Difficult but important reading: Hugh Hefner

[Please note: for those not already aware, some content in the following articles may be disturbing.]

It’s difficult to imagine a way for someone to do more damage to souls, families, churches and societies than Hugh Hefner. I remember the first time I was shown a Playboy at a friends’ house. Sadly, the image remains burned in my brain. Although I don’t know him personally, I detest and condemn his life’s work. I must take the blame for my own sins, but those who set poisoned candy before children surely stand under Jesus’ judgment (Mt. 18:6). 

Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine and symbolic leader of the pornography industry, died on September 27 by cardiac arrest through infection. The resulting obituaries have been as  wildly varied as our culture is. Despite some initial writings finding ways to laud and praise Hefner’s life and work, saner heads began to prevail. Following are some articles that find in Hefner’s life and death important lessons for us and our society.

Russell Moore cuts right to the point: Hugh Hefner Did Not Live the Good Life

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.

Ross Douthat pulls the curtain all the way back with his excellent piece, Speaking Ill of Hugh Hefner.

Now that death has taken him, we should examine our own sins. Liberals should ask why their crusade for freedom and equality found itself with such a captain, and what his legacy says about their cause. Conservatives should ask how their crusade for faith and family and community ended up so Hefnerian itself — with a conservative news network that seems to have been run on Playboy Mansion principles and a conservative party that just elected a playboy as our president.

Denny Burk points to an article by Alastair Roberts, who himself is writing about an older article by Mercer Schuchardt published in truncated form by Christianity Today in 2003. Though somewhat crass, the theses are worth considering.

Credit Hefner with popularizing the mythology that this was “adult” entertainment for “men,” adding the same aura of pseudo-sophistication that is still exploited 50 years later by bars that call themselves “A Gentleman’s Club.” (Schuchardt)

Our society, in whose construction Hefner has played no small part, depends upon the feminization of men, the masculinization of women, and the homosexualization of their approach to sex. Such assertions violate all of our culture’s sensitivities, but they are important. (Roberts)

Modern society has flattened out the differences between men and women and porn is one manifestation of the egalitarian ideal, where women are ‘released’ to express male-like sexuality free from childbirth and men are freed from the responsibilities of manhood to be louche yet emasculated sybarites. (Roberts)

Jon Bloom writes helpfully for Desiring God, One Man’s Dream Destroyed Millions.

…on the occasion of Hugh Hefner’s death, let us resolve all the more to abstain from fantasy passions of the flesh, which wage war against our souls — and not just ours but others’ souls as well.

Finally, this is a good opportunity to revisit Carl Trueman’s outstanding article The Purpose of Pornography.

Yet whatever the aesthetics, sexual activity as a means for preserving the myth of eternal youth is always going to involve the law of diminishing returns and thus ironically prove a powerful witness to its own falsehood.

May God enable His church to love people by loving purity, to rescue those trapped by the pornography industry and to guard our children from the same.

4 Comments

  1. Debbie L October 4, 2017 at 11:28 am #

    Excellent post! I do take a bit of exception to Rod Dreher’s comments. While I agree it’s a sad state we had a playboy as an option for President, he now is our President. Just as when Obama was first elected and Bill Clinton twice, God allows men like them into higher office to do His Will. Power corrupts as we’ve learned from the greatest men of God, Abraham and David. So it would have been more palitable that we elect non-Christians like Obama and playboys like John Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. And those presidents all the way back had their affairs as well….

    • Debbie L October 4, 2017 at 11:39 am #

      I wanted to read the rest of this article but the link you provided went to a different article:
      “Rod Dreher pulls the curtain all the way back with his excellent piece, Speaking Ill of Hugh Hefner.

      ….Conservatives should ask how their crusade for faith and family and community ended up so Hefnerian itself — with a conservative news network that seems to have been run on Playboy Mansion principles and a conservative party that just elected a playboy as our president.”
      The article it went too at least threw Bill Cosby and Bill Clinton into his comments about President Trump.

  2. Jeff October 4, 2017 at 12:30 pm #

    Isn’t Speaking Ill of Hefner by Ross Douthat (not Dreher)?

    • Jared Olivetti October 5, 2017 at 8:40 am #

      Jeff – thanks! Big mistake on my part. Glad you caught it. I made the necessary change.

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