Pathology of Homosexuality

This is another in a series of articles exploring homosexuality within the Baha’i Faith. The first was delving into the historical and semantic context of the infamous excerpt in the Aqdas where Baha’u’llah refers reluctantly to the “subject of boys”.

Unfortunately the exact practice that Baha’u’llah was referring to cryptically is still being practiced today in Afghanistan. You can watch the PBS domentary following the above link as well as find a brief update on the situation from this recent Washington Post article.

bacha bazi afghanistanImage credit: Barat Ali Batoor

Societal context is important because what we might consider salacious or inappropriate today, may very well have been the norm in another society. This is not an issue of ‘morality’ because that concept is very malleable throughout history. Not too long ago, slavery was not only considered normal, it was sanctioned by the prevalent religion. In Islam we have an institutionalized form of prostitution (nikah al-mut’ah) and it is a little known fact that polygamy is possible within the Baha’i Faith.

Wakashudo and Lycurgus
I provided a brief exposition of the Sambia tribe in Papau New Guinea. But there are many other examples to draw upon to illustrate the same point. In Japan, samurai and their apprentice would enter into a “brotherhood contract” which involved homosexual physical intimacy although not exclusively so (both were able to also have relations with women). The special relationship involved much more than physical intimacy. The samurai as mentor trained his apprentice in bushido, social etiquette and they were both honor bound to each other for life.

Going back further in history we have the example of Spartans. Today they are presented in films like “300” to be the ultimate “macho” heterosexual man but Spartan society was actually built upon institutionalized homosexuality. Lycurgus, architect of Spartan society, believed that such bonds between Spartan soldiers served to strengthen their efficiency on the battlefield. Marriage to a woman and family life was relegated to a necessary inconvenience.

Jump to Sections:
Historical Context – Japan and Sparta
Historical Context – Rome and Manchu China (do not google those naughty words)
Diagnosing Homosexuality as a disease
The Search for a Pathology – and its final conclusion
Conversion Therapy – an introduction to SOCE
Conversion Therapy – why all health organizations reject it
The Dilemma for Baha’i Health Professionals
The Scientific Method – How We Know What We Know
Historical Perspective – This Generations Social Issue
A Baha’i Response – What May Be
Homophobia – the surprising finding
Conclusion

The wedding night of a Spartan bride is an interesting presentation of how “normal” sexual relations have changed over time. Her hair would be cut short to resemble a man and she would be fitted in full armor before being presented to her new husband. Plutarch writes “…afterwards comes the bridegroom, in his every-day clothes, sober and composed as having supped at the common table, and, entering privately into the room where the bride lies, unites her virgin zone, and takes her to himself; and after staying some time together, he returns composedly to his own apartment, to sleep as usual with the other young men.”

sparta 300

Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo
The binary distinction made today between homosexuality and heterosexuality is a recent concept. In Rome, not that far from Sparta, the gender of your sexual partner wasn’t important at all; slave-boy, or woman, all were fair game. What mattered and determined your place in society was whether you were the dominant partner or the submissive one. While today we view domination as a fetish, in ancient Rome it was the factor in categorizing people’s sexual status within a societal hierarchy.

There was no shame at all in taking a catamite as your lover as long as you were the one doing the penetrating. Likewise, fellatio or irrumatio as acts were acceptable. What determined status or shame was whether you were penetrating as the dominant or receiving as the subservient. The mouth of a high-born Roman male citizen was for noble uses like giving rousing speeches, reciting laws and philosophy and commanding armies into battle. Using it for baser purposes invited humiliation. In the patriarchal society of Rome, the most shameful sexual act a man could perform was cunnilingus. Not only would he be putting himself in the submissive position, he was being submissive to a woman! (gasp)

For more examples of the sexual mores of that time see the poems of Catullus (Carmen 16) and Martial’s Epigrams. And if you’re ever visiting Pompeii, it will be impossible to avoid the constant barrage of phallic symbols staring at you from walls, frescoes, statues, sculptures and even carved into the stone roads and sidewalks.

pompeii phallic symbol

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Manchu mothers, grandmothers and nursemaids showed affection and love to the male child in their care by fellating them. Such an act was not considered sexual in nature at all and readily acceptable within their societal norms. Kissing the cheeks or face of the child however was considered sexual and therefore taboo.

The purpose of this brief walk through sexual history is not to merely titillate you dear reader with salacious stories but to point out that what you may consider to be salacious or ‘abnormal’ today was very much normal behavior in another time and place. I wonder, had Baha’u’llah been living in feudal Japan, would we now be parsing what exactly His condemnation of wakash?do means?

Diagnosing Homosexuality
But some things are harder to change. The penchant to focus on who is the dominant continues to this day. The Turkish army allows for homosexual men to be exempt from an otherwise obligatory responsibility to their country. However, they must prove their homosexuality in a humiliating process to the satisfaction of the army. Acceptable “evidence” may consist of explicit pictures or videos of the candidate for military duty with another man. But he must be in the submissive role not the dominant to be considered ‘homosexual’.

While being openly gay or claiming to be gay in Turkey has serious social consequences, the army is concerned with false claims because there is no allowance for conscientious objectors to military service. As such it has ordered its doctors to ‘diagnose’ homosexuality. This brings us to the main point of this article: the pathology of homosexuality (or lack thereof).

turkish gay rightsOne psychiatrist who was employed by the Turkish army tells the BBC: “Doctors are coming under immense pressure from their commanders to diagnose homosexuality, and they obey, even though there really are no diagnostic tools to determine sexual orientation. It is medically impossible, and not at all ethical.”

To placate their military bosses, psychiatrists working for the Turkish military use non-scientific tests like asking their subjects to draw trees, houses and interview them to see if they played with dolls when they were children.

In order to force the issue, Turkish military hospitals use the outdated 1968 DSM (from the American Psychiatric Association) to classify homosexuality as an illness and declare on the pink-colored official certificate of exemption that the person has a “psychosexual disorder (homosexuality)”.

Turkey’s minister for women and family affairs, Selma Aliye Kavaf, said in a 2010 interview: “I believe homosexuality is a biological disorder, an illness, and should be treated”.

Does that sound familiar to you? As a Baha’i, that is unfortunately quite familiar:

“To be afflicted this way is a great burden to a conscientious soul. But through the advice and help of doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap.”
Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Baha’i (March 26, 1950)

“Homosexuality is highly condemned and often a great trial and cause of suffering to a person, as a Baha’i. Any individual so afflicted must, through prayer, and any other means, seek to overcome this handicap.”
Letter written to an individual Baha’i on behalf of Shoghi Effendi (October 6, 1956)

“Baha’u’llah has spoken very strongly against this shameful sexual aberration, as He has against adultery and immoral conduct in general. We must try and help the soul to overcome them.”
Letter written to an individual Baha’i on behalf of Shoghi Effendi (October 25 1949)

These words and others like them, written on behalf of the Guardian more than 60 years ago have set the tone for the official Baha’i stance on the issue. They contain several important but implied assertions, that homosexuality:

  • is ‘not normal’
  • is an ‘affliction’ or ‘handicap’
  • is a choice
  • can be ‘overcome’
  • can be ‘cured’ by doctors

Such an understanding of human sexuality accurately reflects the prevalent social norms of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Today we know in fact that none of those implicit statements are true.

The Pathology of Homosexuality
The assumption that homosexuality was related to psychopathic, paranoid, and schizoid personality disorders was widely accepted at the time of Shoghi Effendi by medical professionals. Such a diagnosis resulted in barbaric treatments which included but were not limited to: hysterectomies and estrogen injections (for lesbians), electroshock therapy, chemical castration, surgical castration, and trans-orbital lobotomies. I shudder to think of Baha’is who took the advice offered to them and availed themselves of such options.

While viewing homosexuality as having pathology was the prevalent doxa back then, it is imperative to point out that it was the social doxa that imposed itself onto the medical doxa. Scientifically there was no basis whatsoever for the medical assumption that homosexuality had a definable pathology.

The infamous Alfred Kinsey was among the first to study homosexuality. In 1948 he published a report not only showing the ‘normalcy’ of homosexuals as people but also the first evidence of the ineffectiveness of sexual conversion therapies.

Dr. Evelyn HookerBut it was not until 1956 that a young woman, already an outsider for being female in the male dominated field of psychology, destroyed the widely held orthodoxy that homosexuality was a ‘disease’ with the presentation of her research at the American Psychological Association’s Annual Convention in Chicago.

Dr. Evelyn Hooker applied for and was given a grant by the NIMH in 1953 for her study. She said years later, “It was exciting because it would have been the first time anybody ever looked at this behavior and said ‘we’ll use scientific tests to determine whether or not homosexuality is pathological.'” Dr. Hooker’s research was both simple and ground breaking. She examined a group of 30 homosexuals and 30 heterosexuals with psychoanalytical surveys and the Rorschach ink-blot test.

Dr. Hooker removed all identifiable marks from the test results and to even further remove any possibility of bias sent the results to three other preeminent psychologists for analysis. One of them was Dr. Bruno Klopfer who was convinced that he would be able to tell the homosexual subjects apart from the test group of heterosexuals just from the Rorschach test. He couldn’t. In fact, none of the three could. Mental health was equally distributed among the subjects tested and homosexuals exhibited none of the widely assumed markers of mental illness.

After Dr. Hooker, many other researchers attempted to find a scientific, objective and empirical method for identifying pathology in homosexuals. They all came to the same conclusion. As a result, in 1973 the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-II seventh printing). Today all official professional oversight organizations in the field of medicine, psychiatry and psychology from around the world have moved forward and reject the classification of homosexuality as a ‘disease’, ‘aberration’, ‘handicap’ or as having pathology.

For more on Dr. Evelyn Hooker, see this article at the Center for Research and Education on Gender and Sexuality at the San Francisco University and this article at the American Psychological Association as well as the 1992 documentary ‘Changing Our Minds: The Story of Dr. Evelyn Hooker’ narrated by Sir Patrick Stewart.

Unfortunately, the current Baha’i view is frozen in the 1950’s. If the Universal House of Justice posits that homosexuality is an ‘illness’, then the onus is on them to present evidence of its pathology. Many Baha’is who are well informed of the current medical advancements in this area have written as much to the institutions:

On the question of whether or not there is a biological predisposition to homosexuality, the letter indicates that the question is still open to dispute. In this regard, it may be important to note that while science may find that a predisposition to homosexuality is caused by genetic aberration, and in that sense may be considered “natural”, it does not follow that it is “natural” for some people to be homosexual. A comparison can be drawn with the evidence which suggests that there is a genetic flaw which produces a predisposition to alcoholism. Most people would hesitate to conclude from such evidence that a person with such a genetic aberration would be destined to become an alcoholic in spite of any efforts to the contrary. As the letter states, “The statistics which indicate that homosexuality is incurable are undoubtedly distorted by the fact that many of those who overcome the problem never speak about it in public, and others solve their problems without consulting professional counselors.” Furthermore, contrary evidence may well exist but may be overlooked by scientific reporting that is, for one reason or another, biased.
(From a memorandum prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, 3 May 1994)

You mention recent research which indicates that there may be a genetic basis for homosexuality; you accept the Baha’i view of this matter, but you question the use of such terms as “abnormality, handicap, affliction, problem, etc.” since they can create misunderstandings. On the contrary, the House of Justice feels that just such words can be a great help to the individuals concerned. Human beings suffer from many problems, both physical and psychological. Some are the result of the individual’s own behaviour, some are caused by the circumstances in which he grew up, some are congenital. Some human beings are born blind, some suffer from incapacitating accidents or diseases. Such conditions present the individual affected, and those around him, with serious problems, and it is one of the challenges of the human condition that all those concerned should strive to overcome such problems and have understanding and sympathy for the individual so afflicted.
Letter to an individual Baha’i from the The Universal House of Justice (June 5, 1993)

You state that “homosexuals cannot be altered into heterosexuality, all such trials have failed and homosexuals remain so until the day they die.” This is a statement which is still open to dispute, and which Baha’is would question.
Letter written to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States on behalf of the Universal House of Justice (September 11, 1995)

The comparison with alcoholism betrays the incorrect assumption being made. While alcoholism has a well defined pathology as well as effective treatments, there are no grounds for a similar claim to be made for homosexuality.

But more alarming than the facile comparison to alcoholism, is the argument against the mountain of evidence that homosexuality is neither pathological nor ‘curable’. In a tragic attempt at addressing the lack of evidence that homosexuality is curable, it is claimed that there is a conspiracy of ‘biased reporting’.

One of the principles of the Baha’i Faith is the unity and harmony between religion and science. As such, the current Baha’i teachings on homosexuality, unless modified, present a serious challenge to this principle. The advancement of science has provided an incrementally richer understanding of the nature of human sexuality. No scientific evidence exists to show that homosexuality presents any pathology, either physically or psychologically. Failing to produce a pathology for homosexuality, one is forced by logic to stop classifying it as an ‘illness’ or ‘disease’. And it would be more accurate to use the analogy of “left-handedness” rather than that of “alcoholism”.

