A question, that needs careful thought and sensitivity before answering it is: Did the world come into existence through incest? Most Christians are stumped by this question, but the answer is not as difficult as it seems. Genesis says that God created Adam and Eve as the first humans. It makes no provision for the existence of any other people. This means that the second generation could only have produced a third generation if siblings married.
Scripture is clear that every human being is descended from Adam and Eve. Although it is common to classify people into “races” based on skin tone, eye shape, and so on, there is actually only one race.
So, since we are “one blood” descended from Adam and Eve, the only way other people came to be was to marry their siblings or cousins.
It’s true that the human race is now composed of multiple people groups. How did this happen? The later history in Genesis helps us understand why people now look so different from each other, even though they all came from only two people.
Most Biblical students and Christians are quick to point out or question the the Law of Moses on this: Sexual relations with any close relative was strictly forbidden. This law was laid down by the Lord to separate the Israelites from the Egyptians, so that the Israelites no longer followed the practices they were forced into following when enslaved in Egypt. (Leviticus 18:1-20).
The command to “go forth and multiply” was of prime importance from God to humanity. There were no other choices but for Adam and Eve’s children to procreate with each other. But, this is not a problem for several reasons:
- The gene pool was small and untainted . Their children would not have been plagued by the genetic problems often encountered with the children of incest today.
- Only eight people survived the flood on the ark. Three couples, the three sons of Noah and their wives, are credited in scripture with repopulating the earth. This means their children would have had to procreate with either their siblings or first cousins. This relates back to point 1, the gene pool was small and also untainted.
- It is reasonable to conclude that laws against incest were put into place much later and for practical reasons which were not problematic for the earliest humans. The first Biblical objections to sibling sexual relations are seen in Abraham’s time and the first formal law against incest was not laid down until after the Exodus (Moses laws).
Adam and Eve’s children multiplied and filled the earth about 1,500 years before the flood. At that point, an event happened that altered human genetics: After the flood, the human race multiplied again, but in disobedience to God, they did not fill the earth. Instead, they built the Tower of Babel to try get closer to heaven. This was in disobedience to God, so God confused their language, and scattered them over the face of the earth (Genesis 11:1–9), filling the earth, as God originally intended. As people became isolated in different groups around the world and been exposed to different climatic conditions, certain physical characteristics changed and became dominant, such as dark skin people in Africa and people with almond-shaped eyes in Asia.
Regardless of the differences in physical characteristics we see today, the Bible confirms we are all one race. As Acts 17:26 states, “26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.”
People must depend on the Bible to know what the Gospel is. If the Bible that relates the Gospel is not accurate and truthful in Genesis, then how do we know it is telling the truth about Jesus Christ?
The history of Adam’s race in Genesis is important to understanding how the Gospel applies to all people. Because all people are descendants of Adam and Eve, all people are sinners. Christ died and rose again to redeem Adam’s race. If Cain married someone other than a descendant of Adam and Eve, that would contradict the clear teaching of Scripture, not only in Genesis but also as it relates to the Gospel. If there are other races, then how can the Gospel be for all people. It can’t—the Gospel depends in part on the accurate Biblical answer to how people originally procreated. So it’s not just a side issue, it’s part of the main issue!
Peter warns us to be ready always to give an answer for the hope that we have. The history in Genesis, including the “how did people procreate”, is crucial to understanding that we are all sinners and in need of the forgiveness and salvation offered through Jesus Christ.
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