Sunday's sermon was on Genesis 4:1-8, addressing lessons we can learn from Cain and Abel about lifetime worship. Here is the first installment of "Left-Out Sermon Stuff":
1. Jokes. I struggle with this because the place I want to be liked is in public speaking. One way to do this is through humor. The struggle is two-fold: the first fold is that I'm not really that funny when scripted and the other fold is that, well, I don't want humor (or the lack of it) to distract too much from the message.
So, I tend to leave out what I think are great jokes from the sermon. I hear these, read these, and come up with these in some various form. I may have gotten it elsewhere, I may have it in my head---if you wrote it I promise I'm not copying it to steal it!
Joke 1: Why didn't Cain's sacrifice please God? He simply wasn't Abel.
Joke 2: A man goes to the zoo and sees the majestic silverback gorilla. The man sees that the gorilla is reading not one but two books. The conversation then follows:
Man: What are you reading?
Gorilla: Darwin's The Origin of the Species and The Holy Bible.
M: Do you understand what you're reading?
G: Not exactly. I can't figure out: Am I my brother's keeper…..or my keeper's brother?
See why I left those out of the sermon?
Now, teaching stuff: today we'll hit one question, and it's a big one.
Where does Cain get his wife? Bound up with this is the question: Who is Cain afraid will kill him?
As a believer in a literal Adam and Eve, this is a question that needs answered for me. I think the text supports as fact that Adam and Eve are the only two people at the beginning, not that God created lots (or that lots of people developed from lots of proto-humanish monkey-like critters). There is some effort these days to examine and re-exegete the Hebrew to see if Adam and Eve were the lead of a group of created humans, and so made decisions that affected everyone. I haven't read that book yet, so I don't know.
Anyway, that leaves you with this option: Cain is afraid of his brothers and marries one of his sisters. That's your choice. Is this impossible? No. Why?
1. The Bible frequently records genealogy with this phrase "and had other sons and daughters…." Just because Cain, Abel, and Seth are the only named children of Adam and Eve does not mean they are the only ones.
2. Whilst we now view marrying one's sister as icky, that is a cultural/social development based on biological reality: marrying close kin replicates genetic weakness and increases likelihood of disease. However, much of that genetic weakness is the ongoing result of mutation and bad copying. The initial offspring would have had fewer problems to copy. Morally, marrying close kin was not forbidden in Israel for many more centuries and other cultures also allowed it under certain circumstances.
(Keep in mind: if you're in the "Western World" most of your morality is informed by a Judeo-Christian worldview, even if you've rejected the Bible as a whole. The idea even of "human rights" is based in being created in the image of God and therefore being both worthwhile and capable no matter what else there is about you.)
3. He wouldn't have had much of a choice, would he?
So, who did he marry?