Can angels marry humans?
And other speculations on the sons of God and daughters of men.

Question: What is Genesis 6:1-4 talking about when it speaks of sons of God marrying daughters of men? Is it talking about humans marrying angels or of Seth's line marrying Cain's descendants?


    Genesis 6:1-4 When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years." 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days--and also afterward--when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. (NIV)

Option #1 - Angels married humans

The term "sons of God" is used in Scriptures of both man (Romans 8:14,19, Galatians 3:26, 1 John 3:2 KJV) and angels (see Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7 in most translations except NIV). There is no indication in the Bible that angels can have sexual relations... quite specifically God says that they do not marry (Mark 12:25, Matthew 22:37). Granted theses passages speak of heavenly angels, but it appears that they were created without the need/ability (see also Luke 20:35-36), so there is no reasonable extension to say that fallen angels somehow acquired it. You have to insert a lot of unsupported speculations into Scriptures to say that this references angels, even fallen ones.

Option #2 - Seth's line was intermarrying with Cain's line

Because God determined that the Messiah would come through Seth's line, and Noah (the only righteous man left on earth [Genesis 6:9]) was his descendant — who God foreordained would be the one whose descendants would repopulate the earth — it could be argued that the "sons of God" were descendants in Seth's line whom were intermarrying into godless lines [i.e. of Cain]. BUT, again, some has to be read into Scriptures to get there. For example, where in the Bible were Cain's descendants explicitly banned from marrying any of Adam's other descendants? While it is not directly stated, it can be held to be implicit based on later teachings for Israel and the church. This is not as great a stretch as the first speculation about angels though. Since Cain "went out from the presence of the Lord (Genesis 4:16)," it makes sense that his offspring would be godless, not knowing the Lord. More directly "sons of God" would reference all who followed the Lord with the implication that "the daughters of men" were of those who did not. God appears to have always opposed mixed marriage (see 2 Corinthians 6:14, Deuteronomy 7:3-4, 1 Kings 11:1, Ezra 9:1-2) and it would be no surprise that consequences would result from them [Genesis 1:3-4].

Option #3 - Marrying too many wives.

An often unconsidered third option exists for this passage. It can be directly understood that because man was living so long, they were taking multitudes of women as wives — note the plural! Here it is expressing God's displeasure over his people taking multiple "daughters" as wives, ignoring His expressed desire and intent for marriage (Genesis 2:24). Therefore God was now limiting their life span to 120 years (Genesis 6:2). This is the most direct sense of the passage, without reading in extra speculations. Proverbs 29:16 says "When the wicked increase, transgression increases" (NASU). Simply put, God was then limiting how many transgressions could occur by limiting the number of wives and offspring. Imagine how many kids you could have with multiple wives in 900 years or so!

Apart from other clarifying texts, some Bible passages are occasionally more difficult to understand. Adding extra-biblical speculation to those texts is dangerous and, in effect, is adding to Scriptures. As with the second option above, wherein an appeal is made to implicit teachings of Scriptures, this must be acknowledged. Preferable to all implicit interpretation, or at least complimentary to it, any direct sense of the passage should be a primary foundation of our understanding. Beware of adding to Scriptures by speculations.