Why? – Family Patterns of Narcissism*


Exodus 20:5-6

You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.


Secular literature discusses the tendency for narcissism* to run in families – you may have seen it in families that you know.  The secular hypothesis is that narcissistic parents set up the conditions for their own children to develop narcissism.  And the pattern continues.  This hypothesis is based on the aging nature vs nurture argument (see here or here).
God makes it clear that narcissisim (insolent pride) running in families is not just a natural phenomenon, but is one of His principles on how He governs life.  He is sovereignly involved.  The importance of this is that to truly break a pattern of narcissism in a family, the “generational sin” referred to in Exodus 20:5-6 needs to be accounted for and dealt with.
Identifying and breaking generational sin is a subject that I hope get a better handle on, but one clue can be found in Nehemiah 9:2.  As part of their seeking to walk properly with God, the Israelites not only confessed their own sins, but also the sins of their “fathers” (which could refer to not just the immediately preceding generation, but all generations prior).
Nehemiah 9:2 – The descendants of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.
In addition to dealing with narcissism through breaking the chain of generational sin, there are practical implications to understanding the generational aspect of narcissism.  These include using your future spouse’s family as a window for understanding your own future with them, understanding how families can be in a permanent state of conflict, etc.
Some additional writings on breaking generational sin can be found at
* Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride” – see here

2 responses

  1. The subject of generational sin burdened me for quite a while and I addressed it to Jesus. One morning I opened the Bible randomly at Ezekiel 18 where I found a revelation and the answer to my questions from The Lord. Praises to Him for His graciousness and mercy.

  2. Pingback: How Does Someone Become A Narcissist? Five Possible Ways « Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism

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