An Argument Against the Belief in Generational Curses by Cher Bee Her. In the last few years, many prominent Hmong CMA pastors have espoused the

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1 An Argument Against the Belief in Generational Curses by Cher Bee Her Introduction In the last few years, many prominent Hmong CMA pastors have espoused the view that generational curses exist. These curses still occur among the Christian family. During the Hmong District Conference in Sacramento, a Chinese pastor delivered a message on generational curses. Afterwards, other Hmong pastors began to reference it in their sermons. Although these pastors believe in generational curses, no one has given a clear explanation or definition of what it truly is. In addition, they also have not given any clear theological foundation for the existence of generational curses so that the Christian community can evaluate for its soundness. Yet, sometimes in their message to the church, these pastors will briefly mention it without giving any clarification. They simply assume it exists and that everyone understands what it is. In this paper I will argue that the belief in generational curses is theologically inaccurate and contradict the atoning work of Christ. What is Generational Curse? Since there are no clear definitions, I will try to capture the essence of what I believe is at the heart of this issue. Let me began by differentiate between generational curses and the original curse that God put on Adam and Eve. When Adam and Eve sin against God, He cursed them and this world (Genesis 3). As a result, suffering, poverty, pain, and death became a part of our human experience. However, generational curses are different from living in a fallen world. A generational curse seems to be the belief 1

2 that when a father or a patriarch commits a horrendous sin against God, God will specifically punish him and his descendants for several generations. This is in addition to the general punishment that everyone receives under Adam and Eve. Even though one may be a Christian he still needs to repent of his father s sin and ask for special forgiveness in order for God to lift the curse. If he does not confess the sins of his father, he will continue to live under that generational curse even though he may already accepted Christ. On the other hand, many cultures have long held history of believing in generational curses. They believe that when an injustice is done and a curse is put on the wrong doers, they and their descendants will suffer the consequences of the curse. One such example is the Yang clan among the Hmong people. It is believed that the Yang clan cannot eat the heart of an animal otherwise they will reap the result of a curse that was put on them centuries ago. With stories such as this and many others, the Hmong community easily accepted the existence of curses. Therefore, it seems natural that Hmong pastors would believe in generational curses without giving serious thoughts to it. So here we have two perspectives: one, is that God put a curse on an individual and his descendants when that individual sin against God and two, that when an injustice is done to an individual, that individual or his family can put a curse on the wrong doers. Why Do Some Christian Believe in Generational Curses? Why do some Christians believe in generational curses? Obviously, this view is taken out of the Old Testament books such as Exodus 20:5 You shall not bow down to 2

3 them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me and Numbers 14:18 'The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation. In addition, as previously stated above, some cultures strongly believe in curses. Every calamity is somehow attributed to some type of sin or misdeed. As a result, to give an answer as to why people suffer, these cultures tend to attribute the causes to some sort of horrible sin that the person committed or his parents committed in the past. Generational Curse or Simply Living in a Fallen World I believe the correct answer as to why someone maybe suffering is due to living in a fallen world and not generational curses. We live in a fallen world due to the disobedience of our first human parents, Adam and Eve. By disobeying God they reject his sovereign rule and in essence committed cosmic treason. As a result, God curse them by bringing suffering and death. The effect is universal. It affects all people in every generation and in every part of the world. Not only that, but Scripture is very clear that the world is under the control of Satan and his demons. These are fallen angels that first rejected God s sovereign rule (Ephesians 6:12, Revelations 12:7-9). They are allowed to rule and deceived the world for a limited time until God bring his final judgment upon all. As a result, humanity is under the curse of original sin and the reign of Satan. 3

4 Therefore, the cause of pain and suffering is due to living in a fallen world. It is not because of any specific sin that our father, grandfather or great grandfather may have caused. For example, the reason someone has cancer is not because his father, grandfather, or someone in his patriarchal line sinned against God and therefore, his cancer is the results of God s punishment for an earlier offence. He has cancer because we live in a fallen world where sickness and death is a part of our life. If we see someone who is living in poverty, it is not because they were curse for some offence that their father or grandfathers committed. They may be living in poverty due to a variety of reasons: no education, no opportunity, laziness, no available job, the country is poor, their culture or religion trapped them in a cycle of poverty (i.e. Hindu cast system or the beliefs in the continual practice of their grand parent s way i.e. poj ua tseg yawm ua cia). In the eyes of God, sin is sin. The Bible declares that there is non righteous no not one (Romans 3:10). Does God view one sin as worst than another? oes the worship of spirits and demons in some cultures worse than the idolatry of western civilizations? Is sexual immorality worse than the pursuit of material gains? Is murder worse than rape? The answer is that we live in a fallen world. The concept of sin from the Christian perspective is that we are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1). That is why the Bible speaks of three types of deaths: physical death, spiritual death and eternal death. Human beings, in their fallen state, are spiritually dead. People commit sin because they are sinners by nature. It is who they are. It is their nature. Therefore, does God judge one man s sin as worse than his neighbor s? I do not believe God judge one 4

