By Jin-yeong Yi
“What is Love? Ask him who lives what is life; ask him who adores what is God.”
—Percy Bysshe Shelley, “On Love”
“[L]ove easily obtained is of little value; difficulty in obtaining it makes it precious.”
“Love often attains its most luxuriant growth in separation and under circumstances of the utmost difficulty.”
“The fountains mingle with the river, / And the rivers with the ocean; / The winds of heaven mix forever, / With a sweet emotion; / Nothing in the world is single; / All things by a law divine / In one another’s being mingle:— / Why not I with thine?”
—Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Love’s Philosophy”
Incestuous relationships, especially ones between brothers and sisters, has fascinated me for a long time. There’s little doubt that this has much to do with the highly taboo nature of incest, which unlike homosexuality has yet to gain widespread acceptance.
Since I don’t believe in moral facts, it would be of little use for me to discuss whether consensual incest is “right” or “wrong.” As far as I’m concerned, it’s neither right nor wrong, like everything else in life. What I will say is that my perception of consensual incest is on the positive side. In the same way that I personally tend to support earnest relationships between people of the same gender, I tend to support the same between people who have been placed in the unusual circumstance of being both blood-related and in love. While I certainly have reservations about the consequences of inbreeding, I don’t see the relationships themselves as being any less “real” or “legitimate” than what most people think of when they hear the word “love.”
Do incestuous relationships, even those between fully consenting adults, hurt people? Of course they do. So do homosexual relationships. So does apostasy from one’s inherited religion or political party. So do non-incestuous heterosexual relationships, even, when there’s a conflict of interest (love polygons; parental disapproval pertaining to ethnicity, religion, and/or class; etc.) involved. Chances are that someone’s always going to get hurt regardless of the nature of the relationship in question.
For me, the ultimate question here is whether two people agree that they wish to be together, that they wish to journey through life side by side as the closest of companions, as partners who honor and cherish one another as they share the gift of life.