LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 211

Reflections on the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689

23 Aug 14 began a perhaps unbroken, orderly, and personal journey through my favorite written confession of faith. These are my personal reflections on this beloved historic Particular Baptist confession of the Christian Faith.


Chapter 25. Of Marriage. Paragraph 4: “Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity, forbidden in the Word; nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful, by any law of man or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together as man and wife.”

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Marriage is sacred. It is the base relationship of humanity. It’s how sex is supposed to be enjoyed. You’re there and I’m here because of it. Marriage is the pyramid of humanity (dads, moms, kids) built upon the triune God himself. Sex, for those who wish to have it, says so much about us. Perhaps more than anything else we do. So, of course it matters to God. I believe that circumcision in the Old Covenant itself was given to illustrate, by what one produces, by his kids, his own seed, just how far sin actually goes in us all. We just produce sinners. This shows we need a Savior down to our very offspring. How better could what we later called original sin be conveyed? What other mark? This then ties into our sexual relations. One needn’t have sex to be complete (Jesus himself modeled this, Paul too) but among all relationships, it’s the most important for the married or those who desire to be. So the confession addresses even this last point on it for many good reasons.

Incest. In our present day of open sexual expression, this one still lies generally under the surface. Incest isn’t yet widely celebrated. Given the pagan or atheistic/pagan religious worldviews of my defiled people, I don’t really know why, but it isn’t. I’ve seen very little of it making its way onto the main stage. In many ancient societies such as in ancient Rome, incest always remained taboo. It happened, of course, but it wasn’t celebrated. Homosexuality? check. Pedophilia? check. Even bestiality? check. But incest? No go. Kinda funny when you think about it really. Perhaps it’s because the resultant genetic abnormalities can show up faster, and God’s stored up wrath most often waits invisibly to the blind, but the bottom line is that sexual propriety has its limits in a godly worldview. There is great freedom sexually between a monogamous husband and wife, but there is nothing acceptable outside of them.

As customary, the writers cite three applicable passages to establish their convictions. They list Leviticus 18, Mark 6:18 and 1 Corinthians 5:1. As always, I commend the reader to them for study.

God did not begin the world in incest. Adam and Eve weren’t descendants. They were both made supernaturally, not from the providential natural design of sex in life God gave from them on. Hence at the start they were not family. From them (the first two people with entirely separated DNA) God allowed for close relatives to marry for numerous generations. In Acts 17:26, Stephen tells us how God desired to make, “from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth…” There was only one way to accomplish this. God later forbids incest, even as the confession specifies, “Within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity.” This includes the closest degrees of brothers and sisters and lesser degrees like in-laws, cousins, etc. See Leviticus 18. The most common incestual marriages in Scripture before the commands against incest were first given were between cousins.

Many peoples are as defiled by sexual sin today as those mentioned in the conquest that Israel was sent as a judgment upon. Sexual sin is still Satan’s number one marketing tool. We take this for granted in my country today. Before the Law was even given, even in nations God had no talks with, sinful immoralities like homosexuality, fornication, bestiality and incest were judged by God. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for rapist grade homosexuality around 2000 BC, but the Law with Moses wasn’t given until around 1446. But God judged them nonetheless. This is because you don’t need the Law to know that these things are sinful. It’s the suppression of even innate truth that leads to judgment. Romans 1:18-32. And Israel, even with her sins, was at times far from the pagan nations in their deviancy. We are all of us simply inexcusable for many things. In Leviticus 18, one of the passages cited by the confession, it mentions sexual immoralities like homosexuality, incest and bestiality among the peoples. In vs. 24 we read: “Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these things the nations which I am driving out from you have become defiled.” Incest defiles the very land. Think about that.

Incest has no place among those who profess godliness today. We are far beyond the first generations. There are two practical examples of incest in the New Covenant as noted in the confession. One is in Corinth with a man and his mother-in-law, and the other is in Israel with the king. It seems that the man in Corinth was restored to the fellowship once judged. 2 Corinthians 2:6-11. The other was eaten by worms. Acts 12:21-23. They were both incestual ties among in-laws. Incest was well understood to be sin by any degree by Jesus’ day.

A quick thought that also came to mind that applies to my day in a major way I think: “consent” is not king! Jesus is. He tells you what’s good and what’s bad. If you’re wise, you listen. In our day people say, “Consent is king” all the time when it comes to sex. I don’t know why they don’t say it more regarding their own relatives frankly. “As long as it’s consensual you’re good to go” they say. But no! The consent of a brother and sister don’t make sex okay. Christ is King, not our creaturely consent.

Joseph Pittano

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