Such a chaste and holy life, with its implications of modesty, purity, temperance, decency, and clean-mindedness, involves no less than the exercise of moderation in all that pertains to dress, language, amusements, and all artistic and literary avocations. It demands daily vigilance in the control of one’s carnal desires and corrupt inclinations. It calls for the abandonment of a frivolous conduct, with its excessive attachment to trivial and often misdirected pleasures. It requires total abstinence from all alcoholic drinks, from opium, and from similar habit-forming drugs. It condemns the prostitution of art and of literature, the practices of nudism and of companionate marriage, infidelity in marital relationships, and all manner of promiscuity, of easy familiarity, and of sexual vices. It can tolerate no compromise with the theories, the standards, the habits, and the excesses of a decadent age. Nay rather it seeks to demonstrate, through the dynamic force of its example, the pernicious character of such theories, the falsity of such standards, the hollowness of such claims, the perversity of such habits, and the sacrilegious character of such excesses.
(“The Advent of Divine Justice” (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1984), p. 30) 
He is My true follower who, if he come to a valley of pure gold, will pass straight through it aloof as a cloud, and will neither turn back, nor pause. Such a man is, assuredly, of Me. From his garment the Concourse on high can inhale the fragrance of sanctity.... And if he met the fairest and most comely of women, he would not feel his heart seduced by the least shadow of desire for her beauty. Such an one, indeed, is the creation of spotless chastity. Thus instructeth you the Pen of the Ancient of Days, as bidden by your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful.
(“Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh”, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1984), sec. LX, p. 118) 
Purity and chastity have been, and still are, the most great ornaments for the handmaidens of God. God is My Witness! The brightness of the light of chastity sheddeth its illumination upon the worlds of the spirit, and its fragrance is wafted even unto the Most Exalted Paradise.
(Bahá’u’lláh, cited in “The Advent of Divine Justice”, p. 32) 
Concerning the positive aspects of chastity the Universal House of Justice states that the Bahá’í Faith recognizes the value of the sex impulse and holds that the institution of marriage has been established as the channel of its rightful expression. Bahá’ís do not believe that the sex impulse should be suppressed but that it should be regulated and controlled.
Chastity in no way implies withdrawal from human relationships. It liberates people from the tyranny of the ubiquity of sex. A person who is in control of his sexual impulses is enabled to have profound and enduring friendships with many people, both men and women, without ever sullying that unique and priceless bond that should unite man and wife.
(From a letter dated 8 May 1979 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer) 
Whatsoever passeth beyond the limits of moderation will cease to exert a beneficial influence. Consider for instance such things as liberty, civilization and the like. However much men of understanding may favourably regard them, they will, if carried to excess, exercise a pernicious influence upon men.
(“Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas” [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre, 1982), p. 169) 
The choice of clothing and the cut of the beard and its dressing are left to the discretion of men. But beware, O people, lest ye make yourselves the playthings of the ignorant.
(“Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas”, p. 23) 
Human utterance is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation. As to its influence, this is conditional upon refinement which in turn is dependent upon hearts which are detached and pure. As to its moderation, this hath to be combined with tact and wisdom as prescribed in the Holy Scriptures and Tablets.
(“Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas”, p. 172) 
We have permitted you to listen to music and singing. Beware lest such listening cause you to transgress the bounds of decency and dignity. Rejoice in the joy of My Most Great Name through which the hearts are enchanted and the minds of the well-favoured are attracted....
In the teachings there is nothing against dancing, but the friends should remember that the standard of Bahá’u’lláh is modesty and chastity. The atmosphere of modern dance halls, where so much smoking and drinking and promiscuity goes on, is very bad, but decent dances are not harmful in themselves. There is certainly no harm in classical dancing or learning dancing in school. There is also no harm in taking part in dramas. Likewise in cinema acting. The harmful thing, nowadays, is not the art itself but the unfortunate corruption which often surrounds these arts. As Bahá’ís we need avoid none of the arts, but acts and the atmosphere that sometimes go with these professions we should avoid.
(From a letter dated 30 June 1952 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly) 
Arise, O people, and, by the power of God’s might, resolve to gain the victory over your own selves, that haply the whole earth may be freed and sanctified from its servitude to the gods of its idle fancies—gods that have inflicted such loss upon, and are responsible for the misery of, their wretched worshippers. These idols form the obstacle that impedeth man in his efforts to advance in the path of perfection.
