Being the mother of two wonderful young Christian men in their twenties, who cannot seem to find a young lady who is committed to the Lord, I have started to wonder, where exactly do committed Christians find someone with whom they can share their lives? The obvious answer would seem to be – church of course, but I have found that while this seems the obvious answer, it is not necessarily the best answer. Having attended a number of churches over the years, I have seen an increase in apostasy that seems to be rampant across all denominations. As a result, the young people are living decidedly licentious lives rather than holy ones. While I believe in freedom in Christ, and do not hold to the traditional “do nots” that many denominations preach, as they are not necessarily Scriptural, I do not think freedom in Christ is a license to sin. One needs to obey the commandments, if they love the Lord. John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
Having a real relationship with God (as opposed to a relationship with your church, and do not think that this exists only with the high liturgical ones, it is also found in the fundamental evangelical ones), is something that is hard to find in older people, much less young ones. I have seen in one church alone (fundamental evangelical) nearly every young woman end up in one of the following situations: pregnant out-of-wedlock, getting a divorce, cohabiting with a man, going after a married man, marrying a non-Christian, and etc. For all of their lip service to being Christians, they are not living the walk that their talk indicates. My sons have given up on finding a godly young woman in this venue. So where does one look next?
What I am about to propose is going to shock and astonish some, and you may find yourself having a bad knee-jerk reaction to it initially, if you live in America. Other countries may not find my suggestion at all shocking, as many still practice this custom. The custom of which I speak is finding a bride (or groom) in your own family. By family I mean among your cousins – first, second, once removed, etc. While this used to be a common practice even in America up through the end of the 19th century, in the 20th century there was a social backlash against it in the name of genetics. At least in many places in America. Today twenty-five of the states have banned cousin marriage. The good news is, twenty-five still allow it, seven with certain restrictions (procreative ones).
Why would I make such a suggestion? Because actually it is the Biblical example. Abraham sent his servant to find Isaac a bride among his relatives. He married his first cousin once-removed, Rebekkah - Genesis 24. Jacob married two of his cousins, Leah and Rachel. They were the daughters of his mother's brother - Genesis 28-29. Zelophehad's daughters were all ordered by Moses to marry their cousins, so as to keep the inheritance of the land in the family tribe. Numbers 36:1-11. Some have suggested, although I do not know if there is Scripture to bear this out, that Mary and Joseph were cousins.
God forbids many different kind of relative marriages, but cousins are not one of them, even first cousins. And why would a cousin be such a good choice? God has made it clear that when someone follows Him, He will bless that family line for generations to come. Deuteronomy 7:9 “Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;” Likewise, when someone does not follow Him, He curses that family line for generations. Exodus 20:5 “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.”
If a Christian has a godly family line, is it not a much better idea to stay within that line and have the blessings come from both sides to be passed on to the children? (Not to mention inheritances staying in the family as with Zelophehad.) When one marries outside of the family, one needs to examine the family tree to see if it carries curses or blessings. If it carries curses, those are passed on to the children and must be dealt with, so that they are broken at that generation, by working all the harder to make sure that your home is one dedicated to the Lord and that the children are raised in the admonition of the Lord and accept Him. Of course even if you marry a cousin, you must do this with your home, but it makes it easier if you are both coming from the same background and page, as it were. Families tend to have similar traditions, hobbies, likes, talents, etc., so a person would have a greater chance of finding a kindred spirit among his relatives, which would lead to a stronger love bond. And a double portion of God's blessings would certainly enhance the home situation.
Another added plus seems to be, from what I have read in my research, that there exists a bond that is born out of blood that is not found with a stranger. We already love (or should) our cousins by virtue of them being family. It is a bond that pre-exists any other type of love, and it is a longer lasting one. When you marry a stranger, the only love holding you to that stranger is the one that came from your initial getting together and finding each other attractive. As can be seen by the divorce rate, this kind of love does not always last. On the other hand, you always love (or should) your siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and other family members. There is a love born of blood relations that is not dependent upon feelings the same way loving a stranger is. There is a familial affection that exists simply because of the family connection. From what I have read, this is the basis for a much deeper, stronger love. I think of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Her love for him was so great that she deeply mourned his death the rest of her life. He was not just her husband, he was her cousin.
But what about the genetics? Much ado has been made over this, but the truth is, the added possibility of birth defects of some sort is only 2-3% more than two strangers getting together. And that is really only at the first cousin level, not when you get to second, third, etc. cousins. In fact, the people who carry a greater risk of birth defects are those who are cigarette smokers, drug (cocaine, marijuana) users, alcohol drinkers (during pregnancy), women over thirty five, women in abusive relationships, and teenagers. Have these people been banned from getting married so as to lower the rate of birth defects? No, of course not. Teenage pregnancies are through the roof. Of course if a known disease that is exceptionally devastating is carried within the family genes, one should go for genetic counseling before having children. This however does not prohibit cousin marriage. It is just something that should be considered before procreating. This sort of thing can also happen between people who are non-related, so this is not simply a cousin problem.
The sad case in all this is that many cousins, who feel as if they should be together, are forsaking that because of the social stigma. They don't want to upset their families or cause a scandal in their social circle. I have read sad stories of people who are in marriages that are only half-hearted, because their cousin is their true love. They bear the pain of a love that they feel cannot be fulfilled and settle for less, because they don't want to upset their families. How sad that we should unnecessarily force couples into this position for absolutely no reason. God does not forbid it, so why should we? And is this fair to the spouse of these people? Do they not deserve to be loved first and foremost as a spouse, and not have to play second fiddle to a beloved cousin, even if they have been kept unaware of the situation? And how can a person remain guiltless of adultery, if they harbor a secret love for a person other than their spouse? We are guilty of the sin not only when we commit it, but when it is in our heart and we dwell upon it. This social restriction is forcing Christians who love their cousins to be guilty of adultery in their hearts, if they marry someone else.
As Christians we need to stop basing our lives on what science, society, or even our church traditions may say and go to the Word of God to see what He says. Our godly children need to find godly spouses. We should not be ruling out the cousins, just because some people in society may look askance at the practice. Most countries permit it and even do it as a common practice. In America it just requires that you live in the right state and be willing to endure some people's disapproval. For more information on this subject visit http://www.cousincouples.com/.