Could you bless or curse your (unborn) grandchildren today?
I was (mentally) exploring the ocean depths in a cutting edge, hyper-fast, glowing submarine with Jonathan Park somewhere between mile 2,500 and 3,000 of our vacation when one of the characters used a word that immediately piqued my interest: epigenetics.
Epi-what? Epigenetics is the new frontier of genetics and it is causing geneticists to rethink everything they knew about the way our genes work.
Your eyes are blue because your father’s eyes were blue. Your smile reveals a dimple because your mom’s smile was dimpled. Your pinky toe turns under because your grandmother’s pinky toe turned under. This is standard genetics. With epigenetics (“epi” comes from the Greek meaning “upon”), however, your parents’ or grandparents’ life experiences could be affecting your genes. More specifically, their life experiences could be passed down through epigenes to you! Dr. Georgia Purdom, of Answers in Genesis, explains that behavior can change how a person’s body “expresses its DNA,” expressions that could be passed to his/her children.
According to Dr. Purdom, our DNA has a variety of environmentally influenced tagalongs:
First are molecules attached to the DNA, called methylation marks, that turn genes on and off. Second are balls of protein composed of histones, which the DNA wraps around. Histones and a portion of these proteins, called histone tails, regulate how the DNA is folded (and thus what is turned on or off).
These tagalongs can be influenced by our life choices. As strange as it may sound, it appears that the food we eat, the habits we form, and the experiences we endure can affect the way our DNA folds and, thereby, which genes are turned on or off. This, it seems, can be passed on to future generations. So your psychological and behavioral tendencies could have originated in your great-grandfather and have been passed on to you through epigenetics. The age-old debate between nature and nurture, therefore, just got more interesting. Apparently, it’s not an either/or, but a both/and scenario.
But why bring this up in a church newsletter? Because it speaks powerfully to the significance of choices. The choices you make today could epi-genetically bless or curse your unborn children and grandchildren. The habits you form, the foods you eat, and the life-direction you choose could endure long beyond you. That means that the popular quip, “What I do with my body is my business,” isn’t true. What you do with your body just might influence the bodies of numerous people after you.
How powerful then are St. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” The glory you give the Lord in your body today just might reap blessings on your ancestors for years to come.
 Jonathan Park is an audio series that takes its characters to the four corners of the globe to teach and defend a Biblical worldview. Along the way, they discover and discuss the scientific evidences that confirm the Biblical account of origins. You can find out more at jonathanpark.com or answersingenesis.org. Or visit with Pastor Conner.