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Know One Another’s Character
“Bahá’í marriage is the commitment of the two parties one to the other, and their mutual attachment of mind and heart. Each must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever.” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, #86)
For a list of qualities, see Relationships
“This principle [of the equality of the sexes] is far more than the enunciation of admirable ideals; it has profound implications in all aspects of human relations and must be an integral element of Bahá’í domestic and community life. The application of this principle gives rise to changes in habits and practices which have prevailed for many centuries.” (From a letter written on behalf of The Universal House of Justice to an individual believer: January 24, 1993)
“Bahá’í men have the opportunity to demonstrate to the world around them a new approach to the relationship between the sexes, where aggression and the use of force are eliminated and replaced by cooperation and consultation. The Universal House of Justice has pointed out in response to questions addressed to it that, in a marriage relationship, neither husband nor wife should ever unjustly dominate the other, and that there are times when the husband and the wife should defer to the wishes of the other, if agreement cannot be reached through consultation; each couple should determine exactly under what circumstances such deference is to take place.” (From a letter written on behalf of The Universal House of Justice to an individual believer: January 24, 1993)
“One speck of chastity is greater than a hundred thousand years of worship and a sea of knowledge.” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, cited in a letter
November 26, 2003, to the Bahá’ís of Iran from the Universal House of Justice)
“…[T]he Bahá’í conception of sex is based on the belief that chastity should be strictly practiced by both sexes, not only because it is in itself highly commendable ethically, but also due to its being the only way to a happy and successful marital life. Sex relationships of any form, outside marriage, are not permissible therefore…” (On behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: Lights of Guidance, #1157)
“The Bahá’í teachings on sexual morality center on marriage and the family as the bedrock of the whole structure of human society and are designed to protect and strengthen that divine institution. Bahá’í law thus restricts permissible sexual intercourse to that between a man and the woman to whom he is married.” (Note #134 appended to The Kitáb-i-Aqdas)
"The Bahá’í Faith recognizes the value of the sex impulse…. The proper use of the sex instinct is the natural right of every individual, and it is precisely for this purpose that the institution of marriage has been established." (Shoghi Effendi: Lights of Guidance, p. 344)
"...Bahá’u’lláh hath said that the various races of humankind lend a composite harmony and beauty of color to the whole. Let all associate, therefore, in this great human garden even as flowers grow and blend together side by side without discord or disagreement between them." (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 69)
"...[Y]our statement to the effect that the principle of oneness of mankind prevents any true Bahá’í from regarding race itself as a bar to union [in inter-racial marriage] is in complete accord with the Teachings of the Faith on this point. The Bahá’í Teachings, indeed, by their very nature transcend all limitations imposed by race…."
(Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly, Lights of Guidance, #1288)
Note: Interfaith marriages are also permitted for Bahá’ís.
“Although a Bahá’í may, if he chooses, seek his parents’ advice on the choice of a partner, and although Bahá’í parents may give such advice if asked, it is clear from the Teachings that parents do not have the right to interfere in their children’s actual choice of a prospective partner until approached for their consent to marry.” (Universal House of Justice to an individual believer: August 28, 1994, cited in Marriage Can Be Forever—Preparation Counts!, p. 141)
“...[M]arriage is dependent upon the consent of both parties. Desiring to establish love, unity and harmony amidst Our servants, We have conditioned it, once the couple’s wish is known, upon the permission of their parents, lest enmity and rancor should arise amongst them.” (Bahá’u’lláh: Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 42)
“Bahá’í law places the responsibility for ascertaining knowledge of the character of those entering into the marriage contract on the two parties involved, and on the parents, who must give consent to the marriage.” (Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly: Lights of Guidance, #1231)
“…Bahá’u’lláh ordained that Bahá’í engagement should not exceed 95 days, and, although this law has not yet been applied universally, it highlights the desirability of marrying quickly once the decision to marry has been firmly taken and parental consent obtained.” (Universal House of Justice to an individual believer: August 28, 1994, cited in Marriage Can Be Forever—Preparation Counts!, p. 141)
Note: For up-to-date information on whether this law applies to you, please contact the closest Bahá’í institution.
