A Defense of WCF 24.4

The last sentence of Westminster Confession of Faith 24.4, which forbids the marrying of the close kindred of one’s deceased spouse, was removed by the PCUSA in 1887. This alteration has been retained in the editions of the Confession adopted by the OPC and PCA. Other denominations have similarly rejected this sentence as unbiblical citing Leviticus 18:18 and Deuteronomy 25:5-10 to the contrary, one rejection being even as late as the year 2001. [1] The clause reads:

“Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity forbidden in the Word (Lev. 18 throughout; Amos 2:7; 1 Cor. 5:1); 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 (Lev. 18:24-28; Mark 6:18). The man may not marry any of his wife’s kindred nearer in blood than he may of his own, nor the woman of her husband’s kindred nearer in blood than of her own (Lev. 20:19-21).” (WCF 24.4).

In the excerpt below, John Murray (1898-1975) writes a compelling case for the Scriptural truth of the original clause of the Confession, and that texts such as Leviticus 18:18 and Deuteronomy 25:5-10 are not valid proof texts against it.

John Murray
Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics (1957)
Ch. 3 (49-54) & App. B (250-255).

In surveying the history of divine revelation respecting the marriage ordinance we have thus found a series of restrictions which more closely define the sphere within which the procreative impulse may be exercised in pursuance of the procreation mandate. We now come to another series of proscriptions which imply further delimitation. They are those laws of the Pentateuch which prescribe that marriage is not to be within certain degrees of consanguinity and affinity (Leviticus 18:6ff.; 20:11-21; Deuteronomy 22:30; 27:20-23). [2] We may not discount the difficulties of interpretation which arise in some of these instances, particularly those connected with Leviticus 18:16, 18. Nor should we suppress the questions which arise in connection with the marriages of Abraham and Jacob in relation to these Mosaic provisions. But these difficulties in particular cases do not remove or obscure the general principle of these Mosaic ordinances, namely, that marriage within certain degrees of consanguinity and affinity was forbidden. And the import of most of these prohibited degrees is quite obvious.

What is of particular interest to us is that this principle of prohibited degrees is enunciated in the New Testament and applied to the ethic governing Christian conduct. Sometimes appeal is made in this connection to the case of Herod and Herodias [Matthew 14:3; Mark 6:17; Luke 3:19]. But this is not as conclusive as it might appear. John the Baptist could have reproved Herod for violation of Old Testament law, even though that law would have had no relevance under the New Testament. There is undoubtedly one feature of John’s reproof that is significant, namely, that he recognized the Old Testament law in question as applicable to Herod. And that fact may have far-reaching implications for the universality of obligation inherent in the corresponding Old Testament prohibitions.

There is, however, another incident in New Testament history and teaching that puts beyond question the perpetual sanctity of the principle of prohibited degrees. It is the case of the incident at Corinth and Paul’s teaching in relation to it (1 Corinthians 5:1ff.). “It is actually reported that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not even among the Gentiles, that one of you hath his father’s wife.” The woman in question here is undoubtedly the step-mother. [3] In Leviticus 18:7-8 distinction is made between uncovering the nakedness of “thy mother” (verse 7) and uncovering the nakedness of “thy father’s wife” (verse 8). Hence Paul is dealing with a case which falls into the category of that forbidden expressly in Leviticus 18:8; 20:11; Deuteronomy 22:30; 27:20.

This fact, that it is the step-mother who is in view, shows more pointedly the relevance to the New Testament ethic of the principle or principles which underlie the Old Testament prohibitions. In the case of a step-mother there was no blood relationship; the marriage was not therefore within a degree of consanguinity but merely of affinity. If the incident had been concerned with a degree of consanguinity such as a mother or sister, we might be disposed to argue that the incest was so blatant and so obviously repulsive to human instinct that we should fully expect the New Testament to frown upon it. But since the case is clearly within the category of affinity and not of consanguinity the bearing of the Mosaic prohibitions in their entirety upon the ethic of the New Testament is more apparent.

The severity of the condemnation which Paul pronounces upon this marital conjunction, and his reference to it as a sin which is not even current among the Gentiles, rest upon the assumption that marriage within such a degree of affinity was a gross violation of divine law universally applicable to the marital relationship. If this is true in respect of a certain degree of affinity, how much more must marriage within certain degrees of consanguinity be prohibited? We are forced to conclude that the prohibited degrees of Leviticus 18 are assumed to be in force under the New Testament.

