Hover over Romans 1:20-22 for proof of God's existence, and over Matthew 5:27-28 for Judgment Day’s perfect standard. Then hover over John 3:16-18 for what God did, and over Acts 17:30-31 for what to do.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Sins of the Fathers

There are many theories as to what caused Adolf Hitler to subject millions to the horrors of Nazi Germany. Experts have closely profiled many mass murderers to see if there was something in their past that triggered their own particular path of evil. Some had bad childhoods, but others didn't. Take the case of Jeffery Dahmer:

He was born to two parents who loved him. He was wanted, loved and cherished. How did this great start in life turn into the beginning of a story of one of America's most notorious serial killers? Was Jeffrey Dahmer a "born killer" or did he become conditioned to become so awful? The famous "nature vs. nurture" debate rages on. The truth nearly always is some mixture of both--he was genetically predisposed to violence and the life he led triggered these predispositions. It's difficult to understand that serial killers are often more like us than not like us. They blend into crowds and disappear looking like any other ordinary person. In fact, Jeffrey Dahmer himself was once quoted as saying: "When I was a little kid, I was just like anybody else."

While there are many theories as to what happened, the only consistent common denominator in mass murderers is that they were human beings who gave themselves over to evil. Hitler had a bad childhood, but millions of people who have terrible upbringings live normal lives, and don’t go on to become murderers, let alone mass murderers.
An atheist once asked the following question:

"Ray, would you explain the part of the Ten Commandments wherein it says: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. Why is it proper or 'just' to punish children to the third and fourth generation for what their fathers did? Explain that one, if you can."

Most when reading this verse and others like it, wrongly assume that "visiting the iniquity of the fathers" is a reference to divine retribution. They believe that it is saying that God judges the children for the sins of their fathers, but Scripture is clear that God doesn't punish children for parental iniquity (see Ezekiel 18:20).

This verse (from the Second of the Ten Commandments) uses the word "visiting," which implies a temporal stay. God says the iniquity of sinful men stays with them for three or four generations.

We can see this in generations of families who give themselves to iniquity (sin). A godless family may have an alcoholic father, yet despite the pain and suffering that his abuse brings the family, the son repeats the sin of the father:

"Parental alcoholism can instill a legacy which affects the development of both individual family members and patterns carried forward from one generation to the next."

This is also often the case with a wife-beating father. A child, who may be horrified at the abuse of his mother, as an adult finds himself doing the same thing:

"A researcher in University of Cincinnati's School of Social Work has found that abusers' relationships with their fathers play a key role in their violent tendencies . . . found that 79 percent of the men who had witnessed their fathers abusing their mothers were later violent in an intimate relationship."

Similarly with promiscuity (adolescent fatherhood):

“Sons of adolescent fathers were 1.8 times more likely to become adolescent fathers than were sons of older fathers, after other risk factors were accounted for.”

A 2009 study in South Africa by the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention discovered that young criminals were five times as likely to have a father who was in prison. The study said:

"This feeds into a cycle where the victims of crime become the perpetrators of crime," said Leoschut...She argued that more education may not lead to less criminal behaviour. Rather, those who were already law-abiding might instead be drawn to education….Skelton added that attempts to remove delinquent children from bad homes and dangerous communities had been tried in the past without success. "You take them from their homes and then reintegrate them in their families and communities ... it has been tried and largely failed."

The sin of the father visits the next generation, and more than often, the generation after that--to the third and fourth generation.

A 2008 study published by the British Journal of Criminology said:

"This study elaborates on the relationship between convictions of fathers and the development of convictions of their offspring over the lifespan. Unique official data from the Netherlands Criminal Career and Life Course Study (CCLS) are used to investigate the intergenerational transmission of criminal behavior (8,085 sons and daughters and an observation period of over 40 years)...The findings demonstrate that children of convicted fathers are much more likely to be convicted themselves in comparison to those whose fathers have never been convicted."

So the question should be asked about the moral behavior of the father and grandfather of Adolf Hitler. Were they godly men who loved righteousness--who simply had a son that went bad? Or were they men of “iniquity” and that iniquity visited the following generations?

