Generational Curses: What a Lie!
Updated: Dec 16, 2019
A woman, whose adopted daughter has a bi-polar disorder, was told by her daughter’s Christian teacher to investigate her daughter’s biological family. She said the girl’s bi-polar disorder might be a result of a generational curse in that family.
I can’t blame this teacher for thinking that bi-polar disorder could be a result of a generational curse; it’s probably what she has been taught. After all, a popular televangelist, Marilyn Hickey, considered recurring eye problems in a family as a generational curse. She wrote in her book, titled, Breaking Generational Curses, “Have you ever seen a family where every single one of them wears glasses? From the father and mother down to the littlest child, all are wearing glasses, and usually those really thick-lensed kind. Those poor people are under a curse, and they need to be set free from it!"
Like the teacher, many Christians believe in the false teaching of generational curses; being peddled from pulpits, books and magazines. There have been many books written on this topic; from the outrageous to the ridiculous, some by popular Christian writers or preachers. Just as there are many articles on the subject online.
For instance, a pastor believed (and taught) that his anger management problem was due to a generational curse. Stephen Galvano, of Rochester Christian Church Ministries (RCCM) -- the pastor in question, wrote in an article, Breaking Generational Curses, “I was bound for many years, even as a Spirit-filled believer -- even as a pastor. I was angry. I didn’t want to be angry. I never got up in the morning and said, ‘Today I’m going to get angry at my secretary.’ Something drove me. It was an iniquity that came from my family.”
The proponents of generational curses postulate that when multiple cases of the same problem happen in a family line, it is a generational curse. Therefore, if a family has multiple cases of diabetes, alcoholism, divorce, stroke, heart disease, accidents, fornication, adultery, physical, mental or sexual abuse, anger, depression, suicide, idolatry, witchcraft, etc., then that family is suffering from a generational curse. Some even attribute recurring, persistent sin, and even poverty to a generational curse.
Evangelist Todd Bentley, in an article with the same title as Stephen Galvano’s, Breaking Generational Curses, wrote, “I have a friend that has always been plagued with poverty regardless of bettering himself in school, computer training, and hard work ethics. He has done everything within his own strength, fasting, tithing, devotion to God, faithfulness you name it. He has never prospered though he had the most giving heart of many I have met. I believe it is a curse of poverty which has been passed down and is now resisting, restricting & choking out the blessing that should be in his life.”
Notice he said, “I believe.” So, it’s a matter of his opinion or a figment of his imagination but NOT what the Bible teaches.
In an online article (there are several of them) titled Breaking Curses, an unidentified writer described generational curses as, “…judgments that are passed on to individuals because of sins perpetuated in a family in a number of generations…They bring judgment or bondage during an individual’s life, until that individual addresses the sin issues that put the curses into place.”
Also, in another similar online article titled Generational Sin and Healing, a self-described former pornography addict, who identified himself simply as Paul, wrote, “Generational sin can be a foothold for sex addiction and other forms of spiritual bondage. The Bible tells us that curses from one generation’s sin can be passed down to subsequent generations. The results of these curses may appear [in several] ways, including character flaws, illnesses, financial difficulties, addictions, sexual problems, emotional problems and demonic oppression.”
As a result of these curses, these gurus then go on to prescribe to their patrons how to break the generational curses that may be running in their families. They tell a so-called victim of a generational curse to confess all the sins of his parents and fore parents.
The writer of the article, Breaking Curses continued, “Generational curses cannot be broken at all, until all sins of all ancestors and predecessors on all sides of all of ones’ families (and that of spouses) are confessed back to the families’ origin (God will know what those sins are even though we do not), asking with repentance, for forgiveness for all of their sins and in particular, for the specific sin or sins which brought the generations curse into the family line.”
Now, you don’t even have to be a Bible scholar to know that something is wrong with this picture. How can you remember the sins of ancestors you didn’t know? It’s hard enough remembering the sins you commit daily, not to mention the sins you committed several years ago. Yet these gurus on generational curse want you to just simply confess the sins of your ancestors or make a daily positive confession, in order to break a curse. How ridiculous! I guess the question to ask should be: “how far back in the family line should one go?” I mean, where in the Bible does it tell you to make a ‘positive confession’ to break a curse or confess the sins of your ancestors?
An excerpt of Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo’s (Kingsway International Christian Center, London) Breaking the Curse Confession, reads, “I break the curse of sickness, the curse of disease, poverty and lack that dates back to four generations in my family, in the name of Jesus…Sickness is not my portion; disease is rejected in my life in the name of Jesus. Every hold of the enemy is broken.”
