Some friends and I were talking about Cain the other day and stumbled into some brain questions.  We normally tend to focus on the punch line of the story which was the murder and judgment, but there is so much more to his life than that.

David brought up how emotionally yanking it must have been for Cain to live within sight and memory of the Garden of Eden and to have no access to it at all.

Imagine being a kid who lived near the Garden, could listen to his parents tell the story of what it was like in there, and possibly actually see the angel at the entrance to the Garden, all the while knowing he would never experience the quality of life his parents had tasted there.

What does it do to a child to be raised with a sense of loss that incomprehensible?  I read the story of the Garden, but it doesn’t really impact me.  Adam and Eve had been there!  They lived it and could tell their kids what this amazing other life and world was like — the one they would not have.

Then it suddenly dawned on me that in addition to that keen sense of loss, there was the added pressure of being the one expected to redeem the loss.

It would appear from the way Eve named him that she expected him, not Someone millennia later, to be the savior of their world.  So walk through this pressure.

Eve conceives.  Without the ultrasound she had no way of knowing whether this was a boy or a girl.  If it was a girl, she would be a keen disappointment to Eve since it would take a son to save her from the mess she made.

So in the womb, Cain is already subjected to the ambivalence.  He will be the hero or the blooper when he is born, and he has absolutely no control over where he will fit in the culture.

That ought to warp a kid!

Then there is the savior issue.  From the time Eve knew she was pregnant, there was stunning pressure on the boy child to fulfill the promise she received from God and to redeem the whole of humanity (at least that is the way she seemed to see it even though that was not God’s actual plan).

Now Cain was bearing a load of parental expectations that was based on some severe non-reality.  He was being asked to do what he most assuredly was not designed to do.

And that DOES warp a kid pretty thoroughly.

So Cain had a seriously subpar experience in the womb.  He grew up with high exposure to the golden past that was no more.  And he had the unremitting pressure to somehow fulfill the promise of God to redeem the whole family and all of the future.

I’ll bet if we did an EEG on his brain, it would have some seriously wacky patterns.

And if he went for inner healing, we would find a lot of trauma, ungodly beliefs, alienation and sundry other familiar problems.

At this point, our modern culture would move quickly to place the blame for Cain’s antisocial behavior on the society.  How on earth could any fair minded person blame him when he obviously had a raw deal from conception?

This logic is becoming increasingly popular and brain research is showing in a convincing manner that the roots of so many adult dysfunctions are in childhood brain development, or underdevelopment.

So where does a Christian stand in the face of this?

First of all, I absolutely believe in the reality of inadequate or twisted parenting producing deficient brains that significantly impinge on an adult’s ability to behave in a socially acceptable manner.

That is simply fact, proven a thousand times over.  No question, even from a Christian.

And if that was the whole story, then we should cull our crop of children like we do a field of carrots.

But we are more than carrots.  There are two other huge variables.  One is the human spirit and the other is the presence of God.

Let’s roll the story back to Cain.  Frankly, I can’t quite get into the pity party for him.  When I think of generational treasures, you have to stand back and be simply staggered at the thought of being, essentially, God’s grandson.

For those of us who have taken out staggering amounts of generational trash over the years of doing endless renunciations, think of what it must have been like to be the son of the first two humans ever — hand crafted by God, with NO — can you even grasp that — NO generational garbage.

Think about it.  Cain’s dad and mom only had their current sin to deal with.  They had no ancestors but God, no junk in the pipeline, no generational curses, covenants, structures, devices or memories.  None.

So yeah, Cain’s soul and body had some negative consequences from the family dynamics, but his spirit came from a place of astounding privilege, compared to yours and mine!  That evens the score a bit.

Then ponder the relationship with God.  There is no mention of God connecting with Cain before the memorable sacrifice.  The record is murky at best, but it leans toward God being silent from the judgment on Adam until the sacrifice by Cain.

BUT, one thing is crystal clear.  There was no silence after the busted sacrifice.  God spoke to Cain with absolute lack of ambiguity and said, “Son, you don’t have to go down this road.  You are at a dicey place in your life, but I have absolutely made a good pathway for you to walk forward on.  This event does not have to define you.  Choose the right path.”

And you know, that one incident kind of puts a lot of weight on one side of the scale.  It is pretty hard to blame your childhood for your adult choices when God is standing at the crossroads of your life holding a sign that says, “This is the right way.”

In the end, Cain chose badly, and the Righteous Judge of the Universe sat in judgment on his actions and issued a penalty that took into account everything from conception to the act of defiance.

Copyright February 2012 by Arthur Burk

From home

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8 Responses to Cain

  1. Deb. G. says:

    I recently found a Bible in a second hand store, translated from the Ancient Eastern Text- an Aramaic Bible basically.( George M Lamsa’s Translation from the Aramaic of the Pershitta is what it states on the cover). I was reading Genesis 4, it states in Vs 7, Behold if you do well, shall you not be accepted? and if you do not well , sin lies at the door. You should return to your brother, and he shall be subject to you.
    This is rather intriguing, I’ve checked the Amplified, the N.I.V, The NKJV. None of them had that statement.
    It does suggest Cain had the redemptive gift of Ruler, which is no surprise, as he became a predator, and killed his brother.

    • Arthur Burk says:

      Hi Deb. I am not able to speak to the authenticity of which text to use, but I do want to push back against the logic that Rulers are the most probable source of predators. History just does not bear that out.

