An unconventional question arrives in my inbox:
I have three of your books and love them all! Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and fun writing style!
I want to ask you a really unusual question, because you are a Christian and were homeschooled like myself.
I am new to gardening and bought one of the books you recommend by Carol Deppe about plant breeding. I love the book, but i keep hearing her say: “Inbreed the plant”. ( page 5, 6, 11… etc).
I may be paranoid, but isn’t that something warned about in the Bible? Or is this absolutely different than when the type of thing I’m thinking about when it comes to humans.
I’m sorry it’s such a weird question, but i know you care deeply about your faith ( as do i ), and really wanted your thoughts/insights into this.”
I have read through the Bible and have never come across any prohibitions on inbreeding plants. The closest I could find is Leviticus 19:19 which reads, “You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.”
This is part of the ceremonial law, however, and not a statute established for all time, like the laws against adultery, murder, idolatry, etc.
God designed plants to reproduce after their own kind and plants naturally inbreed without our help. Tomatoes and beans, for example, are almost total inbreeders. There is no commandment telling us we cannot breed plants or animals for the characteristics we desire. If that were the case, we would not have Kentucky beans, Granny Smith apples, Satsumas, orange carrots or Tropic Beauty peaches. I believe God gave us a huge treasure trove of genetic resources in plants which we are welcome to draw from. This requires isolating and propagating traits we find useful. It is like finding a vein of gold in quartz and following it rather than just smashing up an entire wall without discernment.
Finally, remember to focus on the big things first. As Christ said in Matthew 23:23:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.”
Praise God that our righteousness is found in Christ, rather than in perfectly following the law. We couldn’t keep it all if we wanted to. That said, if there was a verse that told me not to attempt breeding a better pumpkin – and it was reiterated in the New Testament as being for the church – I would cease.
Fortunately, that verse does not exist, so Carol Deppe is not leading gardening into rank heresy. At least on this point.
And obviously, don’t marry your sister. That’s a whole different story.