Are Generational Curses Real?

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I think that this concept of generational curses is contributing to folks not taking responsibility for their own actions and embracing the mindset of blaming others. Scripture is very clear that the bad things that happen to us are not a justification for us to allow roots of bitterness to grow in our souls. Hebrews 12:15 tells us, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” (ESV) 

The word bitterness is the Greek word, pikría; “Denotes extreme wickedness, highly offensive to God and all good men, likely to be hurtful and destructive to others, for which much suffering is reserved in the world to come for unbelievers [cf. Deut. 32:32]). A “root of bitterness” in Heb. 12:15 means a wicked person whose life and behavior is now offensive to God and obnoxious to men (cf. Deut. 29:17; 32:32; Rev. 8:11).”[1] Bitterness make us defiled, meaning polluted or corrupt.

If we embrace the concept of generational curses, we can blame it all on the iniquities of our parents; however, God does not allow such excuse to be valid. Every human being, even those who reject God, know right from wrong, they can’t blame it on anybody else. Romans 2:14-16 tells us,

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (ESV)

God has placed a moral DNA in every human. Their thoughts accuse them; some end up doing evil because they simply justify their unrighteousness; they don’t see themselves as evil. Even folks who follow Satan teach that the devil was done wrong by God. Hitler was convinced that he was doing a great thing for Germany, that he was purifying his race.

The whole chapter 18 of Ezekiel explains that God will judge every person for their sins; that is including parents and their children. Particularly, Ezekiel 18:20 puts an end to this idea of generational curses,

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. (ESV)

The word Suffer is the Hebrew word nāśāʾ: “To bear or to carry and is used especially in reference to the bearing of guilt or punishment of sin (Gen. 4:13; Lev. 5:1).”[2] The word iniquity is the Hebrew word ʿāwōn:Twisting or perverting deliberately. The noun carries along with it the idea of guilt from conscious wrongdoing… The Hebrew word means sin or transgression in a conscious sense.”[3]

If we read Exodus 20:5 and Deuteronomy 5:8-10 in the NIV and the Complete Jewish Bible you will see the word Punish is in place of Visiting. If we use the word punish then we are justified in embracing the idea of generational curses and, not only that, but we will have to conclude that there are open contradictions on this topic in Scripture.   Nevertheless, on each of these cases the Hebrew word is pāqaḏ: A verb meaning “to attend, to visit, and to search out.”[4]

Exodus 20:5

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, (ESV)

Deuteronomy 5:8-10

You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 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. (ESV)

God promise to visit, to attend… to search out the iniquities of the fathers on the children, not to punish the children for the iniquity of their parents. Parents are responsibly for training their children correctly. Proverbs 22:6 tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (ESV) 

Many times, what we called generational curses is really the manifestation of the fruit of the flesh and the simple law of reaping what we are sowing.  A parent may fail to train their children in the path they should go and, that will influence them, but God will have other ways and other people to communicate and teach the Godly path. When that child become of age, he will have a choice to follow or not to follow God, without placing the blame of their actions on their parents. The message here is… take responsibility for your actions and stop blaming others. 

As a child you are at the mercy of your parents, but when you become a grown man and a grown woman is on you; you MUST take responsibility. You can’t do anything concerning the past, is done, but you have, not only the power, but the responsibility to get on the path of righteousness. 

https://www.focusonthefamily.com/family-qa/understanding-the-generational-curse-of-exodus-347/


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2] Warren Baker and Eugene E. Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), 755.

[3] Warren Baker and Eugene E. Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), 814.

[4] Warren Baker and Eugene E. Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), 913.

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