenge to the administrative order or a PUBLIC REFUTATION of the laws and teachings of the Faith. That is, for a moral violation to prompt such an action it usually must be flagrant AND a direct challenge to the legitimacy of the laws or the administration of the faith.

If I am privately (or publicly) struggling with and/or not succeeding at following one of the Teachings of the Faith – so long as I don't suggest that teaching is illegitimate, or doesn't exist, or doesn't apply to me or others – then there is really no reason or benefit from any administrative censorship to be applied.

So, if you want to become a Baha'i, or you want to be a “good/acceptable” Baha'i – then embrace and express your belief in Baha'u'llah. study the Writings and DO YOUR BEST to live by them more and more every day, and appreciate the wisdom in the need for a democratically elected administrative structure that IS NOT designed to judge individual behavior, nor to control personal lives – but to insure the unity of the efforts and goals of the Baha'is (us) as they strive to make the world a better place for EVERYONE.
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Oct 2011
dear Fzaer, a very big welcome to the forum, and basically what you say is correct.

Also kernk has clarified very well the whole picture.

We as individuals are to practice a sin covering eye, it is for the institutions to apply laws.
Oct 2011
Divine morality

I feel on this subject re sex before marriage etc, God wishes only our spiritual happiness, and in reality our spiritual selves are our real selves, and will last for ever, so to have happiness for ever should be our desire, yes?

Found this quote re stories of the Master...........

To Mrs Smith, a new Bahá’í, who belonged to a distinguished Philadelphia family and who was suffering with a headache, the Master said, ‘You must be happy always. You must be counted among the people of joy and happiness and must be adorned with divine morals. In a large measure happiness keeps our health while depression of spirit begets diseases. The substance of eternal happiness is spirituality and divine morality, which has no sorrow to follow it.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 129)
Spirituality and Divine Morality.
Maybe someone would like to explain more fully the meaning of Divine Morality?