Sexual Orientation Change Efforts or “Conversion Therapy”
In medicine, before a treatment is proffered it is customary and good form to first define the pathology being targeted. No professional medical practitioner worthy of their position would put the horse before the cart.

When it comes to the issue of homosexuality though, this doesn’t seem to faze those that offer to ‘cure’ those so ‘afflicted’. There is a not so small industry of therapists claiming that they can change a person’s sexual orientation. The largest organizations are NARTH and Exodus and the most famous practitioner of this odious pseudo-science, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, the founder of NARTH.

Dr. Joseph NicolosiNicolosi subscribes to the theory that a rift between father son causes homosexuality. There is no link between paternal relations and sexual orientation of course. Many gay men have healthy and close relationships with their fathers and many heterosexual men have terrible relationships (or none at all) with their fathers. But in any case, Nicolosi’s narrative is that boys become sexually attracted to other boys and men because of a ‘masculinity deficit’ brought about by a break-down in the father-son relationship.

Most conversion or reparative therapies rely heavily on an addiction or abuse/neglect model to both explain and fix homosexuality. This modality can even be seen in official communications from the Baha’i institutions (as above which cite a comparison to alcoholism). Such therapies are harmful not only because they inculcate in people a ‘broken’ view of themselves but they also blame the person for its ineffectiveness – this is in contrast to real medical science where if a therapy doesn’t work either in medicine or psychotherapy, the patient is not blamed.

Surprisingly, one of the persons who championed the removal of homosexuality from the DSM in 1973 also gave Nicolosi, NARTH, Exodus and the plethora of similarly misguided therapists and organizations a temporary veneer of legitimacy. In 2001 Robert Spitzer, a prominent psychiatrist, released a study of 200 men who had been selected from Nicolosi’s conversion therapy. Spitzer’s conclusion was that for a few select individuals conversion therapy worked. The ‘ex-gay movement’ took this and ran with it as legitimizing their work. Before this not one single research had supported their claims (nor since).

Dr. Robert SpitzerHowever, Spitzer’s research was controversial. Not just because it flew in the face of accepted scientific norms but because there were some serious and devastating weaknesses in the structure of the study itself which called into question its conclusion. For one, the sample of subjects were selected by Nicolosi as successful conversion patients. No control group was measured alongside them. The study consisted of 45-minute phone interviews with 200 individuals who had been referred to him by Nicolosi.

Spitzer was attracted to the research exactly because of its controversial nature but later acquiesced to his critics, confessing that he wished he hadn’t done it in retrospect. Among his own reflections was the fact that while Nicolosi had been doing conversion therapy for 30+ years he could only offer a handful of successful candidates: “In all the years of doing ex-gay therapy, you’d think Nicolosi would have been able to provide more success stories. He only sent me nine patients.”

Spitzer attempted to retract his work and went on the record repudiating his study: “In retrospect, I have to admit I think the critiques are largely correct…The findings can be considered evidence for what those who have undergone ex-gay therapy say about it, but nothing more.” And in a letter to the editor of the Journal of Sexual Behavior where his research was published Spitzer wrote:

The Fatal Flaw in the Study – There was no way to judge the credibility of subject reports of change in sexual orientation.

I offered several (unconvincing) reasons why it was reasonable to assume that the subject’s reports of change were credible and not self-deception or outright lying. But the simple fact is that there was no way to determine if the subject’s accounts of change were valid.

I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy. I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some ?highly motivated? individuals.

After many decades of operation there is not one shred of evidence that conversion therapies are effective. In fact we have overflowing evidence to the contrary. The list is too long to cite here fully so here’s one example. By now we have seen so many scandals of prominent anti-gay politicians or men who are directly involved in the ex-gay therapy movement exposed as being homosexual that we are desensitized to the shock of it. For a recap see Truth Wins Out.

Primum non nocere
Even if we decide to ignore what we have learned since the 1950’s about homosexuality not being a disease, and even if we ignore the repudiation of Spitzer’s study and insist that for some conversion therapy is effective there is one more important aspect that must not be ignored. For every treatment we must balance the perceived good with the potential bad it might inflict. Such a trade-off analysis is done by every medical professional in partnership with the person being treated. While certain treatments may be effective, they may not be pursued because they present too high a risk of negative consequences. This is the Hippocratic oath: ‘First, do no harm’.

Such considerations are vital because reparative or conversion therapies are not benign but have the potential to serious harm a person’s mental health. We have left behind the barbaric mutilations that physical interventions such as castration or lobotomies entailed. Today conversion therapies fall under the general umbrella of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). But even if we insist against all scientific grounds that there is a small chance of success we must take into account the risk of such treatment. There are many tragic stories of people who underwent conversion treatment with devastating results.

For this reason and for the fact that there is neither a scientifically defined pathology nor treatment for homosexuality, all major health organizations around the world not only reject the classification of homosexuality as a ‘disease’ but they have guidelines which instruct their members to not engage in conversion therapies. For a full list see this wikipedia article:

American Psychiatric Association: It is possible to evaluate the theories which rationalize the conduct of “reparative” and conversion therapies. Firstly, they are at odds with the scientific position of the American Psychiatric Association which has maintained, since 1973, that homosexuality per se, is not a mental disorder. The theories of “reparative” therapists define homosexuality as either a developmental arrest, a severe form of psychopathology, or some combination of both.

American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (PDF document)

Other American organizations critical of ‘reparative’ or conversion therapy:

  • American Medical Association
  • American Psychological Association
  • American Counseling Association
  • National Association of Social Workers
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Association of School Administrators
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • National Association of School Psychologists
  • American Academy of Physician Assistants
  • National Education Association

Norwegian Psychiatric Association: Homosexuality is no disorder or illness, and can therefore not be subject to treatment. A ?treatment’ with the only aim of changing sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual must be regarded as ethical malpractice, and has no place in the health system.

The Australian Psychological Society acknowledges the lack of scientific evidence for the usefulness of conversion therapy, and notes that it can in fact be harmful for the individual.

World Health Organization: “sexual orientation by itself is not to be regarded as a disorder”

These official policy statements are important because they prevent health professionals from offering such treatments and protect patients. Recently a psychotherapist in the UK was found guilty of medical malpractice for attempting to treat the condition of homosexuality in one of her patients. Lesley Pilkington’s accreditation with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy was suspended and she was ordered to undergo further professional training.

So to recap: there is no evidence that homosexuality is a ‘disease’, there is no evidence of an effective treatment, but there is ample evidence that attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation is dangerous.

The Dilemma for Baha’i Health Professionals
All of the above presents a challenge for Baha’i health professionals. On one hand they are academically trained and as members of an association must abide by their professional and ethical standards; and on the other hand as Baha’is they are educated from their Faith to view homosexuality as a ‘disease’ which should be treated. I do not envy them the cognitive dissonance such opposing views can inspire.

The vast majority of Baha’i health professionals deal with the dichotomy by favoring their professional and academic training. A few however choose to give priority to a few letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi 60 years ago. For example, Nossrat Peseschkian categorized homosexuality as ‘sexual disorder’ and ‘illness’.

Lynn Schrieber who has no academic or professional training gave a presentation about conversion therapy under the auspices of Baha’i institutions at the 2010 ABS Conference.

Mary K. Radpour who is active with BNASAA and a member of National Association of Social Workers engages in conversion therapy and has given numerous workshops and presentations at official Baha’i conferences and meetings.

It must be noted that the National Association of Social Workers policy statement on this issue is clearly against such treatment:

Reparative or conversion therapies claim, through the use of psychotherapy or other interventions, to eliminate a person’s sexual desire for a member of his or her own gender. The National Association of Social Workers’ National Committee on Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Issues (NCLGB) recognizes the emergence of these misleading therapies. Reparative and conversion therapies, sometimes called “transformational ministries,” have received wider attention against the backdrop of a growing conservative religious political climate (NASW, 1992), and through recent media campaigns supported by the Christian Coalition and the Family Research Council. By advancing their efforts through such propaganda, proponents of reparative and conversion therapies, such as the most commonly cited group NARTH, claim that their processes are supported by scientific data; however, such scientific support is replete with confounded research methodologies (Mills, 1999).

Nahzy Buck is not academically trained in this field but she has been given the podium for presentations which assert that ‘reorientation is possible and desirable’:

Finally, Dr. Chris Johnson who commented on Sonja’s blog claims to be a retired US psychotherapist who subscribes to the addiction model of homosexuality outlined above:

I am a retired Professor and psycho therapist in private practice in the U.S. I am a Baha’i who specializes in treatment of sex addictions. Homosexuality is a form of sex addiction and many gay in recovery go to 12 Step programs with Sexaholics Annoymous. I have treated many gays who want treatment through either inpatient and/or outpatient treatment plans.

The individuals who are not health professionals can be partially excused for their ignorance. While it is strange that a Baha’i is given the floor to expound on unscientific and unproven assertions which have the potential to harm those who implement them, we can understand that they are being given such an opportunity exactly because they are ‘toeing the party line’.

The individuals who are academically trained and members of a professional group not only do not have an excuse for their ignorance, they are willfully neglecting both science and the health of their patients. They risk an outcome similar to the UK psychotherapist who was sued for flagrant violations of their professional code of conduct.

Health professionals have a duty of care to not do harm, even if the patient explicitly requests it. Abiding by professional standards means explaining to the person the danger of undergoing conversion therapy, its unproven, unscientific nature and providing information about sexual orientation coupled with counseling to help the person understand there is nothing inherently wrong with them for being attracted to the same sex. This should be the default position of all health professionals, Baha’i or otherwise.

The Scientific Method and Iterative Advancement of Knowledge
An ever advancing civilization is driven forward by two mutual forces: revelation and scientific progress. As Baha’is we believe both are equally important. When discussing the scientific view of homosexuality and the ignorance of same by the Baha’i institutions, many Baha’is point out that since science changed how it views homosexuality once, it may do so again. In their view, the harmony between science and religion will be brought about not by an adjustment by the Baha’i Faith but by science.

This betrays an ignorance of the nature of science and iterative advancement of knowledge. Science is not like a candy wrapper floating in the wind, going hither and thither, randomly landing on convictions before moving on to new ones. While science provides an evolving understanding of reality, it does so in a relatively incremental manner. Only rarely does it leap forward or smash previously held truths before replacing them with new ones.

scientific processMore often than not, science builds upon itself in a slow, gradual and methodical way to propel us forward. The explanations that it provides us today can be overturned and reversed by new ones down the line but such a process is not random and it rarely reverses back on itself because once a great question is presented, examined, researched, experimented, etc. the conclusion is almost always the basis for future incremental advancement.

We can see this model of scientific advancement in such examples as germ theory, theory of relativity, climate change, evolution, etc. All of these were ‘great’ questions of their time. Many are still being resisted by those who refuse to acknowledge that within the scientific community, they are a settle matter. The question of anthropogenic climate change within US political circles is an embarrassing example of this.

It is precisely because science places a premium on empirical evidence and intellectual rigor that overturning previously established principles is so rare and valuable an occurrence. The rest of the time scientists plod along doing yeoman’s work by expanding our understanding within the established framework and widening the new horizon.

The danger here is that by not allowing science and religion to be congruent, the Baha’i Faith’s view about this important issue becomes an anachronism and damages the prestige of the Faith.

We’ve Been Here Before
The arguments against the granting of full rights and freedoms to homosexuals is strikingly similar to three other wrenching struggles that Western civilization already went through: slavery, women’s suffrage and racial prejudice. It is easy to forget today but for each of these hard-fought social advancements, many marshaled arguments similar to the ones we are seeing today.

racial integration protest

But in each case the principles that underpinning the issue were the same: the oneness and equality of mankind. Both scientific evidence and religion provided a path to the same conclusion. Each of these social advancements came about gradually and reached a tipping point when a majority of people acknowledged the truth of unity and equality of mankind. History was not kind to those who were on the ‘wrong’ side. To those who ‘get it’: welcome to the new world order! To others, enjoy becoming anachronisms in the dust bin of history.

A great example of this is the Roman Catholic church’s refusal to accept science and cling to the biblical geocentric model of the universe. I’m sure you are all familiar with the shameful treatment of Galileo, one of humanity’s scientific giants. As early as 1990 Cardinal Ratzinger refused to apologize for the treatment of Galileo (357 years later). In 1992, two years after Ratzinger caused an uproar by his comments, Pope John Paul II wrote:

Thanks to his intuition as a brilliant physicist and by relying on different arguments, Galileo, who practically invented the experimental method, understood why only the sun could function as the centre of the world, as it was then known, that is to say, as a planetary system. The error of the theologians of the time, when they maintained the centrality of the Earth, was to think that our understanding of the physical world’s structure was, in some way, imposed by the literal sense of Sacred Scripture….

