Cain's Wife and the Penalty of Incest

Cain Marries a Sister

Inherited Potential


Was Cain's Wife of
the Line of Adam?

Also by
Arthur Custance

The Necessity of
Jesus' Resurrection

How Did Jesus Die?

Arthur Custance published this paper in 1967.   It is included in Time and Eternity published in 1977 by Zondervan Publishing Company

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by Arthur C. Custance, Ph.D.

Almost as far back as I can remember, I have heard casual critics ask, somewhat cynically, "Where did Cain get his wife?"   To the answer "He married his sister, of course," the usual reply was, "That's not likely.   The Bible expressly forbids incest and modern research shows that incest is deleterious."

Curiously enough, this question of long standing has a significance quite beyond the mere satisfaction of curiosity.   It can be used to illustrate a number of important aspects relating to the accuracy and inspiration of Scripture and the reasonableness of the Christian faith as a whole.

For one thing, the findings of modern research, as we shall show, do not merely bear out the undesirable effects of consanguineous marriage -- a fact entirely in keeping with the prohibition in Leviticus 18:9 introduced many centuries later than Cain -- but also bear out the fact that as we retreat into the past, the cause of this currently deleterious result is progressively reduced so that with perfect reason we may extrapolate backward until we reach a time when such consanguinity would almost certainly not be harmful at all.

The second point is that Scripture does not leave us in the dark on the matter, but provides us with data capable of statistical analysis which shows that -- while the writers themselves may not have been aware of the significance of some of the things they set down -- they were nevertheless guided by inspiration to set forth the data they did record in sufficient detail that modern researchers into human genetics might, had they had sufficient faith in the Word of God and perception of its potential as a source of information, have at least anticipated certain current findings in genetics by merely studying it.   Thus, far from being outmoded and childishly inaccurate, the Bible proves to contain information which, when properly understood, is completely up-to-date and scientifically of predictive value.

The third thing which we may observe is that problems of this kind can often be solved by an appeal to Scripture itself, provided we accept the basic principle that the whole of Scripture is a dependable source of 1ight upon itself.   In other words, the Bible is one Book, self-consistent, and most illuminating when it is most completely and wholly believed.   It is safe to accept the whole, but not safe to pick and choose what one will accept and what one will reject.   If we trust the record throughout, we are on safe ground and ultimately will find our faith vindicated.

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