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The Baha’i Faith encourages, welcomes and honors the basic human urge to ask questions.
In fact, one of the months in the Baha’i calendar is even named Questions (Masa’il, in Farsi). The Baha’i teachings start by urging everyone to undertake their own independent investigation of truth – to ask the questions and seek the answers a spiritual search always raises. In some religious traditions questions are discouraged – but not in the Baha’i Faith, which actively encourages all questions.
This series is devoted to answering a set of questions that came to us from students of a college comparative religion class. They’re questions that I’m often asked, so they seemed worthy of answering here in the event that others of our readers have wondered the same things.
Question: The Baha’i religion believes that everyone is equal, no matter what ethnicity or gender, but what about sexual orientation?
According to the teachings of Baha’u’llah, we have one duty toward each other — that is to love. This love, the Baha’i scriptures repeatedly remind us, must be universal because God’s love is universal:
“…the oneness of the world of humanity shall be realized, accepted and established. When we reflect upon this blessed principle, it will become evident and manifest that it is the healing remedy for all human conditions. All mankind are the servants of the glorious God, our Creator. He has created all. Assuredly He must have loved them equally; otherwise, He would not have created them. He protects all. Assuredly He loves His creatures; otherwise, He would not protect them. He provides for all, proving His love for all without distinction or preference. He manifests His perfect goodness and loving-kindness toward all. He does not punish us for our sins and shortcomings, and we are all immersed in the ocean of His infinite mercy. Inasmuch as God is clement and loving to His children, lenient and merciful toward our shortcomings, why should we be unkind and unforgiving toward each other? As He loves humanity without distinction or preference, why should we not love all? Can we conceive of a plan and policy superior to the divine purpose? Manifestly, we cannot. Therefore, we must strive to do the will of the glorious Lord and emulate His policy of loving all mankind.” — Abdu’l-Baha, from a talk at St. James Methodist Church in Montreal, 1912, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 315.
Like Christ, Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha really leave us no “wiggle room”. We are to love everyone and not make exceptions. This even extends to differences in what Abdu’l-Baha calls “shades of thought”:
Do not allow difference of opinion, or diversity of thought to separate you from your fellow-men, or to be the cause of dispute, hatred and strife in your hearts. Rather, search diligently for the truth and make all men your friends. — Paris Talks, p. 53.
In another talk during the same period of time, he adds:
When you love a member of your family or a compatriot, let it be with a ray of the Infinite Love! Let it be in God, and for God! Wherever you find the attributes of God love that person, whether he be of your family or of another. Shed the light of a boundless love on every human being whom you meet, whether of your country, your race, your political party, or of any other nation, colour or shade of political opinion. — Paris Talks, p. 38.
While Abdu’l-Baha specifically mentions ethnicity and politics (because these were the chief issues of the time) his words clearly apply universally. “Every human being whom you meet” comes with no “except these”. So, there are no differences recognized by God. Such things as race, gender, sexual orientation, and other realities of human existence are physical/material differences. The soul has no gender, skin color, ethnicity language, or sexual orientation; and Baha’is try to love every soul.