Can a Christian marry his sister

Marriage and Relatives (3 Mo 18: 6-8)

The divine prohibition in this section of our chapter relates to close relationships and is based simply on the divine will and authority expressed in the words "I am the Lord". Except for the early days, marriage was not there to unite one's own flesh, either within the framework of natural kinship or in connection with other closely related persons.

Our section opens with a very impressive emphasis: “Nobody, etc.”, and the Septuagint follows this reading exactly. So it's about getting the attention the human to awaken, because marriage is honorable only if the will of God is observed. Hebrews 13: 4 in no way approves of a prohibited union, which we understand when we look at the actual rendering: “Marriage be honored in all (not at or under all, as the auditors claim) and the marriage bed immaculate ”. The sentence structure behaves in exactly the same way before and after. It is a request and not a confirmation as in the A.V. by Wiclif, Granmer and the translators from Geneva. The rhemische translation is linguistically incorrect here and should be brought into harmony with the Vulgate, which interprets the Greek in the same way as Peschito, Wiclif, etc. Only Tyndale is right.

The Lord sets his face against such associations and charter as they are here described to us. His very name stands as a serious guarantee against all these practices from the beginning to the end of our chapter. If an Israelite allowed himself to be torn away by his passion, it was rebellion against the Lord and only for his own ruin.

The relationship of marriage, as far as these closely related relationships were concerned, was unnatural and dishonorable, depending on how close the family relationship was. The sexual community, which only has its rightful place within marriage and nowhere else, is highly sinful and shameful in this context, whether it is about superordinate persons such as the father or mother or those who are on the same level like the sister (whoever she was born through), or subordinate persons like the daughter-in-law. Furthermore, who would be so bold as to deny that the respective partners are not included here, even if they are not explicitly mentioned? In our section it is the man who is addressed, but it is certain that the woman is no less addressed. In addition, the prohibition goes beyond the blood relationship and is aimed in the same way at those who have come into a marital relationship. It is of the utmost importance to cultivate genuine affection between all who are in close family relationships. On the other hand, it is all the more fundamental that their mutual love be ordered in all purity.

There is one particularly highlighted exception that became necessary in order to maintain the line of succession of the tribes in Israel. It existed outside of Israel, but should only be used there and not among Christians. It's about the levirate, or also: the duty of brother-in-law. It came into force when a man had died childless and his brother or close relative was called to raise the deceased's offspring. The aim was to preserve the family line and, related to it, the inheritance. This regulation was so significant that if the close relative refused, the widow was openly entitled to take off his shoe and spit in his face.

Verse 17 then goes on to refer to the prohibition and goes into the unnatural and incompatible sex community with a woman and her daughter, or the daughter of her son or the daughter of her daughter, no matter how unknown to him. Verse 18 forbids an Israelite to have two daughters at the same time and explains the reason for doing so. Christianity gets to the bottom of the matter when, like our Lord, it recalls what was in the beginning, when God created a man and a woman. If a man lost his wife in death, he was not only free to marry another, but would also be able to see his role in it with regard to his children and himself.

[Translated by Stephan Keune]

William Kelly