Sins of the Fathers

Sins of the Fathers

I was recently having a conversation with someone who was basically of the opinion that if God existed, God had fewer morals and less compassion than humans do. Why you ask? Because God would not, or could not, keep the negligent or evil actions of people from affecting anyone but themselves. Or create a world where that would be the case.

I, of course, responded that such an action on God’s part would violate human free will to an extreme extent. The person I was speaking with didn’t buy it, or see a problem.

So I turned to Scripture to see what it had to say on the matter.

“The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the sins of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.”~Numbers 14:18

Wow! That’s kind of harsh.

So I sought further explanation and found several theologians who address the issue via the differences between Covenant agreements and the Jewish legal system.
While you dear reader are free to search this out for yourself, I will only say that that explanation did not satisfy me.

Especially in light of these verses; “Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.”~Deuteronomy 24:16; as well as “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.”~Ezekiel 18:20

So my question was – what could this possible mean? Why would sin be visited upon the children, and the children’s children, down to the 3rd and 4th generation?

I asked myself, where does that happen today?

Then it hit me. Child abuse. Spousal abuse. Molestation. Alcoholism. Rape. The list goes on…

Human beings are fearfully and wonderfully made. They are complex and unique. Children even more so. And they are sponges when it comes to learning, or being affected by something.
There is a very real danger than children who grow up watching their parents beat the daylights out of each other will learn to resort to that in their own relationships.
The child who is beaten and abused may do the same to their children.
A mother who is an alcoholic might get pregnant and leave her child with lasting physical disability.
A father who gambles away the families money might set the standard for poverty for his children.

Is there any hope of stopping it?
Can God’s mind by changed by prayer?
Yes. And if He answers yes you have received a great blessing.

God sometimes wants us to grow, be more than we are, to do what’s best for us, ourselves.

I know a woman who was raped. The rapist made her pregnant. Thru her pain she decided she could not force this child that she was bearing to pay the price for the biological fathers crime.
She could not force this child she was bearing to pay the price for her own pain, and suffering, and mental anguish, and the immense change this will bring to her life.

This woman made the choice to bear the child.
She made the choice to pay the terrible price herself.
With God’s help and grace.
The price of total acceptance of the wrong that had been done her. That she had been hurt. Been damaged. Been changed. To deal with the pain, and the shame.  To be the sacrifice.

All for the blessing of life and love and her…daughter.

I know a man who was abused by his parents. Abused, beaten, drugged, molested, poisoned, broken in every way a child, a human being, can be broken.
Even with that pain, he took care of them in their old age.
It’s who he was.
He accepted the price. So he wouldn’t pass it on to his wife, or his child.
He vowed never to force himself in his child’s life the way his parents did to his.
Never to demand their life be about him, no matter the cost.
Let alone perpetrate any of the terrors they did to him. To accept what was done to him. And live as though it hadn’t.
Yet he pays the price every day now that his child is grown. His child doesn’t understand the gift he gives them. A gift he gives them so they can have their own life, their own family, their own joys, and sorrows. Not borrow any from the past.

And he leaves them be. Hoping for an invitation. Praying to be remembered. To be wanted.

He pays the price. To be the sacrifice.
To stop the sins of his parents with him.
And hopes for the best.
And accepts the greater good, over his personal loss. Because he loves his child more than himself.

God is not unjust. Not uncaring.
He made us complex, and unique.
For the best.

I realize now that in the conversation I was having, the person wanted God to violate free will, make us less than we are. Indeed to remove from our existence the pleasure of all good things, lest they be used for evil. Because no one does evil for evil’s sake.

God is good.

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