Genesis

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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David: A rapist after God’s own heart?

Check out the article I wrote for Christianity Today online that came out yesterday (Oct 22, 2015):

David Was a Rapist, Abraham Was a Sex Trafficker: What We Miss When We Downgrade Old Testament Abuse Stories to Sexual Peccadillos.”  It wasn’t my idea to use “peccadillos.”  I had to look up what the word meant when my editor suggested it.


The article is based on themes I discuss in Prostitutes and Polygamists: A Look at Love, Old Testament Style.

Here are my blogs where I took about what happened between David and Bathsheba:

David and Bathsheba: Who’s to blame? (Part 1)

David and Bathsheba: Who’s to blame (Part 2)

What do you think? Was David a rapist after God’s own heart?  

Bathsheba and the Wife of Cain

Bathsheba bathingSo, did Cain really marry his sister?  What happened between David and Bathsheba–was it adultery or rape?

In my next book, Prostitutes and Polygamists: A Look at Love, Old Testament Style, I discuss the wife of Cain in my discussion of incest and the sexual encounter between David and Bathsheba in my discussion of rape and adultery.  (I think it was rape, not adultery.)

As I was perusing the Society of Biblical Literature blogs today, I came across two highly relevant blogs on these two women. These blogs are written by Old Testament scholars who are able to take some of their research and express it in language that is easily understandable to all readers of the Old Testament. If you’re interested in these women, check these two blogs:

Bathsheba by Sara Koenig

Whom Did Cain Marry? by Eva Mroczek

Painting, “Bathsheba Bathing” by Jean Bourdichon (1457-1521).

May the Fourth Be With You

May-the-fourth-be-with-you-posterThis day has a special significance in our family. On May 4, 1997 our younger son Noah was born. He turns eighteen today. He’s now an adult.

Today also has special meaning for fans of the movie franchise, Star Wars, and in recent years there’s been a movement to brand it as “Star Wars Day.”

To read about how I connect this popular phrase from Star Wars to the book of Genesis, check out my recent post on BTS’s faculty blog: May the Fourth Be With You.