Dear Hernan S.,

Your Question(s): Marriages between cousins are [they] ok with the Bible? That is my question. Thanks.

My Answer(s): Thank you for visiting my web site, and submitting your question. I pray that God my Father in heaven may continue to guide you in your study of His Holy Word. Hernan, first the word "cousins" could mean near kin and other distance relatives, which are not considered near kin according to the Holy Bible. Therefore, if you believe because the Holy Bible speaks of marriages between near kin in the beginning then that makes it okay to marry near kin today, I say not so. I also must point out that if a Christian believe the Holy Bible to be the word of God then we must weight the whole word of God and not just verses here and there to justify our own actions. For in the beginning God created the Man Adam, and the Woman named Eve by the Man Adam (Genesis 1:27, Genesis 2:7, 22-23, and Genesis 3:20). And then God said to them be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). This was said before they had sinned in the Garden of Eden.

When we go to Genesis 4:1-2, Adam and Eve have their first son Cain, and then Abel, his brother whom Cain killed (Genesis 4:8). This happened after Adam and Eve had sinned in the Garden of Eden, and God had put them out of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:20-24). After Cain killed Abel, it is said Adam had another son in his stead, called Seth (Genesis 4:25-26). Then later in Genesis we see both Cain and Seth having sons and daughters, and at the same time Adam and Eve were still having sons and daughters. Therefore, we must conclude that the sons and daughters, granddaughters and grandsons of Adam and Eve, and the nieces and nephews of these sons and daughters married among themselves. For the Scripture clearly says, "From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live" (Acts 17:26).

Now, it appears that even after the early days in Genesis, Abraham is found married to his half-sister, Sarah. For in Genesis 20:11-13 (NIV), we see Abraham speaking to Abimelech the king, as to what he said to his wife, Sarah about him, the king and his people in Gerar. "Abraham replied, "I said to myself, 'There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.' Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife. And when God had me wander from my father's household, I said to her, 'This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, "He is my brother." ' "

Next, Abraham son Isaac married his cousin, Rebekah who was the granddaughter of Abrahamís brother Nahor. The story is told in Genesis 24.

Finally, we have Abrahamís grandson, the son of Isaac, Jacob marrying both of his first cousins, the daughters of his motherís brother Laban, Rachel and Leah. (See Genesis 29:9-13, 23-30).

Again in Numbers 36, God instructed the daughters of Zelophehad to marry only their relatives on the side of their father so that their inheritance remained in their tribe and clan. This became the law for the daughters of Israel who inherited tribal land or who had no brothers to inherit their fatherís land. (See Numbers 36:5-12).

Yet when we go to Leviticus, God gave commands to the Israelites whom He had brought up out of Egypt into the land of Canaan, the Promise Land. These commands identified that sexual relations among close relativesí were sinful behavior. So, let us go to these verses to see who are considered our close relatives. In Leviticus 18, God commands the Israelites not to be like the people of Egypt and the land of Canaan, which He was bringing them, for these nations were marrying between close relatives. So God gave these commands to the Israelites, which are more than ordinances, and regulations they are spiritual laws, which will harm you spiritual if violated. God tells us that sexual relations with close relatives such as: between your mother, father, fatherís wife, motherís husband, aunt or uncle, your sister or brother, your half-sister or half-brother, stepsister or stepbrother, stepson or stepdaughter, grandson or granddaughter, son-in-law or daughter-in-law, brotherís wife or sisterís husband, your wifeís sister or husbandís brother, your brotherís wife or sisterís husband, or a woman and her daughter are sinful behavior, see Leviticus 18 and 20. As you can see from these verses, there are no commandments against marriage between distance relatives or cousins, but against near kin and those considered near kin to your husband or wife.

And when we get to 1 Corinthians 5, we see these same laws commanded to the Israelites in the wilderness in Leviticus 18 named under the sin "sexual immorality" (1 Corinthians 5:1). For it is said that not even the Gentiles in the land of Israel at that time committed such sin as taking his fatherís wife. The apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit instructed the Church of the Living God to put such a person out of the congregation until such behavior was corrected. (See 1 Corinthians 5 and 2 Corinthians 2:5-11). Those who commit this "sexual immorality" include those marrying and having sexual relations between close relatives and those who are considered near kin to your husband, wife and other close relatives. Therefore, it is clear that the Holy Bible speaks against sexual relations between close relatives and the close relatives of those you marry.

Now, we as Christians are exhorted to seek the well being of others above our own (1 Cor. 10:24). For if your own relatives consider such behavior as marrying between cousins or distance relatives as being wrong, then you as a Christian must put your relatives and your community well being above your own in this matter, and not marry your cousin. And this I say for conscience sake, and not your own but that of your relatives and community. Because our lives, followers of Christ are judged by others, for it is written, "Conscience, I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another manís conscience?" (1 Cor. 10:28-29). We as Christians are exhorted to not let our faith, which may be strong because we know marrying distance relatives by itself is not sin. However, if our faith causes another whose faith are weaker than ours to fall, then your strong faith has cause your brother to stumble, this is sin on your part. As it is written, let us resolve to do this, "not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brotherís way" (Romans 14:12).

There are still other spiritual consequences from these types of marriages when such behavior causes divisions, disputes, distress and disgrace among your relatives and the community. Again, the Scripture call upon us to, "Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time" (Colossians 4:5). If your community and relatives are distressed because of what you deem to be right in your eyes to do then you no longer walk in love. And as much as it depend on us, we as Christians are to live peacefully with all people on this evil and adulterous planet (Romans 12:18). For it is written again, "Everything is permissible for me"- but not everything is beneficial". Meaning just because something is permissible to do, it is not always helpful to your relationship with others neither is it always to yours and others spiritual benefit to do (1 Corinthians 6:12-13).

Therefore, I exhort you to live peacefully with all you come into contact with, as much as it is in your control. Remember to pray for those who disagree with you over those things, which are disputable matters. Obey the rules and traditions of your community and family, as one who follows the law of Christ and not the traditions of man, which cause you to break the commandments of God. For the law of Christ is first love, love does no harm (Romans 13:10). And in all things, do nothing that will cause your brother to stumble or to offend or to weaken your brothers and sisters in Christ, those whom God maybe calling to Christ, and those who are on the outside. As it is written, "happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves" as being right in the sight of God (Romans 14:21-23). Amen. Praise God.

In Christ Love,

Ron Davis, minister of Christ