So Everyone is Related?

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YorkandAdams
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Joined: Sat Jun 10, 2017 10:12 am
Affiliation: AttendInterMed

So Everyone is Related?

Postby YorkandAdams » Sat Sep 23, 2017 1:39 am

One of the most confusing things for me coming into the Mennonite community was the idea that EVERYONE is related. In my church, there are very few people who are not related to several other families at the church in at least some way. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd cousins are common terms in Mennonite circles, but when I came in I was really only familiar with the concept of 1st cousins.

The problem that I faced (and probably some of you have faced as well), is getting over the idea that people are often marrying no so distant relatives. In some of the ultra-conservative sects, 2nd and 3rd cousin marriages seem to be acceptable and happen quite regularly. My biggest concern with this is the increased health risks for children with parents of that closeness. The explanation some men in my community gave me was that they really did not have any other option; there are only so many conservative Mennonites within an area. They send their kids to Bible Schools to help with this problem (although they will never admit it), but that still is not really doing much.

Does this concern anyone else? Is there any way to "solve" this `predicament?
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Neto
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Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2016 5:43 pm

Re: So Everyone is Related?

Postby Neto » Sat Sep 23, 2017 6:35 am

I married out. Or married in. Anyway, my marriage is 'interracial'. Like I'm Dutch Mennonite (Plaut Deitch, or Russia Mennonite, etc), and my wife is Swiss Brethren. My oldest brother got tired of having our folks 'inform' him that the girl he was so excited about was his 3rd or 4th cousin. So he ended up marrying a girl from Polish Catholic background. My whole family married out. I knew some of my 5th cousins growing up, and some of my 1st cousins on my mom's side are my Dad's 4th half cousins. We were at the family reunion, and they were like What are YOU doing here?!? I think we (Dutch Mennonites) count our relatives several generations farther out than the Swiss Brethren do, or at least the Amish. I just never would have considered marrying someone with my same family name, or that of my Mom's maiden name. There was a girl in the Bible Institute where I attended my first year of college who had the same family name, and although we couldn't trace any family relationship, we had such striking resemblance that some other students thought we were twins. (Actually, she looked more like my aunt - who worked at the school in the Alumni office - than me.)
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Valerie
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Location: Medina OH
Affiliation: non-denominational

Re: So Everyone is Related?

Postby Valerie » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:02 am

Neto, how did your family meet others 'out' as you put it? I can see the dilema and have heard of it often too- just wondered how people would seek out, marrying out? yorkandadams mentions college- I think it would be difficult-

I had some friends in CA that went to my church way back in the 80's. I commented how much they (the husband & wife) looked alike- her reply "well we are cousins". Their pastor had sought out 'incorrect' family relationships in the Scriptures (of course that was found in the old testament) and 'cousins' was not one of the relationships forbid to marry- so their pastor married them (and it was legal in that state).

Just saying, Biblically, I don't think cousins forbid to marry- there's some pretty close ties in Scripture among God's people too. (I'm open for correction here of course :wave: )
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Josh
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Re: So Everyone is Related?

Postby Josh » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:36 am

Marrying cousins is still the norm in most of the world outside of the west, and dig back in your own family tree a few generations and you'll see marrying 2nd and 3rd cousins is pretty common.
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Neto
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Re: So Everyone is Related?

Postby Neto » Sat Sep 23, 2017 8:15 am

Valerie wrote:Neto, how did your family meet others 'out' as you put it? I can see the dilema and have heard of it often too- just wondered how people would seek out, marrying out? yorkandadams mentions college- I think it would be difficult-

I had some friends in CA that went to my church way back in the 80's. I commented how much they (the husband & wife) looked alike- her reply "well we are cousins". Their pastor had sought out 'incorrect' family relationships in the Scriptures (of course that was found in the old testament) and 'cousins' was not one of the relationships forbid to marry- so their pastor married them (and it was legal in that state).