And in 2000 issued a full and blanket apology for the wrongs of the Catholic church in the past (including its treatment of Galileo). The example of the Catholic church in this issue and its transition from promoting geocentricism persecuting heliocentrism, to a reluctant acceptance of science shows us how damaging it is when a religious institution insists in rejecting reality. It is damaging not only to society but to the institution itself. For this and many other reasons, the Roman catholic church became a target of mockery and revulsion.

A Different Baha’i Response
So how do we reconcile a course correction as Baha’is? A good starting place is educating ourselves about the historical and etymological origins of the phrase Baha’u’llah used in the Aqdas: a specific practice of ritualized pederasty practiced in the Middle East (bache bazi). For me the key take-away is this:

By ignoring the homosexual relationships between women, which were marked by consensual agreement between adult equals, and condemning specifically a despicable act of ritualized pederasty marked by the abuse of power and dominance of an adult over less fortunate minors, was Baha’u’llah telling us more about equality, justice and human rights than about merely a sexual act or orientation?

The oft cited letters written on behalf of the Guardian need to be also taken in context. First, these were not official policy statements but responses to questions put forward by individual Baha’is seeking guidance from the one source they esteemed most highly. Although we only have the responses, it is easy to imagine how personal and painfully intimate they must have been. The answers are crafted to give ease and guidance to such individuals in their specific situation as they describe it, and it is appropriate to the possibilities offered by the society and science of that day.

Next, while reviewed, these letters were not written by Shoghi Effendi himself but by a secretary. As the Guardian, he was not able to and did not intend to create Baha’i law. It always amazes me that fellow Baha’is ignore the Administrative order and take any and every word written by a secretary on behalf of the Guardian regarding a specific personal issue to be a generally applicable Baha’i law!

The intentions of Shoghi Effendi on this topic are much less clear than suggested. The connection of that cryptic phrase from the Aqdas regarding the heinous activity of pederasty (ghelmaan and bache bazi) and homosexuality is tenuous and little understood. Supposedly it is a hand-made mark jotted down on the margin of his personal copy of the Aqdas. That’s it. Nothing more. As such it is not clear if this was meant to be a personal note, a reminder for further research, or for some other reason.

Finally, the institution of Guardianship was intended to continue after Shoghi Effendi. We all know it didn’t. But the fact that such an institution was meant to exist in parallel with the Universal House of Justice and provide continuing and evolving interpretation of Baha’i texts is a vitally important fact. If we imagine for a moment that the institution had continued, instead of lapsing with the death of Shoghi Effendi, it is not irrational to expect that a current Guardian would take into account the most up to date scientific findings when making an interpretation. The purpose of the institution of the Guardianship after all was to provide for a dynamic source of interpretation, allowing the Baha’i Faith to meet the contingent needs of society as it evolved and transformed.

Ultimately the decision of how to view homosexuality within the Baha’i Faith falls under the purview of the Universal House of Justice. They are the institution with the authority to make Baha’i law. For an example of what that may look like in the future, consider their view on trans-gender or transsexuality:

…at the present time, the Universal House of Justice considers the change of sex to be a medical question on which the advice of medical experts should be sought….

It has decided that changes of sex or attempts to change sex should, at the present time, be considered medical questions on which advice and guidance should be sought from experts in that field.
Research Department letter to individual Baha’i (26 December 2002)

It is only natural that the same respect that is given to medical professionals in the above response would be extended to them for the question of other issues, including homosexuality. According to these experts, gender reassignment has a proven track record of successfully helping patients change their gender and become happier, healthier individuals. The field of sexual orientation change on the other hand is littered with pseudo-science and harmful procedures that damage patients health.

There is also this letter which reminds us lovingly to ‘mind our own bees-wax’:

Regarding the matter of the young men you have raised in your letter: he feels that they should be treated like any other people seeking admittance to the Faith, and be accepted on the same basis. Our teachings, as outlined in the Advent of Divine Justice, on the subject of living a chaste life, should be emphasized to them just as every other applicant, but certainly no ruling whatsoever should be laid down in this matter. The Baha’is have certainly not yet reached that stage of moral perfection where they are in a position to too harshly scrutinize the private lives of other souls, and each individual should be accepted on the basis of his faith, and sincere willingness to try to live up to the Divine Standards; further than this we cannot go at present….
Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Baha’i (November 4, 1948)

Homosexual Homophobes
homophobic sealThe ugly side of this issue is homophobia. Unfortunately the Baha’i community is not immune. Recently the NSA of Uganda joined the “Interfaith Rainbow Coalition Against Homosexuality”. To their credit the Universal House of Justice has made it clear that such a stance is unacceptable for Baha’is. For more, see Sonja’s previous article.

Homosexuality has been observed in hundreds of species. Homophobia has been observed in only one.

Several studies have shown that there is a connection between homophobia and latent homosexual tendencies:

Only the homophobic men showed an increase in penile erection to male homosexual stimuli. The groups did not differ in aggression. Homophobia is apparently associated with homosexual arousal that the homophobic individual is either unaware of or denies.
Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal?
Adams HE, Wright LW Jr, Lohr BA.

A more recent study used a different methodology to arrive at the same conclusion: “we identified a subgroup of participants who, despite self-identifying as highly straight, indicated some level of same-sex attraction”. For more, see this New York Times article.

These studies shed light on a peculiar pattern that has emerged in modern history where prominent politicians who espouse anti-gay views are eventually exposed for being homosexual themselves. The most famous you’ll probably recall are Ted Haggard and Larry Craig. But the list is actually quite long. Thankfully there is a website dedicated to archiving these individuals: Gay Homophobe.

Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of HeterosexualityWe humans are very good at ‘othering’. In more barbaric times isolating one group from another by highlighting superficial differences served the much needed purpose of increasing cohesion and cooperation within the group. But as our civilization advances we are shifting from this model to one based on inclusion and unity.

The colorful stories shared at the beginning show that the modern distinction between homosexual and heterosexual is both an arbitrary and recent phenomena. The terms themselves were coined in 1868 by Karl Maria-Kertbeny in German (homosexualit?t) and entered English two decades later. He also suggested ‘monosexual’ for masturbators and ‘pygists’ for practitioners of anal sex. Those didn’t catch on as well.

Maria-Kertbeny’s intention as a human rights campaigner were to replace the pejorative labels of ‘sodomite’ and ‘pederast’ which were common in the 19th century. While the term ‘homosexuality’ is less insulting and more descriptive, it created a false path which we have trodden until now.

Ever since the concept was given a label, homosexuality has been seen and described as a ‘deviation’ from ‘normal’ sexuality; otherwise known as heterosexuality. This is odd because there is no ‘normal’ when it comes to human sexuality. And while usually scientists are careful to define ‘normal’ before moving on to deviations, the majority skipped this part when dealing with human sexuality. Thankfully Dr. Hooker’s work remedied this oversight. Like gender, human sexuality is much more nuanced. For more, see the illuminating book: “Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality”.

Conclusion
There are two separate but important issues which present an insurmountable challenge to the current widely held Baha’i views on homosexuality: the classification of homosexuality as a ‘disease’ and the assertion of the plasticity of sexual orientation. Both of these remain empty assertions, unproven and devoid of supporting evidence.

There is no discernible evidence of pathology for homosexuality, no matter how hard scientists have looked. Individuals who are homosexual live normal lives, just as the rest of humanity and they have even included astonishingly gifted, intelligent, exemplary specimens of humanity: Alan Turing, Jane Addams, Oscar Wilde, etc.

If there is no pathology on an individual level, what about on a group or societal level? Research shows that same sex families raise healthy, well-adjusted children and that they have the same issues and challenges that ‘normal’ families do.

The only way we can pretend that homosexuality is a disease is by ignoring a mountain of evidence and insist on using outdated ideas (like Turkey’s use of the 1968 DSM). Ask yourself, would you be comfortable with having you or your loved ones given healthcare on a level that was available 60 years ago and forgo any scientific advancements since then? or would you want the most advanced treatments based on the most up to date scientific knowledge?

  • Excellent. Some proof-reading notes:

    target of mockery, not the source of it

    to conform nicely, one toes the line:  towing the line is for tug-o-wars

    “First, these were not official policy statements but personal and painfully intimate letters written by individual Baha’is seeking guidance from the once source they esteemed the highest at a time of great tribulation. At best, such responses can be relevant to the person who they are addressed to for the specific situation they describe in their supplicating letter. ”

    First, these were not official policy statements but responses to the questions put by individual Baha’is, seeking guidance from the source they esteemed most highly. Some of the letters they wrote must have been very personal, even painfully intimate. The answers are crafted to give ease and guidance to an individual, in their situation as they describe it, appropriate to the possibilities offered by the society and science of the day.  

    “be a widely applied Baha’i law! ”
    a generally applicable Baha’i law

    Supposedly it is a hand-made mark jotted down on the margin of his personal copy of the Aqdas. That’s it. Nothing more.

    add – is it his conclusion, or a question to himself, a note for further research? 

    “And while usually scientists are careful to define ?normal’ before moving on to deviations, they skipped this part when dealing with human sexuality.”

    While scientists are usually careful to define ?normal’ before moving on to deviations, many of them skipped this part when dealing with human sexuality.

     

  • gurno

    I applaud the writing you’ve done here.  Please keep up the good work!

  • Baquia

    thank you, and I applaud you for getting through this turgid prose!

  • Baquia

    thank you Sen, appreciate the help

  • Starsign

    This has to be one of the best articles on this subject, a great resource for those who are brave enough to be vocal about LGBT Rights in the Baha’i Faith.  Baha’is embrace the science of ‘climate change’ with encouragement from the Universal House of Justice , yet we are frozen in the past in regards to homosexuality, with all the now unscientific trappings of the 1950’s.  It saddens me that the US Baha’i Community is still on the course of embracing ‘conversion therapy’.  In 2011 there were three LGBT related presentations at the ABS Conference that took place in San Francisco, two of which clearly drew inspiration from ‘fringe science’ theories taught by NARTH and Exodus International.  What is interesting at the Baha’i International level is that in 2010 the Secretary General of the Baha’i International Community spoke at Haifa’s LGBT Community Center (the Haifa Forum) http://qjew.wordpress.com/tag/haifa-foundation/ , the talk appeared to be on the topic of inter-religious dialogue, but one would assume it had to be geared towards an LGBT audience.  I am curious if the talk at the Haifa LGBT Center is a sign of things to come, and if so , why are Baha’i NSA’s like the US, UK, Uganda, Guyana, and Malaysia promoting agendas that harm LGBT people?

  • Desir0101

    Good piece of work.

    Your article lay much emphasis on sciences and not SPIRITUALITY.
    Science and Spirituality are like fire and water.
    And they can co habit harmoniously only in a very specific condition.
    As in the vegetative, animal and human metabolism.

    Science  is the study of mortal self and religion to develop the spiritual self.
    And both science and spirituality find their expression in the human self.

    There are million of DNA segments information that the more learned of scientists did not know their purposes.

    Sciences is just the job  to unveil the knowledge of God .
    And if you are really a believer in God, and in all  what humanity consider as great Revelations from God, He always and always speaks of men and women, of male and female.

    Because HE knows Every Things. HE IS THE ALL KNOWING.

    All your historical facts of homosexuality in so many reigns are but the deviation of human behavior from God’s purposes.

    I am sure we have never ask to be born on this planet but we are, fashioned by a mysterious force.

    Since our existence does not depend on any one else but this same mysterious force we must tender our self to what he purpose for us through His messengers.

    And all have spoken the same truth, only male and female attract.

    Even in nature like pole repel and opposite pole attract.

    Bahaullah in the Book of certitude confirm that with the coming of the next manifestation all teachings and laws of the precedent one become null.
    And if Bahaullah have omitted to pen the laws concerning homosexual relation and the like, it’s up to the UHJ.

    And if the UHJ favor the homosexual relation, I personally believe that it is against the natural order of Things.

    Even if the attraction between the same sexes are real love and harmony but these feelings dwell in the mortal self of same sexes, it’s against the natural order of things.

    They may love God, live a spiritual life as any other believer in GOd.
    God is LOve.

    Don’t seek refuge in religion if they refuge to welcome you.+

    Religion is for the masses, those who like to follow the patern and can’t create one’s own reality.

    Judgement is GOd.

    B ye.

  • Baquia

    Jan, you claim that even if “homosexuality cannot be diagnosed from Rorschach blots and so forth does not absolve it from being a disorder” and then you compare it to pedophilia.

    First, the search for pathology continued well past Rorschach tests administered by Dr. Hooker in the 1950’s as part of her seminal work. No matter how hard scientists looked they found no pathology.

    Second, this brings me to the second point. Your comparison of homosexuality to pedophilia is erroneous for this same reason: while latter has clear pathology, the former does not.

    Such comparisons, including analogies of ‘alcoholism’ and ‘blindness’ already mentioned and quoted above demonstrate a wholesale ignorance of the issue at hand as having been irrefutably demonstrated by science.

