Homosexuality is a very common topic in all faiths — the Bahá’í Faith is no different. Unlike many other religions, however homosexuality is not prevented nor advocated against because it would be “against the spirit of the Faith,” according to a 2010 letter from Kenneth E. Bowers, Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States. The Bahá’í Faith teaches that it is only acceptable to have sexual expression within marriage. Another teaching states that marriage is between a man and woman. The importance of absolute chastity and personal restraint in unmarried persons is stressed more so than the gender of a potential partner.
Homosexuality, according to Bahá’í Faith teachings, is a condition to control and subdue, but recently, singling out homosexuality over other transgressions is frowned upon. Gay and lesbians may have membership in the Bahá’í community, and although it is commonplace to advise and sympathize with them, membership is permitted. However, those who have “accepted the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh” are not permitted to enter into a same-sex marriage.
Bahá’í teachings say that homosexuals should not be condemned as outcasts, nor do Bahá’ís expect those of other faiths to follow Bahá’í laws. Bowers goes on to say, “In attempting to reconcile what may appear to be conflicting obligations, it is important to understand that the Bahá’í community does not seek to impose its values on others, nor does it pass judgment on others on the basis of its own moral standards.”
The writings state to treat all with respect and dignity without exception; discrimination and intolerance is not supported by any Bahá’í teachings. The adherence of laws for social conduct remains up to the individual, unless their actions are causing harm to the community. Spiritual Assemblies are instructed to be patient, as well as to persuade members to accept the laws out of conviction and desire, rather than blind faith. The Bahá’í Faith for the most part neither advocates nor discriminates against the gay community.
The only time an individual is sanctioned by the Spiritual Assembly for being damaging to the image of the Bahá’í Faith in regards to sexuality is if an individual is being sexually promiscuous. These sanctions remove the ability to contribute funds, vote or hold office within the community and bar an individual from the Nineteen Day Feast, a monthly spiritual gathering. This consequence is used only in cases of public scandal and in very flagrant cases. Often the individual is placed on probation, if disregard continues the assembly may remove the person’s administrative rights. This is similar to ex-communication of the Catholic faith; however other Bahá’í members are not directed to avoid fellowship and interaction with the de-administrated individual.
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