On the Passing of Hugh Hefner

Earlier this week, Hugh Hefner passed away. Depending on where people stand, there were mixed reactions to his passing, with evaluations of the effects, either negative or positive, that his life had on others. I did not respond immediately, but have let my thoughts deepen a bit before writing them down. So here is where I’m at on this man’s legacy.

Frankly, Hugh Hefner did a lot of damage. Ironically, he damaged an entire generation’s view of nudity and sexuality. Instead of making it healthier, as he claimed he was trying to do, he made it worse. He did this primarily by divorcing sexuality and the human body from their primary function, which was to glorify God. From the start, and for many years afterwards, Hefner’s magazine would show the female breast as something sexual. In doing so, he contributed to the sexualization of breasts to the point now that exposed breasts equal sex or pornography. Rather than God providing them for the feeding of infants, they became objects of lust. This resulted in the backlash wherein women cover their poor babies with blankets while nursing and are ashamed to nurse in public.

In fact, Hefner made a fortune sexualizing the body and creating a pornographic view of the naked body. Instead of being the natural state in which we were created, he trained an entire society to equate nudity with sexuality and led us to objectify women. This is done through both pornography and prudery. Both treat the body as obscene and lewd, when our Creator has called them “very good” and has not changed His mind. Hefner was quoted as saying that religion is a myth, so his publications sought to take the very pinnacle of creation, which according to Romans is here to testify to a Creator, and secularized it into an object for nothing but fulfilling physical needs.

As a result, people generally fell into pornography or prudery, which are both errors. The corrupt fruit of his media empire is evident for all to see. The billion dollar sex industry, rife with human trafficking is a stain on civilization and enslaves countless millions. The so-called purity culture, which ties a girl’s value to her ability to abstain and to keep from causing helpless men to stumble is the other end of the pendulum. It also objectifies women and leads to damaged young women and a rape culture that blames her “making the man stumble” because, after all, it’s not his fault. Both of these ugly twin sisters continue unabated in damaging lives and in robbing others of the witness of creation to its Creator.

God does not rejoice in the death of the wicked, and neither should we. What Hugh Hefner set in motion has moved far beyond its need of him and rolls on leaving destruction in its wake. Victims like those who are trapped in sex trafficking or like Elizabeth Smart whose purity training kept her from trying to escape her captors because she was now undesirable will litter the pathway. I fear for what Hef will encounter when he stands before a just and holy God. Meanwhile, we will continue to salvage hearts and lives that have been damaged as a result with the Good News of life, restoration, and healing from sin in Christ.