Just saying, Biblically, I don't think cousins forbid to marry- there's some pretty close ties in Scripture among God's people too. (I'm open for correction here of course :wave: )


I met my wife in missions training school (graduate school). My oldest brother met his wife at a Christian "coffee house". (The old kind - a crash pad for kids, where the Gospel was presented. She came, heard The Story, and became a follower of Jesus. My brother was 'working' there, talking with kids when they came in. They married there, and that was their 'church'. It was called {Drum Roll} The Ekklasia.) My 2nd oldest brother married a girl who had been saved through Campas Crusade for Christ. She did the 'test' through that place that did that back then - I forget the name - and was matched up with MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) and they met in service. (I'm not sure they attend services any place now, it's complicated, I guess.) My younger brother met his (first) wife at the roller rink, and unfortunately, she left him. (He did marry again, and they met at the MB congregation where they are members.) My sister met her husband through their church, I think (non-Mennonite). (Only my younger brother & his wife belong to a Mennonite congregation.)

RE: Cousin marriage in the Biblical record: Most of these close marriages are actually first cousins, but a specific kind. Cross Cousins. This is where there is a gender difference in the relationship between the sibling parents. For instance, Jacob married his MOTHER'S BROTHER'S daughter. (Incidentally, this is also the same kind of cousin marriage preferred by the Banawa people, where we lived in Brazil.) The other kind is called Parallel Cousins. That is where the related parents of the cousins in question are of the same gender, that is, two brothers, or two sisters. (The Banawa consider these 'cousins' to be siblings, and according to cultural mores, they may not under any circumstances marry. Unfortunately this is breaking down, at least in one case I know of. I say 'unfortunately', because it is considered by geneticists to be much more 'dangerous' for parallel cousins to marry, than for cross cousins.)
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appleman2006
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Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2016 1:50 pm
Affiliation: Midwest Mennonite

Re: So Everyone is Related?

Postby appleman2006 » Sat Sep 23, 2017 1:39 pm

I only get worried about 2 cousins and further when it happens for too many generations in a row. Even first cousins while I would never do it myself would probably not be dangerous if the gene pool was big enough in the previous generations. I agree with Josh that marrying second and third cousin was very very common in most areas before the 20th century. People did not have the ability to travel out of their own communities like we do today.

Having said that though we know far more about these things today and I think it is wise to be careful. The thing is though that general society really very seldom knows much about their roots and so often would have no idea if they are marrying their third or fourth cousin. I am betting it happens more often than people think even in broader society even today.

Just as an aside for an interesting story. My brother and sister-in-law crossed the border from BC into Washington this summer. This is a fairly large crossing maybe about 10 booths. The young border guard examined their papers and then proceeded to ask them some strange questions such as where she grew up and so on. To make a long story short the border guards great grandfather was Andrew Kauffman a brother to Harold of MAM mission fame. My sister-in-law is a granddaughter of Andrew meaning he was a son of her cousin or in other words they were 1st cousins once removed. . The point being that most people have no idea who and where their relatives all are.
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KingdomBuilder
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Location: downwind of Zion

Re: So Everyone is Related?

Postby KingdomBuilder » Sat Sep 23, 2017 3:34 pm

One group I talked with while visiting said I should join because "[they] need some new genes"....... :? :lol:
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MaxPC
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Re: So Everyone is Related?

Postby MaxPC » Sat Sep 23, 2017 6:39 pm

KingdomBuilder wrote:One group I talked with while visiting said I should join because "[they] need some new genes"....... :? :lol:

Levi or Wrangler? :lol:
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Max (aka Plain Catholic)
Psalm 105
“Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” ― Mother Teresa

YorkandAdams
Posts: 64
Joined: Sat Jun 10, 2017 10:12 am
Affiliation: AttendInterMed

Re: So Everyone is Related?

Postby YorkandAdams » Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:05 pm

KingdomBuilder wrote:One group I talked with while visiting said I should join because "[they] need some new genes"....... :? :lol:


The comment made to me on my second visit to a conservative Mennonite church was that it was good for them to have "New Blood" coming into the church. That freaked me out for a while.
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silentreader
Posts: 646
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2016 9:41 pm
Affiliation: MidWest Fellowship

Re: So Everyone is Related?

Postby silentreader » Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:29 pm

YorkandAdams wrote:
KingdomBuilder wrote:One group I talked with while visiting said I should join because "[they] need some new genes"....... :? :lol:


The comment made to me on my second visit to a conservative Mennonite church was that it was good for them to have "New Blood" coming into the church. That freaked me out for a while.


Can you explain why it freaked you out? Was the person totally serious, do you think, or attempting a mild jest?
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