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What d’ya mean I Can’t Marry Cousin Ethel?? May 28, 2012

Posted by regan222 in Books, Educational Ranting, General Ranting, Religion, Science and Technology.
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If anything I write ever stirs up controversy then it will be this missive.  We have been taught from infancy that it is bad to marry within the family.  Each and every rural population has its jokes about inbreeding and mental and physical deformity.  One of the first things we have to explain to any toddler is why they can’t marry Mommy or Daddy.  Here is an interesting question…Why not?

Genesis 5:4 And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight-hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:

Genesis 5:6 And Seth lived an hundred and five years and begat Enos;

How?  No other people were created  by God.  Seth did not  beget all by himself.  A woman was involved.  I propose to you that Seth begat Enos of his own sister.  There are simply no other choices.  How then can it be that the human race, being born of incest and inbreeding, is not so riddled with genetic flaws as to be rendered unviable?  See, I told you it was going to get controversial.

In the late 19th century, an obscure Austrian monk named Gregor Mendel discovered the keys to reproduction and the prediction of traits passed on from one generation to the next.  He is considered to be the “Father of Modern Genetics”.  While the discovery of the chromosome and gene were still a long way in the future, Mendel developed a methodology to determine what traits might be passed on from one generation to the next as well as being able to predict the results of mixing various traits.  His experiments crossing various garden pea plants with different physical characteristics led to the discovery that traits were not simply an average mixture of the parent’s characteristics, as had been previously believed.  He discovered an orderly and predictable scientific process at work.  Genetics is the study of heredity and how traits are passed from parent to offspring.  It is through the use of genetics that we will find the answer to our initial question, but it is through scripture that we will find the true justification for the answer.

We need some vocabulary to begin with.  There are, for our purposes, two kinds of physical traits: dominant and recessive.  They both spring from genes which we receive at fertilization from our parents.   We each receive two genes for every trait we possess.  Our eye color, height, hair texture…everything about us is a trait controlled by genes.  We get one from our Mother and one from our Father for each trait.  It is the interaction between these two genes that tells us if we got Dad’s nose or our Mother’s eyes. This is a VERY simplified version of genetics that does not take into account incomplete dominance or traits based on the effects of multiple genes.   It will, however, serve for comparison and is completely correct scientifically.

Dominant traits always express themselves.  They always show up if they are present.  If black hair is dominant over blond and one parent provides the genes for black hair then it does not matter what the other parent offers.  The child’s hair will be black without fail.  The other gene is considered recessive.  It does NOT express unless both parents provide the same recessive genes.  For example, if blond hair is recessive then the only way a child can have blond hair is if both parents provide a gene that codes for blond hair.  Ah ha, you say…My hair is blond and one of my parents has dark hair.  How can that be?  Your dark-haired parent is, what we call, heterozygous.  They have the genes for dark and light hair.  The dark hair manifests in them but they have the ability to pass on blond genes because they still carry the recessive they got from THEIR mom and dad.  If you have genes that are the same from both parents, both your hair color genes are black OR blond then you are considered homozygous.  If you have one black and one blond gene then you are called a heterozygote.  I hope the vocabulary does not get too intimidating.  Remember, “homo” means “the same” and “hetero” means “different”.  Dominant shows up always but recessive only shows up when dominant is not around.  Now we have the basic understanding to carry on our investigation into all matters matrimonial.

Genetic flaws tend to be recessive in nature.  This is fortunate for us or we would have a great many more birth defects than we do today.  Genetic flaws or birth defects can only happen when both parents provide genes for some trait that are flawed in some way.  They must have the same genes with the same flaws.  In other words they must be homozygous for the recessive trait.  Remember that…same gene from both parents with the same recessive characteristics in order to create a birth defect.  Now, where are we most likely to find someone with the exact same genetic flaws as ourselves?  Hmmm, I wonder where such a person would most likely be?  Is it logical that someone in our immediate family would have the same genes, and if so, then the same flaws as us?  You and your siblings each got your genes from the same source, your parents.  Different combinations each time kept you and your siblings from being identical twins or clones but you can see enough physical similarities in each other to know that this is so.  Ah ha!  Is THIS why you can’t marry Cousin Ethel?  The same genetics at work within you were at work in Seth and his sister.  What is different?

Inbreeding or line breeding has a valuable place in animal husbandry.  We line breed horses and other livestock in order to increase the odds of getting a particular trait or characteristic.  Usually these traits are recessive.  If we breed outside the family then the odds of losing the trait go up.  Inside the family line the odds of getting those genes to fall together in a foal, while still not 100%, are much higher.  Along with this discovery we find that blood lines which are heavily line bred also tend to have a lot more genetic flaws and faults.  Often we get the combination we want but also often we get some tragic birth defect that results in a still-born or unviable offspring.  Line breeding or inbreeding does nothing more than increase the incidence of homozygous recessive genes by making the available gene pool smaller.  It does this by limiting the gene pool to relatives who already have many of the same gene combinations.  Remember, homozygous recessive means two copies of the same gene for a recessive trait.  The trait can either be one we want or a defect that we don’t want.  Does it seem like I am making an argument AGAINST marrying Cousin Ethel?  Would having offspring with a close relative increase the odds of a genetic flaw or birth defect?  Yes and No.

