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The Baha'i faith:

Recent Conflicts about Homosexuality.
Possible Resolutions of the Conflicts.

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This topic continues here from the previous essay.

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1990's: Findings of professional mental health associations which conflict with Baha'i belief:

The Baha'i faith teaches that persons with a homosexual or bisexual orientation can change through personal effort and therapy.

However, about two decades after the above House of Justice statements, a number of professional organizations published their beliefs that a person's sexual orientation is fixed in adulthood, and that it cannot be changed through therapy or prayer. Some statements were:

  • "There is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of 'reparative therapy' as a treatment to change ones sexual orientation." American Psychiatric Association fact sheet, 1994-SEP. 1

  • "...scientific evidence does not show that conversion therapy works." American Psychological Association, 1994. 2

  • "...[reparative therapy] can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation." American Academy of Pediatrics, 1993. 3

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2012: Exodus International abandoned reparative therapy:

Exodus International was the main non-profit organization promoting change in sexual orientation through prayer and reparative therapy.

After almost four decades devoted to trying to help persons with a homosexual or bisexual orientation to become heterosexual through their own efforts, Alan Chambers of Exodus International acknowledged that reparative therapy simply did not work. They apologized to the LGBT community for the harm that his group had done to individuals, and closed their office.

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2012 until now: Epigenetic markers on DNA have been found to determine homosexuality before a person's birth:

The National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) at the University of Tennessee defines "homosexuality" to include same-sex sexual attraction, and thus include the full range of homosexual and bisexual orientations.

Some researchers suspected that same-sex attraction may be caused or influenced by epigenetic markers. These are:

"... chemical changes to DNA that affect how genes are expressed, but not the information they contain." 4

A test has been developed that tests three epigenetic markers in the saliva of males. It predicts with excellent accuracy which males have a homosexual orientation. 5 These markers are first produced in human embryos, and continue unchanged until birth and beyond. Thus, a person's homosexual orientation is clearly set up before birth, and is not chosen. More details.

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2015-MAR: A personal note from Reddit:

A former Baha'i member, TheBlackestForest, posted the following moving document:

"... maybe it's possible to be a solitary Baha'i and love Baha'u'llah on my own, but all I can think of is how such a perfect man described the perfect world to us. I've read the Writings, and sexual minorities aren't part of the Plan. We're not part of the perfect world the Baha'is want. They want a world where we don't exist. They want a world where we give the Faith our lives and our passions in service to God, but where we quietly sit in the back and are happy for our place and are aware of our sinful nature like a herd of obedient peasants. They want a world where sexual minorities meekly accept that loving someone of the same gender means they're of the same spiritual condition as a murderer, a wife-beater. They want a world were sexual minorities put their head down and give up hope of personal happiness so they'll be rewarded when they die. What a raw deal.

That was the final disappointment. Realizing that Baha'u'llah didn't want me, but wanted my labour was the final slap in the face. I've come to believe that if I should be able to participate freely in society, without being shamed for having a consensual, adult, monogamous, supportive relationship with an equal. I should be fairly compensated with respect for the labour I contribute. While these things won't necessarily happen as a non-Baha'i (because it's not like the larger society likes gays much better), these things DEFINITELY will not happen as a Baha'i.

So we come to why I'm not a Baha'i: I value myself. That's it. Nineteen years of trying to be somewhat I wasn't nearly destroyed me. Ten years of accepting myself has transformed me into a stable, healthy, happy member of society. I am a rational person. I look at results. Valuing my "illness" as a normal expression of human sexuality has benefited me and the people around me. My misery and repression served no one.

I'm so sorry to give up on the perfect world the Baha'is are striving for, because their vision is a lovely one and I wanted it to come true for the longest time... but it's a vision that excludes millions and millions of people. It's not universal. I can't place absolute faith in a man who denies my reality. God gave me a brain. I must use it." 6

Webmaster's note:

The length of the above excerpt is limited here by copyright laws. The full posting is well worth reading. 7

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2016-JAN-12: Lack of discussion of homosexuality within the Baha'i faith's main web site:

The web site of the worldwide Bahá’í community which presents the faith to the general public is at: http://www.bahai.org. The web site's internal search facility was used to search for articles on the following topics: gay, lesbian, sexual orientation, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, homosexual, homosexuality, LGBT, GLBT, transgender, transgendered 7 and transsexual.

