In 1953 Hugh Hefner published the first issue of a magazine that would become an American icon. The magazine became symbolic of a nation in pursuit of pleasure, the objectification of women, and moving beyond biblical morality. Hefner framed his views with a long-running series of articles that attempted to show the tyranny of biblical morality and historic Christian theologians like John Calvin. He wanted to see the Bible thrashed and tossed aside. Hefner’s “philosophical” views were a thin veneer that covered his own fantasy that women served no higher end than to fulfill his perverted desire. Hefner died this past Wednesday, but his dream lives on.
This dream has shaped the way our culture views women and God for the last 60 years. The idea that sexual activity should be between a married man and woman was an accepted cultural norm in the 1950’s. Even though many lived in contrast to this norm it was still the basis of American law and accepted social practice. What Hefner promoted has become reality. It is now unconstitutional to teach that sexual activity is designed by God for marriage. Women are viewed and valued for their sexual appeal more than they are for their moral character. Hefner’s dream has influenced everything from fashion design to Barbie dolls to “Christian” marriage manuals. Culturally, women and sex have been wedded for better or worse.
The Holy Spirit calls women to modesty in dress and godliness in character. Try offering that combination to self-conscious teenagers and to women who believe they have to have that certain appeal in order to be accepted in the workplace and in the bedroom. Such advice today is open for ridicule and disdain rather than words to be valued and embraced.
Hefner’s dream was, at its base, for pornography to become the cultural norm. His dream has been realized. Marriages are crushed, men are enslaved and women are degraded.
God’s purpose for men and women is to live together in deep, satisfying, affirming relationships of brothers and sisters, and husbands and wives that are united around the wholeness that comes from the unity of commitment to Jesus Christ. Such fulfillment is still possible if Christ and his word become the driving force in each of our lives. Women are not objects to be manipulated, but are fellow, unique image bearers of the living God to be valued, honored and protected.
In the wake of Hefner’s dream of sexual freedom, divorce has become common place, abuse a national epidemic, insecurity, anxiety and depression have become “normal”, anti-depression and anxiety medications have become a multi-billion dollar industry, purity has become a social disease, women have been objectified and men have become slaves to pornography. Hefner’s dream has become a nightmare!
Praise be to God that he is able and willing to rescue us from this nightmare of darkness and bring us, women and men, into the blessed Kingdom of his Son!