Genesis 4:17—How could Cain marry a relative without committing incest?
Problem: If Cain married his sister, this is incest, which the Bible condemns (Lev. 18:6). Furthermore, incestuous marriages often produce genetically defective children.
Solution: First, there were no genetic imperfections at the beginning of the human race. God created a genetically perfect Adam (Gen. 1:27). Genetic defects resulted from the Fall and only occurred gradually over long periods of time. Further, there was no command in Cain’s day not to marry a close relative. This command (Lev. 18) came thousands of years later in Moses’ day (c. 1500 b.c.). Finally, since the human race began with a single pair (Adam and Eve), Cain had no one else to marry except a close female relative (sister or niece).
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.