Children Punished for the Sins of Their Fathers

Besides the obvious example that we all are punished for the trivial sin of the apparent father of the human race (Adam) and God punishing the innocent for other’s sins (genocide in Samuel 15:3, plagues, smiting of the first-born, etc.), let’s take a look at some verses regarding children being punished for the sins of their fathers.  These verses should demonstrate my point on their own merit.

Ezekiel 18:20 – The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.

Deuteronomy 5:9 – You shall not bow down to them [idols] or worship them; for I, 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,

Deuteronomy 24:16 – Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin.

Luke 11:50-51 – Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.

and on and on…

There is a clear contradiction here.  I read an interesting explain-away on Deuteronomy 5:9 stating that the parents who practice idolatry punish their children by passing down an evil practice punishable by God.  See it here.  What you will read is the kind of dancing around Christians need to do in order to justify their beliefs in the face of such an example of an imperfect God (even God having the trait of “jealous” determines him flawed).  The number of such examples is stunning, and Christians must become weary with self-delusion and circle-thinking.

Based on God’s actions in the Bible, I think it is fair to say that he values punishing children for the sins of their fathers more than not doing so.  The very idea of original sin demonstrates this fact.  The wording in Deuteronomy 24:16 looks like it implies a rule on human law, saying that a victim of a crime or a governing body cannot murder family members of a person who has sinned or committed a crime, which is a good idea.  In chapter 5 verse 9, however, he seems pretty clear that his morality is much more barbaric than the one he expects of humans.  He will subvert basic morals and accountability, destroying hundreds (or more) of future souls in a fury of irrational anger, jealousy, and hatred – all because one person made a graven image.

Verses such as these make it very difficult to see how one can get a solid idea of true morality from the Bible.

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