By Jack Wilkie
Hugh Hefner, America’s king of pornography, died Wednesday, leading to countless online articles praising his “accomplishments” as he left the world behind at 91 years of age. While many are celebrating his life, the truth is that he was one of the most destructive figures of the 20th century.
His Playboy magazine was the introduction to a life of addiction for likely millions of people. I’ve heard quite a few men tell their story of entering into a long battle with pornography with one glimpse of one of Hefner’s magazines at a young age. While the world looks on those stories as positive memories and chalk it up to “boys being boys,” both the Bible and science tell us that the habits Hefner helped people form are incredibly destructive. They destroy trust and intimacy in marriages. They destroy honesty with God and fellow Christians. They destroy a healthy appreciation for what sex was intended to be. They destroy the brain as they wreck its dopamine reward system and cause people to seek increasingly depraved material. That’s why Jesus instructed us to go to whatever measure necessary to overcome lust (Matthew 5:29-30). It’s that big of a problem when it gets a hold on our lives.
Beyond just the magazine he produced, Hefner was also known for the lifestyle he led, surrounded by countless models in a California mansion. Many viewed him as “the luckiest man in the world” for living such a hedonistic life. His sexual freedom has been held up as a man’s highest hope in life for decades. And yet it was so hopelessly shallow.
Though Hefner embodied everything the world sees as a good time, inside his life was devoid of any meaning, true connection, or love. Solomon, the wisest man on earth in his day, pointed out in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon what a blessing it is for a man to treasure the wife of his youth. Love comes from commitment, self-sacrifice, and service, not endless sex. Studies have borne out the fact that relationships are better when sex is put off. God was right, and man continues to be wrong. Who would have guessed?
Hugh Hefner is not a man whose life should be celebrated. Instead, we must be diligent to rescue those who have fallen into the trap of evil that he set all those decades ago and that is carried on by countless websites today. I encourage you to check out Overcome, a ministry that two of my friends began to help Christians fight pornography addiction, along with sites like Fight the New Drug and tools like Covenant Eyes. I encourage elders, preachers, youth ministers, and especially parents to be educated on the issue of pornography and to confront it firmly and lovingly.
Hefner doubtlessly made plenty of money in his life off of people who spend every Sunday in a church building. Let’s refuse to let that industry continue to claim our people and be constant in proclaiming the truth about pornography in our pulpits and equipping our members to win this fight.
Image credit: By Toglenn – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8487491