Atheist Max Jukes, born in 1700, married a woman who dabbled in the occult.

Atheist Max Jukes, born in 1700, married a woman who dabbled in the occult.

Of their 1,200 descendants, 310 lived as beggars and died poor; 440 ruined their lives through corruption; 130 spent time in prison — seven for murder — with an average 13-year sentence. More than 600 became alcoholics; 60 were habitual thieves; 190 became prostitutes; and 20 became tradesmen, 10 of whom learned their trade in prison.

That family tree cost the state $1.2 million.

Jonathan Edwards, a Presbyterian minister born in 1703, had strong faith in Jesus Christ at 24 and married a 17-year-old woman of strong faith. They consecrated their marriage to the Lord on their wedding night.

Their descendants included 300 clergypersons — some were missionaries and theological professors. There were 100 professors, 100 attorneys, 30 judges and a dean of law school.

There were 60 authors of classic writings, 60 became physicians, and one became a medical school dean. There were 14 university presidents, three mayors of large cities, three governors, one U.S. Treasury controller, and one United States vice president.

Their descendants cost the state nothing.

Fascinating, isn’t it, that two people, born in the same period, have very different outcomes to their lives and the lives of their descendants.

Often, people will hear of situations like the Jukeses’ and say, "Oh, they were brought up in a terrible environment. They had no choice in the matter."

They will say the same thing about people like the Edwardses: "Oh, they were brought up in a loving and caring environment. They were only living what they learned."

True. People do tend to live what they learn. Examples with the deepest impact come from parents and older family members. If parents live a life of wickedness, children will see and follow this.

Likewise, if parents are loving and demonstrate mutual respect and trust.

Kids mimic and perpetuate what they observe and learn. And it will go on for generations.

What are you teaching your children or grandchildren?

The Rev. Mark Broadhead is Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview’s pastor.