Several years after I became a born-again Christian, I was pastoring my second church in Australia. Even though I was a pastor and had overcome a life of drug addiction, drug smuggling, and violence, I had an ongoing problem with anger. Anything could set me off, and I would yell and even hit my wife and child. And one day, when my son was 2 or 3, I got angry and shoved him against the wall. The moment I saw him bounce off the wall, I remembered how many times I bounced off the wall when I was a kid. I was behaving just like my father. The words came to me: "Like father, like son." God had saved me from the drugs, but the underlying anger was still there, the crack or flaw I was trying to hide. This was a family curse that landed on me, as it says in the Scripture, the iniquity of the father is passed down to the third and fourth generation.
Is a family curse different from genetic inheritance or negative behavior patterns we learn from our parents?
They're the same thing. Some call these patterns a physical inheritance. I believe that there's a spiritual transfer from one generation to the next. Just as we inherit red hair, freckles, and blue eyes, we inherit negative things. For example, when children are illegitimate, their own children will probably be illegitimate. When inmates get out of prison, 85% of them will be back in three years, and their children and their grandchildren are more likely to go to prison, too. Drug addicts pass on drug addiction. It's not because they're bad people. It's not because they make a decision to take drugs. There is a transfer in the spirit realm, an inheritance that they are heir to.
In her magazine, Oprah says that one of the reasons she didn't want to get married and have children is that she saw through her whole family the repeating of negative things from grandmother to mother to daughter. She didn't want to take the chance until she found an answer to breaking these negative patterns.
It's like being in an earthquake zone: Below the surface there are faults that could come up when conditions are right. It's the same thing with learning disabilities, with drinking, with eating disorders. How many times do people who inherit obesity try to diet and end up gaining all the weight back? It's due to a spiritual curse.
Right when I started writing this book, John F. Kennedy Jr. was killed in a plane crash, and every magazine had on its cover "The Kennedy Curse." Before and after President Kennedy's death, there were others who died before their time. There's a force in their lives that is bringing destruction to the family. Why do so many people in that family die prematurely or have serious trouble? It's not because they're bad people. This is a spiritual transfer. If I could get to one of the heads of the Kennedy family, and we could agree that this is a spiritual curse and realize that the power of God can break it, this family could be set free forever.
We tend to think of curses as mere superstition, something we've progressed beyond in the modern world.
Many religions and cultures know that there are curses. In Italy, you can have a curse put on your family. In Australia and Africa, they believe that curses exist. I've been asked by several countries in Africa to come and teach about recognizing and breaking curses. There can even be a curse on a nation. A group of pastors in Ireland invited us over to break the curse on that country. They said, "This will stop our wars." In April, I'm going to teach in Israel, in the Middle East. People hate each other generation after generation, and they don't know why.
So how do you break a family curse?
First, understand that there is a curse affecting your family--whether it's divorce, illegitimacy, suicide, or premature death. Recognize that this destructive pattern exists.
But we don't know how to fill it with a positive spirit. That negative spirit sees your vessel is empty, and it comes back in seven times worse. You've seen with dieting--people lose weight and then gain it all back, plus 20 pounds more.
Know that God loves you. He isn't mad at you. Then you can break the curse by saying, "I come in agreement with you that the negative spirit is broken, and in its place I receive the positive." If there's anger, you see yourself receiving peace; if there's addiction, you receive freedom.
This is crucial: When a vessel is empty, it has to be filled up. We're clay vessels that hold the spirit of life. When we rid ourselves of bad habits, we have to replace them with God. We go to marriage counseling, to smoking programs, and try to get rid of the bad.
You need to replace the negative spirit with peace and joy, with love and belief in your future--all the good things God has in store for you. You have to see yourself the way God sees you. Don't be afraid of the size of the problem. When Israel saw Goliath, they were afraid because of his size. But David wasn't, and he overcame the giant. Start saying, "Today is going to be a great day; I'm a winner, not a loser."
Then God breaks the chains. I was set free from the bondage of anger and violence that had been in my family for generations. My children are free, and they can feel safe with their father.