Goaded into consciousness this morning by the factual droning of the NPR announcer, I awakened to the words “…the founder of Playboy magazine, dead this morning at age ninety-one from natural causes.” Slapping the snooze button into once-again silence, my foggy mind slowly realized that Hugh Hefner has died and gone to his reward, which I think he is finding right now to be most unpleasant. God is not mocked, and this man did great evil in attacking the moral basis of our country and in helping to create the destruction which followed for the next six decades.
I imagine many who hold similar religious and moral views will state that Hefner was responsible for the current state of moral degeneracy into which our country and the world has devolved, but I think that in one sense that is giving him too much. Hefner simply lit a match in a room filled with the combustible vapors of smoldering sexuality, in the same manner that Martin Luther lit the fuse of latent resentment against Roman Catholic corruption and rampant abuse of the Christian faith. The resulting explosion, aided by other men such as Larry Flynt of the insanely depraved HUSTLER magazine, has left moral devastation which is continues to harm lives some 60 years after Hefner began his one-man crusade to throw off the last restraints of Christian sexual morality. Along the way his philosophy and his magazine have left a trail of death and destruction.
To some who might read this piece, such wording appears to be over the top religious hyperbole. No doubt there are many who, upon hearing such a diatribe against Hefner and his hedonist philosophy, will write off anyone espousing it as a crank or religious nutcase. I, however, speak as one who has experienced this devastation first-hand. This is a painful piece for me to write inasmuch as no one likes their private vices and sins trotted out for public examination, and yet here I am doing it of my own accord. And I am only one of a growing number of people who are speaking out against their personal harm done by the so-called freedom of the “Sexual Revolution” which Hefner’s smutty little publication kicked off in the 1960’s.
We were told that casting off the shackles of religious sexual oppression would free us. Now websites such as The Ruth Institute exist to share with the world sad stories of how unleashing sexual passion has destroyed lives. Walt Heyer is a former transgender with a passion to help others who regret gender change. Walt travels extensively to share his story of redemption at conferences, churches and universities. Walt has appeared on numerous radio and television shows in the U.S. and Canada. Walt’s articles have been published online and his many books are a welcome resource in understanding the issue. He is another human being profoundly hurt by believing the lies given to him by the sexual freedom crowd.
How has this affected me personally?
I was sexualized at a very early age. A psychologist and Christian counselor with whom I had several sessions told me that based on my psychological construct, I may have been sexually abused. By eight years old (that’s right-eight!) I was experimenting with both boys and girls who would allow me into the private areas of their bodies, as well as indulging in daily masturbation. This is not normal. This is a young boy who needed serious help to curb his passions and take control of his body. Instead, when I hit my teens, I discovered Playboy magazine. If the Bible is the book to help us control our spiritual and moral selves and regain the dignity of human beings created in the image of God, Playboy magazine was a road map into degeneracy and bestial behavior. If the Church is the place to go to find true freedom, the Playboy Mansion was the Mecca to which all young men dreamed of one day visiting. The airbrushed pictures in Playboy fueled my my sessions of self-pleasure, and the articles which I read, assured me that I was a perfectly normal male who should feel no guilt over indulging my lust. I was convinced that my nominal religious upbringing and the shreds of morality attached to it were keeping me from the happiness of multiple sexual partners and experiences. Playboy magazine promised a paradise on earth. For me and millions of others, it delivered hell.
By my early twenties, I had been the recipient of gonorrhea eight times. The last time, the doctor looked me dead in the eyes and said in a stern voice, “You may think this is a joke, young man, but let me tell you what is going to happen to you if you keep this up.” He then proceeded to tell me that whenever a man catches this disease, his urethra becomes inflamed and raw. As it heals, the walls can heal shut with scar tissue, closing off the channel for the removal of urine.
“If that happens, I will have to run a glass rod up your penis to open it up, and I assure you that you will not like that at all.” His voice carried a stern as possible warning as he could without taking me by the shoulders and screaming in my face, “Wake up, you damn fool!!” I didn’t care. I went right back to looking for more sexual adventures.
And then there was Robin. Robin Davis was the love of my life, a beautiful young girl who loved me in a manner in which I had never been loved before. I have spent fifty years thinking – wondering what my life would have been like married to her and regretting the loss of her companionship. If I had done things in a proper manner, I would have asked her to marry me and sex would have been for our honeymoon night. Instead, I stole her virginity from her, messed up our relationship, and ultimately destroyed the love between us. All because Playboy magazine and the increasingly promiscuous culture it was developing told me that it was okay to have sex before marriage. And mine is just one of a multitude of sad stories in the same genre and with the same ending.