Inbreeding, as we know, does nothing more than increase the odds of getting a recessive trait to manifest.  That is not necessarily a bad thing unless the trait is bad.  Here is our problem.  We ALL have bad genes.  Every one of Adam’s children carries one or more genetic defects.  If we attempt to procreate with someone in our close family we greatly increase the odds of combining the same bad genes from each parent and getting a recessive flaw to manifest.  If we marry outside the bloodline then, while both lines are still flawed, it is likely that each parent will bring DIFFERENT recessive flaws to the mix and none of them will manifest.  Remember, they both have to be the same trait with the same flaw for a recessive to show up. It is still possible to have a genetic flaw because occasionally more than one family will carry the same flaws.  The odds, however, are greatly reduced..

Genesis 1:6 And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.”

Genesis 1:7 And God made the firmament and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

Genesis 1:8(a)  And God called the firmament Heaven.

Dwell on that scripture for a moment and try to visualize it.  I used to think that firmament somehow divided different bodies of water on the land like shore between two oceans.  However, the Bible tells us that there is water below the sky, or heavens, and water above.  Most Bible scholars believe that at one time the earth was surrounded by an atmospheric layer of water.  According to these verses, there were waters above the air and water below.  This extra layer of moisture, whether it be liquid water somehow, or more likely a thick layer of water vapor, would have changed the composure of our atmosphere and also provided a great deal of extra protection from the UV rays of the sun.  Remember, when this existed, the Earth was still a paradise.  The environment would have been very different.  Also remember at this time, the only possible means of reproduction was through inbreeding.

Now, fast forward a few generations to the time of Noah.  God has seen the wickedness of man and decided to destroy the Earth.

Genesis 6:4  There were giants in the Earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

Though man has been driven from the Garden of Eden, the overall creation has not really changed.  The Earth is still, baring the things set forth in God’s curse, a paradise.  No one has ever heard of DDT or Mercury or PCBs.  Any natural water source is good to drink.  The environment is pure and free of toxins and poisons that we today take for granted.  While the race of man is multiplying, it is still a small enough population that all procreation is carried out between relatives.  These people, while infected with sin from Adam’s fall, have wonderful genetics, thanks to their proximity to the original, God created genes, as well as their environment which has nothing in it to harm them and, in fact, still has many features in place, like the excess layer of atmospheric moisture, to protect them.  One of the leading causes of genetic damage is UV rays from the sun.

What changed?  If we read the biblical account of the flood we get a clue.

Genesis 7:10 And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were upon the Earth.

Genesis 7:11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up and the windows of heaven were opened.

The last verse tells us that something unusual happened.  This was not just rain.  We lost a fundamental protection during the flood.  The world was change in other ways than just being covered with water.  The layer of moisture circling the atmosphere that had provided an extra layer of protection against harmful solar radiation fell to Earth and was no longer available to us.  I suspect that prior to the flood there had never been a sun burn and afterwards they began to appear.  Noah and his family, safe within the ark, still carried near perfect genes, but now he and his descendents were exposed to environment that no longer protected and nurtured them.  Damage began to accrue.

Now fast forward a final time to the present day.  Our streams, lakes, rivers, and ponds are too toxic to drink from.  Our air is very nearly unbreathable on many days.  We put the worst kinds of chemicals into our bodies in the foods we eat and we are almost all obsessed with the idea of tanning.  Are our genetics different from those people of Noah’s time?  You better believe it.  The human genome went from being a near perfect collection of information to a library filled with holes and errors.  Closely related people have the same errors.  Closely related people should not have offspring, NOT because inbreeding itself causes problems, but because inbreeding brings together parents with the same types of bad genes.  God knew exactly what was happening to the human genome.  That is why He prohibited inbreeding in Leviticus after having approved it in Genesis.

Leviticus 18:9 The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.

Once again, God is protecting His children.  He knows that even by THIS time, the human genetic code is so riddled with damage that inbreeding greatly increases the odds of a birth defect.  The inbreeding itself is not the problem, it is the genes that it combines.

Surely you have to be wondering “What is the point to all this?”  Am I in favor of incest?  Heaven forbid.  We can, however, draw a spiritual lesson from this physical discussion.  Before the fall of man, our genes were perfect as was our environment and our spiritual condition.  When Adam sinned, damage was done, not only to our spiritual DNA but to our environment as well.  Each birth following the fall produced a new organism but each new organism contained the same old damaged DNA, just recombined into new traits.  We, at least our genetics, were present with Adam when he fell.  The same genes in his cells are still floating around today in ours.  We suffer from the same malady, both physically and spiritually.  The only way to fix the problem is to find some new, undamaged material to work with.  Jesus is often referred to as the second Adam.  Just as God created Adam from the dust, so He prepared a body within Mary for the Lord Jesus to inhabit.  Regardless of what you might think, NO PART of Mary or Joseph’s DNA was found in Jesus.

Hebrews 10:5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:

The author is speaking as Jesus here.  He acknowledges that God prepared the body that Jesus inhabits.  There was not combination of human DNA here.  Had there been, Jesus would not be who he was.  He would have been physically, if not spiritually flawed, and could not have been the sacrificial lamb which, the law required be flawless.

Here is our source of flawless material.  Without Christ we are damaged goods.  We can never be perfect because we are just taking the same old flaws and recombining them into new combinations of mistakes.  Only through Christ can we become the new creatures we need to be.




1. mselene - May 31, 2012

This definitely made me think. All the verses you included were ones that I have wondered about before.

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