    Perhaps the ridiculousness of your claim that with “entry by troops”, the diagnosis of homosexuality would change would be clearer to you if we keep everything the same and switch out two variables: instead of Baha’i we substitute Evangelical Christians and change homosexuality to “anthropogenic climate change” or “evolution”.

    Or perhaps if we imagine that every single person on the planet were to become Hindu, would we then erase everything we’ve learned about cosmology and supplant that with a model of the universe where a very large turtle holds up the earth?

  • Baquia

    Thank you for your reply. Among other things you state ” I personally believe that it is against the natural order of Things”.

    Which natural order are you speaking of? the one where homosexuality has been observed in over 450 species? the one where homosexual couples form consensual loving bonds, raise healthy children as families, grow old together and have the same challenges and victories? the one where there is not a shred of evidence for a pathology for homosexuality?

  • Baquia

    Starsign, thank you for your comment. It is my hope that as Baha’is educate themselves they will recognize that conversion therapy not only does not work, but that it is harmful. We are quite an educated bunch since science and knowledge are highly valued in the Faith so this is just a matter of time. Also, I dare say that if you were to take a survey of Baha’is personal views on the matter you’d be rather surprised at the results – akin to the 99.999% of Catholics who use birth control.

    We don’t really know the content of the talk you mention at the Haifa LGBT. I imagine it was crafted with utmost attention to tact and geared towards the audience. The UHJ has made it clear that they are totally against any discrimination against the LGBT community. The lapse in judgement by the NSA’s you mentioned were quickly defused by the UHJ and it reflects the societal pressures within those specific countries (imposed by American Evangelical groups).

    We are approaching a tipping point, as we did for other epochal issues like slavery (late 1800s), gender discrimination (1920’s) and civil liberties in the 1960’s. Or perhaps we have already reached it and history will look back on this era and Obama’s recent declaration as the pivotal event.

    For anyone with a sense of history and their place in the greater order, the question is this: do you want to move forward with civilization or do you want to be dragged kicking and screaming and thrown into the dust-bin of history along with those that campaigned against the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage and the elimination of racial prejudice?

  • Sweetie

    well, I am a Bahai because I believe Bahaullah is the messiah for today. Gods emissary. Obedience to the House of Justice is very similar to Papal obedience by Catholics, we obey the House because they are as an institution the guardians of the Bahai message.

    My knowledge of Bahai law is incomplete. Id personally like to know what the Aqdas says fully, to start off with. From my knowledge Bahai law is evolutionary, is essentially private and its the spirit of the law that is important. I dont think its really  a problem actually — a homosexual butch/femme couple are almost the same as a married normal couple.
    its promiscuity which is forbidden in the faith “we will verily abide by the will of God”

    Id like to know what the Aqdas says in full, to start off with.

    (personally, I dont think its an issue — dont ask dont tell)

  • Craig Parke

     “Or perhaps if we imagine that every single person on the planet were to
    become Hindu, would we then erase everything we’ve learned about
    cosmology and supplant that with a model of the universe where a very
    large turtle holds up the earth?”

    I thought there was a Ruhi Book that said a very large turtle DOES hold up the Earth? I think it also said in the multiple choice questions portion that anyone who thought otherwise was in opposition to the “Head of the Faith” and was an automatic Covenant Breaker and would be excommunicated by First Class Mail or the very large turtle would eat them in retribution for questioning anything written in a Ruhi Book. I lived my whole life based upon the dream of “entry by troops.” No one is going to ever join or ever stay in a religion that has been completely run into the ground like this. A religion where no discussion of anything other than the lifetime incumbent entrenched party line is permitted. One step forward. Ten thousand steps back. Meanwhile the New World Age moves on growing in strength as people discover their inner spiritual powers more and more every day. Think globally. Act locally. Everyone have a nice weekend! Help somebody who needs help.

  • Desir0101

     My dear Baquia,

    Are you considering your self as same level with the 450 species, then your are the 451th.

    So, you are insulting the human species.

    You are as if exploring a world with infinite and complex mechanism and at only one millionth step you are jumping to conclusion on human pathology base on some elementary research.

    Please a simple mathematical exercises.
    with only 10 letters what are the number of combination of words  can have.?
    And the human body have millions unexplored.`

    How can a child call mum and dad when they are of same sexes.
    When the child will be aware that only mum and dad have opposite sexes and can pro create.

    What will be the impact on the child.??

    Who are the liar??

    His adopted parents or should the child lie all his life.

    This is only a specific situation.

    My respect to all.

  • Baquia

    The health of children from same sex families has been studies extensively. All studies have come to the same conclusion, that there is no detrimental effect on childhood development, mental health and overall health. The children of same sex unions are no different than those from a family of different sex parents.

    Saying that homosexuality has been observed in over 450 species does not mean that ‘we are on the same level’ as animals. This is a false equivalency. What it means is just that, that within the natural order, homosexuality is ‘natural’ since it is part and parcel of nature.

  • Desir0101

    Baquia,
    You excuse me for my poor vocabulary as i can’t express my self correctly in your language.

    God forgive me!  I don’t believe in the Infallibility of the UHJ, but I realize what the faith would be in the absence of such institution.

    you argue that as the Aqdas make no mention of and not against LGBT. The UHJ can be in favor.

    I discuss it some time earlier.

    Incestuous relation, sodomy have no mention in the Aqdas .
    I know some countries have legalized the sodomy act, does that mean the the UHJ must conform to the demand of those believers.

    I deeply appreciate you are fighting for a cause.
    And it depend on the UHJ decision.

    Hope that one day those who are outside may find a shelter under the wings of a religion.

    Courage and lot of luck and faith.

    `

  • Baquia

    The Aqdas does mention and prohibit incest. It actually comes just before the prohibition against pederasty.

  • Desir0101

     Baquia,

    1
    Corinthians 5

    1. It is actually reported that
    there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind
    that even pagans do not
    tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you
    are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of
    your fellowship the man who has been doing this?

    Here a man is sleeping with his father’s wife.

    In the Aqdas it is understood that fathers’ wives are stepmothers and apply “”mutatis mutandis””

    The father is he alive or dead.???
    Is this law for a particular group.???

    If the father is alive how can the son weds his father’s wife. Or some complex situation may arise.
    If the father is dead so his wife can choose to be no longer “”his wife”” and marry his son in law.

    The important things is the definition of incest.

    How you categorize the relatives, close blood relation, lineage, descendant and those related only by union.

    When there are marriage between consented adult and in respect to land law  is it “‘incest””??

    Bahaullah states that it devolves upon the House of Justice to legislate
    “”concerning the legitimacy or otherwise of marrying one’s relatives.””

    So is really incest immoral?? and what about homosexuality.??

  • Baquia

    You are trying to equate two things which are not comparable. Incest causes negative genetic consequences.

  • peyamb

    Great article. A couple of things. I did write to the UHJ asking what if a competent doctor would prescribe to a suicidal gay person that the best thing he can do is to accept his sexuality, love himself and find a partner. Would then the Bahai community accept such a person as a Bahai in good standing inside the Bahai community? The resounding answer was ‘NO’ from the secretariat of the UHJ. So they will not accept a medical way out either of this dilemma. 
    The other sad thing to not, is I wonder what harm those letters on behalf of Shoghi Effendi did to the gay Bahais back in the 1950’s. I would assume the majority just left the Faith at some point. But I wonder if any sincere souls actually tried to get the ‘help’ that Shoghi’s secretaries were encouraging. I’ve read about the expert help in those days which included chemical castrations and in some parts of the world even lobotomies! Shoghi Effendi’s secretaries may very well had blood on their hands.

  • Baquia

    Peyamb, to be fair those letters simply reflected the medical knowledge of their time so in that way, quite a lot of people have blood on their hands. If you watch the documentary above you’ll see a chilling scene of a lobotomizes young man. This involved inserting what was basically an ice-pick through the upper eye socket and swishing it around until the frontal cortex was mush.

    Regarding the letter you wrote reminds me of this paradox: when an immovable object meets an un-stoppable force.

    If history is any guide, one inevitably overcomes the other. There are many examples: the heliocentric Catholic church, the Mormon Church’s and many Church’s views on blacks, role of women and gender discrimination, human slavery, women’s issues (birth control, abortion), etc.

    When it comes to the Baha’i Faith and homosexuality, there is actually not so much a ‘conflict’ as much as a misunderstanding and a wholesale ignorance of the issue at hand. Hopefully the above and others’ attempts like it can serve to bring about a fruitful dialogue and shed light on this important issue.

  • Like others here, I too applaud the writing and scholarship you have done here.  Please, please, please keep up the work!

    Daniel Orey

  • Sam

    In
    an earlier post about this topic, you included these words attributed to R.
    Jackson Armstrong-Ingram “…It was simply
    taken-for-granted in Middle Eastern tradition that all men find boys sexually
    attractive and that men who are attracted to boys are not a ?different’ type of
    men….”

     The majority of men I know
    (including men of middle-eastern ancestry raised  in the west) today  find the idea of  sexual attraction to boys strange and even
    repulsive.    This raises the following question:  How did a form of sexual attraction that was
    “taken-for-granted” and apparently nearly universal just 4-5
    generations ago, become so rare over such a short period of evolutionary time?
    Perhaps sexual attraction is mutable?  Maybe
    gradual, generational changes in culture (influenced by religious and other
    moral teachings) can change the environment in which people develop their  sexual attractions and identity. 

  • Baquia

    Sam, the answer is actually much simpler than what you propose. Occam’s Razor and all that jazz. First we have to start with the realization that in the Middle East of days gone by (but even today in many countries of the Middle East) it is taboo for men to interact in any form whatsoever with a woman who is not related to them.

    Therefore there was/is zero opportunity for these men to engage in any social interaction with women. Here we’re not necessarily talking about sexual congress but a simple afternoon stroll in the park or sharing a cup of tea.

    In such a situation, men are forced to otherwise engage their animalistic impulses. Young boys become the target because, first, they are not women and therefore are able to interact socially with men, second, they is an imbalance of social and physical power allowing the adults to simply ‘take’ what they want and third, there is no risk of taboo consequences like pregnancy and finally, such acts establish a man’s social standing by having him play the dominant role.

    Please do not confuse this explantion with a sanction of such conduct! Far from it.

    And please recognize that not all men would channel their sexual energies towards boys in such circumstances.

    Today we can see a sample of this type of environment not only in places like Saudi Arabia but even in more liberal societies. I’m referring specifically to prison populations.

    In prison, men will engage in homosexual acts not because they are homosexual but because they do not have an alternative method with which to spend their sexual energies. Of course this is a purely materialistic view of the issue but it is an accurate description of what happens.

    The words of R. Jackson Armstrong-Ingram can be therefore understood in this context.

  • Baquia

    Thank you Daniel

  • Sam

    So you and I agree that changes in culture can change prevalent sexual attractions. I am glad that we agree on this point. Do you also agree, then, that sexual attractions are mutable?

  • Baquia

    Sam, forcing human beings to live within artificial constraints will change their normal behavior. An example of this is Middle Eastern cultures where men are not allowed to express their sexuality and turn to the only available option, young boys. Similar to prison sexuality this is brought about not by an inherent and natural behavior but by artificial constraints.
    If we look at societies where men and women are free to express their sexuality we find that the majority are heterosexual and that a minority are homosexual but that also there is a variety of human sexual orientation (Kinsey scale).
    Changes in environment do not change inherent sexual orientation but they can and do change behavior. Just as if I were to put you in an enclosed space where the only food was bananas, your diet would change drastically. You wouldn’t necessarily suddenly find bananas irresistible, you would simply choose to eat bananas because the other option (dying of starvation) would be less attractive to you.

  • Sam

    I invite you to read the quote from Armstrong-Ingram again. He is referring to a sexual attraction” (note he doesn’t use the word “behavior”.) He believes this attraction was common and taken-for-granted in a certain place at a certain time in history. Now, in a different place and time, that type of attraction is no longer common and is mostly reviled. If you accept his
    proposition (and I’m assuming that you do, since you quoted him) then you face the inevitable possibility that sexual attractions (at least some of them) are mutable.

    Your banana example reveals one subtle but important misunderstanding: I am referring to the mutability of sexual attractions in populations, but not necessarily within any individual person. The prevalence of certain traits in large populations can change, (in response to cultural or environmental changes) in ways that individuals may not be able to change. 

    This concept can be difficult to understand because it is counter-intuitive. One helpful way to understand this concept might be to consider the average height of men in Korea. North Korean men are significantly shorter, on average, than South Korean men, even though they are
    genetically very similar. The difference in height  is largely the result of cultural and economic factors that, in turn, influence the availability of adequate nutrition as men develop in North Korea.  It would be unreasonable to ask a short North Korean man to “become a tall man.” 
    But it would be entirely reasonable to expect that, as a population, over time, North Korean men could become taller if their culture and economy became more like that of South Korea.

    The trait is mutable over populations over periods of generational time, while the same trait may be
    nearly impossible to change in the individual. 