Okay, enough of these preachers’/writers’ opinions on generational curse! What does the Bible say about this subject?
Often times when preachers/writers preach/write on generational curses, they use such scriptures as Exodus 20:5, Numbers 14:18 and Deuteronomy 5:9-10 to justify the doctrine of generational curses:
For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. -- Exodus 20:5-6 and Deuteronomy 5:9-10
The LORD is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation. -- Numbers 14:18
Using just these scriptures to teach on generational curses shows how little these preachers/writers know about the Bible. They ignorantly teach what they don’t know or have full knowledge of, or they are just simply fraudulent; deliberately teaching half-truth to mislead their followers, instead of the full gospel. After all, there are several verses in the Bible, even in the Old Testament, which negate the idea of generational curses.
Throughout the Bible there are several passages and examples of incidents that either address directly or indirectly this issue of generational curses to prove that there is no such thing as generational curses.
For instance, addressing this issue of a son suffering the consequences of the father’s sins, God says in Ezekiel 18:1-4; 19-20 and Jeremiah 31: 29-30:
The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, "What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying:
The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge? As I live, says the Lord GOD, ‘you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel.’ Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die.
Yet you say, ‘why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?' Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and observed them, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
God repeats the same sentiment in Jeremiah 31:29-30:
In those days they shall say no more: the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.
Now, if we revisit the passages referenced so far, both for and against generational curses, you will notice that none of these passages mentions the word curse, but rather iniquity or sin. So, in the real sense of the word, the subject matter in these verses is not generational curse but ‘generational iniquity,’ if you will. Therefore, in the real sense of the word, none of the passages should be used to justify the idea of generational curses. It is presumptuous of those preachers (or writers) who use these verses to teach on generational curses; assuming that where God meant iniquity He meant curses. But nothing can be further from the truth, because the words iniquity and curse are NOT synonyms.
In all the instances in the Bible where the words iniquity or curse are used, no instance suggests that they are synonyms; i.e., that they mean the same thing. The words iniquity and curse don’t mean the same; either in the English or Bible dictionary! The word iniquity is often used in different contexts, which means wickedness, calamity, evil, mischief, unrighteousness, injustice, punishment, etc. While the word curse means to pronounce evil on someone or something; to swear or blaspheme, etc.
Beside the passages in Ezekiel and Jeremiah referenced above, there are also several historical instances in the Bible where God (just as He said in the passages above) did not punish the son for the sins of the father and vice versa. In 1 and 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles, there are several examples of kings of Judah, who had wicked and evil fathers; but who did not follow in their fathers’ footsteps, but rather departed from the evil ways of their fathers, and God blessed them rather than punish them for their fathers’ sins. Kings like Hezekiah, the son Ahaz (2 Kings 18); Josiah, the son of Amon (2 Kings 22); Asa the son Abijam (1 Kings 15:9-11), etc.
Conversely, God punished the sons of wicked and evil kings who followed in the footsteps of their fathers; even the sons of good kings, who forsook the righteous ways of their fathers. In these instances, God punished those kings not for their fathers’ sins, but for their own sins of idolatry, wickedness and evil. Kings like Ahab the son of Omri (1 Kings 16:28-30); Ahaziah the son of Ahab (1 Kings 22:51-52); Manasseh the son of Hezekiah (2 Kings 21); Amon the son of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:18-23); Jehoshaphat the son of Asa (1 Kings 22:41-43), etc.
Therefore, it is safe to say that if there is such a thing as a generational curse, it is not because God corporately punishes an entire generation for the sins of earlier generations. Rather, it’s because the next generations, characteristically, followed in the sins of their forefathers, repeating and perpetuating them; thus, incurring the wrath of God. For instance, in Jeremiah 16:10-12, God told Jeremiah to tell the Israelites…
And it shall be, when you show this people all these words, and they say to you, "Why has the LORD pronounced all this great disaster against us? Or what is our iniquity? Or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?' then you shall say to them, "Because your fathers have forsaken Me,' says the LORD; "they have walked after other gods and have served them and worshiped them, and have forsaken Me and not kept My law. And you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, each one follows the dictates of his own evil heart, so that no one listens to Me.
If there is any such thing as a generational curse, that is, if we can stretch it by our wildest imagination, then it will be the ‘curse’ on Adam; way back in the Garden. Now, that would be the original generational curse or sin! That is the greatest ‘curse’ -- to be separated from God eternally! No greater curse surpasses the Adamic curse. And if we go that far, then we are all cursed! At least we all once were, before redemption by Jesus (if you have committed your life to Him and made Him the Lord of your life). So, if the blood of Jesus can cleanse someone from the curse of the law of sin and death, and from the Adamic sin or curse, how much more can it cleanse one from some generational curses or sins?
