In the last post, I took an introductory look at the subject of generational curses and explained the two streams of generational curse teaching: hard and soft generational curse theology. Soft generational curse teaching involves inherited habitual sins (you tend to copy the sins of your parents) but hard generational curse teaching involves discussion of inherited demons/demonic ties/spiritual curses. I gave a slight look at some of the people who teach both soft and hard generational curse theology, and I aimed a majority of my focus at hard generational curse theology. For those who are wondering, I did that because soft generational curse theology is just using wrong terms to describe typical Christian experience; it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that children of alcoholics/thieves/whatever are more likely to follow in the pattern of the negative example that they’re given. That’s not really the fight I’m interested in pursuing.
I’m interested in the fight against hard generational curse theology; the stuff where people have problems or commit sins due to some sort of spiritual baggage or demonic influence in their lives that is a result of a relative rather than their own sinful or foolish choices.
Want a fresh example of just what we’re talking about?
Well, one of my commenters alerted me to this book. That book is written by Linda Godsey, who is the pastor of freedom ministries (in other words, the pastor responsible for dealing with generational curses) at Gateway Church in Dallas/Ft. Worth. The pastor there is noted and shameless prosperity preacher Robert Morris, who I’ve mentioned before. So what sort of stuff does Linda teach at Gateway? Well, if you take a look at the preview of the book, you can read about an example of a person being delivered from generational curses on pages 5 and 6. Godsey writes about an experience she had when she was ministering with a woman who had suffered “a number of car accidents,” “a financial crisis” and had a young family member recently being “diagnosed with a brain tumor.” As Godsey talked with this woman and tried to figure out why all these things were happening, the Lord informed Godsey that there was a curse on the woman because her family (back in her country of family origin) were known for “horse thievery, stealing and dishonesty of every sort.” She had to “break any generational curse that was passed through her family lineage” because “she was reaping the consequences of sin and disobedience sown by her own ancestors.”
Judging from the crime, she was currently suffering for crimes committed over a century ago. The book doesn’t say how far back those ancestors were, but “horse thievery” hasn’t been a common crime for quite a while.
Let’s think about that scenario for a second.
A woman went to see her pastor to find out why she kept smacking into other cars and learned that the *real* reason for her constant fender benders was because her ancestors, long before she was born, stole horses in Germany.
I can just imagine how relieved she was to learn that the car accidents weren’t ever her fault. She probably told her friends the good news on the way home from church.
So that’s just one concrete example of what’s being taught at one of the largest churches in North America; a church with no small influence.
People like Robert Morris and Linda Godsey would argue that the concept of generational curses is unquestionably biblical. They think that the bible clearly teaches the idea, and they wrangle a number of texts for support. They’re clearly not the only people peddling the idea, but the list of supporting texts is relatively common.
What passages are frequently used to give biblical support to the teaching of generational curses?
Exodus 20:5-6 – “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.“
This is one of the standard generational curse proof-texts. The argument here is the sins of a parent, or consequences of said sins, are passed on to their children.
Exodus 34:6-7 – “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ “
The idea here is thought to be parallel to Exodus 20:5-6.
Leviticus 26:39 – “And those of you who are left shall rot away in your enemies’ lands because of their iniquity, and also because of the iniquities of their fathers they shall rot away like them.“
Same idea as the previous two verses: children suffer the consequences of their parents’ sins.
Numbers 14:18 – “ ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ “
This is just Moses quoting God’s statement from Exodus 34:6-7.
Deuteronomy 5:9-10 – “You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.“
This is also essentially a restatement of what was said in the Exodus passages.
Deuteronomy 7:9 – “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,“
Again, this is essentially a restatement of what was said in the Exodus passages.
Deuteronomy 23:2 – “No one born of a forbidden union may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord.“
Again, similar idea. The child of a forbidden union suffers for the sins of their parents, though some make a point of suggesting how Deuteronomy 23 teaches that sexual sins result in worse generational curses. I’ve even seen someone attempt to point out the literal truth of this in discussing how David (2 Sam. 11:2-4) was ten generations removed from Judah (Gen 38:12-26) and yet sinned in the same way as Judah.
Judges 3:9 -“But when the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the people of Israel, who saved them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.“
This passage is used to teach that repentance breaks a generational curse (which thereby establishes the existence of generational curses).
