I’m my own grandpa: Incest in the Bible and in the Church

Today the topic of my Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy course was Incest, so of course I began class by showing the youtube clip of “I’m my own Grandpa” by Ray Stevens (below).  If you haven’t seen it, it’s hilarious (2 min, 40 sec).

There’s a lot of incest in Scripture.  Shockingly most of the main characters in the book of Genesis and Exodus were either involved in what the Law later condemned as incest or were the products of incestuous relationships–perhaps Cain, definitely Abraham, Sarah, Lot, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Tamar, Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.  If you’re not convinced, check out my table in chapter 6 of Prostitutes and Polygamists.

Incest seems funny when it involves grandpas or British royalty. However, in reality most incest today is tragic, not consensual (as it often was in Genesis and Exodus), but involving sexual abuse in families.  Tragically, incest is rampant in our culture and even in our churches.  But we don’t like to talk about it in church.

The Bible talks about incest a lot, so perhaps we should too?  It’s confusing because all of these examples of incest make it seem like it was OK.  However, in the Law (see Lev. 18, 20) God clearly condemns all forms of incest. And in many instances God declares death to fathers who exploit female members of their family. God takes incest seriously, so should the church.

Today, I asked my class, “What would you do if an elder in your church was accused of sexual abuse by his daughter?  Who would you believe?” Shockingly, these types of circumstances are not unusual.  The first thing to do would be to consult with a trained professional counselor.  I know it’s complicated, but personally, I’d be more likely to believe the daughter than the father.

What would you do if this type of situation happened in your church?

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