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3 years ago  ::  Sep 04, 2011 - 10:40AM #1
alma32
Posts: 5
I just started looking into the Bahai faith and am really considering getting involved with the faith in my local community but have a question first. I am gay and was wondering if that would hinder my involvement or if I'd even be aloud to join? Thanx in advance for your help,

Joshua
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3 years ago  ::  Sep 04, 2011 - 12:17PM #2
world citizen
Posts: 5,232

Welcome Joshua ~


There are NO barriers to joining the Baha'i Faith, including an individual's sexuality.  The sole requirement is that, after having studied its Holy Writings and investigated its precepts, the person fully comprehends and accepts the station of Baha'u'llah as the Messenger of God for this Day/Age, and accepts His laws as Divinely sent for the wellbeing of mankind.  Compliance with those laws are left to the best of one's ability and aren't overseen by others.  Only if one of them is so flagrantly disobeyed as to bring public awareness, thus detrimental to the integrity of the Faith, will that action be called into question by the Local Spiritual Assembly.


"Bahá'u'lláh exhorts His followers to consort, with amity and concord and without discrimination, with the adherents of all religions; warns them to guard against fanaticism, sedition, pride, dispute and contention; inculcates upon them immaculate cleanliness, strict truthfulness, spotless chastity, trustworthiness, hospitality, fidelity, courtesy, forbearance, justice and fairness; counsels them to be 'even as the fingers of one hand and the limbs of one body'; calls upon them to arise and serve His Cause; and assures them of His undoubted aid.  He, furthermore, dwells upon the instability of human affairs; declares that true liberty consists in man's submission to His commandments; cautions them not to be indulgent in carrying out His statutes; prescribes the twin inseparable duties of recognizing the 'Dayspring of God's Revelation' and of observing all the ordinances revealed by Him, neither of which, He affirms, is acceptable without the other."   (The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 14)

Blessed is he who mingleth with all men in a spirit of utmost kindliness and love. ~Baha'u'llah
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3 years ago  ::  Sep 04, 2011 - 12:43PM #3
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,761

Sep 4, 2011 -- 10:40AM, alma32 wrote:

I just started looking into the Bahai faith and am really considering getting involved with the faith in my local community but have a question first. I am gay and was wondering if that would hinder my involvement or if I'd even be aloud to join? Thanx in advance for your help,  Joshua



Dear Joshua,


Thank you for such a sincere and candid query. Unity in diversity is indeed one of the defining principles of the Bahá'í Faith. There are many superbly talented and staunch gay Bahá'ís who have chosen the path of lifelong celibacy, and remain comfortable with their choice. There are of course also those who struggle to accept the fullness of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings and regard this aspect of Bahá'u'lláh's message unfair. It is indeed good that you asked this at the outset. The struggle of celibacy unites all the unmarried hetero and gay friends. Both heteros and gays are advised against reducing marriage into a personal right to a life partner, no matter how innocent it may sound in the overly individualistic and secularized world. Both are also advised against co-habitation.


Marriage, as instituted by Bahá'u'lláh, is regarded as a moral responsibility rather than a right. It is for everyone who feels they're up for the task. The Bahá'í marriage, as everything else in the Faith, draws heavily on the principle of unity in diversity and is wholly geared towards carrying forward an ever-advancing civilization. Unity in diversity in marriage is understood as the harmonious interplay of the different strengths of men and women, brought to bear on the educational process of every child who arrives in this world.


There is no moral police in the Bahá'í Faith. The Bahá'í institutions should not scrutinize into the private lives of the members. We all make mistakes all the time. Perfection is not our objective -- rather perpetual improvement. Only repeated public violation of explicit Bahá'í laws will result in administrative measures (more specifically, the removal of voting rights at Bahá'í elections), but such measures will not include unenrolment. Faith is ultimately always a matter of the heart and nobody can legislate on it.


If you are willing to start a new life as a Bahá'í, and to join the rest of us in our daily struggle to be "shining exemplars of the virtues of God amidst men" (easier said than done, we know!), bent on healing the ills of a divided mankind, the door is wide open for you. If you are not quite as ready just yet to gradually embark on such a lifestyle change, nobody will hold it against you.


With loving Bahá'í regards,


LilWabbit

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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3 years ago  ::  Sep 08, 2011 - 11:42AM #4
jrohan
Posts: 18

Joshua,


I would like to be upfront with you.


You will eventually be asked to give up your relationships of any non-platonic nature to fully participate in the Baha'i Faith.


That being said, I have struggled with my sexuality the last 10 years(I am bi).  This has led to a self-imposed exile from the Baha'i community.   I don't know how the people would have reacted to my coming out, so I can't give you any advice there.  Personally, I didn't feel right about participating in the Baha'i Faith, while I was violating the laws.


