Sin has a ripple effect in families. Even in pastor’s families. Propensity to prolong one particular sin might be handed from father to son genetically. One day science may prove or disprove this notion. However, we know for sure sins are passed from one generation to the next by example.
We don’t have to look any further than the first book of the Bible to see it.
Like Fathers, Like Sons
In Genesis 12 , Abraham and Sarah found themselves living under the authority of a pagan king. This king saw that Sarah was a beautiful woman and he wanted her. So he inquired of Abraham how she was related to him. Abraham knew that if the king desired Sarah badly enough, the king might kill him. To save his own neck, he said to the king, “She’s my sister.” He lied.
Later, in Genesis 20 , Abraham found himself in a similar situation and lied to yet another king, saying, “She’s my sister.” Whenever Abraham felt threatened, he lied.
Abraham and Sarah had a son named Isaac. Isaac married Rebekah, who was, like Sarah, a beautiful woman. In Genesis 26, Isaac settled in a territory ruled by a pagan king, who noticed Rebekah’s beauty.
When asked about her, Isaac said . . . (You guessed it!), “She is my sister.”
Isaac and Rebekah later gave birth to twins, Esau and Jacob. The story of Jacob is the story of a deceiver. He deceived his brother, he deceived his father (with the help of his mother), and he deceived his uncle. He fathered twelve boys, all liars—like their dad—except for Joseph.
Abraham to Isaac, Isaac to Jacob, and Jacob to his sons—each generation passed on the sin of lying to the next.
How About You?
I’ll bet, if you examine your own heritage, you will see an ongoing pattern too.
- Addicted parents produce addicted children.
- Brutal parents rear brutal sons and daughters.
- Deceivers beget deceivers.
It’s true in most families. It was true in mine.
I can trace impatience through my family tree. Cynthia can trace anger through hers. I remember discussing this issue with Cynthia while our children were young, sitting at a table long into the night. Finally I said to her, “We have some long-standing tendencies we need to break. They need to stop with us and we need to prevent them from taking root in our children.”
My Challenge to You
My challenge to you comes by way of examination and determination.
- Examine your own family history and look for harmful tendencies that affected you.
- Determine today to break the cycle and keep them from becoming a problem for your children.
This examination will give you the insight, the wisdom, and the compassion you need to rescue your children from the sins that plagued you, and your parents, and theirs.