Admittedly, here in 1 Corinthians 5, we have only one instance. But it is the type of instance that carries far greater weight in support of the conclusion than would other instances of the Mosaic prohibitions. In the ethic of the New Testament there are degrees not only of consanguinity but also of affinity within which marriage is forbidden. The kind of degree of affinity is illustrated in 1 Corinthians 5. It would be wholly unreasonable to think that marriage of a man and his step-mother is the only prohibited degree of affinity. In the nature of the case there must be others. To discover what they are we must go to the Mosaic revelation. 1 Corinthians 5:1ff. points us concretely to Leviticus 18:8; 20:11; Deuteronomy 22:30; 27:20. It is unquestionably in these same contexts that we are to find our answers to the other question which the New Testament ethic itself requires us to ask: What are the degrees of consanguinity and affinity within which marriage is prohibited? These pentateuchal passages not only inform us of the prohibited degrees; they also provide the limits within which we are to confine prohibition. [4]

The disposition has been widespread to add to the list of prohibited degrees. But this tendency is but an example of the iniquity of human thought when it seeks to be a legislator. After all, when we examine the Mosaic provisions and compare them with the restrictions which ecclesiastical and political tradition would impose, it is not the severity of the Mosaic provisions that impresses us but their liberality. We may not take from God’s law. When we do we open wide the way of license. We may not add to God’s law. When we do we arrogate to ourselves God’s prerogative and we pervert the perfect law of liberty.

Additional Note on Leviticus 18:16 & 18:18.

The first of these verses reads: “Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness” [Lev. 18:16]. Since the Levirate law of Deuteronomy 25:5-10 required the marriage of a man and his deceased brother’s widow when the brother died childless, it might appear that the prohibition here has reference to the brother’s wife only as long as the brother lived and could not apply to the deceased brother’s widow. This does not follow, however. The Levirate law could well be an exception to meet a certain exigency and is quite compatible with the general provision that a man may not marry his deceased brother’s widow. The latter could be the rule, the Levirate law the exception in the extreme exigency contemplated (cf. Neufeld: op. cit., pp. 43-44, 203). There are good reasons for this view.

(1) Leviticus 20:21 deals with the same subject as Leviticus 18:16 and specifically with the penalty for such impurity. The penalty is that they shall die childless, apparently meaning that any offspring there might be would not be included in the public registers, “so that in a civil sense they would be childless” (Michaelis: op. cit., p. 114). But if the prohibition had in view sexual intercourse while the brother was still living, then the impurity involved would be an aggravated form of adultery for which the penalty would have been death in accordance with other Mosaic provisions. The relative mildness of the penalty, in contrast with the other cases mentioned in Leviticus 20:14, 17 and probably 20:18, can only be explained on the ground that marriage with a deceased brother’s widow was not regarded as heinous as the offence in some other cases. This could not be by any means the case if the woman were the surviving brother’s wife.

(2) Since Leviticus 20:21 has marriage in view, the prohibition of Leviticus 18:16 would have in mind a totally abnormal situation, in terms of Hebrew practice, if the brother is conceived of as living. For then we should have polyandry. Polygamy we have in the Old Testament but not polyandry. And to think of such a monstrosity as visited with no greater penalty than that of Leviticus 20:21 is contrary to all Old Testament analogy.

(3) The reason why marriage with a deceased brother’s widow is not regarded with the gravity of some other prohibited degrees is apparent from Deuteronomy 25:5-10. Since it is required in that exigency it is apparent that it cannot be intrinsically as grave an offence as that of Leviticus 20:14, for example. But there could be no such explanation if the offence were marriage with a brother’s wife while the brother lives.

That a widow can be called the wife of her deceased husband is easily demonstrated (cf. Genesis 38:8; Deuteronomy 25:5, 7; Ruth 4:5; 11 Samuel 12:10; Matthew 22:25; Acts 5:7; see George Bush: Notes, Critical and Practical, on the Book of Leviticus, New York, 1843, pp. 177ff.). Hebrew has a word for widow but it is not Old Testament usage to identify a widow as the widow of such an one. As the above instances show, it is the usage to call her the “wife” of such an one. Hence the presence of the word “wife” here rather than widow is what we should expect, even though the person concerned is, in our terminology, actually the widow.

