Who are forbidden in Scripture and in English Law to marry together? In my previous blogpost I referenced the Church of England Book of Common Prayer TABLE OF KINDRED AND AFFINITY which was drawn up in 1563. This is the list.


A Man may not marry his


1. Grandmother,

2. Grandfather’s Wife,

3. Wife’s Grandmother.

4. Father’s Sister,

5. Mother’s Sister,

6. Father’s Brother’s Wife.

7. Mother’s Brother’s Wife,

8. Wife’s Father’s Sister,

9. Wife’s Mother’s Sister.

10. Mother,

11. Step-Mother,

12. Wife’s Mother.

13. Daughter,

14. Wife’s Daughter,

15. Son’s Wife.

16. Sister,

17. Wife’s Sister,

18. Brother’s Wife.

19. Son’s Daughter,

20. Daughter’s Daughter,

21. Son’s Son’s Wife.

22. Daughter’s Son’s Wife,

23. Wife’s Son’s Daughter,

24. Wife’s Daughter’s Daughter.

25. Brother’s Daughter.

26. Sister’s Daughter,

27. Brother’s Son’s Wife.

28. Sister’s Son’s Wife,

29. Wife’s Brother’s Daughter,

30. Wife’s Sister’s Daughter.


There is a converse list of those a woman may not marry. All such marriages were regarded as incestuous and should be dissolved as void from the beginning.


There are three principles which govern the Table:

1. That what is said of man is to be understood equally of woman.

2. That all marriages are forbidden within the third degree of relationship inclusive, and none outside that degree.

3. That the prohibition of marriage extends not only to relation by consanguinity (blood), but to relation by affinity (marriage).


The Table is based upon Leviticus 18. Every degree forbidden in the Table is either expressly or by implication and fair inference, forbidden in Scripture (Matthew 19:4-9; 22:24) except #17 and 18 concerning which there is difference of opinion. They enforce a distinction between family affection and erotic love that protects the well-being of its vulnerable members. It does not include two other prohibitions in Leviticus 18:22,23 because they would have be considered literally inconceivable: homosexual union and bestial union. “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” This prohibition is affirmed by St. Paul in Romans 1:26,27 as contrary to nature.


What do you say to those who regard these prohibitions as no longer binding on Christians because we live by grace rather than law? If this is the Judeo-Christian moral law governing those who can be married, how does it relate to us today? Is it merely optional for Jews and Christians in a secular society? How should it govern the decisions of the clergy in whether to officiate at marriages so prohibited?