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Generational Curses

Blog -> Bible

You shall not bow down yourself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, (Deuteronomy 5:9)

Generational curses. A highly misunderstood topic. Being parents now, talking with other parents, listening to adults who deal with childhood issues and how these issues affect them now as adults,... Generational issues are very, very real. But what does the Bible actually teach about it?

There are basically two extremes on this topic. One extreme are the people who say that "Generational curses don't exist". Each person is an own individual, independent of our parents. So how we behave as adults has nothing to do with our parents. 

I personally would not agree with this view. Mainly because I've seen it in my own life and in many other people's life. Childhood experiences, especially with father and mother, but also with other relatives and authority figures, shape us. I can say about my own life that I felt stuck and imprisoned by the way I grew up: Living in a very isolated place, feeling imprisoned by conservative parents,... I felt like the whole world is out of reach for me, and I was longing to simply "get out there and live". And I blamed my parents for "feeling stuck". What I wanted to tell them was simply this: "I feel imprisoned. I know you guys love me and want the best for me. But I can't be myself around you. I have to break free from you and live my own life, without you."

At age 20 I had my first relationship. Everything felt great. But after around 2 years our romantic bubble burst and my then girlfriend broke up with me. And the main reason she gave me was: "Bernd, I feel imprisoned by you. You want the best for me, but I feel I can't be myself around you. I have to break free from you and live my own life, without you."

I realized that running away from my childhood experiences didn't help. What I accused my parents of doing to me, I did to the first person who came into my life: My first girlfriend. So yes, generational curses exist. 

But then there is the other extreme view, and that is this: You are who/what you are because of your parents, and there's nothing you can do about it. If your parents pass you a curse, then you have to suck it up and live with it.

I don't think that is true either. Because that is pretty much against Christ's teaching. What happened to "leaving Father and Mother" (Gen. 2:24)? What happened to "he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live" (Eze 18:17)? What happened to "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law" (Ga 3:13)? 

So I don't believe in either extreme. I do believe that "generational curses are real". If for no other reason, then simply because the Bible says so. But at the same time, I don't believe that "You just inherit them from your parents, whether you want them or not".

So what's the deal?

Here's my opinion: I think the key is a small part of the sentence that is easily overlooked:

You shall not bow down yourself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, (Deuteronomy 5:9)

I think that's the key to understanding. I think yes, we do inherit behaviors from our parents, whether we like it or not. And without Christ, we won't have the power to overcome them. Many people repeat the mistakes of their parents and mistreat their spouse or their children in the same way that they have been mistreated by their own parents. And the verse confirms that, God does visit the iniquity of fathers to children and grandchildren and even beyond. 

However, the little sentence in the end puts it into perspective: God says he will do so to "them that hate me". In other words: If we don't ask for God's help, we will inherit the curse. But if we love God and ask Him to enable us to overcome the generational curses, then we will be able to. 

But of course we have to do our part. And the main part, and the most difficult one, is to forgive. If we want to be set free from the Generational Curse, we need to be able to forgive those who have hurt us. If we can forgive, we will set ourselves free. If we choose to not forgive, we embrace the curse. It's as simple and as difficult as that.

So do Generational Curses exist? Yes, they do. Do we inherit them? That's our choice. If we forgive and ask God for help, we can be set free. But if we don't rely on God, we will inherit the curse.

Do you need help in overcoming generational strongholds? Forgive those who hurt you and ask God for help! And allow God to do the rest!

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