I would like to find out about generational curses, which seem so common here in Africa. Are they real? What should a Christian's response be? What are practical, biblical ways of breaking them? -- F.T. (Johannesburg)
Sin being passed on from generations to generation--that's real (Exodus 20:5-6). It's a curse, not a blessing. The same sin (alcoholism, negative thinking, envy, anger...) can show up in children, grandchildren, and sometimes even great grandchildren. Yet this question is usually connected with demons, who are thought to migrate from father to son, perhaps forever, until the right magic is used to break or divert the spell. While I do not believe in generational curses in that sense, I still think you're asking an important question.
The curse dwells on the razor-thin margin between existence and non-existence. The curses have power if we believe they have power. Even though they are't alive, conscious, or willful, people virtually make them come into existence by believing in them. Colossians 2:15 assures us that Christ has freed us from such curses -- and from the fear attaching to them: "And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." Under the new covenant, by God's Spirit, his sons and daughters are free from bondage (John 8:31-32; Jeremiah 31:29-30).