1 Samuel 2:27-34 -“And there came a man of God to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Did I indeed reveal myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh? 28 Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. 29 Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’ 30 Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 31 Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32 Then in distress you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. 33 The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his eyes out to grieve his heart, and all the descendants of your house shall die by the sword of men. 34 And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day.” “
This passage is used to teach that Eli’s sons suffered (and died) for his sin.
1 Samuel 3:11-14 – “Then the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.’ “
Same as above.
1 Samuel 12:10-11 -“And they cried out to the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord and have served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. But now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, that we may serve you.’ 11 And the Lord sent Jerubbaal and Barak and Jephthah and Samuel and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you lived in safety.“
This passage is also used to teach that repentance breaks a generational curse, thereby establishing their existence.
Nehemiah 1:5-6 – “And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned.“
The idea here is pointing out the importance of repenting for the sins of previous generations.
Proverbs 13:22 – “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children…”
This passage is used to teach that children gain a generational blessing from righteous parents and thus, it is argued, the opposite is also true.
Lamentations 5:7 – “Our fathers sinned, and are no more; and we bear their iniquities.“
General idea is that the children suffer because the parents sinned.
Ezekiel 18:2-3 -“What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? 3 As I live, declares the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel.”
This passage is sometimes used to teach that generational curses were broken, but only for Israel (in the time of Ezekiel).
Jeremiah 14:20 – “We acknowledge our wickedness, O Lord, and the iniquity of our fathers, for we have sinned against you.“
This passage, like the Nehemiah passage, points out the importance of repenting of the sins of one’s predecessors as part of breaking a generational curse.
Jeremiah 31:29-30 – “In those days they shall no longer say: “‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ 30 But everyone shall die for his own iniquity. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.“
This passage is similarly used to teach that generational curses were broken, but only for Israel (in the time of Jeremiah).
Jeremiah 32:18 – “You show steadfast love to thousands, but you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them, O great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord of hosts,“
This is another variation of what’s said in Exodus 34:5-6 with similar ramifications.
Lamentations 5:7 – “Our fathers sinned, and are no more; and we bear their iniquities.“
This passage is used to prove that children suffer for the sins of their parents.
Daniel 9:16 – “O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us.“
Like the passages in Nehemiah and Jeremiah, this passage is often argued to point to the necessity of breaking generational curses by repenting of the sins of one’s predecessors.
Matthew 27:24-25 – “So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’ 25 And all the people answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ “
This passage is used to suggest that the idea of generational curses was well known to the people of Jesus’ day, and in their frenzied insanity, the crowd at Jesus’ trial willfully took on a generational curse.
So that sums up the typical passages used to argue that the Bible teaches the idea of generational curses. In reality, there’s one major text that’s restated multiple times (Ex. 20:5-6) and a handful of rather questionable texts that, at best, allude to the idea.
In my next post, we’ll go through each of the texts in this list and give a little interaction with each text…though I’ve already insinuated the proper understanding of a good number of texts with my last two pictures. I’ll do my best to use words to show the errant understanding offered by those seeking to support the idea of generational curses.
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “Ad Textus” Unger
P.S. – For those who are re-reading this today after yesterday’s pre-emptive posting, here’s a little something extra for you:
The clowns over at http://www.Christian-Restoration.com have an article on generational curses here. One of their examples of a generational curse, and one of the strangest examples of a generational curse I’ve ever seen, is in that article. They talk about Abraham and Isaac and comment on how Abraham passed on the generational curse of “claiming that your wife is your sister”. In Genesis 12:11-13 and 20:2 Abraham calls Sarah his sister, and Isaac did the same thing in Genesis 26:6-7. The Bible explains why both men did so, and states their reasons clearly; both men were afraid of being murdered so that an unscrupulous king could take their wives (something that happened frequently in the Ancient Near East). Apparently the Christian Restoration guys know more than God does about the book he wrote.
Given the rather flexible definitions and inconsistent biblical argumentation, I’m sure a case could be made for almost anything being a generational curse. I’m quite sure that if you read widely enough, almost anything has. Come to think of it, that might actually make sense of some things in my life. I do remember being tormented by a certain evil spirit in my youth who caused a specific sin in me that also marked my parents…