Rules & Ethical Guidelines
Bahá’ís are taught to avoid all habit-forming drugs, including alcohol. Sexual activity is only legitimate within the context of marriage. No excuse is acceptable for fraud or theft, and the word of a Bahá’í should be his/her bond. No discrimination is regarded as acceptable in any circumstances.
Questions relating to abortion have both spiritual and medical aspects. Practical decisions rest, on a case-by-case basis, with the doctors. Bahá’ís believe that the soul becomes connected with the body at the point of conception, that it makes spiritual progress through its life in this world and that it continues to develop in the next world. These beliefs also impinge on the question of euthanasia.
Criminal activity relates to spiritual immaturity or irresponsibility, but Bahá’u’lláh emphasises the crucial importance both of justice and of carrying out the penal laws. Certain ordinances relating to crime and punishment are found in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, “The Most Holy Book”, but they are intended for a future Bahá’í civilisation and are not enforced at present. Bahá’u’lláh said, “The structure of world stability and order hath been reared upon, and will continue to be sustained by, the twin pillars of reward and punishment.” At the same time, the Bahá’í Writings stress the need for the proper education and upbringing of children, in such a way that people will shy away from committing crime.
Bahá’u’lláh forbids Bahá’ís from any form of retaliation, and his exhortation to the rulers of the world, that they should fix the boundaries and agree rules for the conduct of international affairs, has not yet been taken up. The goals of the necessary world peace conference are set out in some detail, and the result should be a world united in ensuring that every country adheres to its agreed level of armaments. Bahá’u’lláh predicts that war will cease and a long period of peace will follow. Bahá’ís see this as gradually evolving into a world civilisation, incorporating the many diverse cultural expressions of human existence. Bahá’u’lláh said: “This earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”
The approach to social justice is clearly implicit in the main principles of the Bahá’í Faith. Bahá’u’lláh urged the adoption of a Bill of Rights, as part of the world civilisation he was advocating. He proclaimed the principle that humans are one people, and rejected divisions based on gender, race, class, income and level of education. He unequivocally asserted justice as the guiding principle in social policy, and instituted mechanisms for the fairer distribution of wealth. Men and women are to have equal rights, everyone is entitled to an education, and a world-wide system of administration should be introduced. He stated, “This earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”