Dawn H. – Recently my family and I got into a discussion about cousin courtship. Based on Leviticus 18, which outlines very specifically what familial relationships are defined as close and are forbidden (in which cousins are not mentioned), along with the marriage of several cousins (Rebekah and Issac; Jacob, Leah and Rachel. etc.), I believe cousin courtship is not considered incest.

Most all of my family disagrees. It’s actually gotten pretty ugly. My thing is not that I expect to change anyone’s mind, but I believe that our personal preferences and opinions should not get in the way of God’s truth. At the very least, when the body disagrees, we should follow Paul and Peter’s example and come together in prayer, fasting and Scriptural study until there is resolution. What are your thoughts on cousin courtship as outlined in the Word? I am not concerned with worldly laws here or abroad. They tend to vary, so a Biblical perspective is actually what I would like your opinion on.

Dave – Very good question, and thank you for sending it. From Adam to Moses, there was no Biblical Law and therefore no restraints on who could marry who. Obviously, in the beginning, brothers and sisters had to have had sex to continue the human race. After several generations, however, God revealed many laws to Moses. Leviticus 18 states that people should not have sex with “close blood relatives.” That passage goes on to list several specific examples, but cousins are not included as you have pointed out. So I think the Biblical position is that it is all right in God’s sight to marry a cousin. The concern, however, is birth defects. The longer sin reigns in the genetic make-up of humans, the greater chance of mutations. From Adam to Moses, I assume the gene pool was quite untainted, therefore inter familial sex relationships would not be extra risky as they are today. Therefore, based on this increased genetic risk rather than a Biblical mandate, I do not recommend cousins marrying.

My pastor agrees, but was concerned about the “got nasty” issue between you and your family. He suspects there may be deeper issues among you. I tend to agree because an issue like this should not evoke such hostility. I agree with your position on the issue, but you may want to hone in on (or seek the Lord, if you do not know) what sparked the nastiness. There are several common possibilities. I hope and pray that something good comes from this for you and your family.

Feedback so far:

Gary R. – I agree with Dawn, but the bigger issue is why it had to get “ugly” with her family. Can’t we have a discussion about ANY subject with out it getting ugly? Someone has an agenda in the family that is not resolved.

Dawn H. – Thanks for your response (and for checking in with your pastor). I suppose if peace is the key, then not pressing the matter with the offended regardless of an assumed correct response is best. Initially, I didn’t think my views would pose a stumbling block to anyone because I stuck to biblical evidence. In hindsight, I can see how taboo topics should be explored with more care. Why do we let our human tradition interfere with truth? As for the “nasty” issue, I am of the mind that pride is involved somewhere. Still, we love each other and God, so let’s pray we end up in one accord. I thank God for using you, Dave.

Dave – Amen, thank you, and may the Lord have His way within your family.