Leviticus 18:18

Leviticus 18:18 has given occasion for much dispute. Most frequently the expression is interpreted as meaning “a wife to her sister” and the prohibition is regarded as dealing with the relation of a man to his wife’s sister. In terms of this interpretation the verse would read as follows: “And thou shalt not take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, besides the other in her lifetime.” The precise force of certain expressions is doubtful. But the main thought is that a man may not take his wife’s sister to uncover her nakedness during the lifetime of the other. Many expositors are emphatic to the effect that what is expressly forbidden is simply and solely that a man may not be married to two women who are sisters at the same time and that the concluding term “in her lifetime” makes it unmistakably clear that the prohibition has nothing whatsoever to do with the question of marriage to a deceased wife’s sister, that only neglect of the express limitation contained in the verse could ever allow for such an interpretation.

Michaelis (op. ext., p. 113) says: “As to his doing so in the life-time of the first, I cannot comprehend how it should ever have been imagined that Moses also prohibited marriage with a deceased wife’s sister . . . What Moses prohibited, was merely simultaneous polygamy with two sisters; that sort of marriage in which Jacob lived, when he married Rachel, as well as her sister Leah.” Cf. S. H. Kellogg: The Book of Leviticus (The Expositor’s Bible), New York, 1891, p. 382, who says: “No words could well be more explicit than those which we have here, in limiting the application of the prohibition to the life-time of the wife.” Cf. also C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch: Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament (Edinburgh, 1882) Leviticus 18:18.

It must be admitted that, if the prohibition in question has reference to a man’s wife’s sister, that is to say, if אָחוֹת [her sister] to be understood in the sense of sister properly understood, then the limiting expression בְּחַיֶּֽיהָ [in her life] is to be interpreted as limiting the prohibition to the lifetime of the wife mentioned in the text, and this verse could not be reasonably pleaded as in itself forbidding marriage with a deceased wife’s sister. The expression whatever may be its precise force, would strengthen this conclusion. It could not be supposed that the sister would be a rival or the cause of vexation to the wife after the latter was deceased.

There is also much to be said in favour of the view that אָחוֹת in this verse is a sister, literally understood. In the passage אָחוֹת is used in this sense in verses 9, 11, 12 and 13, and we should reasonably expect that it would be used in the same sense in verse 18. Only strong considerations to the contrary would carry weight in support of another conclusion.

However, an entirely different view of the import of Leviticus 18:18 must be accorded serious consideration. It is the view that the expression וְאִשָּׁה אֶל־אֲחֹתָהּ is not to be rendered “a wife to her sister” but rather “one wife to another” and that what is prohibited here is digamy or polygamy. The verse would then be rendered as follows: “Thou shalt not take a wife to another, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, besides her in her lifetime.” Cf. Matthew Poole: Annotations upon the Holy Bible, ad Leviticus 18:18; Charles Hodge: The Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review, 1842, Vol. XIV, pp. 518f. [NASB 1995 footnote for “her sister“: “Or another“].

This view of the verse would have to be abruptly dismissed, as is done by many, were it not for the fact that in Hebrew usage of the Old Testament the expression which occurs in Leviticus 18:18, to wit, וְאִשָּׁה אֶל־אֲחֹתָהּ is used elsewhere in the sense of “one to another” without implying that the persons concerned are sisters in the proper sense. In fact it is an idiom of the Hebrew Old Testament in the sense of ‘one to another’ even when persons are not in view at all (cf. Exodus 26:3, 5, 6, 17; Ezek. 1:9, 23; 3:13). In this respect it is like the expression אִישׁ אָלִ־ֶאחיו (literally “a man to his brother“) which occurs more frequently and does not imply more than “one to the other” or “one to another” (Genesis 42:21, 28; Exodus 10:23; 16:15; 25:20; 37:9; Numbers 14:4; Isaiah 9:18; Jeremiah 13:14; 23:35; 25:26; Ezekiel 24:23). Of course, on occasion the persons involved may be literally brothers but this is not necessary. The expression אִישׁ אֶל־אָחִיו is similar to other expressions (cf. Genesis 13:11; Exodus 32:27; Leviticus 7:10; 25:14; Deuteronomy 1:16; Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 4:17; 18:8; 38:21; Joel 2:8; Zechariah 7:9-10; Malachi 2:10).

Hence the expression with which we are concerned, as far as Old Testament usage is concerned, can perfectly well mean “a wife to another,” “one woman to another” and need not reflect upon two women who are sisters in the proper sense of the term. The only reason why this has been abruptly dismissed is that sufficient attention has not been paid to the force of this expression and its analogues elsewhere.