5 person s sin as greater than his neighbor s sin and therefore punish his line of descendants harsher than his neighbors. The Hmong who practice spirit worship is just as sinful as the Buddhist who practices Buddhism or the Atheist who worship his materialism. Salvation For Christians, the Bible declared that they are new creations in Christ (2 Cor 5:17.). Therefore, to preach that generational curse still exists in the Christian community really contradicts Scripture. Christ already came to pay for the punishment that was supposed to be ours. His death on the cross did two very important things for those who believe in Christ. First, their sins were transferred to him so that he carried and paid for it on the cross. Secondly, his perfect righteousness was transfer to them so that his righteousness became their righteousness. As a result, God declares a believer no longer guilty and forgave him of his sins. By uniting in Christ, a believer is now one with Christ and is adopted as a child of God. He will inherit all that God has (Ephesians 1:13-14). In addition to Christ paying for our sins, God raised the believer from spiritual death into spiritual life (Eph 2:1). Jesus and Paul called it the new creation which is born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband s will, but born of God (John 1:13; John 3:3-8; 2 Cor. 5:17). This new creation means a new heart instituted by God the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26-27). This new creation is no longer under the reign of sin but under the reign of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9). This new creation is no longer 5

6 under the curse of the Law and death but under grace. Therefore, this new creation is free from any curse. The whole doctrine of justification is that legally, a believer (one who believes in Christ) is no longer guilty before God. From a legal stand point, the sinner s sin is wiped out because he is now united with Christ. God no longer looks at the person based on his own merit but God looks at him based on the merit of his son, Jesus Christ. That s why those who accepted Christ are united with him and there s forgiveness of sin. Romans 8:1-2 says Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Acts 13:38-39 says Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the Law of Moses. If we believe in generational curses then it would mean that the believer is still not justify before the eyes of God. He is still carrying his father s sin and God still judge him based on his own merit and not that of Christ. To believe in generational curse one would have to throw away the doctrine of justification. It s important that we understand who a Christian is. A Christian is one who have received Christ as his Savior and is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). There is no longer any condemnation (Romans 8:1). His sins are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). He is now a child of God (John 1:12, Romans 8:15, Ephesians 2:3). Paul makes it clear in Galatians 4:4-7 and Ephesians 1:5 that Christians cannot lose their adoption. Jesus Christ already paid the penalty of their sins in full. The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of adoption also 6

7 placed them in a legal standing in God s family. They are children of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26). As a result, they are now heir to all that God has (Ephesians 1:13-14). The whole concept of salvation (regeneration, justification and sanctification) is that God has already forgiven the sinner who placed his faith in Christ. His sins have been washed away and he is a new creation in Christ. There is no longer any condemnation. Nothing can separate them from the love of God (Romans 8:28-39). Galatians 3:13 says, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us for it is written, Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree. A Review of Exodus 20:5 and Numbers 14:18 It s important to understand the context of Exodus 20:5 and Numbers 14:18 in order to understand what the Bible teaches. Exodus 20 is the chapter in which God gave his commandments to Moses. God had called the Israelites to be his special chosen people. Through them God will reveal his glory, his love and his plan of salvation to humanity. Therefore, they are a special chosen people. They had a special privilege that no other people have: the privilege to know, to hear, and to see God s glory. In the first five verses of chapter 20, God gave his great commandment to the Israelites so that they will not worship any other God. He further gave them some of the strictest laws to follow (Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy). The punishment for breaking those laws results in instant death. So in Exodus 20:5, God was saying that the Israelites are to worship God and only God. Anything else is would not do. He is a jealous God and will punish those who disobey. He will not forget their iniquity to the 7

8 third and fourth generation. May I say that it is not just to the third and fourth generation but for eternity unless there is forgiveness of sin. In Numbers 14:18, God commanded the Israelites to go and conquer Canaan, the land he s already given them. Yet, they refused and not only rebelled against Moses and Aaron but were rebelling against God. As a result, God s anger burned against the Israelites and He was going to wipe them out in the desert. Moses pleaded with God to spare them and in verse eighteen Moses was simply repeating what God had already revealed about himself in Exodus 20 that the Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation. Both these verses as well as the other verses in Scripture regarding generational curses are simply a repetition of Exodus 20:5. They described God s holy and righteous character and that He does not forget the iniquities of his people. This verse can be compare to Mathew 18:22 where Jesus taught his disciples to forgive those who sin against them seventy seven times. However, does he literally means only seventy seven times? No. I think we all believe that Jesus was saying we are to continually forgive those who sin against us. Not just only seventy seven times. So when God says in Exodus 20:5 or Numbers 14:18 that he does not leave the guilty unpunished but punished them to the third and fourth generations, he is simply describing his holy character of not leaving the guilty go unpunished. If the above argument is unconvincing, Ezekiel 18 will surely nullify the belief in generational curse. The whole chapter described that God will punish each individual 8

9 for their own sins. He will not hold the guilt of the father to the son. In verse 19, God says, Yet you ask, Why does the son not share the guilt of his father? Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. 20 The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them. Conclusion We can conclude that believers and unbelievers both live under a fallen world. As such, there is suffering and death for us all. We all experience the same pain, suffering, poverty, sickness and death. Therefore, God does not curse individuals and their descendants because of their individual sins. The whole human race is already under the general curse that God gave to Adam and Eve. The Non-Christians are already separated from God and condemned. They are simply waiting for the final judgment to be eternally separated from God. As for Christians, they are already new creations. Their past, present and future sins have already been forgiven when they united with Christ. Christians are now temples for God the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:18). They are justified, sanctified and forgiven. There is no longer any condemnation. They've been set free from bondage and the curse of the Law (John 8:36; Galatians 3:13-14). Therefore, there are no generational curses that still hold the Christian captive. Romans 8:29-39 summarized clearly the believers standing before God: that we are more than conquerors and nothing can separate us from the love of God. 9

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