  • Baquia

    Sam, if you only had bananas to eat you may very well find yourself ‘attracted’ to them (by default). The plasticity of sexual orientation has been studied in depth and the consensus from multiple disciplines is that it can not be changed and attempts to change it are harmful.

    Homosexuality as a sexual orientation has been observed consistently throughout human history. In some situations, like for example in Sparta, there were cultural and social norms which no doubt increased its prevalence.

    I think the point you’re trying to make is that the prevalence of certain sexual orientations can change through different cultures and societies.

    I don’t doubt that. But that is not necessarily proof that inherent or ‘normal’ sexuality has been changed had there been less or no constraints. To be precise, what I mean is that there may have been men whose sexual orientation was homosexual and there may have been men who were bi or heterosexual who also engaged the services of a catamite.

    It is unfortunate that we don’t have R. Jackson Armstrong-Ingram with us to explain what he meant. From the context of what he is describing (sexuality in the Middle East) it is reasonable to assume he is referring to the fact that expressions of sexuality that we would today call ‘homosexual’ were accepted without meaning that a man would be labelled as such or given a distinct social identity (as they would today).

    Men were free, in a sense, to engage in homosexual acts as well as heterosexual acts without finding themselves pigeon holed into a category. This is what I was referring to when I pointed out that the binary distinction we make today is relatively new.

    Today, if you engage in a homosexual act, that will mean something about your sexual orientation. Within the Middle East, that wasn’t necessarily true.

    We can point out similar examples such as the fellation of boys by their mothers or nannies in Manchu China. The act by itself in that society did not mean what it means in today’s society.

    The example of the banana or Korean height highlights the point we are both making. That when you remove artificial constraints (allow people to eat other foods or in Korea’s case, give people a healthy diet) they revert to a ‘normal’ state.

    We can study these ‘normal’ states when it comes to sexuality by looking at societies where sexuality isn’t taboo or restricted. For example in the Netherlands or in Brazil or in other liberal open societies. And we can compare it to severely restricted populations such as prisons or Saudi Arabia and note the differences.

    The answers we glean from such comparisons is that exogenous constraints can and do change behavior and that when people are allowed to ‘be themselves’ we have a nuanced continuum of human sexuality which includes hetero, homo, bi, as well as asexuality.

  • Desir0101

    Baquia said, ” forcing human beings to live within artificial constraints will change their normal behavior. An example of this is Middle Eastern
    cultures where men are not allowed to express their sexuality and turn to the only available option, young boys”’…..

    So if some insignificant number of riches have such practice, you should not blame the whole middle eastern cultures..

    You are allowed to express your sexuality at will in marriage life and not only one female but four.
    Or do you think that LGBT and hetero having sex with so many partners under no cultural and moral ethics is a triumph.

    “”To live in artificial constraints”” I believe when you brainwash an innocent child to accept a man as his mother or vice versa.

    To give free will to our desires and orientation without moral ethics code reduce human to bestiality.

    Just because of an “”orientation”” or ignite  by an impulsive attraction to the same sex partner they will  often have recourse  to surgical and social transformation .

    If ask the individual if this worthwhile, he will answer yes just to satisfy the ego.

    Since there is no pathological  neither a psychopathology condition so the individual have no pretext to escape the natural order of things.

  • Dustin

    As a bahai who has struggled to accept the teachings on homosexuality, this article brings to light some very critical points and important questions to ask on the side of Baha’u’llah’s original meaning and the current scientific information that is available. For a topic that can often be very controversial this article does a nice job of contemplating and investigating the nuances of this issue. Thanks

  • Baquia

    Thanks Dustin. You’re right, this can be a contentious and emotionally charged issue. That’s why it is helpful to try to bring to bear the scientific perspective.

  • Baquia

    Sam, you may be interested in this unclassified document from a Human Terrain Team (US military) detailing Pashtun sexuality:

    “A culturally-contrived homosexuality (significantly not termed as such by its practitioners) appears to affect a far greater population base then some researchers would argue is attributable to natural inclination.
    Some of its root causes lie in the severe segregation of women, the prohibitive cost of marriage within Pashtun tribal codes, and the depressed economic situation into which young Pashtun men are placed.”

  • Sam

    Baquia,  you wrote: “I think the point you’re trying to make is that the prevalence of certain sexual orientations can change through different cultures and societies. I don’t doubt that.”

    I’m glad we have clarified this point of agreement. (The additional data you shared from the
    military document is further evidence to this point, upon which we agree.)  I see the inevitable conclusion that this observation presents: that sexual attraction is, in fact, mutable.  I think we also agree that,  in fully-developed individuals, it can be very difficult, perhaps even impossible at times, to change this trait.

    I think where we still disagree (and I don’t see us resolving this anytime soon) is on the matter of what to call “natural’ and  “artificial” when observing conditions for sexual development. From a purely materialist, objective, or “scientific”
    viewpoint, there is nothing more natural about the conditions in the Netherlands than the conditions in Saudi Arabia.
    They are both societies of homo sapiens that have arisen “naturally” in a particular place and time with  a particular set of customs. Calling one society more “natural” than the other involves making a value judgment that does not really arise from science. I think you and I would  both
    agree that the conditions for sexual development in Saudi Arabia are not very healthy. But
    that conclusion cannot really be said to be a materialist scientific conclusion,  as much as it is a set of empiric observations fed into a value judgment. (A value judgment that may be based,
    at least  in some part by our shared values as Baha’is .)

    Similarly, there is nothing  less “natural” (in the
    materialist sense of the word) about the nutritional conditions in North Korea compared to South Korea.  Contrary to your statement, hunger is not an “artificial constraint”; it is the natural constraint imposed upon all living organisms.  Man has used his unique intellectual and spiritual gifts to overcome his animal nature and
    develop agriculture. This allows him to exceed the bounds of development of the mere hunter-gatherer, whose “natural” height more closely resembles that of the stunted North Korean. 
    There is nature and then there is human
    “Nature” and the two are not the same, in my view.

  • Baquia

    Sam, I’m afraid that I misspoke or mis-wrote. What I meant to say is “”I think the point you’re trying to make is that the prevalence of certain sexual behaviors can change through different cultures and societies. I don’t doubt that.”

    This is something that I showed with the colorful stories of societies gone by such as the Greeks, Spartans, Romans, Manchu China, etc.

    This does not prove that sexual orientation is malleable. As you can see from the very document that you refer to, the young lad says that although he only has opportunity to be with other men, he prefers women (to which he has no access to due to societal constraints). This is the key difference between behavior and orientation. Perhaps you missed this key point in which case I request you go back and read the document fully.

    First, regarding constraints. North Korean diets are under severe exogenous constraints placed by the dictatorial government in place – not by ‘hunger’ as you claim. The people are starved while a select few in the military and leadership apex are fed quite well. There is no doubt that this is an artificial constraint because were we to remove the government and replace it with a democracy this would change.

    Second, I’m afraid using the word ‘materialistic’ as a pejorative to describe science is both transparent and rather meaningless. Science is most definitely concerned with the materialistic, in other words that which has empirical evidence. This is why in the Baha’i Faith it is respected and acknowledged as a second path to truth in partnership with religion, which is not concerned with ‘materialistic’ or empirical evidence.

    We can certainly say, using science, that the society in North Korea is a ‘bad’ one. Take a look at any empirical measure: infant mortality, freedom of the press, happiness, general health, etc. And that a society such as Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia, with such a twisted and grotesque valuation of women as merely chattel is one that does not lead to the most productive, happy, equal, and prosperous society.

    To bring the issue back to where it belongs, almost everything we’ve discussed so far has a ‘pathology’ in a manner of speaking: North Koreans do not enjoy freedom, living in a large gulag, being underfed, controlled, etc. Afghan men and boys both suffer because they are not able to interact with women and women suffer because they are marginalized and abused. The behavior of the men in Afghanistan is a consequence of the constraints. Just as recent reports of cannibalism from North Korea are consequences of the constraints there. Each of these shows a clear detrimental effect on society. This is not a judgement call but a common sense conclusion.

    But an attempt to equate the pathologies we observe in such experiences to homosexuality is a failure. Unless and until you show that homosexuality has a pathology. That is, show that homosexuality has a detrimental effect on an individual level and on a societal level.

    This is the crux of the issue.

    For if we claim that we wish to excise a certain behavior or human predilection, we must first show that said behavior is pathological. Failing to show pathology we fail to make a case for the ‘unwanted’ness of same.

  • Fubar

    Hey Craig, hope you have been well and prosperous.

    The whole idea that God has created religions via “revelations”, and therefore conferred authority about spiritual or ethical matters on various religious institutions is absurd from a historical perspective. “Progressive Revelation” is an absurdity of massive proportions. Recognition of that absurdity opens the door to understanding the basic problem in most of the world’s great “axial” religions: the religions (or ideologies) developed in a specific time frame to deal with specific problems in human history.

    I recently saw an old video of an interview of Karen Armstrong (former Catholic Nun turned Teacher/Journalist) on PBS or C-SPAN late at night that was extremely interesting, and that made clear that while the purpose of the “axial” religions/cultures was to stop or reduce war (amongst the older “magic” religions/cultures), the great price paid was the suppression of the Divine Feminine, and women in general. Many of the ancient “magic” religions were in matriarchal cultures.

    In the “axial” religions, the principle (both Divine and Worldly) of Law and Order was expressed as a Male archetype.

    All of the contemplative traditions, including Yoga, where developed during the axial period. Previous spiritual systems, such as shamanism and other “magic” religions, did not place primary emphasis on contemplation as a spiritual practice.

    Here are some of the various sources on Armstrong’s work that I found via google:

    Video: Karen Armstrong interviewed by Robert Siegel:

    http://video.ket.org/video/1294408248

    (some audio problems towards the end of the interview)

    audio/transcript:

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5307044

    excerpts:

    NEAL CONAN, host:

    This is TALK OF THE
    NATION. I’m Neal Conan in Washington. In her latest book, historian
    Karen Armstrong describes a critical period when people in very
    different parts of the world arrived at strikingly similar conclusions
    about some of the most fundamental issues of human existence and how the
    world’s great religions emerged along the way.

    In
    THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION: THE BEGINNING OF OUR RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS,
    Armstrong traces the origins of Hinduism and Buddhism in India,
    Confucianism and Daoism in China, monotheism in Israel, and
    philosophical rationalism in Greece, how the Buddha, Socrates,
    Confucius, Jeremiah and many other mystics and philosophers created a
    spiritual revolution well before the rise of Rome and the birth of Jesus
    Christ and established principles of empathy, introspection, tolerance,
    and self-sacrifice, teachings that Karen Armstrong believes offer us
    valuable guidance today.

    Then, in the Axial Age, a man of yoga became a man who was dedicated to
    nonviolence and in yoga, he tethered together, yoked together the powers
    of his mind to induce a disciplined concentration, and before he, but
    before he could begin a single yogic exercise, he had to establish a
    nonviolent mentality that was second nature. He had not only, not to
    kill anybody or raid anybody, he wasn’t even allowed to speak a cross
    word, make an irritable gesture, or swat a mosquito. He had, and had to
    express serenity and calm before he could even learn to sit in the yogic
    position. So this spiritual journey of yoga was based on nonviolence.

    People came to the idea of compassion and empathy not because it
    sounded edifying, but because they found that it did bring them to a
    state of peace and tranquility in the midst of suffering and brought
    them into contact with what we call God. And it’s something that I think
    you have to put into practice in order to test it out, as it were.

    And,
    indeed people like the Buddhists said, don’t take my word for this.
    Never take anything on faith. Never take anything secondhand. Never
    accept an authoritarian figure telling you, you must love one another.
    Test my teachings against your own experience and if they don’t work for
    you, if they don’t bring you to Nirvana, then go to another teacher,
    that’s just fine.

    The Axial Age sages would say that by letting the suffering into your
    life, letting it smash down our defensive barricades, we can learn a new
    empathy, a new sense of going beyond ourselves.

    Armstrong on evolution, psychology and Mythic religion:

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4992705&ps=rs

  • Katioucha

    Excellent! As a Baha’i , I was very happy to read this article. Thank you for posting it. Catherine (Belgium)

  • Wombat

    It would have been much nicer and certainly more polite if these apparently unsolicited “proof-reading notes” had been sent to the writer PRIVATELY. To do it in front of everybody like this is just plain tacky. And rude, too.

  • Wombat

    “Shoghi’s secretaries” probably amounted to nothing more than his wife who, along with him, have been plumped up into bizarre cult-like figures. Neither of them knew anything even remotely close to everything, but…like so many sectarian poobahs…they pretended to. And they assiduously fostered an atmosphere of fear. Unfortunately, many insecure people find comfort and certitude in the absolute authoritarian approach. Never mind the truth, the “independent investigation” of which falls first victim once the declaration card is signed. From that day forward, believers are only supposed to believe and never question anything, just like in the Catholic Church my mother grew up in.  Shoghi Effendi is the place where the buck stopped, so if there’s any blood on any hands, it’s got to be his. I remember the letter where he (or his oddly veiled spouse) went on about homosexuality not being a condition a person should be resigned to and that anyone with it should get the best medical treatment available. Yeah, like electro aversion therapy or a transorbital lobotomy, so we can all go safely “Back to the Future” without all those pesky perverts around to mar the perfect Baha’i world. (Just send the doctor bills to the UHJ, folks. They’ll take care of it coz they ordered it.)  