If this interpretation is adopted, then the verse has no bearing whatsoever upon the question so keenly debated, namely, that of marriage with a deceased wife’s sister. Indeed, it would bear upon the question of a man’s relation to his wife’s sister in terms of the prohibition of digamy in general. But it would have no relevance, of itself, to the question of the deceased wife’s sister. And, furthermore, this verse would be express condemnation of digamy and polygamy and would hark back to the original ordinance of monogamy (Genesis 2:23-24).

Objection

There are difficulties encountering this interpretation. If it is such an express prohibition of digamy or polygamy, why were digamy and polygamy practiced subsequent to the time of Moses without overt condemnation in terms of this statute? If digamy is here expressly forbidden we should expect a penalty in terms of the Pentateuch itself. And why should there be at Leviticus 18:18 such a sudden transition from prohibitions concerned with marriages within certain degrees of kinship to a provision of an entirely different character?

This last objection is not as cogent as it might at first appear to be. The paragraph divisions of our English Bibles do not have any necessary validity. It may be that the transition from questions pertaining to kinship occurs at the end of verse 17 rather than at the end of verse 18. It is obvious that verse 19 introduces prohibition of a different category. Why should not [the] transition take place at verse 18? Verse 20 deals with adultery. Why should not verse 18 deal with a closely related sin, that of digamy or polygamy? In Leviticus 20:10-21 the penalties instituted are concerned to a large extent with violations of the proprieties that should govern near of kin, but there is sudden transition from this category of wrong to different categories (cf. verses 15, 16, 18 and Deuteronomy 27:15-26). The objection therefore as it pertains to transition has little, if any, weight.

The objection that we should expect to find appeal to this prohibition of digamy and penal legislation for violation is much more cogent. Yet it is not of sufficient weight to rule out the possibility that Leviticus 18:18 should be interpreted in the way proposed. It may not be pointless in this connection to note that, in the list of penalties imposed in Leviticus 20:10-21 and in the curses pronounced in Deuteronomy 27:15-26, there is no reference to marriage with a wife’s sister. We might expect some reference to this wrong if it is so expressly forbidden in Leviticus 18:18. On the assumption that it refers to marriage with a wife’s sister while the former is alive, this violation would surely carry with it no less a penalty than that upon marriage with a brother’s widow (Leviticus 20:21).

The case is such therefore that we may not assume and dogmatically insist that Leviticus 18:18 deals with the question of a wife’s sister whether the wife is contemplated as living or dead. The verse may concern something very different. If this is so, then there is nothing express and overt in the Mosaic law pertaining to the matter of the deceased wife’s sister. Is there anything implicit? This is the whole question of the implications of these relevant passages in the Pentateuch. Are marriages within similar or equal degrees of kinship prohibited as well as those expressly mentioned by Moses?

Good & Necessary Consequence by Reciprocal Application.

For example, the prohibitions in Leviticus 18:7-18 are viewed from the standpoint of the man; they are stated in terms of the kinship he sustains to the woman in question in each case. But must we not suppose that if we take the standpoint of the woman and think in terms of the kinship she sustains to the man the prohibitions apply to the same types of kinship? To be specific, Leviticus 18:12 reads: “Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s sister“—a man may not marry his father’s sister. But does it not follow by inference, because of the identical nature of the kinship, that a woman may not marry her father’s brother or, for that matter, her mother’s brother? This is the question on which much division of opinion has existed.

In reference to our precise question, that of the deceased wife’s sister, the matter turns on the implications of Leviticus 16:16. There a man is forbidden to marry his deceased brother’s widow. Stating this from the standpoint of the woman, it means that a woman may not marry her deceased husband’s brother. Does it not follow by inference that a man may not marry his deceased wife’s sister? In the judgment of the present writer it is here that the matter of the deceased wife’s sister enters and not in connection with Leviticus 18:18. On either interpretation of the latter text, it is not the deceased wife’s sister that is in view. But we are confronted with this question inescapably in connection with the possible implications of Leviticus 18:16; 20:21.

