Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:9
Whenever I see a video of an intoxicated individual resisting arrest, I’m always a little shocked. I grew up respecting law enforcement. If I got pulled over, it was because I was speeding, and I humbly accepted my ticket. So, to see a drunk being belligerent with an officer has always surprised me. It just seems like such an unreasonable behavior. But then, I’ve never been pulled over while drunk.
I have been alcohol-belligerent though. In my addiction, I preferred pills, but I drank alcohol at times, even though it was becoming apparent to my wife that I had a growing problem with chemicals. When she’d ask if I’d been drinking, I never simply admitted it. If I thought I could get away with it, I’d tell her she was being ridiculous. If I knew I couldn’t conceal it, I’d turn it around, attacking her for being a legalistic authoritarian. Once I’d committed to drinking, I chose conflict with my wife. Then, because I was under the influence, I didn’t handle that conflict well. I chose wrong and I was going down with that proverbial ship, embracing dishonesty, defiance, and belligerence.
Cain assumed a similar posture in today’s passage. Intoxicated with anger, Cain murdered his brother. When God confronted Cain – Where is Abel your brother?” – Cain lied, claiming he had no idea. Then in almost unbelievable belligerence, Cain mouthed off to God. Am I my brother’s keeper? Cain knew who God was. This wasn’t an unintentional error, born of ignorance. Cain deliberately lied to and then defied the creator of the universe to his face.
What would cause anyone to be so irrational? Sin. God warned Cain that he must rule over his sin, or it would conquer him. Cain ignored God’s warning though, indulged in his anger, and murdered his brother, committing himself to evil. With his mind overthrown, his thinking was diseased enough that he turned on God himself. If he had an ounce of wisdom, Cain would have confessed, asked forgiveness, and begged for mercy. Instead, he committed to self-destruction, refusing to admit wrong. In his pathologic thinking, Cain even believed he was right.
Most of us have been here, even if it hasn’t involved fratricide. We do something wrong because we want to, and then, when confronted, we refuse to simply admit it. Instead, we lie, attack, and justify. All this only compounds our self-destruction though. As painful as it may be, the only real fix, once we’ve done wrong, is to admit our failure, turn around, and go the other way. Belligerence brings death. Only repentance brings life.