  • Justice

     I would agree Wombat that the Secretaries of Shoghi Effendi – and especially in respect to the title of this thread didn’t know all that much, even if they pretended to and did cause an atmosphere of ‘fear’.

    Here is a link to an article where a father of six children living in Colorado went into the hospital for what he thought was a kidney stone and came out finding in the ultrasound he had a full functioning womb, Wombat!

    http://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/-/world/13776778/man-enter-shospital-kidney-stone-leaves-a-woman/

    This is why I say: “Androgyny Limitless Variety” is Eyes Wide Open to the true nature of Humanity – endless possibilities : http://www.imdb.com/video/wab/vi3869219865/

  • Guest

    Just to reference what the Guardian’s secretaries “amounted to”: 

    Although the secretaries of the Guardian convey his thoughts and instructions and these messages are authoritative, their words are in no sense the same as his, their style certainly not the same, and their authority less, for they use their own terms and not his exact words in conveying his messages. (25 February 1951 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)
    and Shoghi Effendi regarding communications from his office via his secretaries:I wish to add and say that whatever letters are sent in my behalf from Haifa are all read and approved by me before mailing. There is no exception whatever to this rule.

  • Justice

    Guest says that the Guardian always approved from Haifa what his secretaries wrote. If some of these directives caused fear as Wombat suggests, then the Guardian is culpable for choosing to uphold secretaries interpretations that cause misunderstanding and as a consequence ‘fear’.

    That is to say, if SE really was in Haifa when those letters went out and he in fact did see them as Guests’ says he did, a correlation of dates letters went out and dates of the Guardian’s travels/movements would make an interesting study for inquiring souls in order to get a better picture of the Guardians’ interaction with ‘letters from his secretaries’.

    I bet RK was not happy with homosexuality being practiced because of Shoghi Effendi’s feminized stature and looks being perceived as a threat to her personally.

    Also, as stated elsewhere, the BF needs procreation of its members in order to be a player in a World Commonwealth.     

  • Phoenixcloud

    I also suggest reviewing the link between homophobia and sexism, particularly misogyny.  There are many articles and scientific papers from psychologists linking the two.  I wish I still had the college resources to provide quotations.  But here are two quick google-scholar cites:
    http://aff.sagepub.com/content/13/2/166.short
    http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=PF_31vNls3gC&oi=fnd&pg=PA73&dq=homophobia+and+sexism&ots=PTlt0C6kUq&sig=HrKLjcirilOo5aGXAoXiauSIb3Q#v=onepage&q=homophobia%20and%20sexism&f=false

    This last one has the disturbing implications that accepting sexism and homophobia (along with other prejudices) also link to accepting that rape is acceptable if “she had it coming” as it were.
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/q04716380n1804u2/

    Baha’is should fight homophobia.  We shouldn’t allow it to be “the last acceptable group to hate.”

  • Baquia

    Phoenixcloud, very interesting. Thank you for sharing.

  • Barbruthw

     There is an interesting book, Homophobia:  A Weapon of Sexism, by Suzanne Pharr, the text of which is available online.  I happen to have the book, and do recommend it if you are interested in the connection between homophobia and sexism, or misogyny – a very real and basic connection, in my view.

  • Rolg18

    Very interesting article Baquia. In addition
    to homosexuality and the act of sodomy which is intrinsic to it, you could also
    have outlined the vast historical and current practises of lechery and adultery
    with their intrinsic sexual intercourse between unmarried men and women and
    married men or women and someone who is not their wife or husband. The
    fundamental issue, as I see it, is that a Baha’i cannot simply reject the UHJ or
    Guardian’s position as being frozen in time. Both the UHJ and Guardian had/have
    access to a vast number of Baha??’llah’s writings which have not yet been
    translated. But even those which have been translated make clear Baha’u’llah’s
    position on homosexual relations, adultery and lechery. All such acts are
    prohibited. So we have a dilemma. You cannot simply reject the UHJ and
    Guardian’s view on these subjects. You must reject Baha’u’llah’s explicit
    commands as also being frozen in time. Ultimately, as Baha’i, I cannot do that.
    The UHJ has made available the excerpt from one of His Tablets in which sodomy,
    lechery and adultery are all forbidden. There is no way, in my view, to get
    around His prohibition of these acts anymore than one can get around His
    prohibition of alcohol. I am sure you are familiar with the excerpt: “Ye are
    forbidden to commit adultery, sodomy and lechery. Avoid them, O concourse of the
    faithful. By the righteousness of God! Ye have been called into being to purge
    the world from the defilement of evil passions. This is what the Lord of all
    mankind hath enjoined upon you, could ye but perceive it. He who relateth
    himself to the All-Merciful and committeth satanic deeds, verily he is not of
    Me. Unto this beareth witness every atom, pebble, tree and fruit, and beyond
    them this ever-proclaiming, truthful and trustworthy Tongue.”The implication for
    me is clear: if we find wiggle room for sodomy the same applies to acts of
    lechery and adultery. The same must also apply to His other commandments. Where
    do you stop? Essentially, you no longer have Baha’u’llah’s religious laws or
    ethical exhortations. Now of course numerous people who become Baha’is come from
    all sorts of backgrounds in which some have been accustomed to adultery,
    lechery, sodomy, drinking alcohol, taking drugs, etc. The principle has always
    been to exhort them to abandon such actions as we all have weaknesses and fall
    into temptation even if we are born into Baha’i families. But I just cannot see
    how we can make an exception for sodomy as we would have to then wiggle our way
    out of conforming to Baha’u’llah’s other prohibitions. There are billions of us
    on this planet and we all have various innate predispositions. But we are not
    simply another one of 450 species which are governed by instinctual heterosexual
    or homosexual impulses. This is a challenging issue but as Baha’i I cannot
    reject Baha’u’llah’s commandments. I therefore find your attempt to justify
    homosexual behaviour throughout history to be as problematic as attempts to
    justify adulterous or lecherous behaviour which is also deeply rooted in the
    numerous cultures throughout history and is widespread today.

  • Baquia

    Thank you for your comment. These ‘acts’ which you mention as being prohibited will be discussed in the next installment of this series on the Baha’i Faith and homosexuality. This specific article was about the pathology of homosexuality, the previous one an attempt to understand the etymology of ‘ghelmaan’. There are several other aspects of this issue which will be dealt with one at a time. I beg your indulgence until then and hope you’ll come back when it is published.

  • Barbruthw

     With all due respect, none of Baha’u’llah’s translated writings make any mention of homosexuality as we understand it today.  The word translated as sodomy is what needs clarification, which I am certain Baquia will take on in the next installment.  If there are other untranslated writings of Baha’u’llah which do make such mention, I suggest the UHJ have them translated and made available to the body of believers.  There is a distinction also, I believe, between heterosexual (by nature) males engaging in sex with other males, and homosexual (by nature) males who do the same. 

  • Rolg18

    With all due respect,  I focused in my comment
    on the acts of sodomy, adultery and lechery. I simply said that if Baha’u’llah prohibited these acts then I don’t see how there is wiggle room for only one of them. I don’t see how I can engage in adultery, as a Baha’i, as it would then be okay, ipso facto, for me and other Baha’is to drink, smoke opium, marijuana, and do a whole host of other acts prohibited by Baha’u’llah. I found the excerpt re adultery, sodomy and lechery in the online Baha’i library in a letter from the UHJ to the NSA of the USA. This is the link:
    http://bahai-library.com/uhj/homosexuality.uhj.html The excerpt I quoted is around the fifth sentence or so down from the beginning. It’s a bit of a stretch in my mind to argue His command re sodomy is not as we understand it today but His command re lechery and adultery are. Why do you need clarification re the meaning of sodomy? The definition of sodomy is very clear as is the definition of adultery and lechery. Do you need clarification re the definition of adultery and lechery? Let me be clear that I agree with Baquia that there have been many
    highly distinguished and extremely gifted homosexuals throughout history who have engaged in acts of sodomy. But so also have there been many highly distinguished heterosexuals who have engaged in adulterous and lecherous acts.
    Einstein is one of many who is well known to have had extramarital affairs. My point is just that Baha’u’llah prohibits such acts very clearly and there doesn’t seem to me to be any getting around these prohibitions.

  • Baquia

    Rolg18,  once again your patience is requested. Your comment is clear and a natural one for any Baha’i to ask if they come upon the quotes you mentioned. It does not do justice to the issue you raised to attempt to address it here in the comments section so please kindly wait until the next installment in this series. However briefly it may be of interest to you to know that the original word used by Baha’u’llah and translated by Shoghi Effendi, is not accurately represented by the English word “lechery”. Shoghi Effendi himself later modified and corrected his translation. It is important to realize that the translations that the Guardian provided were good but they can be improved upon. He himself, being his usual humble self, said as much. So if we wish to gain true understanding, it is imperative to be willing to delve beyond the surface.

  • Craig Parke

    With all due respect, I think all sex of ANY kind should be completely banned worldwide to end the human race within the next 100 years EFFECTIVELY IMMEDIATELY. The experiment has failed as is evidenced every day on the planet for the last 7,000 years and, of course, in many continuing comments here on this blog. It just did not work out. It is time to pull the plug.

    I know the Baha’i Faith has nothing whatsoever to contribute to economic thought as Shoghi Effendi readily admitted. It is a very unfortunate tragedy that we never were able to develop any body of thought on monetary, financial, and economic thought within the moral Teachings because all original thought is prohibited if it is not sanctioned in a Ruhi Book and cannot pass review by the lifetime incumbent class that has owned the Faith for decades now as their personal Pharaohic satrap.. A Police State just does not engender free and open creativity on such vital topics to human society. Only openness in a culture of basic independent investigation of truth can allow for development of thinking on addressing these major problems. But for those of you here who still have any money in your pocket, you might be interested in knowing the other show is perhaps about to drop since 2008. Thinks just aren’t looking good. The whole fractional-reserve banking system of Western Civiization is going and the Baha’is have no ideas on anything involving monetary, financial, and economic thought.

    FINANCIAL ARMAGEDDON
    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/big-reset-2012-and-2013-will-usher-end-scariest-presentation-ever ;

    GEORGE CARLIN – “WHO REALLY CONTROLS AMERICA”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYIC0eZYEtI

    THE SECRET OF OZ – Bill Still
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swkq2E8mswI

    LIFE INC. – Douglas Rushkoff
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOBWhVe68os

    WEB OF DEBT – Ellen Brown (1 of 5)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QU0XiklHPMc

    A SHORT HISTORY OF THE “MONEY POWER”
    http://www.monetary.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/32-page-brochure-sept2011.pdf??

    DEMONOCRACY.INFO
    http://demonocracy.info/

    “POLITICAL PONEROLOGY (A SCIENCE ON THE NATURE OF EVIL ADJUSTED FOR POLITICAL PURPOSES)”
    http://www.amazon.com/Political-Ponerology-Science-Adjusted-Purposes/dp/1897244258

    No sex for ANYONE starting in Haifa first and then everyone posting on this Blog! It is time to pull the plug!
     ;

  • Rolg18

    Thanks for your reply Baquia. I will not quibble with the definition of lechery just as I won’t with the definitions of adultery and sodomy. Even if one wants to take issue with this definition (immediately followed by a condemnation of evil passions) there are numerous other passages in Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha’s Writings which seem to me to be quite clear in prohibiting lecherous acts and concomitantly exhorting humanity to not be slaves to their lustful appetites. Of course, this does not have anything whatsoever to do with the banning of ANY sex act as Craig humorously (or acerbically?) asserts but rather with steering them in a proper context which does not result in problems such as sexually transmitted diseases which have been burgeoning alarmingly
    among people of various sexual orientations.I realized after my first post that I should have addressed several issues related to scientific research since you cite current research to underpin much of your argument justifying homosexual acts. It would require an essay at least as long as yours to explore problematic issues in scientific or other peer reviewed research which need to be weighed very carefully. Let me cite just one example. There are people who find Baha’u’llah’s prohibition of alcohol highly problematic because they regard it as unscientific. I haven’t noticed as widespread a discussion as with LGBT but
    you only have to do a quick search in Google (if you haven’t already read or seen many such reports over the years) and you will find numerous references to published scientific research which asserts that daily consumption of alcohol is
    actually good for your health. This was based on research done over many years and I often heard references to this in the 1980s through early 2000s. So based on this research Baha’u’llah’s and Abdu’l-Baha’s, prohibition and condemnation
    of alcohol, as with acts of sodomy, is considered by these people to be clearly unscientific,  ?frozen in time? and erroneous  just as people cite current scientific research in support of homosexuality should supposedly show the ?errors’ of the Guardian and UHJ.
     

