09 February 2010

Inapropriate Discussions

I was recently around a couple people discussing sexuality, taking what they considered an enlightened and ultimately materialistic stance. What they were saying really saddened me, and I felt the urge to champion a Baha'i view of marriage yet also a powerlessness to do so.

Defending sexual restraint, procreation based marriages, modesty and monogamy has become associated with bigotry, closed-mindedness, and cruelty. This is understandable given the level of cruelty exercised by both extremes of the western sexual revolution, a battle that still rages on despite what people may think. So divisive have been the arguments, so despicable the tactics, that it is now impossible for anyone to even bring up the subject of sexuality without being classified by listeners as belonging to one of the traditional sides, as being guilty of these crimes. Ultimately however both sides have exercised the same fundamental fallacies.

Modern approaches to understanding human behavior are all guilty of taking a far too material approach, and this is especially poignant in regards to sexuality with it's extreme physical, emotional, interpersonal and societal dimensions. But even more detrimental than rampant materialism is the view that human beings are innately selfish beings who exist to consume, that we are little more than a sum of desires we must either fulfill or repress. Such a perspective is inherently material. Which is why, when groups on either side of the self-imposed divide attempt to incorporate spirituality into their views of sexuality, their attempts reek of hypocrisy to their detractors.

But the fallacies and hypocrisies go far beyond this one aspect of human existence. The simple and fragmented philosophies and beliefs, be they scientific, religious, political, or any other have brought us to a point where they must be integrated, where every aspect of our existence must be integrated. This is essential to our continued well-being and survival. No longer can we as a species tolerate any hypocrisy, any compartmentalization of virtue, any willful ignorance of the dimensions of our reality or the repercussions of our thoughts, attitudes, words, and, most importantly, our actions.

The Baha'i view of humanity stands in opposition to the current fragmented approaches. We are both spiritual beings and material beings. Neither of these realities is evil. Both have value. The spiritual and material realities must be harmonized.

Furthermore, humanity is not merely an aggregate of individuals, nor is the individual a helpless mote at the mercy of the unrelentingly winds of social change which they have no control over. Rather we are all participants in a system of exquisite sophistication. In same way that the physical cells within our bodies each interact to ensure the health of the whole organism, must we seek at every turn to serve the whole of humanity in this most critical point in it's development.

Only once we have collectively adopted a holistic view of human reality, recognizing the essential interplay between the material and spiritual, the individual and collective, can we address issues like sexuality. Until then any attempt will only end in misunderstanding, hypocrisy, division, and cruelty.


  1. Thanks for starting the conversation Jalal. I have a question. What do you mean by "procreation based marriages." Marriage purely for the sake of procreation, sex within marriage purely for the sake of procreation, or something else?

  2. Good stuff, Jalal. Keep up the fine work.I hope your friends saw the wisdom in what you had to contribute.

    We're all spiritual beings, and all the teachings we've been given by God are to enhance our lives and realize the potential that lays hidden within the mine of our true and inmost selves. The Baha'i Faith has so much to offer the world today. We just need to keep plugging away, putting what we know into practice, and drawing new insights from the writings of the faith with which we can advance the spiritual and material prosperity of the world.

    Give my regard to Las Cruces.