From Here to Eternity

Hugh Hefner has died at the age of 91. What he leaves as his legacy is making pornography more accessible to more people. He didn’t invent pornography, but by his efforts through media, such as print and video, adults and young people were exposed to images that are unrealistic and desires that are unhealthy to genuine relationships. The spread of sinful passions in our culture owes much to his effort, which fueled both his desires and his pocketbook.

The oddity of this is how he is portrayed as a hero to many, a revolutionary that made him an American icon, but not a positive icon. I am amazed at how many women offer praise to him, when his lifestyle and work did so much to objectify women, to make them things in the eyes of so many men. Such is the nature of sin. It is not rational or beneficial but rather illogical in that engaging in it simply leads to far worse sin, which enslaves one to the desires of the flesh, distorts one’s sense of reality, and then leaves one in despair. The Playboy lifestyle Mr. Hefner promoted and glamorized through himself and his media was not the experience the vast majority of men who subscribed to it found for themselves.

It is not surprising Hefner disavowed anything spiritual in his life to pursue a hedonistic lifestyle, but that was not always the case. He grew up with parents who had religious convictions, but, by his own admission, never showed him any real parental affection. The lack of genuine love may have factored into his foray with pornography. He was only successful in making it mainstream in our culture because of his redefining terminology to suit his needs. His magazine was labeled as “adult” entertainment for men, and the clubs his company created were known as “gentlemen’s clubs.” Everything was geared at anesthetizing it all and making perversity look normal and acceptable. Such is how sin works. Satan always makes it appealing, hiding what truly happens when one yields to it.

He said of himself, “I’m a pretty moral guy. Now, it’s morality as I perceive it. Morality is what is perceived as good for people. I try to do what’s right, to do what I believe to be truly humanistic and rational and loving” ( Notice how he made himself the ultimate standard of his philosophy and lifestyle, as well as being his own judge and jury. It would be more accurate to ask how many lives were destroyed by this? In his pursuit of the good life for himself, how many people were hurt and damaged along the way? These questions would have been irrelevant to him, as what pleased him was the ultimate criteria of life for him, not what impact it had on others. In the final analysis, he was deceived and hardened by sin (Heb. 3:13), used by Satan to deceive and harden others.

Hefner, who lived as if God didn’t exist, once said, “An afterlife would be a really good deal.” Such a statement was offered only if an afterlife conformed to his beliefs. Scripture reveals the reality of an afterlife conforms to will of God, one that those outside of his grace in Christ will not find pleasurable or amusing. This is the real lesson to learn from the life of Hugh Hefner. No matter what you choose in living life, there is a day of accounting coming to everyone. “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12). The standard of judgment will be the word of God (John 12:48). No matter how much one may deny it, or redefine it, God is the ultimate authority, our Creator and Sustainer, and through his Son everyone will be assigned to eternal life or eternal punishment (Acts 17:30-31). His truth stands; “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:7-8).

God takes no delight in the death of those who are outside his will (Ezek. 18:23, 32). He offers life in Christ, knowledge of how to live through his word, and the promise of eternal life. He also reveals to ignore all this is our choice, but with horrible consequences, now and eternally. No matter which sin one prefers, no matter the accolades one may receive today, it isn’t worth forfeiting eternity. What must we all learn? “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones” (Prov. 3:5-8).

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”

Robert Johnson