    However, is it as simple as that and is alcohol actually good for your health when consumed in moderation? This raises the extremely important issue of the complexity of scientific and medical findings and how much care might be required in relating them to Baha’i precepts. I have a folder with references to at least sixty published studies on the inimical effects of alcohol which range from health issues such as cancer to billions of dollars in economic damage yearly as well as positive correlations as high as 70% between alcohol consumption and crimes such as rape and other acts of violence.

    My point in raising this is not to conflate issues but simply to assert that published scientific research is a highly complex area requiring careful analysis as it evolves over decades and changes and/or is subject to varying viewpoints.

    For those interested, I will cite just one of many references to cancer and alcohol which conflict with the previous findings re
    alcohol being good for one’s health. It so happened that more research began to be done over the years on links between alcohol and cancer. In February 2009 the French National Cancer Institute (INCa) published Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancers, a document highlighting the dangers of drinking alcohol. It  claims that drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancer by 9 per
    cent to 168 per cent, depending on the amount of consumption, regardless of whether the drink is wine, beer or spirits. It also asserts that wine offers no health benefits against cancer. According to the INCa, the booklet (distributed
    to 70,000 French GPs) is based upon the conclusions of 500 studies carried out by acclaimed scientists worldwide. Now why is is that there were numerous other studies which found that alcohol is good for one’s health? I will not try to address that here. Suffice it to say that Baha’u’llah’s prohibition is not as erroneous as some believe (not only re cancer but for the other reasons I cited
    as well as others). It is also my view that it is far too early to assert that His prohibition of sodomy is also as erroneous on the basis of current scientific research. In my view, it may take decades before scientific research fully and adequately assesses this issue just as has happened with alcohol.

    Incidentally, Craig, if you haven’t already seen it, you may be interested in a fascinating documentary titled Inside Job: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzrBurlJUNk As a professionally trained economist, one very interesting aspect of the movie is the exploration of how the economics profession in the US has been partially corrupted by links with the financial services industry. It explores several inimical conflicts of interest in which highly prominent professors were/are paid as consultants, board members, etc. without being required to disclose the connections and how this has impacted their public policy and peer reviewed
    research findings. It is very interesting in the context of discussions about scientific research (not just in economics) and the tremendous pressure lobby and other groups exert in determining the results of such research.

  • Rolg18

     ps. Craig, re your reference to Economics you might want to take a look at http://www.ebbf.org/ which is just one of several Baha? initiatives that, contrary to your view, has much of interest re Economics, business and many related issues  in conference discussions, workshops, papers, etc.

  • Baquia

    Rolg18, you set up a strawman and then with great relish knock it down. We are not discussing alcohol nor the question of whether it is good for you or not. But just to address your strawman it will suffice to say that even a cursory search will show that the scientific consensus is well aware of the divergent findings and has a nuance understanding of the issue, for example. As well, according to the Baha’i Faith otherwise prohibited substances may be taken if they are medicinal. Leaving the strawman well alone to do his dutiful task in the farmer’s field we move on….

    On the question of the pathology of homosexuality, if someone asserts that it is a ‘disease’ as did the secretary of the Guardian, then the onus is on them to prove that assertion. We may bury our head in the sand and claim that the proof will be forthcoming in the future or we may give our heads a shake to knock the sand from our ears and realize that such an assertion is based on the prevalent societal doxa of their time and that every single piece of research has shown the same answer: homosexuality has no pathology.

    PS what you erroneously call ‘quibble’ is the heart of deepening within the Baha’i Faith. It is the difference between walking along the shore of the ocean of the Writings playing with the pebbles while ignoring the vast depths of the magnificence before you.

  • Fubar

    re: puritanism and the paradigmatic history of western religions

    Like most of its moral structure, bahaism’s conventional definition of spiritually healthy sexuality is dismal and backward, and horrid remnant and side effect of puritanical (judeo-christian-islamic) warrior culture and imperialism.

    All dysfunctional cultures need scapegoats. All mythic-conformist religions need to establish a male-archetype dominant moral order to justify their backward metaphysics and imperialistic political and military tendencies.

    Sexual variances as defined as “abnormal” lead to scapegoating. Other non-conformant beliefs/values lead to scapegoating. Scapegoating does not allow for the development of compassion or models of spiritually healthy sexuality that follow human biology, rather they are arbitrary, and culturally limited.

    The very definitions of “spiritual” and “moral” structures in western religions is inherently oppressive wrt/ “sex”, and was designed to be.

    The fact that backward people (lacking compassion) are still trying to justify such backward. bigoted thinking in a postmodern age is incredible.

    Rolg18, your “manifestation” is bogus, your “infallible” but blatantly dysfunctional, administration is appallingly backward and ignorant. Get over it and get over the need to continue an unenlightened, bigoted form of scapegoating that is socially destructive and devoid of compassion.

    (ex-bahai)

  • Fubar

    Most of these kinds of bahai “professional” organizations are unsavory collections of empty intellectual trends, “feel good” fads and missionary apologetics. The basic problem is that intellectual freedom in any bahai organization is prohibited by the censors and enforcers of conformity in bahai administration.

    The normal mechanisms of intellectual self-correction, by a community of peers dedicated to truth and the value of the “knowedge commons”, is undone in preference to religious conformism and organizational dysfunction.

    The problem that results is that the work product of such organizations tends to become increasingly meaningless over time, if it was ever meaningful to begin with.

    There are far too many “principles” in bahaism that violate the principle of “non-exclusion” for the religion to be the ground of a fertile set of ideas about reform of a complex global economic system.

    The basic model of human existence given in bahaism is completely inadequate and lacking in scientific support (for instance cognitive theory, evolutionary dual inheritance, etc.).

    The basic model of society and the kosmos in bahaism is backward, medieval and inadequate.

    bahaism is a religion in serious need of modernisation, but one that is almost completely incapable of such given its present make up (“infallible” uhj administration, censorship of dissidents, excommunication of critics, etc.)

  • Fubar

    re: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodomy

    excerpt: “The Book of Genesis (chapters 18-20) tells how God wished to destroy the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.”

    The above item reduces the issue to its basic level. An imperial “male warrior” culture, which had variously defined its “God” in hundreds of ways for hundreds of years, as it evolved, expanded and brutally dominated its neighbors, established a form of sexual puritanism that facilitated such imperialism via an ethos that scapegoated people with sexual tendencies lying outside the artificial “norm” defined within that imperialistic warrior culture.

    This is the basic reality of western religion. It was a project meant to bend ancient forms of spirituality to imperial purposes (mythic conformism. medieval politics, feudal economics).

    It was not designed to reinforce either compassion (the older paradigm) or scientific rationalism (the newer paradigm) that bracket it on either side. Those things can only be used as “partial truths”, in support of mythic conformism, when they do not conflict with the internal logic of mythic conformism (including its need to scapegoat sexual variance from artificial norms).

    Most of western religion’s hierarchical “ethical system” has acted as justification for social oppression (and marginalization of nonconforming values). The exceptions are rare.

    It takes extraordinary acts of will, creativity and intellectual integrity to bend religion back toward compassion and truth.

    The bahai establishment is not trying to engage in such creativity, rather it is attacking those that try to do so.

    – – –

    http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptB/part2.cfm

    excerpt:

    The First Useful Principle: Nonexclusion

         On
    a metatheoretical level, exactly how to incorporate what are at times
    conflicting paradigms into an integrative web is a difficult, delicate issue.
    If we accept the validity of a plurality or multiplicity of paradigms and their
    enacted phenomena–and given the fact that many of these paradigms do not,
    to put it politely, accept each other–then how to weave them all together
    in something of a coherent whole becomes a difficult task indeed. To say that
    “Everybody is right” is one thing; believably weaving them together,
    quite another.

         There
    appear to be at least three integrative principles or guidelines that are
    useful in this endeavor–that is, three guidelines that can help
    incorporate the most number of truths from the most number of sources (and thus
    validate the most number of people, who are already engaged in those practices
    anyway).

         The
    first useful integrative principle is
    nonexclusion.
    Nonexclusion means that we can accept the valid truth claims (i.e., the truth
    claims that pass the validity tests
    for
    their own paradigms
    in their own fields, whether in hermeneutics, spirituality, science, etc.)
    insofar as they make statements about the existence of their own enacted and
    disclosed phenomena, but not when they make statements about the existence of
    phenomena enacted by other paradigms. That is, one paradigm can competently
    pass judgments within its own worldspace, but not on those spaces enacted (and
    only seen) by other paradigms.

    The Second Useful Principle: Unfoldment…The Third Useful Principle: Enactment…

  • Amado De dios

    May I chip in on the EBBL? I think the Website for which you give the link actual epitomizes what Fubar has just said below – in summary, pure bla bla.
    A lot of talk – I coultn’t find any examples of concrete changes for the better – is there, in fact, anything but good intentions and lip service?
    Amado

  • Baquia

    Amado, this is also my criticism of EBBF. As a group they contain an astonish amount of potential but do not do more than bloviate. It is irksome to see so much potential wasted. Meanwhile there are thousands of NGO’s who are actually doing something to help others.

  • Craig Parke

    John Giddens report on the MF Global money flow came out today. Does anyone know if the EBBF is going to do an in depth analysis for capital markets in Europe? Does anyone know if the UHJ is looking into this for moral guidance for J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs in the U.S. and their various U.K. branches in the City of London? What is the Kitab-I-Aqdas position on repo-to-maturity and anti-repo-to-maturity instruments?

    Bueller?

    Bueller?

    Anyone?

    The Real Bombshell in the MF Global Post Mortem

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/06/the-real-bombshell-in-the-mf-global-post-mortem.html

    The hallmark of the “psychopaths” currently running the World Banking System is that they just don’t care. That is the brain chemistry of being a “psychopath”.

    Ironically, the Baha’i Faith in it’s current mindset toward the World just does not care either and, therefore, has become an organization with the exact same mental functioning and care for the world of a “psychopath”.

    They have written off all of currently existing humanity for total destruction in the Calamity to instead march everyone on the roles off into the jungle a la Pol Pot and start everything all over in “Year Zero” with the Ruhi LSD. The massively passive-aggressive weak people currently at the top of the Baha’i Faith that did this will be cursed for centuries in the white hot klieg lights of history. They turned their back on all mankind in their incestuous cult of spiritual communism. Shame! Shame! A thousand times shame! on all of them

    I know that according to the current top down propaganda of the Faith, anyone who is not going door to door and taking the Ruhi Courses over and over 24/7/365/1000 is the victum of self and passion and will eventually sink in the depths “without God.”

    I also know that in the current Administrative Order anyone in the Baha’i Faith who is not a 24/7 Ruhi fanatic who ever sought education in the world is full of “egotistic self and passion” and, therefore “the enemy of God” because they might be prone to “think for themselves” under their (gasp) “own conscience”.

    But as for me, I will carefully read and study John Giddens report and use my Ivy League Degree in Economics to try to help change the world through critical thinking of how HR-2990 can be implemented in the United States because I take personal responsibility for the fate of nations in the times in which I am living. The current passive followers of Baha’u’llah in every land have utterly failed All Mankind and they have failed without a shred of human dignity. As Peter Khan readily admitted in one of his speeches a few years ago, many good people have been driven out of the Baha’i Faith. And as he alluded, no one at the top of the Baha’i Faith would shed a tear over it. They did not buy into the program with blind obedience so they are not true Baha’is and are out. Free thinkers and people of conscience are not wanted. They want what both Stalin and Hitler wanted: blind followers who will carry out their wishes on command. Anyone else can hit the pike.

    So it goes.

  • nayman

    That gay or straight has always been equal in the eyes of the Creator is one of those spiritual realities that humankind, not the Manifestations will reveal so to speak with the sense of justice and kindness that the Creator has endowed us with. Fortunately, in the future the Manifestations of God will be allowed to be human and fallible which should increase our love for them even more.

  • Gene Therapy?

    Hi Baquia,

    Have you considered whether gene therapy which is probably 10 years around the corner, might be a possible way to change orientation?

  • Baquia

    You are asking the wrong question. Try to think of it this way, if gene therapy could potentially change a person from left-handedness to right-handedness should we do it?

    In case it isn’t clear still, the point is this: does what you are trying to change have characteristics of pathology? if not, why would you change it?

    There was a time when being left-handed was viewed by society as a ‘bad thing’ – children were physically punished and forced to change in schools. We now know better.

  • Guest 2191

    “Does what you are trying to change have characteristics of pathology?” It is in the eye of the beholder.

    “if not, why would you change it?”
    Because as a general rule, being like everyone else confirms advantage in every area of life.

