General Question

Girl_Powered's avatar

In a rapidly fading religious era, why is incest still frowned on?

Asked by Girl_Powered (503points) May 20th, 2009

Really the taboo was a religious one, so why can’t adults get involved if they want to? Contraception is easy, so that’s not an issue. I was just reading about a couple who were brother and sister but who married. They were arrested years later. They didn’t know when they married that they were related, orphans separated at birth. Not the first time something like this has happened.

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60 Answers

_bob's avatar

Because it’s WEIRD?

Ok, I don’t know.

augustlan's avatar

It’s not just a religious taboo, but a genetic one. I suppose if there was no chance of bringing a child into the world, two consenting adults should be allowed to have whatever kind of relationship they want. But still… Ick.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

It’s not a religious issue. It’s a matter of roles. Things get all confused with incest and its very damaging psychologically.

_bob's avatar

Also, people wouldn’t be comfortable asking “Who’s your daddy?” anymore.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Yeah for a society that treats incest as taboo,people say that who’s your daddy phrase a lot. Odd dichotomy there.

DarkScribe's avatar

It is an anachronism in a way, sort of like swearing on the Bible in court. The oath means nothing to most people nowadays. There are still genetic risks, but I suppose the real issue is that there are so few people who would really want to marry a close relative that there has been no pressure to change the status quo. The Catholic Church will still allow you to marry a first cousin with permission. It has to go to Rome for approval. So limited incest is acceptable. In older times incest was common in Royal Families (the origin of the expression Blue Blood) and on occasion some couples have obtained legal permission to remain married (not marry) when their original union was a genuine error.
Another potential issue is that undue influence could be applied by less than savoury parents if incest was legal. There are more than enough of these weird religious cults marrying their daughters etc, to risk anything that would encourage it.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

It’s not about religion, it’s about evolution. An aversion to incest is evolutionarily favored. See, people who find incest gross are a lot less likely to participate in it, so their babies are more likely to be healthy, so the babies are more likely to have babies, etc etc, and thus aversion to incest becomes a dominant trait.

TaoSan's avatar

nothing wrong with a little inbreeding, my sister is hot!

(okay that was for shock value, effect, and cheap lurve)

TaoSan's avatar

@bob_

Sister is watching. Said “NO” on AIM. Sorry mate…

westy81585's avatar

Actually it isn’t religious really. In fact many religious cultures (including christianity) encouraged incest (in the case of christianity this was with regards to royal blood lines).

It’s more of just a taboo thing in popular western culture. It isn’t in fact taboo in some less popular cultures.

But the scientific evidence that points out the genetic/health issues associated with it (not to mention the psychological/social effects it would have on a person in todays society) will push it to be more taboo.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

There are very good biological and genetic reasons for outlawing incest. It is for these reasons that ancient religions adopted laws against incest, as they saw the sometimes horrifying results as a curse from the gods.

It is not good for a person’s psychological development to view a person as both family and an object of sexual desires. Familial relations are vastly different from romantic relations, and when the two are mixed there is a conflict of interest.

Genetically, if a detrimental gene is present in the family line, it will almost definitely be accentuated or brought to dominance in a child of incest. For example if a woman was prone to breast cancer from a heritable trait, then her brother would also carry this gene. Although of course breast cancer is rare in men, a daughter these two have would have a stronger form of this phenotype, either through some form of genetic summation or moving from recessive to dominant. Natural selection will quickly deal with the child.

LC_Beta's avatar

Aversion to incest is more a part of our socio-cultural experience (and development) than a religious taboo.

Some anthropologists speculate that this is one of the most basic foundations of the kinship-network, and ultimately society. The argument goes that humans reproduce outside their own immediate families in order to secure bonds with other tribes and help ensure their own survival. When the ice age moves along, and people start agricultural societies, suddenly there’s a need for a more structured social network. In come strategically arranged marriages by parents for their children. This also explains why the taboo has gotten weaker over time – back when it was a strategic alliance made to help ensure the survival of the group as a whole, people weren’t marrying their cousins. As the practice became less about survival, the consequences of marrying inside your social stratosphere became less severe, and the range of people it was “not okay” to marry shrank (to siblings and lesser degrees with cousins).

Anyway.

Girl_Powered's avatar

I just feel sorry for this couple, they are in love and have kids, healthy kids. I don’t think that is any business of the state. I can see where a lot of it could be pretty yucky, I wouldn’t want to marry either of my brothers, but if I had never met them I might feel differently once I did meet if I wasn’t aware that they were brothers. I love them and they are good looking, so under those circumstance it could be possible. I think my father is sexy, but I wouldn’t want to go down that road, I’d lose him as a father. I suppose that in my case, and most people’s, the closest it would come to being a problem is with cousins. That road I have gone down. ;)

fedupwitcaddys's avatar

because you’re not suppose to ***k ya relatives!

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

Carm.org says this about it

besides…

Why would you want to bring all the emotions surrounding sex into a environment that is supposed to be devoid of such things? Family is supposed to be your safe haven.. your home base.. your bomb shelter.. they are there to pick you up when relationships fail.. when you’re down on your luck.. when you’re late on your car payment….

once you throw sister sex or brother sex into the mix you totally destroy that environment.

oratio's avatar

I don’t support it. It’s clearly a very bad idea so engage in incestuous relationships.

But I am not sure I believe that the government should decide that.

dynamicduo's avatar

Um… Religion is certainly not why incest was/is taboo. It’s taboo because it oftentimes ruins or seriously harms the family dynamic, and we know now that the similarities in DNA can cause problems in the offspring produced and contraception was not a sure thing until this century.

