Is It Ok To Marry Your Cousin In The Bible

The Bible does not directly address or prohibit marriages between first cousins, a practice that was relatively common in ancient Biblical times. Here is an overview of Scriptural guidance and prevailing viewpoints on cousin unions.

Leviticus Lists Forbidden Relationships

In Leviticus 18 of the Old Testament, God provides Moses with a list of forbidden sexual relationships considered to be incestuous under Mosaic law. These include parent-child, sibling, and grandparent-grandchild unions.

However, marriage between first cousins is notably absent from the prohibited degrees of kinship spelled out in Leviticus. Scripture does not classify first cousins within incest rules.

Examples of Cousin Marriage Exist

Furthermore, there are Biblical examples of marriages between first cousins being accepted, such as Jacob marrying both Rachel and Leah, his cousins, in Genesis 28.

Other passages mention “father’s brother’s daughter” implying cousins as eligible partners. So cousin unions do have Scriptural precedent.

Societal Attitudes Still Disapprove

However, modern societal attitudes often discourage cousin marriages as taboo or unwise, worrying about potential health effects on offspring. This stigma persists even without Biblical prohibitions.

Secular law bans the practice in many nations. But Scripture grants more latitude based on ancient cultural norms.

Different From Closer Inbreeding

It should be noted that the inbreeding Biblically prohibited, like sibling marriages, does substantially increase risks of developmental issues in children.

Genetic problems are far less likely between more distant relations like first cousins. So Biblical law tracks this nuance, banning only the closest consanguineous unions.

Emphasis on Personal Choice

Ultimately, the Bible emphasizes the role of personal choice in selecting a spouse, provided it does not violate moral commands against specific unions like incest.

For issues not directly addressed like cousin marriage, Scripture leaves room for couples to prayerfully decide based on their circumstances.


In summary, the Bible does not prohibit or condemn marriages between first cousins as incestuous, though societal attitudes often still disapprove. Couples must weigh a complex mix of factors. But Scripture grants them freedom unavailable in some modern legal contexts.

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