Recently, however, I have begun to miss my life as a Baha'i.  It gave me something beyond just mere sex.  I have begun to orient myself privately toward a Bahai life style as of late(don't want to make any promises though, I will see where it goes).  I still don't attend Bahai meetings because some can be real judemental.


Celibacy is ALOT to ask for a gay man.  It is a HUGE sacrifice.  I don't really believe that gay men become straight,  although I don't discard the idea altogether.


 


Jim

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3 years ago  ::  Sep 08, 2011 - 12:50PM #5
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,761

Hi Jim Allah'u'Abhá!


And welcome to Bnet!


Sep 8, 2011 -- 11:42AM, jrohan wrote:


That being said, I have struggled with my sexuality the last 10 years(I am bi).  This has led to a self-imposed exile from the Baha'i community. I don't know how the people would have reacted to my coming out, so I can't give you any advice there.



The graciousness of the reaction might actually surprise you. At least it positively surprised my good gay Bahá'í friend a few years back. Just went out for a lunch with him last Friday.


Personally, I didn't feel right about participating in the Baha'i Faith, while I was violating the laws.



The gay friends are not alone on this. ;) Many a Bahá'í has had his or her little lapses. Some lapses have been longer and ultimately lead out of the Faith, while others returned back to the fold with twice the dedication. You should take your time reflecting what it is that you really want out of life: a resolute spiritual commitment, meandering in the twilight zone or throwing yourself fully into the bi-gay scene. Whatever you choose, it is between you and God. Nobody else has a say on the matter. But whatever route you choose, please don't flog yourself because all of us are imperfect.


Recently, however, I have begun to miss my life as a Baha'i.  It gave me something beyond just mere sex. I have begun to orient myself privately toward a Bahai life style as of late(don't want to make any promises though, I will see where it goes).



As I said, take your time. Ultimately of course life feels hollow and our true and luminous self, the soul, feels unchallenged without a spiritual purpose and lifelong spiritual self-discipline.


Celibacy is ALOT to ask for a gay man. It is a HUGE sacrifice.



Bro, it's a LOT to ask from a hetero man too! At least in the Western over-sexualized cultural climate. There are probably more Bahá'í hetero men (usually the slightly geeky types) living in lifelong celibacy than there are gay Bahá'í men simply due to their difficulty to find a woman that would accept them. Ultimately, however, celibacy gives one spiritual strength and instils a sense of holiness and purpose which its alternative utterly fails to provide.


I don't really believe that gay men become straight, although I don't discard the idea altogether.



According to the ground-breaking study of Robert Spitzer (who was initially responsible for the removal homosexuality from the diagnostic books as a disorder), it IS possible but very very very difficult. It asks a lot of determination, patience and mental discipline. According to NARTH, reparative therapies are gradually getting better and better. NARTH is composed of licenced medical practicioners from all faith groups as well as atheists, who believe gays have the right to opt for reparative therapy without discrimination if they so choose.


Generally speaking, a lifelong sexual struggle is almost every Bahá'í's lot. Even that of married heterosexuals. Honeymoon always ends sooner or later, and the initial festival of fireworks is bound to fizzle out, and sometimes even disappear after some years of marriage. All married couples are hence "forced" by God-given natural laws to find meaning to their marriages from something far deeper and far more enduring than sexual intimacy. Likewise, most married Bahá'í men and women, after the fireworks have somewhat subsided, must also practice complete celibacy in relation to every other person (than their spouse). I could well imagine that for the gay Bahá'í brothers and sisters, as well as those heteroes who do not find (or seek) a spouse, who do not even have the "outlet" of Bahá'í marriage, the spiritual rewards of their struggle are far greater. But this is just my personal opinion.


For many of us hetero Bahá'í men the following verse of Bahá'u'lláh represents both a superbly difficult challenge as well as a greatly inspiring standard.


"He is My true follower who, if he come to a valley of pure gold, will pass straight through it aloof as a cloud, and will neither turn back, nor pause. And if he met the fairest and most comely of women, he would not feel his heart seduced by the least shadow of desire for her beauty. Such an one, indeed, is the creation of spotless chastity."


- Bahá'u'lláh (Gleanings)


So Jim, you can well imagine what a struggle it is for us married hetero males too! ;) I mean, not even "the least shadow of desire"! Dang! A tough struggle, but a most fulfilling struggle for sure! So I really hear you! And looking forward to seeing you participating devotional gatherings and study circles when ready. We're all struggling!


Loving regards,


LilWabbit

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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