Dysfunctional FamilyI, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments. Exodus 20:5-6


I know a wise and compassionate young man whom I will can Ben, who was raised in a household of horrors. His father drank non-stop and was cruel to his wife and children. The mother tried to raise her children the best way she knew how but failed because of her own fears, anxieties, and poor behavior. Ben remembered his grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins all seemingly caught up in a sick family dynamic that never improved, leading Ben to eventually become addicted to alcohol and drugs himself. Thankfully, Ben saw the light as a young man, went through drug and alcohol treatment, and began attending Alcoholics Anonymous on a regular basis. He said it was as if his family had forced him to “wear a dirty suit,” and he no longer wanted to do that. It was necessary for him to separate completely from his family of origin in order to survive.


Ben’s situation reminds of the passages in the Bible which say in several ways, “the sins of the fathers are visited on the children to the third and fourth generation.” Ben’s family certainly seems to fit this description. But neither Ben nor I believe children are destined to turn out like their wayward parents. Ben and I broke the pattern. We both decided, for a variety of reasons, not to live as our parents had lived. Ben’s situation was far worse than mine, and I admire this young man greatly for the courage it took for him to change his life.


But does God really mean he will “punish the children for the sin of the parent?” In today’s Scripture, Exodus 20:5-6, the next few words are critical: “of those who hate Me.” Ben and I were able to seek our “Higher Power,” and we admitted we were powerless without Him. We chose to love and trust God and we are now reaping His “love to a thousand generations.”


Lord, I’m so glad to know You and to know Ben and others who have chosen You instead of death and destruction! Amen


Both candid and humorous, insightful and ponderous, Meg Blaine Corrigan’s memoir, Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, takes the reader through her chaotic childhood with an alcoholic mother and enabling father to a violent assault that nearly ended her life. She populates her tale with vivid descriptions of her parents, other influential adults, the attacker, and her disastrous first marriage. But this story has a happy ending, when Meg finds solace in a God she didn’t think she’d ever believe in, when He gently helps her heal from her past lives and move into the best times of her life. Meg has also written a novel, Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist, about said first marriage, as well as a Christian devotional, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, comprised of blogs from this site. Stay tuned for sequels to her last two books! All of her works may be purchased through her website, or from .

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