I am convinced that the escalating violence by mass murders, suicide rates, and even the wealth gap in the United States is due to the curses we have not broken (through repentance) because of the sins of our Fathers in combination with our modern attachment to the benefits of those sins. All Americans are still suffering the consequences of our ancestors’ exploitation of enslaved humans, servants, and unfairly compensated employees. This is evidence of the American idolatry of wealth and power.
The scriptures speak of generational curses due to idolatry (Deuteronomy 5). Also, in Leviticus generational blessing is tied to the release of debts, enslaved people, and the return of property to the rightful owners during the Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25 & 26). Every 50 years, all debts were to be canceled, the land was to be returned to the original owners of inheritance (by tribe) and all slaves were to be set free. Every tribe had a right to a certain parcel of land. Every family tribe had a literal “stake in the ground” and if that ground had been lost due to poverty and sold as a result, its return was required in the year of Jubilee.
The interesting thing about the 50-year cycle of the year of Jubilee is that the average male lifespan at the time was 35. If one father failed to do what was required, the next in line, his eldest son, could correct the wrong and restore the blessings and remove any curse, guilt, sin, or blame from his household. If a person inherited anything that had been stolen or acquired dishonestly and they did not return it, or release debts and the enslaved, they brought upon themselves a “curse” or a “consequence” for themselves and the next several generations. But every time inheritance was passed, and every year of Jubilee, there was an opportunity to make things right. God himself was and is still the bookkeeper.
We have an urgent opportunity to make things right in THIS generation. Modern Americans (including Church folks) suffer the generational curses that we have not made right from our founding days because of the exploitation of stolen lives and labor. America became one of the wealthiest countries in the world in record time because of the ill-gained profits derived from the stolen lives of enslaved laborers. The only way to break the generational curses we are under is to repent completely. Repentance involves confession, but more than confession it requires change and restitution.
Change theory says that it requires an insider and an outsider to create change. Repentance requires change. Insiders have voices that will be heard by other organizational decision-makers, and outsiders have experiences and insights that are often unknown in groups of homogenous voices who are given access to the tables of discussion and decision.
White European evangelists and circuit preachers justified the system of human trafficking by stripping people from continents other than Europe (and some from Europe) of the Imago Dei (Image of God) in our collective minds. They preached a false “hierarchy of human order” (invented by a student of Darwin, Blumenbach). That made a pseudo-biblical justification for the industries of human trafficking for our own (collective and individual) financial gain.
Whether because of the sins of our spiritual fathers or our biological ones, we have inherited some benefits of ill-gotten gains . . . and the curses that go with them. Thus, it is the responsibility of white Christian leaders to engage in restoration and truth-telling because it is the church fathers who began and perpetuated the harm caused by the racist history of the Church, industry, and government in America.
In order to break the curse, white people must participate in restoration. Christians, particularly white Christians must be the insiders who create change in our organizations and culture which is dominated by white decision-makers. It starts with truth, especially in white-dominated spaces.
Recently I had another meeting with a European American pastor with whom I have been consulting for a number of years. He told me that when the congregation began looking less white some white members of the congregation became uncomfortable. There was an exodus of several wealthy white families, and they took their money with them.
As those seats emptied it not only created physical space but released that pastor from being so careful with members who were not committed to the vision to be “a voice of racial reconciliation.” New families filed the space. The new families were more diverse, younger, more flexible, more in need of support for their daily struggles with racism and multicultural families than were the ones who left . . . and as they received what they needed, the church organization also received everything it needed to satisfy the mortgage, the payroll, and even expanded community benevolence and outreach. Not one payment was missed. Not one staff member was laid off. Not one need went unmet.
Recently that same pastor posted a 12-foot cross on the platform before one Sunday service. Behind the cross was positioned an American flag (almost hidden by the thickness of the wooden cross). In front of the cross stood the pastor with his Bible as he preached about the priorities of a Christ-follower to always put nationality, political beliefs, cultural preferences, and everything else behind the commitment to the work of the Cross and the Word . . . . which is to love God, and love people. Every other loyalty, preference, belief, and idolatry must bow at the cross.
That sermon may trigger another exodus of people who have elevated the American flag, or their political party to a position of idolatry above the cross and message of God’s love for every human, culture, and people group of the world, but that pastor has recognized that losing some people and their resources will actually break the curse and bring new blessing, healing, and restoration.
We must make right our individual and collective wrongs in order to be Jesus’ hands extended to heal a hurting and violent world. In order to be Jesus’ hands, we must thoroughly clean our own first.
By Doc Courage