It would take us beyond reasonable limits to enter into this discussion. But it seems to me necessary to understand that Moses has not specified all the prohibitions which are involved in the degrees of consanguinity and affinity enunciated. Leviticus 18:6-17 provides us with the principles in terms of which the prohibited degrees of consanguinity and affinity are to be determined. Of course Moses does not do this in the form of principles. That would not be consonant with Old Testament method. Moses declares the law in terms of the concrete. But these concrete instances are not to be isolated from the kind of relationship which they exemplify. And that is what is meant when we say that Leviticus 18:6-17 provides us with principles, that is, with the principles of relationship in terms of which we are to interpret the degrees of consanguinity and affinity within which marriage is illicit. This is surely in accord with the analogy of Scripture. The ten commandments are concrete but they exemplify far-reaching principles. None has shown this more clearly than our Lord himself. In the matter of divorce the New Testament expressly gives the right of divorce only to the man. But we infer, and surely rightly, that the same right belongs to the woman in the event of adultery on the part of her husband. By similar reasoning may we not draw certain inferences from Leviticus 18:6-17?

This position implies that Moses was selective and gave a representative list but not a complete catalogue. That he could be selective appears from Leviticus 20:10-21 and Deuteronomy 27:15-26. In the former the penalties are specified, in the latter curses are pronounced. But he does not specify all the cases mentioned in Leviticus 18:6-17, particularly not in the curses pronounced. Yet we cannot suppose that those omitted carry no penalty or curse. In Leviticus 20:10-21 there is no explicit mention of the penalty for uncovering the nakedness of a uterine mother, the first of the prohibitions in Leviticus 18. We could not believe that the penalty would be less than that for intercourse with a father’s wife (Leviticus 20:11), namely, death. Apparently the reason for the omission is that the penalty would be understood without any overt prescription.

What the principle of selection adopted in these various passages was it would be difficult to say. Perhaps Mace’s suggestion (op. ext., p. 152) is as good as any that the incestuous unions expressly prohibited were those of “fairly frequent occurrence at the time.” But that we do not have a complete list and that we may apply the same principles of kinship to near of kin not expressly specified is the conclusion to which the relevant data would point (cf. Mace: op. cit., pp. 152-164).

Hence the conclusion to which the present writer is driven is that the prohibition of marriage with a deceased wife’s sister is implicit in the prohibition of marriage with a deceased husband’s brother (Leviticus 18:16; 20:21).


[1] Barry G. Waugh, The History of a Confessional Sentence: The Events Leading up to the Inclusion of the Affinity Sentence in the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 24, Section 4, and the Judicial History Contributing to its Removal in the American Presbyterian Church (2002), p. 268.

[2] The expression “uncover the nakedness” (עֶרְוָה גָּלָה) has reference to sexual intercourse. In Ezekiel 16:36 (cf. vv. 35, 37); 23:18 it is used of the sexual intercourse involved in whoredom, that is to say, of extra-conjugal intercourse, even though it is possible in these cases that the whoredoms referred to are those of idolatry. Of course, extra-conjugal intercourse with persons specified in these passages in Leviticus and Deuteronomy is forbidden. Such sexual intercourse would have the additional guilt of being not only fornication or adultery, but incestuous fornication or adultery. But that these ordinances have reference to marriage is also apparent, and there can be no doubt but that the main purpose is to prohibit marriages within these degrees of consanguinity and affinity. This is shown by Leviticus 18:18; 20:14, 21. The expression “take a wife” indicates that more is involved than an act of sexual intercourse (cf. also Leviticus 20:17). Besides, in Leviticus 20:20-21 the consequence of uncovering the nakedness of an uncle’s wife or a brother’s wife is that “they shall die childless.” In these cases the penalty was not that of death but that the parties should die childless, a consequence which surely has in view the marital relationship of the persons concerned. Cf. E. Neufeld: Ancient Hebrew Marriage Laws (London, 1944), p. 192:

The prohibition, then, is one against sexual intercourse with a specified class of individuals which, a fortiori, must make marriage between these persons illegal, as only by sexual intercourse could the marriage finally be consummated. Whether there was any distinction between extra-marital and intra-marital relations in the mind of the lawgiver it is impossible to say. The expressions, however, are used with a laxity which leads one to assume that no clear differentiation between the two was under consideration, and that the law was directed against incestuous intercourse as much as against incestuous marriages.

David R. Mace: op. cit., p. 153, says: “The word ‘take’ occurs twice (Leviticus 18:18; 20:17), and in the first instance certainly seems to imply marriage with the woman. Elsewhere the phrase used is ‘to lie with’, which normally implies a single act of sexual intercourse. Nevertheless there is nothing which distinguishes these prohibitions from the other incestuous ones where marriage appears to be understood; so we may conclude that it is to be assumed throughout.