      Looking at more data, I had wondered if he was Giver.

  2. Mary-Anne Simpson says:

    I read this when post, but needed to internalise it as there was something very significant for me in this story, but I needed the time to distil what it was and when I read it again two things really struck me, the first was the absolute wonder of being without any generational junk and the next was how “free will” into only generation 2 was again causing havoc.
    But having said that the enormity of what it must mean to God when of our own “free will” we turn our ear to His voice and our footsteps to His bidding overwhelms me.
    thank-you for this awe-inspiring account of a story that is usually told so differently!

  3. Let me start by saying that there isn’t much you write about that doesn’t find a home in me. I have the deepest respect for your opinions. But I don’t see the story of Cain like you do at all.

    Eve may well have had thoughts that one of her male offspring would be the promised messiah but I doubt she was feeling conflicted about the sex of this first child. As a woman myself, and a mother of 2, I can tell you that your ideas of Eve’s state of mind are speculative. Look, she had no example of child birth to look at. No experience of what was coming on her. Maybe God told her what to expect and maybe not. But a first time mom is pretty overwhelmed with the process. I seriously doubt that any child would have been a disappointment. This was all new to her and exciting as well as scary since God told her child-bearing would be painful. I’m sure there was hope he would be the one to set things right, but to assume that it was enough of an agonizing, ever- present thought on her part, may be over stating the case. Now, I can think of one way anxiety would have been an issue and that would have been from an outside source in the form of Adam.
    If he was there, day in and day out, cursing her for his misfortune and badgering her that this kid better be the one to fix this mess, then I can see that stress would have affected Cain. Just reading about his part in the fall, the finger pointing, the lack of responsibility… I can see that he may have been a bitter, and condemning kind of guy when everything went pear shaped. In fact, I’m betting that was what happened.

    According to the story, Cain and Able were grown men. We know Cain was married. I’m guessing there was still some kind of interaction with God that caused Cain to become jealous of Ables offering. Competition between brothers for daddies approval. Cain worked the ground and must have found it hard not to have his hard work be acceptable. But the ground was cursed and only an offering of innocent blood was acceptable. He could have traded his crops for a lamb but there was a growing pride in the man. Once the offering was rejected, he grew increasingly angry with God and directed that toward his brother. Revenge served cold is what happened next. Even when God confronted him, his concern was for himself and not for what he had done.
    I just don’t see him agonizing about not seeing the garden. He took his wife and left, and built a city.
    It’s frustrating to me that the Bible is so silent on so many things. Perhaps Cain got his need for approval from the womb because he heard his father abusing his mom for her part in the fall. In his spirit, he took that disappointment on. We don’t know if he was that way as a kid and continued into manhood till he finally cracked. My point is, I don’t think the entire blame lies with Eve. I’m sure her own guilt didn’t help, but that guilt would have been there with every child born including Able. It’s pretty clear she had loads of kids before those two grew up. How else could Cain leave and bring alone enough people to build a city? Adam and Eves change of events and the difficulties that came with them, was fresh when Cain came along. So that is my take on it.
    In some ways it is a repeated pattern in many lives. Mine included. For 9 months, I had to hear my father curse me to death over and over from the womb. You are right .. Cain could choose to do right. I did. Still, the lifetime of pre-Jesus choices that I made, has left some mighty deep scars and loads of hours on inner healing. I don’t usually comment much. Sorry I made up for it with a vengence this time. (laughing)

    • It seems to me that there could be a lot of wondering about what Adam and Eve did or didn’t think, but even aside from the colossial screw up in the garden, there would have been a lot of pressure on Cain just by right of being the first born natural human. There must have been a massive swirl of emotions and expectations surrounding him, of all kinds. I appreciate Arthur’s unique perspective because I see some things I didn’t see before. One thing that stands out to me is that they did not have generational junk like we do – and what would that be like??? And secondly is the fact that God specifically spoke to Cain and told him he didn’t have to go down that road. It was an option for reconciliation. The sacrifice didn’t cut it, but God was willing to reach out and reconcile and help Cain overcome the sin at his door. That is a gem and something well worth remembering.

      • Janis says:

        What I have been thinking since I commented is the fact that Cain heard directly from God, God engaged in a conversation with Cain. Isn’t that what was broken for all future people in the Garden? God made an exception for Cain. We usually need the sacrifice of Jesus and the Holy Spirit (He was sent to convict the World – us – of sin) and our repentance, God’s forgiveness and the resulting restoration of family connection with our Father to hear that clearly from God, the Discipline of the Father. Cain is an example of the innate I-centered sin nature of Man (male and female), I think. He was given to us as an example. How often do people say ‘If God would speak to me directly, then…..”
        That’s what I have been pondering. I may have misunderstood the scenario, though.

  4. ruthiespage says:

    AMEN! Thank God for REDEMPTION!!

  5. Janis says:

    Boy, I can relate to this interpretation! Think first-born male of a Mediterranean heritage fully operational. The savior of the family, think Mafia (God Father movies)…expectations heaped on while in the womb (boy or girl), and re-iterated by special treatment by parents, verbal expectations communicated to child and younger siblings, add to the mix an extremely dysfunctional devastatingly destructive childhood, rotten mothering and fathering, and you get: Antisocial Behavior from 2nd grade on!.

    Cain had great advantages, great disadvantages, but in the end it was all about personal choice: what does a person choose (free will) to believe! Thank God for Redemption!

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