A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Birth Control

And finally we have the following statement written on behalf of the Guardian which we hope will shed more light on the subject: “Regarding your question of whether you should have more children or not, the Guardian feels that this is a matter for you and your husband to decide. However, we must always bear in mind that God will protect His own and that the Bahá’í children are the future servants of mankind who will help to carry the world forward into the glorious New Order which Bahá’u’lláh has prepared for it in this day of days. We should not face the future with fear, but with glad and assured hearts.
(Universal House of Justice, Throne of the Inner Temple, p. 8)


As to birth control methods, the House of Justice does not wish to comment on the effectiveness or possible hazards of present-day contraceptive agents, and leaves it to individuals to decide what course of action they will take in light of the teachings and the best medical advice available.
(Universal House of Justice, Birth Control and Related Subjects, p. 3)


As to the problem of birth control. Neither Bahá’u’lláh nor ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has revealed anything direct or explicit regarding this question. But the Bahá’í Teachings, when carefully studied imply that such current conceptions like birth control, if not necessarily wrong and immoral in principle, have nevertheless to be discarded as constituting a real danger to the very foundation of our social life. For Bahá’u’lláh explicitly reveals in His Book of Laws that the very purpose of marriage is the procreation of children who, when grown up, will be able to know God and to recognize and observe His Commandments and Laws as revealed through His Messengers. Marriage is thus, according to the Bahá’í Teachings, primarily a social and moral act. It has purpose which transcends the immediate personal needs and interests of the parties. Birth control, except in certain exceptional cases, is therefore not permissible.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 345)


As to the use of intrauterine devices, we understand that there is a difference of professional opinion as to how they work, i.e. whether they prevent conception or whether they prevent the fertilized ovum from attaching to the wall of the uterus. However, the Guardian has stated that the individual life begins at conception. In using such devices, therefore, Bahá’ís will have to be guided by the best professional advice available and their own consciences. There is nothing in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, however, concerning the placing of foreign materials in the body for preventing birth.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 264)


As to your desire and that of your husband to avoid any action which would permanently prevent you from bearing children, the only text we have so far found on the subjects is in a letter to an individual believer from the beloved Guardian. The question asked was whether after a few children it would be permissible to have a surgical operation on the wife to prevent further conception. His reply was that such an act was inacceptable and unworthy, and those who commit the act were responsible before God.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 345-346)


Birth control, however, when exercised in order to deliberately prevent the procreation of any children is against the Spirit of the Law of Bahá’u’lláh, which defines the primary purpose of marriage to be the rearing of children and their spiritual training in the Cause. The Universal House of Justice will have to consider this issue and give its verdict upon it. The Universal House of Justice feels that the time has not yet arrived for legislation on this matter, and that these instructions provide sufficient guidance for the friends for the time being.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 346)


Directly to your question about having a vasectomy, in general it is not permissible to have a surgical operation for the purpose of avoiding having unwanted children if such an operation could result in permanent sterility.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 347)


In a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual he has further pointed out that the ‘chief and sacred purpose’ of marriage is ‘the perpetuation of the human race... and its elevation to the true station destined for it by God.’ In another letter written on his behalf it is stated: ‘...the fundamental purpose of marriage is to bring other souls into this world, to serve God and love Him.’
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 345)


It is clear from the instructions of the beloved Guardian that sterilization merely for the purpose of preventing the conception of unwanted children is absolutely prohibited in the Faith. When asked about sterilization of the mentally deficient or the physically unfit the Guardian pointed out that there is no reference to this in the Teachings. Neither is there anything in the Teachings about the use of contraceptive methods in order to prevent the transmission through inheritance of undesirable family traits and tendencies. These are, therefore, matters which the Universal House of Justice will have to consider in future. We do not wish to legislate on such matters now, and therefore leave the decision in each case to the individual believers involved.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


It is clear that to have surgical operation merely to avoid unwanted children is not acceptable. However, as in the case of abortion, circumstances might exist in which such an operation would be justified. Individual believers called upon to make such a decision must be guided by the Bahá’í principles involved, the best professional advice available to them and their own consciences. In arriving at a decision the parties must also take into consideration the availability, reliability, and reversibility of all contraceptive methods.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 347)


It should be pointed out, however, that the Teachings state that the soul appears at conception, and that therefore it would be improper to use a method, the effect of which would be to produce an abortion after the conception has taken place.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


