“Generational Curses” is a concept that comes up every now and then. Sometimes, it’s even applied to blacks in America, to try to explain their “problems”.
This is a part of a lingo that has been labeled “Christianeze”. It’s “spiritual” terminology, loosely (and I stress loosely) based on select Bible passages. Problem is, they’re often taken out of their original contexts, in order to apply them to us today, for the sake of “relevance”.
Some take it literally, while others use it more metaphorically.
Faith is difficult, and the modern world, led by science, has become very skeptical of a lot of stuff in the Bible. There are no hard proofs of God or spiritual things, so some groups have to hype up various claims of the supernatural, as their “proof”. Hence, the charismatics, with tongues, claims of healings and a heavy focus on the spirit realm (demons, God’s activity, etc).
A lot of this stuff is neither here nor there. You can’t prove it or disprove it. So it seems like stuff that could easily be feigned, but if you question it, then you’re lumped in as just stubborn, or “blinded” or something like that.
So “generational curses” is based on the covenant God made with Israel in the Old Testament. He promised blessings if they obey, and curses if they disobey. From the Second Commandment: “I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
This is where that comes from.
Since the New Testament, God is now dealing with the whole world and not just Israel, these blessings and curses end up extended to everyone in some groups’ teaching.
So while there hypothetically could still be some truth to it, I especially question this particular concept applied to blacks; this in fact makes red flags go up, because the whole justification of historic racism was that we were under a curse. So it’s hard to tell what is being implied when the term is used like that.
People still think this way, though they’ve changed the language. Now, it’s about singling us out as “[particularly] problematic” and then blaming all the problems in the country on us (whether crime, culture, morality or economics).
There is even a teaching among some fundamentalists that blacks are in fact under “curses” due, first to the tribal worship (which worshiped other things besides God), and one person named Rebecca Brown who had a book entitled Unbroken Curses claimed our violence today is an “unbroken curse” from tribal warfare. Jack Chick (who was at one time associated with her), in one of his comic book tracts, also added that the famines in Africa are a curse for their not being friendly to the modern nation of Israel. (Based on another Old Testament passage taken out of context). People like this would also extend this to blacks in America because they have often had conflict with Jews.
Now these are “old-line fundamentalists”, who have had a history of racism. They are the ones who still say “rock music” is bad, because the beat is from “demonic Africa”, and it’s corrupted their churches and children.
I’ve even debated people on Christian boards who claim slavery and colonialism were justified because “the Africans and Indians forfeited their land and freedom because of their paganism”, and that Christian America was essentially the new “chosen nation”. This draws from the controversial ordering of Israel to conquer and kill the Canaanites.
This has shaped the political rhetoric of the Right Wing. They often lament how this was such a “great nation”, but then all these other people came in and messed it up. Including the “minorities”. Every time there is some national tragedy (9-11, hurricanes, etc), they preach it is the judgment of God on the nation. Basically, a “curse”.
So basically, all their nation’s problems end up as everyone else’s fault. (Which is not the way it worked in the Old Testament; when they got cursed, it was their own fault, beginning with the religious leaders, who are also whom Christ tangled with the most).
So this whole “curse” thing is just a handy tool to dehumanize others, while claiming you’re either pure, or contaminated by someone else.
As I’ve said elsewhere, they don’t buy the complex alternative explanations for why blacks can’t get out of these cycles. It is very hard to get a whole people to turn around and break out of the ingrained patterns many are stuck in. (And a lot of it is kids, and it’s hard to control them in this environment).
Individuals have choice, and can try to change (then, there’s no guarantee they’ll make it), and we can try to influence others, but no one can change others.
Now the charismatic Christians in my circle (who are black and Hispanic) don’t believe all the stuff about the race, but I’m still leery of the teaching. This group will be among those who step in and claim “the problem is spiritual”, and possibly proclaim “generational curses”, and seek more evangelism to cure the problem. While this may “change the lives” of some people, it ends up being personal choice again, so it’s still not overall impacting the whole community. They’ say “We’ll do it one soul at a time”, but for every soul that finds “victory”, another one comes up in the old problems, and even the ones who change may slide back or struggle with it. We end up with these same people saying things are still getting worse, not better, as their spiritual jargon promises.
For one thing, we all believe that Christ brought Grace, which was supposed to break all of those old curses. So all of that perished with the ancient nation of Israel. It is not for today.
Yet it is sensationalistic and attracts listeners (many of whom frustrated with the uncertainties of a modern mundane world); and it sells!