The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and his face was downcast.

—Genesis 4:4–5, NIV

In Iowa two years ago, two young women—both striking beauties—found themselves grappling for the same boyfriend. Sonya and Cindy had grown up together, gone to school together, and had competed in local beauty contests. Sometimes one would win, sometimes the other. Cindy, for instance, became the county’s Miss Harvest Princess, while over at the high school Sonya had been named Miss Homecoming.

But the main competition between these two women flared in the area of romance. It happened that both were in love with Jim, a strapping young man, and the most promising one in the area. I have no idea what Jim thought of the spectacle of two beautiful women fighting over him. Maybe he found this spectacle embarrassing. Maybe he blessed it with all that was within him, but in any case, he lived in Iowa, not Utah, so Jim had to choose. He quit Cindy for Sonya, and Jim and Sonya announced that they planned to get married.

When Cindy heard the announcement, she felt as if she had been stabbed. She felt spasms of pain and envy and rage, as if Jim and Sonya were trying to twist some primitive knife between her ribs. Cindy wasn’t used to disappointment, and she had no idea where to buy an antidote for it. It was bad enough to have lost Jim, but what really poisoned Cindy was the thought that her rival had walked off with the prize, that her rival was filled to the brim with bliss. So Cindy rose up and slew Sonya. One September night in Iowa, Miss Harvest Princess strangled Miss Homecoming with a leather belt and left the whole community choking with grief.

This story ...

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