What is the Baha’i perspective on the importance of family life?

“My home is the home of peace. My home is the home of joy and delight. My home is the home of laughter and exultation. Whosever enters through the portals of this home, must go out with gladsome heart. This is the home of light, whosever enters here must become illumined…” ~ Abdu’l-Baha

Most societies and cultures recognize the family as a necessary and fundamental unit. The family is a microcosm of the world, and Baha’is believe its unity must be preserved if the unity and peace of the world is to be realized. “Baha’u’llah came to bring unity to the world, and a fundamental unity is that of the family. Therefore, one must believe that the Faith is intended to strengthen the family…”* The Baha’i Writings place great emphasis on the importance of the pillars of family life and unity such as the foundation of marriage, the equality of men and women, the relationship of members of family to each other and to society at large, and the education of children.

For Baha’is, marriage is the most sacred institution in society; an institution to be supported, upheld, and cherished by the entire community. The Baha’i concept of marriage is different from any other concept seen by humanity’s major world religions. Baha’i marriages are unions of equals. Married men and women see each other as the wings of the same bird, where each member has the same responsibility to sacrifice for the sake of the institution of marriage, and each with the same access to the benefits that marriage offers as a ‘fortress of well-being’ in our lives. As Abdu’l-Baha wrote about husbands and their wives, “They are two helpmates, two intimate friends who should be concerned about the welfare of each other” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá; SWA p.122)

Additionally, the raising of children is also a sacred responsibility. Baha’is do not see children as their own, rather, they see them as spiritual beings who belong to God, and who are entrusted to their parents for their education and well-being. It is their task to raise them; to give them love, support, discipline, and guidance, and to awaken spiritual perceptions in them.  In turn, it is the children’s duty to have the utmost respect for their parents. Baha’u’llah writes “The fruits of the tree of existence are trustworthiness, loyalty, truthfulness and purity. After the recognition of the oneness of the Lord, exalted be He, the most important of all duties is to have due regard for the rights of one’s parents. This matter hath been mentioned in all the Books of God.” Additionally, everyone in a Baha’i family turns to the Holy Writings and to Baha’i consultation in order to resolve disputes, to overcome tests and difficulties, and to make big decisions.

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*From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, December 28th, 1980