Bahá'í marriage

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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.[1] 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.[2]

Spiritual nature[edit]

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.[3]

Engagement[edit]

The parents cannot interfere with the selection of the person their child wants to get married to, but marriage has been conditioned, once the couple’s wish is known, upon the permission of their parents.[4] 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.[5]

Bahá'ís see this aspect of Bahá'í marriage as combining marriages practices from the East and West;[citation needed] 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.

"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." [6]

Waiting period[edit]

The time between the official public announcement of the marriage and the wedding ceremony should not exceed 95 days.[7][8][9] The 95-day period of engagement is currently applicable only to Persian believers.[10]

Ceremony[edit]

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 recite:

We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God. [11]

in the presence of two witnesses to be recorded through a Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly. Legal recognition depends on the civil laws of the country.

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.

Laws[edit]

There are a number of laws that concern Bahá'í marriage

  • Marriage is not obligatory, but is highly recommended.[12]
  • Marriage is defined between a man and a woman (see Homosexuality and Bahá'í Faith).
  • Only married couples may engage in sexual activity.
  • 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.[13]
  • Marriage with non-Bahá'ís is permitted[13] (see Interreligious marriage).
  • The period of engagement must not exceed ninety-five days.[13] (Not currently universally applicable)
  • A marriage should condition a payment of a dowry. The payment, if the husband lives in a city, is nineteen mithqáls (approx. 2.22 troy ounces) of pure gold, and if the husband lives in a village the same amount in silver. However, it is preferable to content oneself with the lowest level that is nineteen mithqáls of silver for both city and village dwellers.[14] Bahá'u'lláh also set a maximum permitted dowry amount of 95 mithqáls (approx. 11.1 troy ounces). (Not currently universally applicable)[15]

Children and parenting[edit]

Following the natural and appropriate extension of the union of marriage, children, whether adopted or biological, should be raised in this same spiritual atmosphere. Formal duties exist between parents and children (of education and obedience, training and respect.) Second to discovering God for oneself is respect for one's parents. Reversing the degradation of women and children is a subject of much attention in the Bahá'í Faith.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Kitáb-i-Aqdas. p. 42. 
  2. ^ The Kitáb-i-Aqdas. p. 205. 
  3. ^ Helen Hornby (ed.). Lights of Guidance. p. 369. 
  4. ^ Lights of Guidance. p. 376. 
  5. ^ The Kitáb-i-Aqdas. p. 207. 
  6. ^ The Universal House of Justice. Baha'i Marriage and Family Life. November 2, 1982, p. 20.
  7. ^ "Bahá’u’lláh’s Marriage Law". January–February 2011. pp. 37–38. 
  8. ^ The Kitáb-i-Aqdas. p. 120. 
  9. ^ گنجينه حدود و احكام (in Persian). p. 166. 
  10. ^ National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States. "Developing Distinctive Baha'i Communities". Office of Assembly Development, Evanston, Illinois, 1998, p. 371.
  11. ^ Bahá'u'lláh. The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book. Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1873, p. 105.
  12. ^ The Kitáb-i-Aqdas. p. 149. 
  13. ^ a b c The Kitáb-i-Aqdas. p. 150. 
  14. ^ The Kitáb-i-Aqdas. p. 209. 
  15. ^ Universal House of Justice. "Laws from the Kitab-i-Aqdas Not Yet Binding". 

References[edit]