Consent - To Marriage

It hath been laid down in the Bayan that marriage 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, let enmity and rancour should arise amongst them. And in this We have yet other purposes. Thus hath Our commandment been ordained.

Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 42

QUESTION: Is the consent of the parents on both sides prerequisite to marriage, or is that of the parents on one side sufficient? Is this law applicable only to virgins or to

others as well? ANSWER: Marriage is conditional upon the consent of the parents of both parties to the marriage, and in this respect it maketh no difference whether

the bride be a virgin or otherwise.

Bahá’u’lláh, Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 111

As to the question of marriage, according to the law of God: First you must select one, and then it depends on the consent of the father and mother. Before your selection they have no right of interference.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 372

About the consent of parents for marriage; this is required before and also after the man or woman is twenty-one years of age. It is also required in the event of a second marriage, after the dissolution of the first whether through death or through divorce. The parental consent is also a binding obligation irrespective of whether the parents are Bahá’ís or not, whether they are friendly or opposed to the Cause. In the event of the death of both parents, the consent of a guardian is not required.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 368

Bahá’u’lláh has clearly stated the consent of all living parents is required for a Bahá’í marriage. This applies whether the parents are Bahá’ís or non-Bahá’ís, divorced for years or not. This great law He has laid down to strengthen the social fabric, to knit closer the ties of the home, to place a certain gratitude and respect in the hearts of the children for those two have given them life and sent their souls out on the eternal journey towards their Creator.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 369

Bahá’u’lláh has stated that the consent of the parents of both parties is required in order to promote unity and avoid friction.

Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 43

It is surely a very unfortunate case when the parents and children differ on some grave issues of life such as marriage, but the best way is not to flout each other's opinion nor to discuss it in a charged atmosphere but rather try to settle it in an amicable way.

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá’í Marriage and Family Life, 74

It would be a wonderful opportunity if this marriage could bring the father and son, alienated from each other, together, at least in a moment of friendly and filial contact. In order to live up to the Bahá’í Laws for the new age we are entering upon, we have to make sacrifices. If the Bahá’í themselves will not sacrifice for their Faith, who will? It may often be difficult, but the results will be seen in a more rapid spread of the Cause and a greater unity amongst the Community itself.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 373

Regarding your question of applying the sanction of suspension of voting rights to people who marry without the consent of parents, this should be done from now on. The laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas are explicit and not open to any ambiguity at all. As long as the parents are alive, the consent must be obtained; it is not conditioned on their relationship to their children.

Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 44

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, Lights of Guidance, p. 367

Bahá’ís who cannot marry because of lack of consent of one or more parents could consult with their Local Spiritual Assembly, to see whether it may suggest a way to change the attitude of any of the parents involved. The believers, when faced with such problems, should put their trust in Bahá’u’lláh, devote more time to the service, the teaching and the promotion of His Faith, be absolutely faithful to His injunctions on the observance of an unsullied, chaste life, and rely upon Him to open the way and remove the obstacle, or make known His will.

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

Basically, Bahá’í law pertaining to marriage requires that the parties intending to marry must obtain consent of all living natural parents. Further, the responsibility of the parents in giving their consent is unrestricted and unconditioned, but in discharging this duty they are responsible for their decision to God.

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

He 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 been 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 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

If any one of the parents refuses to give his or her consent for any reason, including the fact that a Bahá’í ceremony is to be carried out, then the marriage cannot take place.

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

In many cases of breach of marriage laws the believers apparently look upon the law requiring consent of parents before marriage as a mere administrative regulation, and do not seem to realize that this is a law of great importance affecting the very foundations of human society. Moreover they seem not to appreciate that in the Bahá’í Faith the spiritual and administrative aspects are complementary and that the social laws of the Faith are as binding as the purely spiritual ones.

Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 369

It is clear from your letter that you understand the basic requirement that parental consent is necessary to having a Bahá’í marriage and that parents may give or withhold consent for their own reasons. If in a given case the parents at first withhold consent, there is no harm in the child's asking his parents to reconsider, bearing in mind that he has to abide by their decision. The child, on the other hand, may not wish to pursue the matter; it is left entirely to his own judgement of the circumstances whether to request reconsideration or not. There have been instances when parties have appealed to Bahá’í institutions (local and national) to assist them in removing any misunderstanding that may have stood in the way of a positive decision on the part of their parents. But there are no hard and fast rules in these matters. Each case is dealt with according to the prevailing circumstances at the time.

Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 370-371

It is not necessary for consent to be in writing or for parents to consent to a Bahá’í marriage ceremony…; it is best for parents to be free to convey their consent in the manner of their choosing.

Universal House of Justice, to an individual, 24 September 2014

It is perfectly true that Bahá’u’lláh's statement that the consent of all living parents is required for marriage places a grave responsibility on each parent. When the parents are Bahá’ís they should, of course, act objectively in withholding or granting their approval. They cannot evade this responsibility by merely acquiescing in their child's wish, nor should they be swayed by prejudice; but, whether they be Bahá’í or non-Bahá’í, the parents decision is binding, whatever the reason that may have motivated it. Children must recognize and understand that this act of consenting is the duty of a parent. They must have respect in their hearts for those who have given them life, and whose good pleasure they must at all times strive to win.

Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 369

Since the specific guidance in the authoritative text pertaining to consent is quite limited, the friends should not seize upon this as an opportunity to embellish the act of consent or transform it into an elaborate process or exaggerated procedures. It may, for example, be as simple as a parent’s expressed commitment to give his or her blessing and support to the proposed marriage. Indeed, consent could be given even if the parent has never personally met the prospective spouse. This does not mean that a parent may not wish to go further; but it does mean that others cannot expect that a parent ought to do more. Thus, in such an intensely personal situation, there is no basis for suggesting Bahá’í responsibilities that are not set out explicitly in the Writings.

Universal House of Justice, to an individual, 24 September 2014

The principle of the Bahá’í Law requiring parental consent to marriage is that the parents consent to the marriage of the man to the woman concerned. It does not require that they consent to the performance of any particular ceremony. Obviously, where the parents are Bahá’ís, it is taken for granted that the marriage of a Bahá’í couple will be by the performance of the Bahá’í ceremony. In some cases, however, it would be difficult for non-Bahá’í parents to give consent to the participation of their son or daughter in a Bahá’í religious ceremony, and in these cases the distinction of principle is important. In other word, if the non-Bahá’í parents consent to the marriage of the couple, the Bahá’í ceremony can be held unless they expressly object to the holding of the Bahá’í ceremony, in which case the marriage cannot take place.

Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 372

The responsibilities laid upon parents as they give consideration to the question of consent to marriage of their children is directed to their conscience and therefore it is not possible to apply sanctions. On the other hand, the Bahá’í law requiring children to obtain the consent of their parents to marriage is subject to sanction, and as you know these are matters set forth in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and in the instructions of the beloved Guardian. At some time or other, every Law of Bahá’u’lláh may impose a test upon the faith of a believer and the question is whether the believer will meet the test or not. As you are aware, withdrawal from the Faith in order to evade a Law of Bahá’u’lláh is not possible to a true believer.

Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 371

We have your letter of May 10, 1968 requesting guidance on the question of obtaining consent of parents to marriage in a case in which parents refuse to approve or disapprove. The Bahá’í law on this subject is clear: the consent of parents must be obtained before the marriage can take place. The refusal of the parents to make a decision has the same effect, in this case, as refusal to give consent. Only if the parents later decide to give consent can the Bahá’í marriage be performed.

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