(“Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh”, sec. XLIII, p. 93) 
Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds.
(“The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh”, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1985), Arabic no. 31, p. 11) 
For desire is a flame that has reduced to ashes uncounted lifetime harvests of the learned, a devouring fire that even the vast sea of their accumulated knowledge could never quench. How often has it happened that an individual who was graced with every attribute of humanity and wore the jewel of true understanding, nevertheless followed after his passions until his excellent qualities passed beyond moderation and he was forced into excess. His pure intentions changed to evil ones, his attributes were no longer put to uses worthy of them, and the power of his desires turned him aside from righteousness and its rewards into ways that were dangerous and dark. A good character is in the sight of God and His chosen ones and the possessors of insight, the most excellent and praiseworthy of all things, but always on condition that its centre of emanation should be reason and knowledge and its base should be true moderation.
(“The Secret of Divine Civilization”, 2nd ed. (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1983), pp. 59–60) 
Abandonment of Frivolous Conduct
Thou art the daystar of the heavens of My holiness, let not the defilement of the world eclipse thy splendour. Rend asunder the veil of heedlessness, that from behind the clouds thou mayest emerge resplendent and array all things with the apparel of life.
(“The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh”, Persian no. 73, p. 47) 
Disencumber yourselves of all attachment to this world and the vanities thereof. Beware that ye approach them not, inasmuch as they prompt you to walk after your own lusts and covetous desires, and hinder you from entering the straight and glorious Path.
(“Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh”, sec. CXXVIII, p. 276) 
On page 251 of “The Advent of Divine Justice” the beloved Guardian is describing the requirements not only of chastity, but of “a chaste and holy life”—both the adjectives are important. One of the signs of a decadent society, a sign which is very evident in the world today, is an almost frenetic devotion to pleasure and diversion, an insatiable thirst for amusement, a fanatical devotion to games and sport, a reluctance to treat any matter seriously, and a scornful, derisory attitude towards virtue and solid worth. Abandonment of “a frivolous conduct” does not imply that a Bahá’í must be sour-faced or perpetually solemn. Humour, happiness, joy are characteristics of a true Bahá’í life. Frivolity palls and eventually leads to boredom and emptiness, but true happiness and joy and humour that are parts of a balanced life that includes serious thought, compassion and humble servitude to God, are characteristics that enrich life and add to its radiance.
Shoghi Effendi’s choice of words was always significant, and each one is important in understanding his guidance. In this particular passage, he does not forbid “trivial” pleasures, but he does warn against “excessive attachment” to them and indicates that they can often be “misdirected”. One is reminded of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s caution that we should not let a pastime become a waste of time.
(From a letter dated 8 May 1979 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer) 
Become ye intoxicated with the wine of the love of God, and not with that which deadeneth your minds, O ye that adore Him! Verily, it hath been forbidden unto every believer, whether man or woman.
(Bahá’u’lláh, cited in “The Advent of Divine Justice”, p. 33) 
As to opium, it is foul and accursed. God protect us from the punishment He inflicteth on the user. According to the explicit Text of the Most Holy Book, it is forbidden, and its use is utterly condemned. Reason showeth that smoking opium is a kind of insanity, and experience attesteth that the user is completely cut off from the human kingdom. May God protect all against the perpetration of an act so hideous as this, an act which layeth in ruins the very foundation of what it is to be human, and which causeth the user to be dispossessed for ever and ever. For opium fasteneth on the soul, so that the user’s conscience dieth, his mind is blotted away, his perceptions are eroded. It turneth the living into the dead. It quencheth the natural heat. No greater harm can be conceived than that which opium inflicteth. Fortunate are they who never even speak the name of it; then think how wretched is the user.
(“Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá” [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre, 1982), pp. 148–49) 
Regarding ḥashísh, you had pointed out that some Persians have become habituated to its use. Gracious God! This is the worst of all intoxicants, and its prohibition is explicitly revealed. Its use causeth the disintegration of thought and the complete torpor of the soul. How could anyone seek this fruit of the infernal tree, and by partaking of it, be led to exemplify the qualities of a monster? How could one use this forbidden drug, and thus deprive himself of the blessings of the All-Merciful?