Since you are a physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, your professional decisions in this field are frequent and difficult ones. In each individual case your physician’s judgement and your Bahá’í conscience should guide you to the correct decision whenever permanent sterilization of a patient is contemplated. Of the four categories you have listed, only the first, grave sickness of the mother, clearly falls within Bahá’í permissibility. In the Second category, only grave genetic defects, but obviously not all genetic defects could be considered to be valid cause for intervention. As for lack of social and financial means, and anticipation of supernumerary children where individual maternal request is decisive, neither can be acceptable as reasons for permanent sterilization. What can now be considered to be a form of family fertility control for some patients are those methods of intervention which are reversible and therefore do not necessarily bring about permanent sterility. Where such methods have been employed, the wish by patients to have additional children, for whatever reason, can be realized through a corrective operation.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 348-349)


The Guardian has ... given his careful consideration to your question regarding the Bahá’í view of birth control. ‘...there is no reference whatsoever in the Writings on this subject. The utmost we can say is by way of reference from what Bahá’u’lláh has revealed regarding the nature, purpose and character of marriage. ‘We, as Bahá’ís, are not therefore in a position either to condemn the practice of birth control or to confirm it.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 346)


There is nothing in the Sacred Writings specifically on the subjects of birth control, abortion or sterilization, but Bahá’u’lláh did state the primary purpose of marriage was the procreation of children, and it is to this primary purpose that the beloved Guardian alludes in many of the letters which are quoted in the compilation. This does not imply that a couple are obliged to have as many children as they can; the Guardian’s secretary clearly stated on his behalf, in answer to an enquiry, that it was for the husband and wife to decide how many children they would have. A decision to have no children at all would vitiate the primary purpose of marriage unless, of course, there were some medical reason why such a decision would be required.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 346-347)


To use birth control in order to have no children at all thwarts the purpose of marriage.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


Under normal circumstances it is not permissible to have a surgical operation for the purpose of not having more children if such an operation could result in permanent sterility. Bahá’ís considering such a step must be guided by the Bahá’í principles involved, the best professional advice available to them, and their own consciences. If it is established that vasectomy and tubal ligation are operations the effects of which are reversible and which, therefore, do not result in permanent sterility, they would not fall under this prohibition.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


We have not discovered any specific reference in the texts to the problem of population explosion in its relation to birth control. This question, of course, is a matter which is currently a subject of concern and speculation by many. A study of our teachings, however, indicates that in the future there will no doubt be a general improvement of standards of life and of health, but there will also be the full exploitation of unused and as yet unsuspected resources of the planet along with the control and tapping of its raw material, with a great increase in productivity.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 345-346)


We have said, however, that there may be circumstances which would justify sterilization, and that those called upon to make decisions in this regard must rely on the best medical advice available (preferably more than one expert should be consulted) and their own consciences. They should also take into account the availability, reliability and reversibility of other methods of contraception.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


When the Guardian was asked whether the exercise of birth control constitutes a sin in a case where the number of children would prevent the father from fulfilling his obligation to educate his children, he stated that it is the duty of Bahá’ís to uphold moderation in all things, and avoid illegal methods.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 345-346)


With regard to your question whether it would be permissible for a believer to limit the number of his children by the use of contraceptive methods, in order to prevent the transmission through inheritance of undesirable family traits and tendencies; this, the Guardian wishes me to inform you, is a question to which there is no specific reference in the Teachings, and should therefore be explained and decided upon by the International House of Justice.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 347)


You and your husband, therefore, should have no feeling that you are obliged to add to your already large family. This is a matter entirely for you to decide, and there are many methods of preventing conception, including self-discipline and restraint, to which you can have recourse. Sterilization, however, would be a more far-reaching action that any of these, with implications and results beyond those necessary for the immediate purpose of limiting the size of your family, and is not permissible in Bahá’í law except in rare instances where it is necessary for a medical reason.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 347)


You enquired whether we have anything in the Teachings concerning birth control and the sex element in marriage. Shoghi Effendi says that there is scarcely anything on that subject in the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh and the Master except a constant emphasis on mutual fidelity. Both Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb emphasized the need of children in marriage. The latter, for example, states that to beget children is the highest physical fruit of man’s existence. But neither say whether the number of children should be limited or not. Or if it is to be limited, what the proper method to be used.
(Shoghi Effendi, Throne of the Inner Temple. P. 6)



You have raised the point about the time of the appearance of human soul. You are quite right in your deduction in this regard, as our teachings clearly confirm that the soul of man comes into being at conception.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 345-346)