Generational Curses?

Generational Curses? March 7, 2024

Generational Curses?

Recently I have been asked about generational curses. Do I believe in them?

Before answering I will define my own understanding of “generational curse” which may not be the same as everyone’s.

A generational curse is a particular sin passed down from one generation to another within a family. The sin may be committed or it may be a strong temptation to sin. In either case, though, it is powerful and requires supernatural deliverance.

The background belief is that DNA does not explain everything, that many problems within families and even within individuals are spiritual. There is, allegedly, a spiritual analogue to genetics.

For example, imagine a father who is an abuser to his wife and children. According to generational curse theory he probably inherited that tendency “in the spirit” from his father who in turn probably inherited it from his father, etc. And he is likely to pass it down through a spiritual curse to his sons.

According to generational curse theory, which is very common in many charismatic circles, the only cure for a generational curse is something like an exorcism. It isn’t that a generational curse is specifically a demon, per se, but it is like a demon. It is a spiritual power that can only be fought with prayer and such prayer is best prayed by a group of Spirit-filled people. So it can look like an exorcism even if it’s not exactly that.

I well remember reading a book, many years ago, that attempted to demonstrate the reality of generational curses (and blessings) by tracing the lineage and posterity of Jonathan Edwards whose descendants, allegedly, were all good, God-fearing, citizens. In contrast, allegedly, there was a man contemporary with Edwards who also lived in Northampton, Massachusetts, who was an alcoholic, abusive, vile man whose descendants all followed after him in that temperament and behavior.

Do I believe in generational curses? I do not. I think this is Christian superstition. And the result of it is that a completely innocent person gets placed under suspicion because his or her parent was a criminal or abuser or addict or whatever. In circles where generational curses are recognized, talked about, looked for, a person who shares about his or her dysfunctional family of origin will almost certainly be looked at as likely to fall prey to the same sins. He or she will be “invited” to be delivered even if there is no evidence of a curse upon his or her life.

What, then, do I think about original sin? I believe in a version of original sin, the one I learned by reading Swiss theologian Emil Brunner who taught that original sin is simply universal sin that has no known origin or cause. And I suspect that the most likely origin-cause is the powerful “pull” of societies. Yes, true, families may contribute to that, but there is no spiritual force, curse, that causes one generation to fall into a particular, specific sin. Other than the force of example and influence.

The main problem I have with generational curse theory is the word “curse” and the implication that there exists a spiritual power or force that drags a child down into repetition of his or her parents’ specific sins.

*If you choose to comment, make sure your comment is relatively brief (no more than 100 words), on topic, addressed to me, civil and respectful (not hostile or argumentative), and devoid of pictures or links.*

"We read a book by him at Rice University in the 1980s! We (students) laughed ..."

Can “The Universe” Have Intentions?
"Okay, this debate could go on forever. I simply do not believe that foul expletives ..."

Can “The Universe” Have Intentions?
"So how far do we go in attributing New Testament condemnations of actions as only ..."

Honestly Asking Gay-Friendly Churches
"So argued the author of The Myth of Neutrality. I highly recommend it."

Can “The Universe” Have Intentions?

Browse Our Archives