We verily, have forbidden you lechery.
We verily, have forbidden you lechery.
A chaste and holy life must be made the controlling principle in the behavior and conduct of all Bahá’ís.
It condemns infidelity in marital relationships, and all manner of promiscuity, of easy familiarity, and of sexual vices.
It [a chaste and holy life] demands daily vigilance in the control of one's carnal desires and corrupt inclinations.
Modesty, purity, temperance, decency, and clean-mindedness, involves no less than the exercise of moderation in all that pertains to dress, language, amusements, and all artistic and literary avocations.
Among the signs of moral downfall in the declining social order are the high incidence of violence within the family, the increase in degrading and cruel treatment of spouses and children, and the spread of sexual abuse. It is essential that the members of the community of the Greatest Name take the utmost care not to be drawn into acceptance of such practices because of their prevalence. They must be ever mindful of their obligation to exemplify a new way of life distinguished by its respect for the dignity and rights of all people, by its exalted moral tone, and by its freedom from oppression and from all forms of abuse.
As to the contents of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, one of the provisions of that Most Holy Book is 'not to indulge one's passions'. (See Synopsis and Codification of the Laws and Ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, pg. 50) Furthermore, reference should be made to one of the 'prohibitions' mentioned on page 47 of the 'Synopsis', namely, 'adultery'. This word so appears in this book because entries in a synopsis should by necessity be brief, and by the original word used by Bahá’u’lláh in the Aqdas, i.e. 'zina', adultery is generally and mainly intended. However , this by no means covers all the meanings of the concept of 'zina' in legal language used in Arabic and Persian. One of the forms of 'zina', - i.e. when the illicit sexual intercourse is performed through force or violence - is rape or sexual assault.
As to the punishments for such acts as rape, these will be determined in the future by the Universal House of Justice.
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.
Considering that the perpetration of an immoral sexual act by one adult against another is punishable by law, the perpetration of such an act against a helpless child seems indeed heinous.
If a Bahá’í woman suffers abuse or is subjected to rape by her husband, she has the right to turn to the Spiritual Assembly for assistance and counsel, or to seek legal protection. Such abuse would gravely jeopardize the continuation of the marriage, and could well lead to a condition of irreconcilable antipathy.
It is difficult to imagine a more reprehensible perversion of human conduct than the sexual abuse of children, which finds its most debased form in incest. At a time in the fortunes of humanity when, in the words of the Guardian, “The perversion of human nature, the degradation of human conduct, the corruption and dissolution of human institutions, reveal themselves . . . in their worst and most revolting aspects,” and when “the voice of human conscience is stilled, when the sense of decency and shame is obscured,” the Bahá’í institutions must be uncompromising and vigilant in their commitment to the protection of the children entrusted to their care, and must not allow either threats or appeals to expediency to divert them from their duty. A parent who is aware that the marriage partner is subjecting a child to such sexual abuse should not remain silent, but must take all necessary measures, with the assistance of the Spiritual Assembly or civil authorities if necessary, to bring about an immediate cessation of such grossly immoral behaviour, and to promote healing and therapy.
Lechery is clearly forbidden by Bahá’u’lláh (See Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 49) and Shoghi Effendi has stated that a 'chaste and holy life', according to the teachings of the Faith, implies a condemnation of 'all manner' of 'sexual vices'. (See Advent of Divine Justice, p. 25)
Masturbation is clearly not a proper use of the sex instinct, as this is understood in the Faith. Moreover it involves . . . mental fantasies, while Bahá’u’lláh, in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, has exhorted us not to indulge our passions and in one of His well-known Tablets ‘Abdu’l-Bahá encourages us to keep our “secret thoughts pure”.
No Bahá’í husband should ever beat his wife, or subject her to any form of cruel treatment; to do so would be an unacceptable abuse of the marriage relationship and contrary to the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh.
One of the most heinous of sexual offenses is the crime of rape. When a believer is a victim, she is entitled to the loving aid and support of the members of her community, and she is free to initiate action against the perpetrator under the law of the land should she wish to do so. If she becomes pregnant as a consequence of this assault, no pressure should be brought upon her by the Bahá’í institutions to marry. As to whether she should continue or terminate the pregnancy, it is for her to decide on the course of action she should follow, taking into consideration medical and other relevant factors, and in the light of the Bahá’í Teachings. If she gives birth to a child as a result of the rape, it is left to her discretion whether to seek financial support for the maintenance of the child from the father; however, his claim to any parental rights would, under Bahá’í law, be called into question in view of the circumstances.
The House of Justice has decided that when a Bahá’í has suffered sexual abuse such as incest from a parent, that believer is free to approach the National Spiritual Assembly for a determination that such an action warrants deprivation of the right of the parent to give consent to marriage. At present such matters have to be referred by a National Assembly to the Universal House of Justice on a case by case basis.
The responsible manner in which you responded at the time of being informed of the alarming allegation that your daughter had been sexually abused by her grandfather, and thereafter, is highly commended by the House of Justice. In immediately having your daughter examined and an assessment made by a physician specializing in the field of child sexual abuse, and in cooperating fully with civil authorities and Bahá’í institutions, you contributed greatly to limiting the harm done by the error which had occurred. While it is understandable that this experience has caused you grief, you are urged now, for your own spiritual well-being, to attempt to put it behind you, and to not allow it to shake your confidence in the Administrative Order or Institutions of the Cause of God. You are encouraged to move forward, drawing strength and succor from the Word of God, relying on the power of prayer, and placing your confidence and trust in the abiding love of the Blessed Beauty.
They that follow their lusts and corrupt inclinations, have erred and dissipated their efforts. They, indeed, are of the lost.
An Assembly should be careful not to minimize an allegation of "date rape" or of rape by a spouse. Sexual abuse or assault involving a person under a certain age (the age varies by state) is a crime regardless of whether consent is given or force is used. Assemblies should be aware of the laws applicable in their state.
Sexual abuse and assault, including rape, are crimes, regardless of whether committed by a stranger, acquaintance, relative, or spouse, by a person of the same or opposite sex, and regardless of the age of the victim.
We must not molest any one because he is an infant or child.