"Helping You Equip Others"
  Contact us

Donate to the Pneuma Foundation through JustGive–recommended for international contributors

   Studies in Contrasts - Volume 1 (11 of 13)

Volume 1

  1. Should a Christian Be Afraid of God?
  2. The Resurrection: A Matter of Reason or a Matter of Faith?
  3. Can We Learn from the Cults?
  4. Should We Be Waiting or Working As We Anticipate Christ's Return?
  5. Did Christ Come to Live or to Die for Us?
  6. Is Man Like God or Unlike God?
  7. Should a Christian Be Self-Controlled or Spirit-Controlled?
  8. Isn't the Holy Spirit All I Need to Understand the Bible?
  9. Can We Come to God Just As We Are?
  10. Is It Ever Right to Judge Others?
  11. Are We the Result of Our Parents' Choices?
  12. Does God Hold Us Responsible for Other People's Sin?
  13. Self-Esteem: Is It Right or Wrong?

Are We the Result of Our Parents' Choices?

Two brothers in their twenties look a lot alike but are opposites in almost every other respect. Jim, about a year older, is a Christian, works hard, attends church faithfully, and is respected in the community. Sid drinks too much, works occasionally, has been in trouble with the law, and is abusive to his wife and two small children.

The father of these men is an alcoholic, irresponsible, lazy, and abrasive. And their mother is his match.

Sid bitterly blames his parents for his problems. On the other hand, while Jim disapproves of their example and values, he shows them love. In fact, he says that the things he saw at home led him to decide very early that he wanted to grow up to be different from his father. Are Sid's problems rooted in his parents' bad choices? Or is Sid responsible for his own bad choices? The Bible shows us that both are true.


  1. The Lord declared that He would carry down "the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me" (Exod. 20:5).
  2. A generation of stiff-necked and unfaithful Israelites produced another generation of the same (2 Kings 17:14; Psalm 78:57).
  3. Simple observation shows that children generally follow the pattern of life that prevails in the home. Timothy was apparently influenced by the faith of his grandmother and his mother (2 Tim. 1:5). Jacob's grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac handed down to him a legacy of lying, and that may have affected his own behavior (Gen. 12:11-20; 26:7-9; 27:18-29).


  1. Asa (1 Kings 15:8-11), Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:1-3), and Josiah (2 Kings 22:1,2) illustrate the fact that sons of wicked fathers sometimes choose to be good men in spite of negative parental influence. Conversely, godly Hezekiah had an evil son named Manasseh (2 Kings 21:1-16).
  2. In Ezekiel 18, the Lord told the prophet to reject a proverb circulating among the Israelites that the children were suffering for the sins of their fathers. They were refusing to accept the responsibility for their own actions. Ezekiel affirmed, however, that people cannot make the wickedness of their parents an excuse for their own evils, nor can they expect to be rewarded for the virtues of their parents. He made it clear that each individual is responsible for his own choices.


The choices of parents do indeed provide a favorable or unfavorable situation for their children, both physically and spiritually (Prov. 22:6). However, children are also touched by other influences, and they possess the freedom to make a choice about which road to choose.


All of us come into the world with inherited characteristics and predispositions, and from earliest childhood we are subjected to environmental influences. These factors affect everyone. But we are not programmed computers, we are personalities with the power of rational thought and the ability to choose between right and wrong.

Previous Next