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Jacob continued his journey, and came into the land of his family on his mother's side, inquiring after Laban. And soon he saw his cousin Rachel, bringing along her father's sheep. He ran up to her and kissed her, and wept, and said he was the son of Rebecca. Rachel ran to tell her father, and Laban welcomed Jacob into his house, where he spent a month doing some odd jobs for him.

After the month had passed, Laban asked Jacob what he thought a fair wage would be for all the help he was doing. By this time Jacob had the hots for his cousin Rachel, and he said he would serve Laban for seven years in return for the hand of Rachel in marriage. Laban was agreeable to this, because Jacob was a better choice than giving her to another man, he deemed.

So much did Jacob love Rachel, that it seemed the seven years just flew right by. Then when the time was up, he went to Laban to pick up his wife. There was a huge wedding feast, and Jacob was plied with much wine, and at the end of the night Jacob staggered into his tent to tear off a piece, and he seemed to be happy. But in the morning when he woke up, he found out it was just Leah, the older sister, in bed with him. Leah had pretty eyes, but she was a little older and somewhat less beautiful. Jacob was so shallow. But a deal's a deal. Laban had pulled a switcheroo!

When Jacob complained, Laban explained that it was the custom in Haran that the younger daughter must not be married before the elder one. But he would make it right. All Jacob had to do was serve Laban for another seven years tending his flocks, and he would get both of his cousins for wives. And this he did do, a total of fourteen years, for the hand of the cousin he truly loved. Meanwhile he did not go celibate, he did make love to Leah. She conceived sons for Jacob: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah.

When he finally consummated his wedding to Rachel, nothing came of it for a very long time. God had closed Rachel's womb.

God doesn't have a problem with cousins getting hitched. In fact, later in scripture he commanded Zelophehad's five daughters to marry their cousins so their inheritance would remain in the family. It is precisely to prevent the accumulation of wealth in families (and thus threaten the temporal power of the Papacy) that Pope Gregory I made cousin-marriage forbidden for all Catholics. Nearly half of American states also forbid the practice.

US prohibitions against cousin marriages predate modern genetics. The USA is the only western country with cousin marriage restrictions. About 20% of all couples worldwide are first cousins. About 80% of all marriages historically have been between first cousins. So no big whoop.

Scientists have found that the incest taboo actually has an internal basis, many animals including humans have evolved an aversion to mating very close within the bloodlines, like between brother and sister, or son and mother. But the further away a potential mate is from your own genetic inheritance, the less likely you will run across them in everyday life and have the opportunity to get wid 'em. First cousins represent a sort of optimum point between genetic diversity and sexual availability.

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Strangers In Paradise