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Talking about Homosexuality From a Bahai Perspective Marianne Smith Geula Green Lake Bahai Conference 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Talking about Homosexuality From a Bahai Perspective Marianne Smith Geula Green Lake Bahai Conference 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Talking about Homosexuality From a Bahai Perspective Marianne Smith Geula Green Lake Bahai Conference 2011

2 Today questions of the utmost importance are facing humanity, questions peculiar to this radiant century. In former centuries there was not even mention of them. Inasmuch as this is the century of illumination, the century of humanity, the century of divine bestowals, these questions are being presented for the expression of public opinion, and in all the countries of the world, discussion is taking place looking to their solution. …

3 In reality, God has created all mankind, and in the estimation of God there is no distinction as to male and female. The one whose heart is pure is acceptable in His sight, be that one man or woman. God does not inquire, Art thou woman or art thou man? In reality, God has created all mankind, and in the estimation of God there is no distinction as to male and female. The one whose heart is pure is acceptable in His sight, be that one man or woman. God does not inquire, Art thou woman or art thou man? -Abdul-Baha, -Abdul-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, Promulgation of Universal Peace, 20 May May 1912.

4 You will be servants of God, who are dwelling near to Him, His divine helpers in the service, ministering to all Humanity. All Humanity! Every human being! Never forget this.

5 Because GOD said so…. ( thats why.)

6 Overview I. Social Conversations: 4 FsI. Social Conversations: 4 Fs II.Reality of ManII.Reality of Man III.Reframing the ConversationIII.Reframing the Conversation IV.Elevating the Conversation: Offering Bahai PerspectivesIV.Elevating the Conversation: Offering Bahai Perspectives V.Small Group ConversationsV.Small Group Conversations

7 I.Social Conversations: 4 Fs FearFear FictionFiction FactFact FaithFaith

8 I.Social Conversations When you are present to fiction---When you are present to fiction--- Address it with fact. Address it with fact. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts.Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts. –D.P. Monyihan –D.P. Monyihan

9 I.Social Conversations When you are present to fear---When you are present to fear--- Address it with faithAddress it with faith. Just as God loves all and is kind to all, so must we really love and be kind to everybody. We must consider none bad, none worthy of detestation, no one as an enemy. We must love all; nay, we must consider everyone as related to us, for all are the servants of one God. ….

10 II.Reality of Man …realize that this world has a Creator, a Vivifier, a Provider, an Architect…. O SON OF MAN! I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.

11 II. Reality of Man The Great Being saith: Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom. -Bahaullah, Tablet of Maqsud

12 II.Reality of Man The soul and the body, together, constitute the human being. The reality of man will then be as the spirit of this world, for just as the animus of life quickens the physical human body, so the body of the world will receive its vivification through the animating virtue of the sanctified spirit of man.

13 II. Reality of Man In reality, God has created all mankind, and in the estimation of God there is no distinction as to male and female. The one whose heart is pure is acceptable in His sight, be that one man or woman. God does not inquire, Art thou woman or art thou man?In reality, God has created all mankind, and in the estimation of God there is no distinction as to male and female. The one whose heart is pure is acceptable in His sight, be that one man or woman. God does not inquire, Art thou woman or art thou man?

14 II.Reality of Man Humanity has emerged from its former degrees of limitation and preliminary training. Man must now become imbued with new virtues and powers, new moralities, new capacities. New bounties, bestowals and perfections are awaiting and already descending upon him. The gifts and graces of the period of youth, although timely and sufficient during the adolescence of the world of mankind, are now incapable of meeting the requirements of its maturity. Humanity has emerged from its former degrees of limitation and preliminary training. Man must now become imbued with new virtues and powers, new moralities, new capacities. New bounties, bestowals and perfections are awaiting and already descending upon him. The gifts and graces of the period of youth, although timely and sufficient during the adolescence of the world of mankind, are now incapable of meeting the requirements of its maturity.

15 III. Reframing the Conversation …you write that you cannot explain to a friend why her way of love, homosexual love, is wrong and that your lack of understanding on this point also hampers your teaching efforts. Until there is a wider recognition of Bahaullah as the Revealer of the Divine Will, there is no answer that will satisfy all questioners, particularly one who has a vested interest in maintaining that his behavior is innocuous. Homosexuality has been forbidden by Bahaullah in His Book of Laws, just as it was forbidden by other Prophets of God.

16 III. Reframing the Conversation Surely the Creator loves His creatures. …for no matter to what religion a man belongs, even though he be an atheist or materialist…God nurtures him, bestows His kindness and sheds upon him His light.

17 III. Reframing the Conversation We must strive day and night that love and amity may increase, that this bond of unity may be strengthened, that joy and happiness may more and more prevail, that in unity and solidarity all mankind may gather beneath the shadow of God, that people may turn to God for their sustenance, finding in Him the life that is everlasting. Thus may they be confirmed in the Kingdom of God and live forever through His grace and bounty.