History reveals that Hitler’s grandfather was an unknown fornicator:

"Hitler's father was the illegitimate child of a cook named (Maria Anna) Schickelgruber. This cook, the grandmother of Adolf Hitler, was working for a Jewish family named Frankenburger, when she became pregnant. Frankenburger paid Schickelgruber, a paternity allowance from the time of the child's birth up to his fourteenth year."

Hitler’s unidentified and sinful grandfather failed to even take care of the woman who bore his child. Years later, the sin of fornication visited the next generation, Hitler’s father:

"Alois 'Hikler' [Huetler/Hiedler] has an illegitimate son…Alois 'Hikler' [Hiedler] separates from his wife (moneyed and 14-years older than he) and takes the barmaid of the Gasthaus on the ground floor under his apartment/flat as his mistress."

In August of 2009, The Guardian published an article that spoke of the discovery in Germany of a journal that gave insight into the Hitler household. It was written by Adolf Hitler's sister:

"Paula Hitler's journal, unearthed at an undisclosed location in Germany, reveals that her brother was a bully in his teens, and would beat her…They said that scientific tests had verified the documents' authenticity. One excerpt describes the violence exercised by Hitler's father, also called Alois, and how Adolf's mother tried to protect her son from regular beatings. "Fearing that the father could no longer control himself in his unbridled rage, she [Adolf's mother] decides to put an end to the beating. She goes up to the attic, covers Adolf who is lying on the floor, but cannot deflect the father's final blow. Without a sound she absorbs it." Mr Beierl said: "This is a picture of a completely dysfunctional family that the public has never seen before. "The terror of the Third Reich was cultivated in Hitler's own home."
In other places Hitler’s father is called "brutal," "violent" and "short-tempered":

"Hitler had a violent and troubled childhood where he had an abusive father." "His father--Alois--was fifty-one when Hitler was born. He was short-tempered, strict and brutal."

Adolf Hitler was a fornicator and a violent man. His father was a fornicator and a violent man. His grandfather was also a fornicator . . . the sins of the father visited for three generations, just as the Scriptures warn.

How different would history have been if the cycle of sinful actions had been broken through true repentance (a turning from all iniquity), and if God had been genuinely honored in their lives. The atheist who originally asked about "visiting the iniquity" for some reason didn’t quote the whole verse. He stopped mid-sentence (quote-mined). I wonder why:

" . . . upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments" (Exodus 20:6, italics added).

1. "Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer was born on May 21, 1960 and killed in jail on November 28, 1994. He was in jail for fifteen life sentences delivered for the seventeen lives he had taken, being convicted of only fifteen of them. His crimes were gruesome and involved torture, rape, cannibalism, necrophilia and dismemberment." http://www.bukisa.com/articles/16240_10-weird-facts-about-jeffrey-dahmers-childhood
2. Ibid
3. Numbers 14:18-19, 2 Kings 10:30-31, Genesis 15:15-16.
(Rosellini and Worden 1985; Seixas and Youcha 1985)
4. March 2010, Vol 100, No. 3 | American Journal of Public Health 517-524
5. Like Father, Like Son. The Relationships between Conviction Trajectories of Fathers and their Sons and Daughters. http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/
6. From a secret report by the Nazi Hans Frank. Written in 1930. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/adolf-hitler.htm
7. http://lloydthomas.org/1-IsraelTimeLine/7-1930-1999/hitler.html
8. The Guardian, Thursday 4 August 2005,
9. http://www.historyking.com/World-War/world-war-ii/hitler/Adolf-Hitler-Childhood.html
10. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/adolf-hitler.htm
11. "It is only many years after death that Eva Braun is finally becoming a public figure. During all the years she lived with Adolf Hitler as his mistress and, briefly, his wife she was one of Germany's best kept secrets. Indeed, until after the war many Germans were almost completely unaware of her existence. It is difficult today to imagine the odium attached to the term "mistress" during Eva's lifetime. It implied a sin of such magnitude that one was almost certainly eternally dammed. One was socially ostracized and, very frequently, cast out by one's family. Why, then, did a Catholic girl, convent educated, agree to such an illicit relationship?" Hitler's Mistress, Jennifer Wilding--http://www.onwar.com/articles/0108.htm

Top picture:
Hitler's father (on one of his happier days).