    The debate in the deaf community over the evils of the cochlear implant are an excellent example of both questions. A device that allows people to hear (something most people in our consider consider pathological) is considered evil by many deaf people. They believe (rightly) that it takes away the unique culture that is valued by so many deaf individuals. Many individuals come to value their obvious disadvantage as something unique about themselves that they value quite highly.

    With regard to handedness: Being profoundly aware of the disadvantages life gives with left handedness, I consider it a “bad thing”. Ask the professional pianist who felt the need to create a left handed piano, or do extensive reading on the left handed violinist. The right handed majority is empowered and the left handed so ignorant of their neurologic disadvantage that they will often not admit that there is a disadvantage. I recall being told how lucky to learn golf with right handed clubs, why everyone should do it backwards. As it turns out there just were no left handed clubs sold in my size. I switched to left handed clubs as an adult and the difference in ability was instant and stunning. I have not caught up in skill to be able to play regularly with my own family. Socially I miss out.
    In a similar way the following is posted on another web site.I always wondered why righties always said “it’s better to have your dominant hand on the fretboard”, my response was always “why dont you have your dominant hand on the fretboard?” They never had a response to that,,,lol,Obviously it it better to have your dominant hand on the bow or it would not be done that way by the right handed majority.
    I play a strongly handed musical instrument and have many times considered downgrading the quality of the instrument to be able to switch to left handed. Always playing to your weakness is something that just gets old decade after decade. Being like everyone else confirms some obvious advantage in every area of life. The majority never stops to think about it. “We now know better”. The left handed are accustomed to the disadvantage they rarely even complain about it or even notice it. When they do the responses they get are show the profound lack of understanding of the majority. From a top search when an adult student request to learn left handed: “So the “asymmetric” violin is giving her an excuse to ask for very special attention, maybe even from a violin teacher? I am almost 100% sure this lady is following a hidden, not at all musical agenda. ”
    Another common excuse is to give an example of someone who does great who is left handed in a given field. Is the fact that someone is great mean that they could not have been even better if given a level playing field.
    On the other hand, there will always be unintended consequences when enacting any change.
    The definition of pathology is: Is is caused by a Disease? The psychological “diseases” out there are not things in space that exist, they are consensus statements about grouping certain types of behavior together in order study what treatments might help in those who want help. Homosexuality was once regarded in this way as pathology, but it is now not considered this by this group. Was it really because the evidence changed. Minimally, the primary reason was political pressures. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Fears and misunderstandings about homosexuality are widespread…. [and] present daunting challenges to the development and maintenance of a positive self-image in gay, lesbian and bisexual persons and often to their families as well.” Yes and the same could be said of Bipolar (manic depression) in which although believed to be a “pathology” is clearly genetic, and also “just the way I am”, and to which a lot of people seem to base an identity on. There is however a treatment for it already. There is a lot of social pressure to choose treatment over non treatment, and I mean from every direction. I have bipolar myself, and I chose non-treatment for 25 years after a very bad experience with the only drug available at the time. The psychiatrist wrongly thought I “just want to be manic”. No the treatment was killing me, he was just too biased toward bipolar to listen to me. However, the more treatments are studied and become available, the more likely the person with bipolar will find one that works with fewer side effects. I recently went back to treatment, a newer one, and so far so good. However, I just do not accept that there is a disease out there in space somewhere and there is something wrong with my brain. Painful- yes. Disease-I am no so sure. And yes, I do know the medical evidence and arguments around it. One therapist I knew then said “you are lucky to hurt.” Obviously the Bahai Writings tend to agree with that idea, although no one would choose that level of pain for another human being. I also know the most painful rapid cycling of depression to mania and back brought me to such a low place that I put aside my entire belief system as “not working for me”. If I did not have bipolar would I have the spiritual insight I now believe I have. I am fairly sure I would not. Was it worth it? “inwardly it is light an mercy”. Yes, but still I complain and moan about it quite a lot. Knowing what I do about spirituality would I have wanted my parents to select out for the problem of bipolar. They would be right to choose that option. But, I was indeed lucky to hurt. I see a spiritual beauty clearly not visible to most. (That is obvious by their behavior.) I am glad my parents did not have that option available to them, yet I would want it afforded to others. However, unlike the many deaf who feel it would always be worth it to allow a non hearing child to take their rightful place among the deaf, I would never wish the pain of severe bipolar on another living being. My beliefs about the advantage to myself, I could still choose differently for the next person in line. I am not so sure that pain always equals spiritual growth.

    “Have you considered whether gene therapy which is probably 10 years around the corner, might be a possible way to change orientation?” Answer: Good question. It can never be studied in this political climate.

    Should sexual orientation be changed? Perhaps it depends on if you are a citizen of the US or a citizen of Iran. It really all comes down to politics, religious belief, and eye of the beholder.

  • Baquia

    Pathology or lack thereof is most definitely not “in the eye of the beholder” – it is a binary distinction made by science, this was the whole point of the above article. To attempt to deny this is to sever oneself from reality, just as those who deny evolution and climate change. Or to put it in historical perspective, the same derision and contempt is applicable to those whoms in the past attempted to argue against women’s suffrage, dissolution of racial prejudice and emancipation from slavery.

    Your implied comparison with deafness and mental illness (“debate in the deaf community over the evils of the cochlear implant”) illustrates your complete ignorance in the key question of pathology. While these have clear, detailed and meticulously delineated pathologies, in contrast, homosexuality has none.

    Then you go on and compound your bigoted and ignorant statements with: “Was it really because the evidence changed. Minimally, the primary reason was political pressures.”.

    This is, again, completely false. The evidence did not change but was not found and has not been found after decades of judicious research. In fact the exact opposite has been consistently observed; that homosexuality has zero pathological consequences, that homosexual persons lead normal and healthy lives – if they re not subjected to the sort of prejudice you demonstrate here – and that homosexual families and children exhibit no negative consequences whatsoever.

    Again, this was clearly outlined in the above article.

    You state: “Because as a general rule, being like everyone else confirms advantage in every area of life.” Baha’is reject this premise entirely and instead subscribe to the beauty and unity of diversity as a pillar of their Faith.

    I regret that you or anyone else suffer from mental illness. You write: “However, I just do not accept that there is a disease out there in space somewhere and there is something wrong with my brain.” This is baffling. Of course there is “a disease” – or am I somehow misunderstanding you? If it were not for a disease why would you be on the receiving end of multiple treatments?

    As a personal suggestion, speak with your medical professional about bupropion. I pray for your speedy and full recovery.

    Finally, with regards to genetic research, you state: “It can never be studied in this political climate.”

    Once again, this is incorrect. Scientists have been researching the genetic origins or causation of homosexuality for decades now. The question is not whether it is genetic or not, the question is whether the phenomena at hand demonstrates pathology the same way that depression or deafness does (it doesn’t by the by).

    Left-handedness or heterochromia or a host of other human phenomena have been studied and will continue to be studied along with human sexuality (which is much broader than the binary assumption of hetero/homo). The issue is not whether in a certain culture or in a (bigotted or ignorant) person’s opinion these are considered “bad” for some reason – for as you can see above in many they were not. But rather the key take away is whether they or others contain any traits of pathology.

    May I suggest that you read the article? It just may prove illuminating (and save others the task of repeating its contents in the comments).

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  • So pedophilia is wrong in your opinion and according to the Baha’i texts? has it always been wrong? In my opinion having sex with a 9-10 year old girl was just as wrong 1391 years ago when Muhammad first bedded his prepubescent wife Aisha as it is today. Now Muhammad was supposed to be a prophet of god right? I guess it is just progressive revelation that those acts rightfully came to be considered horrifying by our time…

    Maybe the whole idea of infallibility is the issue here. Whether or not it is even true that a human can have a metaphysical connection to a illusive creator can we not just accept that these men were likely not infallible? Could not predict the future well and may have made mistakes no matter how good intentioned they may have been? Even if we grant Mirza the infallibility he claimed, he didnt specifically address homosexuality. (just vaguely addressed pedophilia.) was his son Abb??s infallible too? Even if we grant Abb??s to be the infallible interpreter of his fathers teachings did that make his decision for Shoghi’s role was a perfect and infallible idea? was it possible for Shoghi to have made mistakes about the issue of homosexuality? I know many Baha’is think that they were correct and these things can not and should not be questioned but then what is the view here? Was Shoghi more infallible and a greater interpreter of morality than Muhammad who would have been a pedophile by modern standards? I think it is more likely that the Baha’i faith is due for a rapid “exit by troops” if it continues to hide behind this issue of infallibility and fail to challenge the contradictions and hypocrisy of these outdated ideas. A Christian is rightfully laughed at if they consider the tales of the arc and the whale etc to be true and infallible. A Muslim should be corrected if they try to defend the history of slavery and murder and pedophilia and the beating of woman that stains the birth (and the present in many cases) of their religion. Now the Baha’i faith is newer and one of the most progressive of religions but the good hearted and well intentioned members have to take a stand on this issue immediately. Even a Dont ask dont tell stance is abuse. There are homosexual Baha’is right now that are either shunned or forced to live celibate and loveless lives. This is abuse, plain and simple. Who exactly are these troops going to be that are all going to enter a religion with such outdated ideas? According to many polls; the rate of homosexuality’s approval in america is higher than the rate of Baha’i population growth. There will be no magic bullet that will change that fact. Come into the present and face the truth or get left behind in the history books.

  • Ronald Delavega

    Guy you had me till climate change. What is frankly unbelievable and perhaps self service I can’t definitely say since I don’t know you from Adam , is that you refuse to see that at many times through out history as a race “established opinion’ whether ‘scientific’ or not, is far from being impartial and often follow the agaenda of a person of group. Having had several acquaintances who went from the ‘gay’ life style to marrying, having kids and living ;normal’ klives . I knpw by experience that you afre wrong and the the Ameri8can Medical Establishment is under heavy political pressure from the Gay loby and the left to create a PC world.

    This , unfortunately includes a society where homosexuals pedophiles are NEVER called homo sexual, where Homosexuals are given, adoption rights and allow to ‘marry’.

    Frankly,these things would not concern me, since what adults do behind close doors is between them and their God and none of my business, but the thing is, that the Homosexual Lobby, Big Brother and the Left, are pushing this garbage down my throat and I know it won’t stop there. If you claim that homo sexual behavior is ‘normal’ then the very same arguments canbe use for any sexual behavior . Thus pedophilia will be ‘normal’ Bestiaity will be normal, polyandry will be normal , etc. That Reparative or conversion therapies work, at least some times, and that is undeniable fact that i have seen with my own eyes.

    As to science, not only does it change its mind, quite often as a matter of fact, but its FUNDAMENTAL assumptions are often TOTALLY annihilated and changed, by new Scientific discoveries and methodologies , just think of Newtonian Physics and Quantum Mechanics and if your mind is open you will have to agree.

    As to Climate Change which interestingly started as Global Warming and it only changed , when even the scientist engaged in forgery and lying to support what was a political agenda, could no longer pretend there was a basis for a steady non-cyclical world wide increase in temperature. Now Climate change has been proven a forgery when Scientist in Scotland got caught conspiring to fudge data and lie , in emails that were leaked to the press. Androgynous or human made climate change , IS NOT A SETTLED MATTERin the Scientific community . There is an open lettter by over 700 scientists refuting the establishment positionon human caused climate change.

    So if you are not a “True Believer” and have your mind even partially open, I advice you to inform yourself about the other side of the argument before you sprout the regurgitated party line. In truth I don’t expect you to do it closed minds need to be hit in the face by a real dose of raw reality before some of them can realize they are wrong. Others, sadly can never admitt they are wrong , that is why there are peole out there in the 21st Century, still believing that gvernments produce anything but bureaucrats and regulations, that the earth is flat, that we did not go to the moon and that Communism actually works.

    Ushta te.

  • Ali

    Another practice that springs to mind is the Reog Ponorogo, from Java, Indonesia.

    Traditionally, its members included an older mystic (Warok) who was in a sexual relationship with a young male disciple (Gemblak). In the mid-1960s, Islamic groups massacred the Gemblak, whose heads were displayed on pikes in the street. To this day, the young men have been replaced by girls dressed as boys.

    It’d be interesting to know if this practice still exists in Java.

  • Scooter Motoretta

    I’ve been reading your blog, from the first posts up to this issue.
    Please tell me, is it possible to compare homosexuality to anything?
    I recall a post where someone drew a comparison between being an alcoholic and a homosexual. In the post above someone compared homosexuality to paedophilia.
    Is there anything at all in the entire universe that homosexuality can be compared to?
    I was a Bahai from the age of 17 to 43 (2004) when I reverted to Christianity after marrying a Lutheran priest.

  • Baquia

    Allah-u’ Abha Scooter,

    Sure, you can compare it to a lot of things (keep in mind these are just for rhetorical purposes to help people understand a simple concept): heterochromia or handedness (right or left or both!),

    why these? and what is the simple concept that these comparisons are meant to convey?

    that sexual orientation is not and does not present a pathology.

    hope that helped and answered your question. if not, please let me know