Alcohol consumeth the mind and causeth man to commit acts of absurdity, but ... this wicked ḥashísh extinguisheth the mind, freezeth the spirit, petrifieth the soul, wasteth the body and leaveth man frustrated and lost.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, from a Tablet—translated from the Persian) 
Concerning the so-called “spiritual” virtues of the hallucinogens, ... spiritual stimulation should come from turning one’s heart to Bahá’u’lláh, and not through physical means such as drugs and agents. From the description given in your letter it appears that hallucinogenic agents are a form of intoxicant. As the friends, including the youth, are required strictly to abstain from all forms of intoxicants, and are further expected conscientiously to obey the civil law of their country, it is obvious that they should refrain from using these drugs.
A very great responsibility for the future peace and well-being of the world is borne by the youth of today. Let the Bahá’í youth by the power of the Cause they espouse be the shining example for their companions.
(From a letter dated 15 April 1965 written by the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly) 
Bahá’ís should not use hallucinogenic agents, including LSD, peyote and similar substances, except when prescribed for medical treatment. Neither should they become involved in experiments with such substances.
(From a letter dated 11 January 1967 written by the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly) 
Briefly stated the Bahá’í conception of sex is based on the belief that chastity should be strictly practiced by both sexes, not only because it is in itself highly commendable ethically, but also due to its being the only way to a happy and successful marital life. Sex relationships of any form, outside marriage, are not permissible therefore, and whoso violates this rule will not only be responsible to God, but will incur the necessary punishment from society.
The Bahá’í Faith recognizes the value of the sex impulse, but condemns its illegitimate and improper expression such as free love, companionate marriage and others, all of which it considers positively harmful to man and to the society in which he lives. The proper use of the sex instinct is the natural right of every individual, and it is precisely for this very purpose that the institution of marriage has been established. The Bahá’ís do not believe in the suppression of the sex impulse but in its regulation and control.
(From a letter dated 5 September 1938 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) 
Concerning your question whether there are any legitimate forms of expression of the sex instinct outside of marriage; according to the Bahá’í Teachings no sexual act can be considered lawful unless performed between lawfully married persons. Outside of marital life there can be no lawful or healthy use of the sex impulse. The Bahá’í youth should, on the one hand, be taught the lesson of self-control which, when exercised, undoubtedly has a salutary effect on the development of character and of personality in general, and on the other should be advised, nay even encouraged, to contract marriage while still young and in full possession of their physical vigour. Economic factors, no doubt, are often a serious hindrance to early marriage, but in most cases are only an excuse, and as such should not be overstressed.
(From a letter dated 13 December 1940 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) 
Chastity implies both before and after marriage an unsullied, chaste sex life. Before marriage absolutely chaste, after marriage absolutely faithful to one’s chosen companion. Faithful in all sexual acts, faithful in word and in deed.
The world today is submerged, amongst other things, in an over-exaggeration of the importance of physical love, and a dearth of spiritual values. In as far as possible the believers should try to realize this and rise above the level of their fellowmen who are, typical of all decadent periods in history, placing so much over-emphasis on the purely physical side of mating. Outside of their normal, legitimate married life they should seek to establish bonds of comradeship and love which are eternal and founded on the spiritual life of man, not on his physical life. This is one of the many fields in which it is incumbent on the Bahá’ís to set the example and lead the way to a true human standard of life, when the soul of man is exalted and his body but the tool for his enlightened spirit. Needless to say this does not preclude the living of a perfectly normal sex life in its legitimate channel of marriage.
(From a letter dated 28 September 1941 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) 
Immoral Practices are Condemned
Ye are forbidden to commit adultery, sodomy and lechery. Avoid them, O concourse of the faithful. By the righteousness of God! Ye have been called into being to purge the world from the defilement of evil passions. This is what the Lord of all mankind hath enjoined upon you, could ye but perceive it. He who relateth himself to the All-Merciful and committeth satanic deeds, verily he is not of Me. Unto this beareth witness every atom, pebble, tree and fruit, and beyond them this ever-proclaiming, truthful and trustworthy Tongue.
(Bahá’u’lláh, from a Tablet—translated from the Arabic) 
When we realize that Bahá’u’lláh says adultery retards the progress of the soul in the afterlife—so grievous is it—and that drinking destroys the mind, and not to so much as approach it, we see how clear are our teachings on these subjects.
