Friday, February 1, 2008

Generational Curses

Just a few words about generational curses based on text taken out of context and used as pretexts.

It's becoming increasingly common for Christians to suppose that they're victims of generational curses. They suppose they've inherited demons ranging from anger to alcoholism, from laziness to lust. If you look closer at Scripture you will find that this notion of generational curses is seriously flawed.

To begin with, Scripture clearly communicates that consequences, not curses, are passed on through the generations. It's in this sense that the Bible says that children are punished for the sins of their fathers to the third and fourth generation (Exodus 20:5). The children of an alcoholic father would frequently suffer neglect and abuse as a direct consequence of their father's sinful behavior. The descendents of those who hate God are more likely to follow in the footsteps of their fathers.

But Scripture explicitly tells us that the son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son (Ezekiel 18:20). In fact, when ancient Israel would quote the proverb "The fathers eat sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge" God responded in no uncertain terms, "As surely as I live, declares the sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. The soul who sins is the one who will die" (Ezekiel 18:1-3).

One other point. While the notion of generational curses is foreign to Scripture, there is a sense in which the curse of sin has been passed on from generation to generation. Through the first Adam we've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, atonement is offered to everyone. That's why the apostle Paul says "Just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men" (Romans 5:18). Through no act of our own we're condemned. Likewise, through no act of our own we are saved.

I think it's important for everyone who thinks that generational curses are possibly biblical to spend some time in Ezekiel 18 where God goes at the same issue from different vantage points for an entire chapter. I think if you read through that chapter, if you ponder and meditate on that chapter, you will no longer be deluded by those in the church today who are teaching people that generational curses are a reality. The concept simply flies in the face of Scripture. The fact that popular men like Joel Osteen are purveying this absurd notion on television and in print should not delude anyone into thinking that generational curses are a reality.


Anonymous said...

I wish someone would tell Paula White and her followers. She spends a lot of her tv time trying to get people to send her money to help break generational curses.

John K said...

Thank you Hank,
This was clear and very helpful.

Anonymous said...

Hank, would it be fair to say that it is by our own acts (sin) that we are condemned, but the predisposition to sin (sin nature) is not?