What does the Bible say about incest?

The Bible gave a clear image of healthy sexual relationships when God gave Adam his wife Eve. The sexual relationship they were to have was to be held sacred and exclusive to just them as husband and wife. This is reinforced in the seventh commandment which prohibits adultery, which is any sexual relationship outside of marriage (Exodus 20:14). Jesus expounded on this in His teaching that it is sinful to lust after someone who is not one’s spouse (Matthew 5:28).

While the Bible often does not mention a clear “thou shalt not” on some topics, it is because the specifics are understood within the given law.  A parent should in no way ever have any sexual relationship with their child, as they are not their spouse. This would go for any adult family member with any child in their family.  It is absolutely prohibited by God to harm a child in this way. God called His people to raise their children to love and honor God (Deuteronomy 6:2-7). To use someone sexually for their own pleasure is abuse (Judges 19:25) and God especially hates any abuse to children (Luke 17:2).

Some have had wondered about whether incest is biblical or not in regard to sexual relationships between siblings. This is because when Adam and Eve were first created, they were commanded to be fruitful and multiply. They had sons and daughters (Genesis 5:4) who would have married each other at that time because they were the only other humans around. Under those circumstances, this was not genetically a problem nor was it taboo because there was no other option for a spouse. However, by the time Moses led God’s people out of Egypt, a marriage or any sexual relationship between siblings was clearly prohibited (Deuteronomy 27:22). God understood the laws of genetics long before scientists ever discovered them, as He is the author of all genetic code.

In the Bible, there are often stories given with lessons on topics. These stories provide insight as to what is right or wrong based on the actions and results of people. Thus, a more clear guiding principal can be applied. There are two distinct stories in the Bible that pertain to incest and the results are always painful and disastrous. The effects of these mistakes not only harmed those involved in their time but for generations to come.

The first example is the story of Lot and his daughters (Genesis 19:15-38). When Lot left Sodom before it was destroyed, his wife and two daughters were brought with him. His wife died on their way out because of her disobedience. After Lot and his daughters escaped, they saw the absolute destruction of Sodom and Gamorah by fire. The daughters thought that their father was the only man left on earth and did not want to end their lineage. So, instead of looking to God for guidance, they foolishly took matters into their own hands. They plotted to get their father drunk and when he was very intoxicated and insensible, they each conspired to sleep with him in order to become pregnant. The fact that they had to deceive their father into doing this clearly denotes that they were doing something very wrong. The children that these daughters had from this deceitful act were of Moab and Ammon. These children became the fathers of two nations that were terrible enemies of God’s people and were constantly bringing problems, wars and curses to Israel (Nehemiah 13:1-2, Judges 3:28, Ezekiel 25:1-11). They also brought about abominations that led God’s people astray for hundreds of years (1 Kings 11:5 ).

Another story is that of Amnon who “loved” his half sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13). While Amnon was attracted to Tamar because she was very beautiful, his love was impure and selfish. As soon as he forced himself on her, it not only caused him to hate her and become unhappy (vs. 15), but Tamar lived in despair and shame for the rest of her life (vs . 20). Although their father king David was angry with what had happened, there is no record that he did anything to address the situation. Absalom, Tamar’s full brother, heard what happened and decided to take measures into his own hands and murdered Amnon for raping his sister. After this incident, Absolom felt he was a better leader than his father, king David, and tried to take over the kingdom of Israel.  This caused extreme division in the family as well as the entire nation which lasted for years to come (2 Samuel 15-18).

The principles in these stories reinforce the plain letter of the law stated in the seventh commandment. Incest is a sin and goes against God’s model and ideal for human sexuality. God desires only good things for his people and incest in any form only brings about pain and shame for both the victim and the abuser. May God guide His people into healthy relationships that bring healing and a true knowledge of God.

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:3-4). 

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

 

 

 

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