Bahá’í Wedding Vow
“When the consent of the parents is obtained, the only other requirement for the ceremony is the recitation by both parties in the presence of two witnesses of the specifically revealed verse: ‘We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God.’ The following quotations from letters written …[on behalf of Shoghi Effendi] indicate the desirability of the Bahá’í marriage ceremony being simple:
1. ‘There is no ritual, according to the Aqdas [Kitáb-i-Aqdas], and …[Shoghi Effendi] is very anxious that none should be introduced at present and no general form accepted. He believes the ceremony should be as simple as possible...
2. The only compulsory part of a Bahá’í wedding is the pledge of marriage, the phrase to be spoken separately by the Bride and Bridegroom in turn, in the presence of Assembly witnesses.’” (On behalf of the Universal House of Justice: Lights of Guidance, #1294)
Clarification: The local Spiritual Assembly approves two trustworthy witnesses, often chosen by the couple, but the witnesses do not need to be Assembly members in most cases. Civil laws have varying requirements, so please check with your Spiritual Assembly for guidance.
"The Lord, peerless is He, hath made woman and man to abide with each other in the closest companionship, and to be even as a single soul. They are two helpmates, two intimate friends, who should be concerned about the welfare of each other.
"If they live thus, they will pass through this world with perfect contentment, bliss, and peace of heart, and become the object of divine grace and favor in the Kingdom of heaven." (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 122)
"When, therefore, the people of Bahá undertake to marry, the union must be a true relationship, a spiritual coming together as well as a physical one, so that throughout every phase of life, and in all the worlds of God, their union will endure; for this real oneness is a gleaming out of the love of God." (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 117)
Marriage and Family As a Service
“...[E]very aspect of a person’s life is an element of his or her service to Bahá’u’lláh: the love and respect one has for one’s parents; the pursuit of one’s education; the nurturing of good health; the acquiring of a trade or profession; one’s behavior towards others and the upholding of a high moral standard; one’s marriage and the bringing up of one’s children; one’s activities in teaching the Faith and the building up the strength of the Bahá’í community, whether this be in such simple matters as attending the Nineteen Day Feast or the observance of Bahá’í Holy Days, or in more demanding tasks required by service in the administration of the Faith; and, not least, to take time each day to read the Writings and say the Obligatory Prayer, which are the source of growing spiritual strength, understanding, and attachment to God.” (The Universal House of Justice, December 7, 1992, European Bahá’í Youth Council; www.bahairesearch.com)
Consultation for Understanding and Decisions
“Consultation…is applicable to the marriage partners and within the family, and indeed in all areas where believers participate in mutual decision-making. It requires all participants to express their opinions with absolute freedom and without apprehension that they will be censured and/or their views belittled....” (Universal House of Justice: January 24, 1993)
[When asked about specific rules of conduct to govern the relationship between husbands and wives] “...[F]or example, the principle that the rights of each and all in the family unit must be upheld, and the advice that loving consultation should be the keynote, that all matters must be settled in harmony and love, and that there are times when the husband and the wife should defer to the wishes of the other. Exactly under what circumstances such deference should take place is a matter for each couple to determine. If, God forbid, they fail to agree, and their disagreement leads to estrangement, they should seek counsel from those they trust and in whose sincerity and sound judgment they have confidence, in order to preserve and strengthen their ties as a united family.” (On behalf of the Universal House of Justice: Compilations of Compilations, Vol. II, “Preserving Bahá’í Marriages”, p. 456)
“Family consultation employing full and frank discussion, and animated by awareness of the need for moderation and balance, can be the panacea for domestic conflict. Wives should not attempt to dominate their husbands, nor husbands their wives...” (On behalf of the Universal House of Justice: The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. II, “Women”, p. 383)
Contact Information for Sponsor
Susanne M. Alexander, President
Relationship & Marriage Educator and Coach; Character Development Specialist
Marriage Transformation LLC
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
Phone: 423-599-0153 (Eastern time zone)
Susanne@marriagetransformation.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Marriage Transformation has a blog you can subscribe to that goes out to a general audience of people interested in relationships and marriage. Please visit www.marriagetransformation.com to sign up.
This webpage was updated on
April 15, 2014
Note: All photos on this website are from Marriage Transformation workshops
or are the personal photos of Susanne M. Alexander.
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