give justice to many biblical words. The meanings are often
richer, more nuanced, than our language can convey. Iniquity
is sometimes translated as sin or transgression, visiting as
punishing, and on and on go the translation debates. But no
matter the translation, the sentiment of this verse is disturbing
and triggers my American sense of individuality and fairness.
I remember a conversation with a family member who
had recently read all the way through the Bible. This particular
repeating message of the sins of the parent being visited upon
the children upset her, and she asked me what I thought. The
only thing I could come up with was that it seemed realistic,
yet I hoped it was not fatalistic.
It is true that without significant intervention, we as
parents will repeat the dysfunction of our own parents who are
just repeating that of their own parents, and thus it is
transferred from generation to generation to generation. I
remember learning that sometimes the word sin or iniquity is
more accurately rendered “missing the mark,” as in archery.
Often rather than a willful choice or blatant wrong, our
misdeeds are simply a repeating of what we have been taught
or role modeled. It is quite an efficient system. We are
bestowed both functional and dysfunctional mindset and
behaviors by those who came before us. I am no exception.