At the same time, if a brother and sister wanted to truly be together, I don’t see why anyone should deny them that right. It doesn’t affect me, nor do I care about upholding the “sanctity” of marriage (haha, what a joke) nor do I want to butt in to other’s lives and tell them what they can or cannot do. Even if they wanted to reproduce, I’m not sure I would actively oppose it, as I really don’t give a hoot. I mean I would never do it because I wouldn’t risk having a child with similar DNA sources, but if others are willing to take that risk, eh. It’s not like one more drop in the ocean really matters.

spresto's avatar

Do you want to have sex with your sister?

oratio's avatar

@spresto Accepting other people’s homosexuality doesn’t make you gay.

spresto's avatar

@oratio What the hell are you talking about?

oratio's avatar

Well, what and who did you refer to with your comment?

spresto's avatar

@oratio My comments are my own. I don’t care what other people think. Also it was a question not a comment. Did you not see the ”?” ??????

oratio's avatar

@spresto Ok. Why, yes. And there you have six more.

If you don’t want feedback on your comments, then why do you post them? And why do you post responses to other peoples comments?

spresto's avatar

@oratio Do you honestly feel better about yourself asking me these questions? Does it make you feel more intellegent?

oratio's avatar

@spresto You seem very angry.

spresto's avatar

@oratio You seem very needy.

Clair's avatar

I seem to be in middle school…? Shutup you two. Its hard to correctly show odd personality online. ( mine included) give it a rest

spresto's avatar

@Clair He started it. I just asked a question.

oratio's avatar

@spresto If you feel offended in some way, I am sorry. Not my intent.

spresto's avatar

@oratio No, I don’t. I just like an answer to my original question.

Darwin's avatar

Getting back on topic, besides the potential genetic problems there is also the risk of older, dominant relative overpowering a much younger relative, thus denying free choice and causing mental anguish.

Clair's avatar

@oratio lol! Ok, my bad. You could have a point here

Response moderated
crisw's avatar

Incest-avoidance is a product of evolution and is much older than religion. Most social animals have evolved mechanisms to prevent incest -humans are by no means the only animals to avoid it.

critter1982's avatar

@spresto: She can just get an abortion if the baby has 3 eyes.

dynamicduo's avatar

@spresto Who are you asking? You didn’t name a person, hence the confusion.

galileogirl's avatar

Genetic, legal, religious, psychological, cultural taboos. Just how small must your community be to make your sister a feasiblr mate?

mattbrowne's avatar

What’s next? Having a homosexual relationship with your clone?

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Read what La_chica_gomela wrote and understand this came before religion, that religions were created to gather what people deemed the healthiest and most beneficial ways to live together into some sort of doctrine all could agree on, study and adhere to.

In the modern day, what The_Compassionate_Heretic writes rings true, yes people can practice birth control to avoid any risks to genetics but the greater issue is the mixing of roles. An example is Woody Allen raising his adopted daughter from childhood in a father/daughter role and then later changing the dynamic into that of lovers. A brother an sister raised apart can approach as lovers because they’ve they’ve never been in the brother/sister role.

TaoSan's avatar

@mattbrowne

My clone would be the only man EVAH whom could make me go homosexual :D

(this might be wrong on so many different levels, but what can I do? I’m just that handsome)

crisw's avatar

@mattbrowne
sounds like you have an interesting book plot there!

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, indeed. It sounds a lot weirder than identical twins born years apart.

TaoSan's avatar

Yeah I really wouldn’t do my twin!!!!!! An outrage!!!!

A clone on the other hand….

And here’s the new book story. Twin brothers separated as infants fall into deep moral despair after ordering each other as “sex clones” which is okay, but then finding out they’re indeed brothers after the dirty deed!

Can I be in the book credits? I never got credited in anything ;)

mattbrowne's avatar

@TaoSan – I spend too much time on Fluther. I know I should continue with my sequel. Writer’s block? Yes, you’ll get credit!

TaoSan's avatar

Yaaaaaaaaay!

Gotta admit, ordering your own clown for the nasty puts a whole new spin on narcissism.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@TaoSan: Clowns are ICKY! Clones are diabolical sexy wrongness. wait, you live in Vegas, clowns are cool there, I guess.

TaoSan's avatar

yep, so you get yourself, just with a big huge red plastic nose and white face! How kinkeeee is that?

RedPowerLady's avatar

There is a lot more to incest that religious values. I think many have been mentioned so far. But it complicates a society and isn’t biologically favored, putting it simply.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Incest is the best so put your sister to the test :P

Allie's avatar

Hahahaha!

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Cousins are for practice.

Allie's avatar

Second cousins are keepers.
Too much?

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@Allie: 2nd cousins on out are marriage material, woo hoo!

mattbrowne's avatar

@TaoSan – There’s a song (a parody in fact) by one of the German a-cappella bands (Basta or the Wise Guys) about Dolly, the sheep. At the end they ask the rhetorical question why so many people object. Cloning your gorgeous girlfriend has many advantages, they point out. Well, there will always be at least one who’s in the mood for sex. When I heard the song the first time, I had a good laugh. There are always a different perspective on everything :-)

TaoSan's avatar

@mattbrowne

HA! I googled it and found it. Hilarious! Yes, once you start breaking open the taboo to even discuss these issues, they indeed offer a whole new perspective. Doesn’t mean the individual or society allowing it will automatically go down that road.

DrBill's avatar

Once a man came to me to ask what to do about his Sleeping with his 2nd cousin…

I told him “First of all, stop counting them!”

mattbrowne's avatar

@TaoSan – Well, one thing people often overlook: human clones won’t become adults overnight. Science fiction offers some solutions. Science does not, at least not yet.

DREW_R's avatar

Did you ever see “Deliverance” ?

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