The Influence of a Life

Jukes & Edwards

Perhaps the deepest imprints of human faults are made by parents upon their children. Moses told the Israelites that in some cases God visits the iniquity of ?the fathers on the children, on the third and fourth generations? (Exodus 20:5). And he doesn?t have to work to do it. When our sins and failures run their normal course, they harm future generations. Our hang‑ups are passed to our children, who in turn pass them to their own. The New Testament says that parents? sins may cause specific problems like angry, resentful behavior or depression (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21).

A comparison of the offspring of two marriages clearly illustrates this. Over four hundred descendants of Jonathan Edwards, America?s first great theologian, have been traced. Similarly, over twelve hundred offspring of a criminal named Jukes have been studied. Of the descendants of Jonathan Edwards: one hundred became ministers, missionaries, or theology teachers; one hundred became professors; over one hundred were lawyers and judges; sixty became doctors; and fourteen were college presidents. Among the descendants of Jukes; one hundred and thirty were convicted criminals; three hundred and ten were professional paupers; four hundred were seriously injured or physically degenerated due to their life‑styles; sixty were habitual thieves and pickpockets; seventeen were murderers; only twenty ever learned a trade, and half of these learned their trades in jail.