Generational Sins & Blaming the Past
"What a deceitful and even disobedient waste of time and energy to go sniveling into the personal and generational past and to go through the saga of calling up everything bad in a vain effort to get rid of any residual effects or to break any so-called hold from one's personal or generational past. Believers do not grow spiritually through such a fleshly activity."
Psychological counseling theories and therapies encourage individuals to look outside themselves to explain why they do what they do and why they feel the way they do. This blame game all started in the Garden of Eden and has continued throughout the centuries. The blame game gained status during the last century through Sigmund Freud and his followers, who placed the main source of adult problems back into one's early childhood. The parents, especially the mothers, were the culprits, and of course the parents were simply passing along their own problems, which likewise had their source in their parents, going back generation after generation all the way back to Adam and Eve. Through Freud the blame game was dressed in medical garb and has now risen to great prominence in the present therapeutic culture of our psychological society.
As Christians entered the field of professional counseling, psychology became integrated with the Bible. Like trying to mix oil and water, this should never have been done. It has been a deceptive stumbling block. As Scripture and psychology are brought together, psychology is used to interpret Scripture (erroneously) and Scripture is misused to justify psychological notions. This ungodly mingling has been going on for so long now that one does not even have to be a psychologically trained individual to utilize psychological explanations regarding human nature and to misuse Scripture to support psychological counseling theories and practices. One example is the heavy reliance on a person's past to explain current feelings and behavior. In fact, Christians outdo the psychologists when they misuse such verses as Exodus 34:7.
Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation (Exodus 34:7).
Some Christians believe that Exodus 34:7 supports the idea of generational sins causing problems for those who have been born again but who are suffering from problems of living. Some use this verse to convince fellow believers that people can discover the reasons for their problems in their past (i.e., blame their past, their parents, and/or their ancestors for their problems). They are then encouraged to find relief by exploring their early childhood through recovered memory therapy or inner healing and even by searching their genealogy for ancestral sins or curses. However, this verse should not be used for such purposes.
Just prior to Exodus 34:7, God revealed Himself to Moses on Mount Sinai as "The Lord, God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth" (Exodus 34:6). The companion verses to Exodus 34:6-7 are connected to the commandment against idolatry:
Thou shall not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments (Exodus 20:5-6).
God forgives those who seek His mercy and forgiveness, but the sins and iniquities of those who hate God and willfully continue in their rebellion remain in their sin. The great contrast comes when one turns to God and repents. While hostility towards God may be passed on to the children through example, the Scriptures clearly state that those who turn to God, seek His mercy, and love Him are forgiven. Moreover, those who love and serve God will be a blessing to their children according to Psalm 103:17: "But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children."
Besides showing forth the goodness and mercy of God in contrast to the depravity of mankind, the Exodus verses also serve as a warning to parents regarding sinful behavior and its consequences For instance, if a father is an illegal drug user and seller, he is, by his example, training his children to do likewise. This is a matter of example, however, rather than causation. Therefore, the choice and responsibility remains with each person. If the son does not follow his father's example he will not bear the iniquity: "The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin" (Deut. 24:16).
Freud's "profane and vain babblings" have deceived many Christians who naively believe and teach others to go back into the past to find healing so that they can live godly lives.