This is a “sticky issue” for in many places there is a definite “stigma” attached to one marrying a relative, no matter how far removed that relation may be. In their minds the very thought of marrying a relative is “taboo” and they also believe it carries the risk of their children born to them having birth defects. The “stigma” factor is most definitely real and the “birth defect in children” argument also has some merit according to “some” studies. Besides these two considerations, it is “illegal” to marry a relative in many places and that would prohibit you from doing so.

A fourth factor is that many people believe it is condemned in the Bible. Is that true? Actually, it is NOT TRUE. We have a very good example of “cousin marriage” in Genesis 28:1-2: “Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and said to him: ‘You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and take yourself a wife from there of the DAUGHTERS OF LABAN YOUR MOTHER’S BROTHER” (NKJV). I don’t see any scripture condemning Isaac for commanding his son to marry one of his cousins, nor do I see any scripture where Jacob was condemned for acting on this command and marrying his cousin Rachel (Genesis 29:1-21).

Some may say, “Yes, Jacob married his cousin Rachel but later on God’s gave a direct commandment NOT to marry any relative.” Those who say this then point to Leviticus 18:6-18 where the commandment was given. In verse 6 we read, “None of you shall approach any blood relative of his to uncover nakedness” (NASB). This means one is NOT to have sexual relations with a close relative which is obviously an integral part of marriage. In verses 7-18 we have TEN specific relatives listed. They are: 1) mother; 2) stepmother; 3) sister; 4) granddaughter; 5) half-sister; 6) aunt; 7) uncle; 8) daughter-in-law; 9) sister-in-law; and 10) step-granddaughter. Did you notice that the “cousin” was not included in this very precise list of relatives? It would seem that just as Jacob was allowed to marry his cousin Rachel, God was not condemning “cousin marriage” when “the Law” was given by Moses to the nation of Israel.

In closing, Scripture does not explicitly condemn “cousin marriage” yet if you are living in a country, state, province, region, etc. where it is ILLEGAL, Scripture would command you to obey that law and not marry your cousin. Romans 13:1-2 declare, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of god, and those who resist will bring judgment upon themselves.” And if there is no such law then one must still consider the “stigma” attached to marrying a relative and the persecution they may encounter for doing so. They must also consider the possibility, even if it is remote, of bearing children with birth defects.  (451.5)  (DO)