By now, everyone has awakened to the news of famed pornographer, Hugh Hefner’s passing, at the age of 91.
Hefner was the iconic founder of Playboy Magazine, and during the 70s and 80s, tales of free-wheeling debauchery at his Playboy mansion were the stuff of pop culture legend.
I have a few thoughts on the reactions I’m seeing across social media today, as well as on the life and work of Hefner, in general.
To start with, I’m not going to name names here, but if you’re a [supposed] conservative commentator, touting “faith” and “family” in your social media biography, and posting, “R.I.P. Hugh,” know that Hefner was an enemy to both, so maybe you need to reassess your alleged priorities, you hypocrite.
Does that mean I don’t hope for a peaceful afterlife for Mr. Hefner?
Not at all. My most sincere hope and desire is that as the sun set over Hefner’s life, he had this epiphany of his own mortality, and his desperate need for forgiveness.
I would like to believe that there was a Damascus Road experience at the end of Hefner’s life. I know that, just like the thief on the cross, who looked to a crucified Christ next to him atop Golgotha and asked that his Lord remember him when he come to his kingdom (Luke 23:42-43), it is possible for a man such as Hefner to be saved in his last breath.
That’s what I sincerely desire.
That being said, I will not memorialize the man’s life as some are doing today. He was not a hero.
Dr. Russell Moore said it perfectly, today:
Hefner did not create, but marketed ingeniously the idea that a man’s life consists in the abundance of his possessions and of his orgasms. To women, he marketed frenetically the idea that a woman’s value consists in her sexual availability and attractiveness to men.
In the short-run Hefner’s philosophy has won, on both the Right and the Left. The Playboy Mansion is every house now. Many church leaders implicitly or explicitly say, “This is fine.” In many cases, those who hold to what the church has always taught on sexual morality and the value of women are the dissidents now, regardless of how “conservative” a movement proclaims itself to be. Thou hast conquered, O grotto.
The long-run, though, is quite different. Jesus will reign.
In the meantime, the Good Shepherd searches the thickets for his lost sheep. And sometimes for a lost rabbit, too. The sign of the good life is not hedonism but crucifixion. The sign of the good life is not a bunny but a cross.
So what did Hefner represent in our society?
He did his part to chip away at the sanctity of the family unit in our society.
And no, he didn’t force anyone to buy or view pornographic images. Free will comes into play. He did, however, profit greatly from soul sickness and the ruin it promotes.
In June 2016, the American College of Pediatricians wrote:
The availability and use of pornography has become almost ubiquitous among adults and adolescents. Consumption of pornography is associated with many negative emotional, psychological, and physical health outcomes. These include increased rates of depression, anxiety, acting out and violent behavior, younger age of sexual debut, sexual promiscuity, increased risk of teen pregnancy, and a distorted view of relationships between men and women. For adults, pornography results in an increased likelihood of divorce which is also harmful to children. The American College of Pediatricians urges healthcare professionals to communicate the risks of pornography use to patients and their families and to offer resources both to protect children from viewing pornography and to treat individuals suffering from its negative effects.
Over at EthikaPolitika.org, their study bolsters this:
Viewing pornography is “related to greater gender role conflict, more avoidant and anxious attachment styles, poorer relationship quality, and less sexual satisfaction.”24 A recent study found that a partner’s pornography use positively predicted women’s “relationship anxiety” and other negative effects on women.25 Men who regularly view pornography have reported a “decreased interest in ‘real’ sex” and thus in “real” women.26 Such intimacy problems result in various facets of social poverty that we observe today, like the destabilization of our youth27—which impacts the moral fiber and emotional health of America’s future generations—and the “epidemic” of isolation, loneliness, and suicide.28
Still other studies have shown that when one partner is consuming pornography, the chances of divorce double.
Why would we celebrate any of that?
I get that what Hefner did with Playboy was just a precursor. I understand that where we are now, with the advent of the internet and all its wonders, that Hefner’s work was just the beginning to what depravities lurk in the darkened hearts of an unrepentant, reprobate society.
I also get that he was a frontiersman, charging ahead into the vast wilderness of human spiritual frailty.
He did his part, and the paths he forged are littered with the carcasses of destroyed families, women who have seen their self-esteem crater, and men who have lost the value of chivalry and discretion.
“14 But each one is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion). 15 Then when the illicit desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin has run its course, it gives birth to death.” – James 1:14-15 AMP
No, I won’t celebrate this man’s life and the blight he left on society. I won’t pray for him, because we don’t pray for the dead, who have lived their lives and passed on to the next, where they face the consequences, either good or bad.
I will, however, remember him by saying a prayer today for families, and for mercy for a society that has too readily forgotten the family and embraced perversion.