So if we are able to be tolerant of our own imperfections and those of others around us, what about the sins of “our fathers”; those sins exercised by past generations, such as the atrocities done in war, colonization, repression, slavery, etc.?
“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.” (Ezekiel 18:20: )
This passage emphasizes personal responsibility for one’s own actions and rejects the idea that children are responsible for the sins of their predecessors. Each individual is accountable for their own choices exercised with free will and will face the consequences of their own actions.
So while we might think we can leave those sins in the past, without any accountability for those in the present, we are affected by the consequences or impact of those sins. Those consequences may materialize in many different forms, but often these may be behavioural changes, changes in the patterns of people’s lives, which may be transmitted through transgenerational trauma, in its broadest sense, or through permission structures embedded in our institutions or legislation, for example. Ideally, we recognize any negative patterns that have been passed down and we intentionally choose to break the cycle of transmission.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)