Hugh Hefner: the rot goes deep

Given the revelations about Harvey Weinstein, our latest article in the Free Press from a couple of weeks ago seems even more relevant

There’s a joke about a funeral where the preacher got a little carried away, speaking at length about the admirable traits of the deceased. So glowing was the praise that the widow asked someone to open up the coffin…to make sure the person inside was the man she had known for all those years!

That joke came to mind over the last few days as various news outlets tied themselves in knots over the death of Hugh Hefner. Somewhat bizarrely, in death he has been cast as an aspirational figure, a likeable rogue who lived the dream while challenging the prudish restraints of a less enlightened era. The problem is that this version of Hefner’s story has about as much credibility as those who claim to ‘read Playboy for the articles’.

Let’s be clear: Hugh Hefner was a pornographer who made himself rich off the exploitation of women. He did not strike a blow for women’s liberation. His magazines, his clubs and his squalid mansion simply reinforced a lie that has been prevalent for millennia - that women exist for the gratification of men. Every cover girl who passed through his human zoo was judged on only one thing; their inherent worth as people was deemed irrelevant.

Hefner may have operated within the bounds of legality, yet his business was the selling of young women’s bodies. He had more in common with pimps and people-traffickers than with revolutionaries who have changed the world for the better.

And now that he’s gone, we need to look at ourselves. In every way that mattered, Hefner and the values he championed have made our culture shallower, coarser and crueller. The fact that his life is being celebrated raises real questions about what we value. In death, even more than in life, Hefner has demonstrated how blinded our culture has become to the destruction caused when sex is taken out of its wonderful, God-given place. That only a few are willing to come out and say that the man was obviously wicked is a reminder that the rot he spread goes deeper than we might like to admit.

We can’t point the finger. We have all misused God’s good gifts. We have all used other people to some extent. The values that Hefner packaged and sold are there inside all of us. Only in Jesus is there hope that we can be made clean.

Published in Stranraer and Wigtownshire Free Press, 29th June 2017
Inspired by a similar article by Jonny McCollum (Milford RPC)