[3] In Leviticus 18:7-8 the LXX as well as the Hebrew makes clear the distinction between a uterine mother and a step-mother. With reference to the latter it says: άσχημοσύνην γυναικός πατρός σου ούκ αποκαλύψεις and is careful to distinguish between this as uncovering the shame of his father (άσχημοσύνη πατρός) and uncovering the shame of his mother (άσχημοσύνη μητρός). With reference to the “father’s wife” we do not find the statement “she is thy mother” (μήιηρ γάρ σού εστίν) as in Leviticus 18:7 with reference to the uterine mother. There is therefore the clear distinction between the uterine mother and the step-mother. This kind of impurity is that which had been committed by Reuben (Genesis 35:22) when he lay with Bilhah, his father’s concubine. That this was considered a grievous offence before the time of Moses is apparent from Genesis 49:4. Jacob calls it “defiling the couch” of his father (cf. Ezekiel 22:10; Amos 2:7). This instance would evince that the prohibition of Leviticus 18:8 would apply to a father’s concubine (cf. 2 Samuel 16:21-22) as well as wife, and that if a father had more wives than one, the prohibition would apply to all of them; they would all fall into the category of what we call step-mother, except, of course, the uterine mother dealt with in Leviticus 18:7. There need be no question, therefore, that, when Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 5:1 of γυναίκα τοθ πατρός, the person in view is to be identified in terms of Old Testament usage, particularly that of the LXX. There is no ground for supposing that he means the uterine mother (cf. Neufeld: op. cit., pp. 195f.).

On the Talmudic interpretations see The Babylonian Talmud, tractate Sanhedrin, Chap. vii. In the Soncino Press translation (London, 1935) see particularly Sanhedrin I, pp. 363ff

[4] It is understood, of course, that in line with the position taken in Appendix B, the present writer makes allowance for extension beyond those specifically mentioned in the pentateuchal passages in terms of the principles implicit in the degrees expressly prohibited; that is to say, extension in terms of the degree of kinship exemplified in the cases specified. What is being opposed is the tendency to extend the prohibitions to degrees of kinship which find no analogy whatsoever in the prohibited degrees of Leviticus 18. One notable example is that of prohibiting the marriage of first cousins. Whatever may be said against marriage within such a degree of relationship on biological or eugenic grounds, there is no warrant from Scripture for such prohibition, not to speak of the prohibition within degrees farther removed, as in some ecclesiastical canons.

For an outline of the history on this question of prohibited degrees cf. Kindred and Affinity as Impediments to Marriage (London, 1940), being the report of a commission appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1937. This survey shows the reductiones ad absurdum to which arbitrary extensions have led. On Archbishop Parker’s table of kindred and affinity see pp. 41-45; (f. also The Canon Law of the Church of England (London, 1947), pp. 126f.

On the present position of the Church of Rome see Codex Iuris Canonici Pii X Pontificis Maximi (Rome, 1918), Canons 96, 97, 1042-1044, 1076, 1077. For an exposition of these canons see Francis X. Wahl: The Matrimonial Impediments of Consanguinity and Affinity (Canon Law Studies, Number 90), Washington, 1934. Cf. also Joseph J. C. Petrovits: The New Church Law on Matrimony (Philadelphia, 1921), pp. 222-272; George Hayward Joyce: Christian Marriage (London, 1948), pp. 507-569.

As representative of the Protestant position at the time of the Reformation cf. Calvin: Opera (Brunswick, 1882), Vol. XXIV, 659-667, Vol. XXVIII, 61-64; in English see Commentaries on the Last Four Books of Moses (C. T. S., Grand Rapids, 1950), Vol. III, pp. 96-108.

On the customs of various peoples and tribes cf. Westermarck: op. cit., pp. 82-239; James G. Frazer: Totemism and Exogamy (London, 1910), Vol. IV, pp. 71-169. It is of interest to note the prevalence of exogamic prescriptions. Westermarck says that “among peoples unaffected by modern civilization the exogamic rules are probably in the large majority of cases more extensive than among ourselves” (p. 101). This fact only underlines the liberality of the biblical principles in contrast with human sentiment and custom.

On the law in the several States in the U.S.A. cf. Geoffrey May: Marriage Laws and Decisions in the United States (New York, 1929), especially the chart on page 477.

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