Prostitutes and Polygamists

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?  

Who’s voice is going to be heard?

When the Church“When the church whispers about sex
and the culture yells about it,
who’s voice is gonna be heard?”

(Prostitutes and Polygamists, p. 19).

Parents, children, pastors, teachers, all of us feel a bit uncomfortable talking about sex, sexual sins, and sexual scandals. We avoid the subject, or when we do discuss it, we whisper. But avoiding doesn’t make it go away (think of the proverbial ostrich).

The Bible doesn’t avoid it.  It talks about it in the beginning. God’s first command to the freshly made humans is basically, “Have a lot of sex” (my paraphrase of “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth”; Gen. 1:28).

And the Bible talks about Abraham pimping his wife Sarah in Egypt, Judah hooking up with his daughter-in-law Tamar, who’s pretending to be a prostitute, David’s affair (I call it rape) with Bathsheba, the gang rape of the Levites concubine (read my take on Judges 19 here).  And what’s up with all that polygamy and incest?

For some subjects like homosexuality, it seems like some churches are yelling, but generally I think they’re sending the wrong message.  I discuss homosexuality in the context of the story of Sodom, and you might be surprised by what Scripture says about the story of Sodom.

The Bible talks about sex and sexual scandals a lot.  We need to talk about these subjects because the Bible talks about them, assuming we think all Scripture is inspired and profitable for teaching.

Our culture talks about sex all the time, perhaps Christians need to start teaching these overlooked, ignored sexual scandals of Scripture.  That’s what I try to do in Prostitutes and Polygamists.  Check it out.

Five Lessons from a Bible Story I Hate

I hate the story of the gang rape of the Levite’s concubine, but I still think we should read it, teach it, and learn from it.  Here a post I wrote for OnFaith: “5 Unexpected Lessons from a Bible Story I Hate“.

I discuss this tragic incident from Judges 19 in my chapter on rape and adultery in Prostitutes and Polygamists: A Look at Love, Old Testament Style.

Check it out.  Share it if you think it may help others. OnFaithJudg19