Why is the Baha’i ‘Institution of Marriage’ so important?

“Strive, then, to abide, heart and soul, with each other as two doves in the nest, for this is to be blessed in both world.” ~ Abdu’l-Baha

A critical component of Baha’i marriage is the principle of the equality of women and men. In a Baha’i marriage, the husband and wife are equals; and so they are both equally expected to serve, love, sacrifice and care for one another.

The institution of marriage is held in high regard in the Baha’i Holy texts, and all Baha’is who marry are highly encouraged to make it work. Family unity is so important for Baha’is that all Baha’is are required to get the consent/blessing of every living parent before a marriage can be performed. Of course, marriage can often be challenging. Today, marriage has too often become the easy target for change when things are not pleasant in our lives. Baha’is, on the other hand, believe that the first target for change should be their own inner self. Once we are right with God, all our other relationships seem to find their proper balance. Baha’is are striving to make marriage a true fortress for well-being in society. Baha’is admit that they have much to learn, but Baha’is work to see a world where marriages last a lifetime; where husbands and wives lovingly serve each other; where couples really think about the commitment before they get married; where people have realistic expectations for what marriage can offer; and where the entire society bands together to support, encourage, and inspire married folks to keep their vows and be the true helpmates of each other that God intended. As Abdu’l-Baha wrote, “Baha’i marriage is the commitment of the two parties one to the other, and their mutual attachment of mind and heart. Each must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever. Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity….” (SWA, p. 118)

In the Baha’i Writings, the husband and wife are regarded as a single soul; “…The Lord, peerless is He, hath made woman and man to abide with each other in the closest companionship, and to be even as a single soul. They are two helpmates, two intimate friends, who should be concerned about the welfare of each other. If they live thus, they will pass through this world with perfect contentment, bliss and peace of heart, and become the object of divine grace and favour in the Kingdom of heaven. But if they do other than this, they will live out their lives in great bitterness, longing at every moment for death, and will be shamefaced in the heavenly realm. Strive, then, to abide, heart and soul, with each other as two doves in the nest, for this is to be blessed in both worlds.” ~ Abdu’l-Baha (SWA, p. 122)

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