Consent - Not Needed

A child may be permitted to marry without seeking the consent of a man who denies paternity and never assumed the responsibilities of parenthood.

Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 19 Jan, 2010

A parent also violates the spirit of the marriage law if he or she uses the requirement for consent to exert unjustifiable control over factors that are unrelated to the prospective marriage. An example of this transgression is a parent who threatens to withhold consent as a means of manipulating the child’s behaviour to create estrangement between the child and the other parent. Another example is a parent who misuses the law to extract financial benefits or other concessions from the child or the child’s other parent.

Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 19 Jan, 2010

Bahá’u’lláh . . . has indicated that under certain circumstances, the parents could be deprived of the right of parenthood as a consequence of their actions. The Universal House of Justice has the right to legislate on this matter. It has decided for the present that all cases should be referred to it in which the conduct or character of a parent appears to render him unworthy of having such parental rights as that of giving consent to marriage. Such questions could arise, for example, when a parent has committed incest, or when the child was conceived as a consequence of rape, and also when a parent consciously fails to protect the child from flagrant sexual abuse.

Universal House of Justice, NSA-USA Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities

Finally, the right of the parent to consent can be forfeited if he or she seeks to use the requirement for consent in a manner which subverts the spirit and intent of the law or obstructs an individual’s right as a believer in Bahá’u’lláh to marry in accordance with the provisions of Bahá’í law. For example, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states, “As for the question regarding marriage under the Law of God: first thou must choose one who is pleasing to thee, and then the matter is subject to the consent of father and mother.” Yet, in some instances, a parent has refused consent in order to deprive the child of the right to choose and to force the child to marry someone of the parent’s choosing. In other instances, a parent has denied consent in order to try to prevent the child from marrying anyone.

Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 19 Jan, 2010

Furthermore, a child conceived as a consequence of rape is not obliged to seek consent of the male offender.

Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 19 Jan, 2010

It is important for an Assembly to distinguish such violations of the spirit of the law from the reasons a parent might have for denying consent to marry in a particular instance. Parents have a wide degree of latitude to determine how they chose to exercise their responsibility. As long as the spirit of the law is not violated they may refuse consent, and their conclusion is binding, even if it appears to the children or to others that they are being unreasonable or are acting out of prejudice. Ultimately, parents are responsible before God for their decision.

Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 19 Jan, 2010