The proponents of generational curses must not know the meaning of the word redeem(ed), much less know about the passage, Titus 2:14, which says, speaking about Jesus Christ who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Oh, oh! So, Christ has redeemed us from all iniquity! Now, remember I drew your attention earlier to the scripture verses used by these preachers to preach on generational curses (Exodus 20:5 and Numbers 14:18). Remember I pointed out that those verses mentioned the word iniquity and not curse; and that the words iniquity and curse do not share the same meaning.
Well, if you noticed, this verse, Titus 2:14 says, that Christ redeemed us from all iniquity. So, even if we assume that God does visit the iniquity of the fathers on the children, even to the fourth generations, this verse says Christ redeemed us from ALL iniquity. And if Christ redeemed us from all iniquity, how then can a Christian be cursed?
Two Greek words, which are synonyms, describe the word redeem in the New Testament: Exagorazo and lutroo. Exagorazo means “to recover from the power of another, by the payment of a ransom.” Lutroo, on the other hand, means “to liberate by payment of ransom.” Jesus redeemed us (bought us back) with His own blood from the power of sin and death, and the curse of the law. That’s why Apostle Paul told the elders of the church at Ephesus to, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (Acts 20:28) And to the Corinthians, he said “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” (1 Corinthians 7:23).
Perhaps you are wondering that if there is no such thing as a generational curse, why does a family have a perpetual history of behavior, sickness or disease? There are two reasons responsible for that: one is learned behavior or culture, the other is genetics.
Children are imitators. They imitate what they see their parents do. If a parent is evil, chances are the child will be evil. For instance, a wicked and evil father is likely to raise a wicked and evil child. Same goes for adultery, pornography, physical, mental or sex abuse. These are learned behaviors, not a generational curse.
With regards to sicknesses and diseases, we inherit those from either of our parents. If one parent has diabetes, heart problem, sickle cell or even eye problems, the child is likely to inherit it from the parent.
Now, concerning inherited sicknesses or diseases, the Lord may or may not cure you of those. If He cures you, praise the Lord. If He doesn’t, praise the Lord anyway. Because this must be His will concerning you. You may not have victory in your body, but you can have victory in your attitude. And this happens through mind renewal; washing and saturating your mind with the Word.
Speaking of mind renewal, through mind renewal and the power of the Holy Spirit, you can overcome learned behavior; rather than make positive confession about breaking curses. You need to renew your mind so that you can think correctly, think and meditate on God’s Word. You can confess about breaking a curse until you run out of breath; however, if you don’t renew your mind, you’ll still be mentally bound, thinking that you have a generational curse. It is the blood of Jesus that sets you free not your positive confession.
Therefore, if one of your parents physically or mentally abused the other, you don’t have to be the same way. That is one of the reasons you have the Holy Spirit in you, to help you to become what you are not, i.e. like Christ. Without mind renewal you can be free spiritually but bound mentally. And for many Christians, that’s what the struggle is. They are spiritually free but still bound mentally, because they have not renewed their minds.
So, if you have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, you don’t have to believe the lie that a generational curse runs in your family. Even if there are any such things as generational curses, if truly you have made Jesus the Lord and Savior of your life, you are free from all that. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made [you] me free from the law of sin and death. “Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” Romans 8:2 and John 8:36, respectively.
Don’t let anyone put you back in the bondage of sin; you have been free from the bondage of sin and death.
Romans 8:1-2 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made [you] me free from the law of sin and death.” Now if you have been free from the law of sin and death, how much more are you free from generational curses? I adjure you to “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1
Now, all I’ve written so far – about being delivered by the blood of Jesus -- means nothing to you, if you have not accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and if you are still living in sin, either generational or your own. The only thing that can set you free from sin and eternal damnation is establishing a genuine relationship with God through Jesus. No amount of curse-canceling confessions or chants will deliver you. The only One who has power over sin and death is Jesus Christ. Call on Him; invite Him into your life to be your Lord and Savior.
Needless to say, the idea of generational curses is a lie and a figment of the imagination of these preachers (or writers). It is meant to put a person in bondage rather than liberate, thereby making the person subservient and looking to the preacher for deliverance, rather than Jesus. The idea of generational curses is a false belief, and not what the Bible teaches.
Don’t believe the lie!