All of the searches returned zero results. These topics do not appear to be discussed on the main Baha'i web site.

This was repeated on 2017-NOV-20 with the same results.

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2017: House of Justice's position on homosexuality:

They continue to stress that the only permitted sexual behavior is between one woman and one man who are legally married to each other. All sexually active persons with a homosexual or bisexual orientation who engage in sexual behavior with members of the same sex can have their rights and freedoms within the faith restricted. This policy includes legally married same-sex couples.

Future change will be difficult, because the Shoghi Effendi's interpretation of the Baha'i sacred texts plainly forbids all same-gender sexual behavior, regardless of age and marital status of the individuals involved. He was the last authorized interpreter of the Baha'i Teachings.

In the future, an increasing percentage of people worldwide accept the beliefs of professional mental health organizations. Current Baha'i teachings will become increasingly incompatible with scientific findings. Yet one of the main principles of the religion is that established scientific findings overrule religious beliefs. There are few ways to resolve this dilemma. The Baha’i faith may become increasingly rejected for its intolerance of sexual minorities.

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Two possible paths forward for the Baha'i Faith to resolve their conflicts over homosexuality:

One possible path would be for them to give progressively less emphasis on this topic. This approach has been successful in Christianity. To give three examples: there are passages in the Bible that:

  • Discuss men who have married multiple wives. Solomon was the record holder with 700 wives and 300 concubines.
  • Require non-virgin brides to be executed.
  • Require a female rape victim to marry her rapist.

Many fundamentalist Christians believe that the Bible is God's word, inerrant, and unchangeable. Yet they generally ignore these policies which they no longer practice today. Perhaps the Baha'i faith could follow the same path, and simply ignore the faith's prohibition of same-gender sexual behavior.

Another possible path might be to regard Baha’u’llah's writing on homosexuality as being valid at the time that they were written, but not necessarily today. Two centuries ago, there were some sexually transmitted infections (STI) that were medically untreatable and potentially fatal. The best way to avoid them was -- and still is -- for individuals to remain celibate until marriage and then have no sexual affairs outside of marriage.

Since no country allowed homosexuals to marry when he was alive, then safey considerations would preclude all same-gender sexual behavior. However, with modern advances to detect, treat, cure, and prevent the transmission of STI's, such same-sex behavior is acceptable today. Baha’u’llah's original prohibition of adults having sex with boys could be considered still valid today.

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A potentionally positive change:

A group was organized called: the Bahá'í Network on AIDS, Sexuality, Addictions and Abuse (BNASAA). Its web site states that:

"BNASAA is a committee appointed by and under the guidance of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is of Canada."

It has a web site at: http://bnasaa.org/ which appears to be under construction and does not seem to have been updated since 2016.

Its statement of purpose is:

"BNASAA was created to explore Bahá'í principles and concepts related to AIDS, human sexuality, addictions, abuse and other challenging personal issued, and to consider questions and concerns that arise in the application of these principles to Bahá'í community development."

Their Facebook group is at: https://www.facebook.com/

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "American Psychiatric Association Rebukes Reparative Therapy," EurekAlert, 1998-DEC-14, at: https://www.eurekalert.org/
  2. Christopher Munsey, et al., "Insufficient evidence to support sexual orientation change efforts," American Psychological Association, October 2009 Monitor on Psychology, Vol 40, #9, at: http://www.apa.org/
  3. "Counseling the Gay and Lesbian Client: Treatment Issues and Conversion Therapy," AllPsych, 2003-AUG-12, at: https://allpsych.com/
  4. Sara Reardon, "Epigenetic 'tags' linked to homosexuality in men," Nature magazine, 2015-OCT-08, at: http://www.nature.com/
  5. T.C. Ngun et al., "PgmNr 95: A novel predictive model of sexual orientation using epigenetic markers," Event Pilot, undated, at: https://ep70.eventpilotadmin.com/
  6. TheBlackForest, "Why I Am No Longer a Baha'i," Reddit, 2015-MAR-11, at: https://www.reddit.com/

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Copyright © 2016 & 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2016-JAN-13
Latest update : 2017-NOV-20
Author: B.A. Robinson

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