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Bahai Faith and Marriage

The Bahá'í teachings recommend marriage, but it is not obligatory. Marriage is emphasized as an assistance to one's self, as well as for the benefit of society; it is seen as both a physical relationship and a spiritual relationship that would continue in all the worlds of God.


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Marriage and the Laws of Bahai Faith

The requirements of Bahá'í marriage include that the partners be over the age of 15, and is dependent on the consent of the couple and all their living biological parents, so to strengthen the ties between the families. According to the Bahá'í teachings, sexuality is a normal part of married life and is intended to enhance the relationship. However, sexual relationships are permitted only between a man and woman who are married. This precludes marriages that are homosexual or polygamous as well as any sexual relationship outside of marriage. Interreligious marriages are permitted, and interracial marriages are encouraged. Divorce is permitted, although discouraged, and is granted after a year of separation if the couple is unable to reconcile their differences.

Bahai Teachings

The Bahá'í teachings state that parents need to raise their children to be moral and religious, but not fanatical. Parents are required to provide an education to their children, and children have a duty to obey their parents, which is seen as obeying God. Shoghi Effendi stated that preserving family unity is of utmost importance, and Bahá'ís are counselled to balance their desire to serve the religion with their responsibilities as parents, spouses and children.

The Bahá'í teachings on marriage see it as an eternal bond that survives past the lives of the partners in the physical life, and into the spiritual worlds. Thus the teachings stress that during courting the partners must take the utmost care to become acquainted with each other's character. Furthermore, the husband and wife should be united not only physically, but also spiritually, so that they can improve the spiritual life of each other, and that they can spiritually advance towards God.

Bahai on Marriage Engagement

For the two partners to become engaged they must obtain consent of all living biological parents. Before getting married, the parents cannot interfere with the selection of the person their child wants to get married to, but to be engaged all living parents must give approval of the marriage. The purpose of this law is to foster unity between the two families, since the Bahá'í teachings see marriage and the family as the foundation of the structure and society, and having disunity between two families is not conducive to that. The consent of all parents is needed even if one of the partners is not a Bahá'í.

Bahá'ís see this aspect of Bahá'í marriage as combining marriages practices from the East and West; in the East arranged marriage is common, and in the west marriages sometimes go forward with no input from the parents. The Bahá'í marriage gives full freedom of the individuals to select their partner, but places certain gratitude and respect to the parents.

The Ringstone symbol represents humanity's connection to God

"A couple should study each other's character and spend time getting to know each other before they decide to marry, and when they do marry it should be with the intention of establishing an eternal bond."

Bahai Marriage Waiting Period
From the time that the consent of all parents is obtained to the time of the marriage ceremony should not exceed 95 days. The 95-day period of engagement is more popular with Persian believers.

Bahai Wedding Ceremony
The Bahá'í marriage ceremony is done differently in each culture. The only compulsory part of the wedding is the reading of the wedding vows prescribed by Bahá'u'lláh which both the groom and the bride read:

    We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God.
This is done in the presence of two witnesses.

Most Bahá'í marriage ceremonies consist of the reading of Bahá'í writings, prayers and music followed by a talk about the spiritual nature of Bahá'í marriage, and then the reading of the vows.

Bahai Marriage Laws and ordinances

There are a number of laws that concern Bahá'í marriage
  • Marriage is not obligatory, but is highly recommended.
  • Marriage is defined between a man and a woman (see Homosexuality and Bahá'í Faith).
  • Only married couples may engage in sexual activity.
  • Having more than one wife or husband is forbidden.
  • Both partners must be at least 15 years of age at the time of engagement. (The civil laws of their country must be obeyed)
  • Marriage is conditional on the consent of both parties and their parents.
  • Marriage with non-Bahá'ís is permitted (see Interreligious marriage).
  • The period of engagement must not exceed ninety-five days. (Not currently universally applicable)
  • A marriage should condition a payment of a dowry.
Bahá'í marriage is union of a man and a woman. Its purpose is mainly spiritual and is to foster harmony, fellowship and unity between the two partners. The Bahá'í teachings on marriage call it a fortress for well-being and salvation and place marriage and the family as the foundation of the structure of human society.

Symbols of many religions on a pillar of the Bahá'í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois, U.S.


Parts of the above article are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from Wikipedia. Images courtesy FCIT

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