There Is Nothing Wrong With Incest
Some online articles use the term “incest survivor” when referring to survivors of rape and other non-consensual sexual activities. This is a bad term because there’s nothing inherently wrong with incest. Let’s unpack the related issues.
First, there’s pedophilia. Pedophilia is often perpetrated by a family member, making it easy to mix up pedophilia and incest. But incest without pedophilia isn’t morally wrong. Two adults engaging in incest doesn’t necessarily pose any concerns related to their ability to consent.
Incest between adults and teenagers can be consensual as well. If 16 and 18 year old siblings have sex, there isn’t necessarily a victim even though age of consent laws might make it a crime. If the age gap is large and there are power imbalances in the relationship, say a 17 year old son and 40 year old mother, then that’s more morally gray and may warrant legal action. It depends on if the 17 year old fully understood and agreed with what happened.
Past the cutoff age of adulthood, people should legally be allowed to have sex with any other consenting adult. If a 20 year old has sex with their 50 year old relative, that should not concern the legal system. Although there is a 30 year age gap, a healthy 20 year old is mature enough to make that decision without it necessarily being coerced or manipulated.
The second issue often brought up in conversations about incest is inbreeding. Inbreeding with immediate family members is bad for two reasons. For one, breeding right now is bad for the planet. For two, inbreeding with immediate family members causes a high chance of genetic abnormalities in offspring.
Incest doesn’t necessarily lead to inbreeding though. And it cannot lead to inbreeding if the two relatives are of the same sex or if either are infertile. As long as incest occurs without inbreeding, there is no problem of genetic abnormalities.
The third issue is the “yuck factor”. People are grossed out by incest. But we don’t ban homosexuality or interracial sex because some people find it gross. So we also shouldn’t ban incest on that basis either. “It’s gross” is not an argument.
Punishing incestuous relationships or preventing incestuous marriage because “yuck” is just self-righteous Puritanism. In general, consenting adults should be allowed to do whatever they please as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, no matter how gross others find it.
In summary, there is nothing morally wrong with incest. Society already punishes pedophilia. Inbreeding should be dealt with separately. And finding incest “yucky” is no reason to criminalize it. Incest should carry no legal penalties and incestuous marriage should also be legal.
Just because laws against incest are a fringe issue that affect very few people doesn’t mean they should exist. It’s against freedom to have laws that arbitrarily restrict people, even if the number affected is tiny. The government should have a clear policy that incest itself is 100% legally acceptable.