Post last updated on January 5, 2022 by rah
The following is a short excerpt from a book, first published in 1908. At the time, it may have seemed to some that certain cultural institutions overshadowed or even overcame the realities of human nature. Herman Bavinck, the Dutch author of the small book, was obviously unconvinced. For better and for worse, we have no such temptation today.
An entire army of evils besieges the life of the family: the infidelity of the husband, the stubbornness of the wife, the disobedience of the child; both the worship and denigration of the woman, tyranny as well as slavery, the seduction and the hatred of men, both idolizing and killing children; sexual immorality, human trafficking; concubinage, bigamy, polygamy, polyandry, adultery, divorce, incest; unnatural sins whereby men commit scandalous acts with men, women with women, men with boys, women with girls, men and women and children with each other, people with animals; the stimulation of lust by impure thoughts, words, images, plays, literature, art, and clothing; glorifying nudity and elevating even the passions of the flesh into the service of deity—all of these and similar sins threaten the existence and undermine the well-being of the home. When the evolutionists bring up these facts from the history of the human race, they simply expose this tragic reality. But they err when they claim that these are the result and outworking of an animal-like situation in which people lived originally. For even if we wanted to leave out of consideration for a moment the testimony of Scripture that speaks of an entirely different beginning of humanity, even this understanding is powerfully and loudly contradicted by history. For these terrible sins hardly appear only and in the most extreme measure among the coarsest of people, but they are found in their most rampant forms among civilized and developed societies. And if one wishes to uncover and observe them here, then one must go not to the isolated, tranquil villages, but to the center of civilization, to the focal points of culture, to the large cities full of grandeur and glory. There one finds them, indeed, among the coarse masses, but just as prevalent and in refined form among the upper echelons of society, in the palaces, in the salons, in the corridors of art. Occasionally, once in a while, such sins emerge into view in connection with a lawsuit, a scandal, a locale. It becomes manifest what a world of unrighteousness lies hidden beneath the varnished exterior of civilizations.
When the evolutionists understand all these terrible situations to be atavism, to be the outworking of an animal-like past, then they undermine the concept of sin, turn wickedness into a sickness, change the sense of guilt into an illusion, turn prisons into hospitals, and they thereby do an injustice to the animal world. For animals do not live as people often live with and among each other. In order to sin in such a terrible and refined manner, one must be a human being. Even the nature of sin and the manner of sinning demonstrate that one is a human being and was originally created not in the image of the ape, but in the image of God.Herman Bavinck, The Christian Family, trans. Nelson D. Kloosterman (Grand Rapids: Christian’s Library Press), 22-23.