Bible Question:

I married mine step-brother, however we to be not increased in the exact same household and I am unsure if this is sin in God"s eye or if our marriage is biblically lawful. Have the right to a step-sister and step-brother marry according to Leviticus 18:11?

Bible Answer:

God has actually told united state which relatives we can not marry. Together a result, we know which loved ones we have the right to marry. In Leviticus 18:7-17 the has provided us a list of relationships that space forbidden. Because that a complete explanation, please check out “What go the holy bible say about marrying your very first cousin?” The inquiry we are came to with is, “Can a stepsister and stepbrother marry according to Leviticus 18:11?”


The chart illustrates the after mother A and Father B shed their initial spouses by fatality or divorce and also choose to marry, the daughter of mom A becomes the stepsister come the child of dad B. Likewise, the son of dad B becomes the stepbrother to the daughter of mother A. This step connection will proceed to exist even if the marriage of mother A and Father B comes to an end.

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Meaning of Leviticus 18:11

Now what is the definition of Leviticus 18:11? The brand-new American Standard holy bible reads together follows,

The nakedness of your father’s wife’s daughter, born to your father, she is your sister, friend shall not uncover her nakedness. Leviticus 18:11 (NASB)

The English traditional Version bible reads prefer this,

You shall no uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife’s daughter, lugged up in your father’s family, since she is her sister. Leviticus 18:11 (ESV)

Notice that they read very differently. Therefore, we will need to investigate the initial Hebrew to recognize the meaning. The Hebrew word for “nakedness” is erwa and is sometimes interpreted as” indecent, indecency, nakedness, bare and also shame.” Hebrew lexicons state the word method “private, personal parts of the body” or “genitals.”<3> It has the basic meaning of pudenda or “external genitals.”<4> This way that erwa refers come exposure that the genital area. Hence the expression “uncover she nakedness” is a euphemism for sexual activity culminating in sexual intercourse.<5>Next, us must recognize that the whole section indigenous Leviticus 18:7-17 is handle to males (see verses 5-6). Therefore, the phrase “your father’s wife’s daughter” is addressed to males. A male is not allowed to uncover “the nakedness . . .” The daughter in verse 11 climate is his stepsister and also he is her stepbrother. The is important to realize the verse 11 prohibits marriage in between stepsisters and also stepbrothers just under one particular situation for two reasons. First, we room told “she is her sister.” Therefore, when is she his sister?

The 2nd reason is that the Hebrew word for “born” is moledet. Words is translated as “relatives” in Genesis 24:2; 31:3; 32:9; 43:7 and also Numbers 10:30 in the new American standard Bible. The is interpreted as birth in Genesis 24:7; 31:13; Ruth 2:11; Ezekeial 16:3, 4; 23:15. A couple of times that is interpreted as kindred, native and born. The factor for discussing exactly how the word is analyzed is to show that the word has a broad definition that refers to the immediate family members lineage or descendants. Come be particular the word has actually the basic an interpretation of “kindred” or “relatives.”<6> the is, she is come be taken into consideration his stepsister if she is a descendant within the same household lineage.

This method that if the stepsister is linked to the larger household of blood relatives, she was to be taken into consideration as full sister. R. Kent Hughes summarizes the an interpretation this way,

Although she is a stepsister, she is treated as a blood sister due to the fact that she to be reared in the same household. Marriage amongst relatives closely linked as blood relatives was outlawed.<7>But the clearest an introduction is offered by Jacob Milgrom,

Once she beginning the father’s family-even despite her very own father is of a dif­ferent clan than your father, no matter how distant – she is her sister and prohibited come you. However, if she is of a different clan-there gift no common blood-the implicitly is clear: she might marry you.<8>The new International commentary on the Old testament states,

At any type of rate a male could absolutely seek a wife from within his father’s moledet as lengthy as she was no too carefully related to him (Gen. 24:4). This preeminence states the a man may not marry his step-sister if she was additionally counted as one of his “father’s kindred.”<9>This is in agreement with the ESV which is the much better translation.

You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife’s daughter, brought up in her father’s family, since she is her sister. Leviticus 18:11 (ESV)

Therefore, marriage between a stepsister and stepbrother is allowed if her household lineage walk not attach with his family lineage. Therefore, the pair should inspect their household heritage to see if they affix in current history. What is current history? that is a judgment call.


Obviously, if the over reveals the the stepsister and also stepbrother can marry, then there is no reason for concern. But what if the over information reveals the stepsister and stepbrother can not marry? then if they marry, they space sinning against God. Their marital relationship is prohibited. Yet if the stepsister and stepbrother are currently married, climate they must remain married and also not divorce! Why? because God no divorce (Malachi 2:16) and also Christ claimed that once married, the pair should stay together.

So they are no much longer two, however one flesh. What as such God has actually joined together, allow no male separate. Matthew 19:6 (NASB)

It is clear the Leviticus 18:11 is not designed together a defense for the pair or since there is some sin problem with the couple. Instead it is a safeguard for your children. It is designed to safe guard the offspring of the couple and the offspring’s subsequent offspring versus genetic defects. Obviously, the prohibition does not directly influence the couple (stepsister and also stepbrother), unless their children are affected. Therefore, if you are a stepsister and also stepbrother who have married and also you think that together a result of the above information the you should not have married, girlfriend are urged to continue to be married and also enjoy God’s blessing. Do not divorce! However, you may want to speak with clinical professionals about the wisdom of having actually children.


1. Merriam-Webster dictionary ( Merriam-Webster thesaurus ( James Swanson, thesaurus of Biblical Languages with Semantic domain names : Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos research Systems, Inc., 1997).4. Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver, and also Charles Augustus Briggs. Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Hendrickson Publishers. 1996. P. 788.5. Mark F. Rooker. Leviticus. The new American Commentary.

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B&H Publishing. 2000. Vol 3A. P. 243.6. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and also Bruce K. Waltke, eds., Theological Wordbook the the Old Testament. Moody Press. 1980. Vol. 1, p. 378.7. R. Kent Hughes. Leviticus. Preaching The Word. Crossway Books. 2009. P. 159.8. Jacob Milgrom. Leviticus. Fortress Press. 2004. P. 204.9. Gordon J. Wenham. The book of Leviticus. The new International commentary on the Old Testament. Eerdmans Publishing. 1979. P. 257.