(From a letter dated 30 September 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) 
Amongst the many other evils afflicting society in this spiritual low-water mark in history is the question of immorality, and overemphasis of sex. Homosexuality, according to the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, is spiritually condemned. This does not mean that people so afflicted must not be helped and advised and sympathized with. It does mean that we do not believe that it is a permissible way of life; which, alas, is all too often the accepted attitude nowadays.
We must struggle against the evils in society by spiritual means, and by medical and social ones as well. We must be tolerant but uncompromising, understanding but immovable in our point of view.
(From a letter dated 21 May 1954 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) 
A number of sexual problems, such as homosexuality and transsexuality can well have medical aspects, and in such cases recourse should certainly be had to the best medical assistance. But it is clear from the teaching of Bahá’u’lláh that homosexuality is not a condition to which a person should be reconciled, but is a distortion of his or her nature which should be controlled and overcome. This may require a hard struggle, but so also can be the struggle of a heterosexual person to control his or her desires. The exercise of self-control in this, as in so very many other aspects of life, has a beneficial effect on the progress of the soul. It should, moreover, be borne in mind that although to be married is highly desirable, and Bahá’u’lláh has strongly recommended it, it is not the central purpose of life. If a person has to wait a considerable period before finding a spouse, or if ultimately, he or she must remain single, it does not mean that he or she is thereby unable to fulfil his or her life’s purpose.
(From a letter dated 6 February 1973 written by the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, published in “Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1968–1973” (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1976), pp. 110–11) 
Your letter asking for direct or indirect references in the Writings of the Faith to rape or sexual assault was referred to the Research Department, and we have been asked to convey to you the following comments.
“Lechery” is clearly forbidden by Bahá’u’lláh (see “Epistle to the Son of the Wolf”, p. 49), and Shoghi Effendi has stated that a “chaste and holy life”, according to the teachings of the Faith, implies a condemnation of “all manner” of “sexual vices”. (See “Advent of Divine Justice”, p. 25.)2
As to the contents of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, one of the provisions of that Most Holy Book is “not to indulge one’s passions” (see “Synopsis and Codification of the Laws and Ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas”, p. 50). Furthermore, reference should be made to one of the “prohibitions” mentioned on page 47 of the “Synopsis”, namely “adultery”. This word so appears in this book because entries in a synopsis should by necessity be brief, and by the original word used by Bahá’u’lláh in the Aqdas, i.e., “ziná”, adultery is generally and mainly intended. However, this by no means covers all the meanings of the concept of “ziná” in legal language used in Arabic and Persian. One of the forms of “ziná”—i.e., when the illicit sexual intercourse is performed through force or violence—is rape or sexual assault.
As to the punishments for such acts as rape, these will be determined in the future by the Universal House of Justice.
(From a letter dated 8 June 1982 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer) 
Application of the Principle of a Chaste and Holy Life
...[absolute chastity] is mainly and directly concerned with the Bahá’í youth, who can contribute so decisively to the virility, the purity, and the driving force of the life of the Bahá’í community, and upon whom must depend the future orientation of its destiny, and the complete unfoldment of the potentialities with which God has endowed it....
As to a chaste and holy life, it should be regarded as no less essential a factor that must contribute its proper share to the strengthening and vitalization of the Bahá’í community, upon which must in turn depend the success of any Bahá’í plan or enterprise.... All of them, be they men or women, must, at this threatening hour when the lights of religion are fading out, and its restraints are one by one being abolished, pause to examine themselves, scrutinize their conduct, and with characteristic resolution arise to purge the life of their community of every trace of moral laxity that might stain the name, or impair the integrity, of so holy and precious a Faith.
A chaste and holy life must be made the controlling principle in the behaviour and conduct of all Bahá’ís, both in their social relations with the members of their own community, and in their contact with the world at large. It must adorn and reinforce the ceaseless labours and meritorious exertions of those whose enviable position is to propagate the Message, and to administer the affairs, of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. It must be upheld, in all its integrity and implications, in every phase of the life of those who fill the ranks of that Faith, whether in their homes, their travels, their clubs, their societies, their entertainments, their schools, and their universities. It must be accorded special consideration in the conduct of the social activities of every Bahá’í summer school and any other occasions on which Bahá’í community life is organized and fostered. It must be closely and continually identified with the mission of the Bahá’í youth, both as an element in the life of the Bahá’í community, and as a factor in the future progress and orientation of the youth of their own country.