18 IV. Bahai Perspectives To be human is to search for truth. Without freedom of conscience, without the ability to choose ones beliefs, to change them and to live them, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to exercise any other rights. For many years, persecuted individuals and communities have sought refuge under the canopy of this right. On the basis of its unambiguous provision for freedom of conscience, religion or belief, Bahá'ís and other religious minorities have benefited from its protection. Over the years, Bahá'ís have played an active role in promulgating this historic document *and the ideas contained therein.

19 IV. Bahai Perspectives The Universal House of Justice lists the loving support of the Bahai community as one of the elements through which individuals are able to effect a change in their behavior…and calls upon all those concerned to have understanding and sympathy for the individuals so afflicted…This law is no reason for Bahais to consider homosexuals as outcasts.The Universal House of Justice lists the loving support of the Bahai community as one of the elements through which individuals are able to effect a change in their behavior…and calls upon all those concerned to have understanding and sympathy for the individuals so afflicted…This law is no reason for Bahais to consider homosexuals as outcasts.

20 IV. Bahai Perspectives The purpose of the Faith of Baháulláh is the realization of the organic unity of the entire human race, and Baháís are enjoined to eliminate from their lives all forms of prejudice and to manifest respect towards all. Therefore, to regard those with a homosexual orientation with prejudice or disdain would be against the spirit of the Faith. Furthermore, a Baháí is exhorted to be an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression, and it would be entirely appropriate for a believer to come to the defense of those whose fundamental rights are being denied or violated.

21 At the same time, you are no doubt aware of the relevant teachings of the Faith that govern the personal conduct of Baháís. The Baháí Writings state that marriage is a union between a man and a woman and that sexual relations are restricted to a couple who are married to each other. Other passages from the Writings state that the practice of homosexuality is not permitted. The teachings of Baháulláh on personal morality are binding on Baháís, who strive, as best they can, to live up to the high standards He has established.

22 In attempting to reconcile what may appear to be conflicting obligations, it is important to understand that the Baháí 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. It does not see itself as one among competing social groups and organizations, each vying to establish its particular social agenda.

23 In working for social justice, Baháís must inevitably distinguish between those dimensions of public issues that are in keeping with the Baháí Teachings, which they can actively support, and those that are not, which they would neither promote nor necessarily oppose. In connection with issues of concern to homosexuals, the former would be freedom from discrimination and the latter the opportunity for civil marriage. Such distinctions are unavoidable when addressing any social issue. For example, Baháís actively work for the establishment of world peace but, in the process, do not engage in partisan political activities directed against particular governments.

24 As to the most great characteristic of the revelation of Baháulláh, a specific teaching not given by any of the Prophets of the past: It is the ordination and appointment of the Center of the Covenant. Power of the Covenant

25 V.Small Group Conversations The Universal House of Justice does not feel that the time has come for it to provide detailed legislation on subjects such as abortion, homosexuality and other moral issues. …in most areas of human behavior there are acts which are clearly contrary to the law of God and others which are clearly approved or permissible; between these there is often a grey area where it is not immediately apparent what should be done. It has been a human tendency to wish to eliminate these grey areas so that every aspect of life is clearly prescribed. A result of this tendency has been the tremendous accretion of interpretation and subsidiary legislation which has smothered the spirit of certain of the older religions. In the Bahai Faith moderation, which is so strongly upheld by Bahaullah, is applied here also…. Provision is made for supplementary legislation by the Universal House of Justicelegislation which it can itself abrogate and amend as conditions change.

26 V.Small Group ConversationsV.Small Group Conversations There is also a clear pattern already established in the Sacred Scriptures, in the interpretations made by Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, and in the decisions so far made by the Universal House of Justice, whereby an area of the application of the laws is intentionally left to the conscience of each individual believer. This is the age in which mankind must attain maturity, and one aspect of this is the assumption by individuals of the responsibility for deciding, with the assistance of consultation, their own course of action in areas which are left open by the law of God. It should also be noted that it is neither possible nor desirable for the Universal House of Justice to set forth a set of rules covering every situation. Rather is it the task of the individual believer to determine, according to his own prayerful understanding of the Writings, precisely what his course of conduct should be in relation to situations which he encounters in his daily life.

27 Say: O servants! Let not the means of order be made the cause of confusion and the instrument of union an occasion for discord. We fain would hope that the people of Bahá may be guided by the blessed words: Say: all things are of God. This exalted utterance is like unto water for quenching the fire of hate and enmity which smouldereth within the hearts and breasts of men. By this single utterance contending peoples and kindreds will attain the light of true unity. Verily He speaketh the truth and leadeth the way. He is the All-Powerful, the Exalted, the Gracious.

28 May His Spirit guide you, sustain you and protect you in all your endeavors, and make of you the vanguard of His Host that shall conquer the world. Shoghi Effendi


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