Can the Father’s Offence Affect the Son? VOL. 2, NO. 14

In our last week edition, we reflected on the development of the proverb “the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge”. In addition to this proverb of Ezek.18:2 is the sacral law of Exod. 20:5 and Deut.5:9. This law states that the lord punishes children for the iniquity of parents (idolatory), to the third and the fourth generation. This law seems to be observed in the moral tradition of different religions in the sense that any breach of order in the universe introduces suffering and disharmony which persist through generations until harmony is restored.

In African traditional religion(s) for instance, the moral tradition is best understood within a worldview with an intricate relationship that involves the supreme being, the ancestors and spirits all of who impinge on human life in one way or the other. (L. magesa, Africa Religion, 1997:35-36). Meanwhile, this African worldview is in accord with the Israelite monotheistic conception of God as being primarily concerned with ethics and morality. This agelong conception of realities therefore runs into affirming certain unbearable experiences or agonizing stories of families who believe they are held in bondage by the crime of a heartless ancestor. In one of my pastoral experiences, a story is told of a family which suffers the death of several male children born into it, once the child reaches the age of maturity. After several spiritual enquiry, it was believed that the great grand father of the extant generation buried alive a stranger in his farmland. Similar stories are told of some families suffering from the history of childlessness, madness, lack of suitors and so on. These unwelcomed stories are believed to have been caused by the ignominious acts of one of their ancestors.


Most of these stories may sound mythological but they affect the lives of their descendants. The question therefore is “how justifiable are the explanations given to these family problems, bearing in mind that other pathological reasons could be adduced to the same issue.


Well, one thing honestly significant about human existence is that the reality of beliefs in the interconnectedness of all realities in good and evil, is undeniable. Experience teaches us that one person’s breach of law (social or religious) could bring untold suffering to lives of other individuals. To cite more banal examples, a person who breaks a traffic law can cause the death of another individual. The death of this innocent victim could mean poverty and suffering to a family that was dependent on the victim. We are not unaware of the threat that a street child poses to a society when there is a parent’s negligence towards the child’s upbringing and education. Far more importantly, as noted by Austin Emmanuel in the comments of previous edition, it could also be observed that if children inherit the assets of their fathers, nothing may prevent them from inheriting their father’s liabilities as well. Spunky also considered in his own comment that children could suffer the effects of global warming caused as a result of the arbitrary deforestation by their fore fathers. Indications therefore emerge that there are interconnection of realities in both physical and supernatural events. Nevertheless, it will be a deception of the spirit and a gross mark of irresponsibility if we superstitiously make unnecessary connections between our misfortunes and the sins of our fathers. It will be a high sense of negligence to the ancient and ever relevant thought of our father in Philosophy (Socrates) who said that an unexamined life is not worth living. Therefore, our conceptions of these elements of interconnectedness plead for more objective and justifiable clarifications as we shall reveal in next edition. So, let us not be in a haste as we patiently wait for those who will challenge or support this thought to get ready for the floor is now open!



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