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Marriage and Family Life

Baha’u’llah discourages celibacy. Marriage is the natural state and contributes to the health of the individual and society. Complete chastity before marriage and absolute faithfulness to one’s partner after marriage are essential. Monogamy is prescribed, and marriage is to be regarded as a spiritual as well as a physical union. Abdul- Baha explains this:

“Baha’i marriage is union and cordial affection between the two parties. They must, however, exercise the utmost care and become acquainted with each other’s character. This eternal bond should be made secure by a firm covenant, and the intention should be to foster harmony, fellowship and unity and to attain everlasting life….

“In a true Baha’i marriage the two parties must become fully united both spiritually and physically, so that they may attain eternal union throughout all the worlds of God, and improve the spiritual life of each other. This is Baha’i matrimony.”

To a Baha’i, therefore, marriage is a very serious matter. It should be based on the love of the two partners for each other; and parents cannot arrange marriages for their children as people did in most parts of the world in the days of Baha’u’llah and as they still do in many countries today. Nevertheless, the consent of all living parents must be obtained by the prospective bride and bridegroom before their marriage can take place. This brings unity between the two families and prevents people from rushing into marriage because they believe they are in love, without realizing that they may not be suited to each other and that their marriage is not being built on solid foundations. As Baha’u’llah allows no discrimination against class, colour, or religion, parents should not withhold their consent because of any prejudice on their part but should only have the true happiness of the couple in mind.

A marriage which is based on the love of two individuals for each other and blessed with the consent of their parents has much better chance of proving successful than otherwise. This is why divorce is rare among Bahai’s. Besides, Baha’u’llah censures divorce in no uncertain terms, although he does not forbid it in the case of two people who develop a great aversion for each other.