I’m mindful of those long-ago days of church when the minister would begin his sermon with “Our text for today is…” and then stumble on through twenty minutes of restful homilies that preceded the jingle of the collection plate.
But he normally chose something that caused no stir, something that led inevitably to a predictable moral the way the school bus followed the same route to school or the dog wandered toward the papers he’d been trained to.
Just once, I thought, could he choose a more provocative text. “Our text this morning is from Genesis 10:26 “And Joktan begat Almodad.” What might have flowed from there
Was Joktan a pig? How did the kid turn out?
Was he trying to beget, or was he trying not to beget?
Did he do it by himself, or did a woman help him toward the begetting?
Did they pray before they got on with the begetting?
Did he intend to? Did he have the foggiest notion how much it cost to feed another mouth?
Clearly Almodad carried forth with the begetting, but did he do it at public expense or make something out of his life?
Did Joktan admit that he was the dad? Did he have to pay child support?
Did he believe in spanking?
Was he the one who chose that silly name?
Is that all he ever did to get his name in the Bible?
Did he do it with his wife or with his concubine?
Did Jews do it more than Presbyterians, or did they just boast about it?
Our pastor was a pretty liberal guy for Iowa in 1953—he did sermons against South African apartheid, though I can’t recall any words about race in the USA—but he never got into the gnarly issues around begetting. I wasn’t quite an age where that became a major concern, but I was getting there.
They had to do a hopscotch around the sexy stuff in the Bible. The Song of Songs was obviously about Jesus’ love for the Church, though I never saw two breasts on Westminster Presbyterian Church (though I carefully looked). The commandment against adultery was illustrated, in our Sunday School book, by a farmer pouring water into a milk container. So clearly only farmers did that sin. Not sure if we ever got to Delilah or Bathsheba, but that was around the time I decided I’d be an entomologist, so maybe I missed the good parts.
Back to the subject: there’s a lot to be said for begetting. I recommend it for those who have the urge, as long as you don’t name your kid “Almodad.”
As it turned out, my own experience with begetting was really good.