Along the way to my marriage to my first wife, who passed away in 2006, I developed a serious addiction to pornography. This addiction continued, even after I was married and had a woman whose sexual appetite was equal to mine. A sex addict cannot get enough stimulation, yet it is not the sex itself he is looking for. It took me many years and much counseling to realize that what I was looking for was not the sexual act. Psychologists will tell you that any addiction is an attempt to self-medicate away the pain in their lives. People deprived of love, who are given no real sense of meaning and importance in their lives, who have done things for which they are profoundly guilty, are prime candidates for addiction to some substance to relieve those feelings. Sex is just one of many choices, and Hefner’s magazine fueled that for many of us.
What are the “gifts” that Playboy magazine has left this world? STD rates are skyrocketing, burdening the healthcare industry, and creating problems of sterility and severe health problems for people. Yet in the article I linked, instead of blaming promiscuity and the pornographic mindset of the American culture, created by Playboy magazine, the write blames budget cuts. This is the typically dishonest response of the political Left to our sexual problems.
Other societal ills include divorce, abandonment of families by men and women seeking new sexual partners and new thrills, and the utter destruction of the black community. During Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, the single-family rate in the black community was under 20%. Today, it is over 70%. Numerous sociological publications such as NCJRS and Marripedia have shown the link between fatherless “families” and crime. With a single-parent rate of over 70% in the black communities, it is no wonder that crime and poverty are rampant in the inner city black communities. We have witnessed generations of young black men growing up who are angry inside that they were not important enough for their father to stick around. A child who grows up feeling abandoned and unimportant will grow up to be an angry man who will take out that anger in acts of violence, or an emotionally deprived woman who will seek fulfillment in promiscuous sex. No one has cared about them, why should they care about others? Their lives become a seeking for fulfillment of an emotional need, regardless of the cost to the neighborhood, the culture, or the world. Yet our politicians and media culture will not take this information to heart or act upon it.
And then there is abortion. Playboy magazine has led the charge in the promotion of “sex without consequence.” Yeah, well that’s all fine and dandy for the man, but it is the woman who gets to wake up finding out that she is in the middle of a life-changing event that she didn’t bargain on when she let the man have what he wanted. Playboy magazine, aided by the feminist movement, has done a legendary work in making women believe that they also deserve sexual pleasure without consequence. Pregnant? It’s not a baby. Just get an abortion. A few dollars, a little time in a “clinic, ” and the problem will soon be over. What they refuse to admit to is the growing number of women who are coming forward to talk about the painful and crippling guilt they have endured over killing their baby.
Finally, (and there is much more I could say) pornography has the strange ability to settle into a man’s memory and not go away. I am at a point in my life where I don’t wish to think of pornography, yet I find myself often having sudden and uninvited memories of a particular video I watched over thirty years ago. The embedding of the pornographic mindset in the mind makes women into objects rather than persons. After years of watching naked women copulate on film, the mind turns every woman into a porn star. The result of this (and I can only speak for myself, but I imagine that this is quietly more widespread than reported) is that whenever I see a woman, my eyes go to two places on her body almost immediately – her breasts and her crotch. This is a horror to me, but it is a deeply embedded behavior from years of treating women as nothing more than a piece of meat for my enjoyment, either in bed or on film. I fight this constantly with prayer and repentance, but it is as if a groove is cut into my thought patterns which I cannot fill up and be done with. And I am deeply ashamed to admit this.
Pornography not only hurts the viewer, it is devastating to the lives of those who make the films. This is not a victimless crime, as we were assured in the pages of Playboy. Pornography distorts emotions so that porno addicts cannot develop truly intimate personal relationships.
So one icon of free-wheeling sex-without-responsibility is gone. In his place now are thousand and thousands of his disciples who are carrying on his deadly work. Sex has been elevated to the status of godhood, a position which it was never meant to carry. What I needed was a society which would help me understand what had happened to me (if I had been abused), why I felt the way I did, and most of all, that it is possible with the help of others, to control my passions. As Dr. Jennifer Morse says in her website, we need to let people know that they won’t die if they don’t have sex. I needed a voice to tell me that the sexual act is a special act reserved for marriage to that one person with whom you wish to spend the rest of your life. Promiscuity destroys the special quality of that night. Promiscuity takes the nuptial evening and turns it into just (yawn) another sexual adventure. It becomes instead just one more in a line of sexual acts with no particular meaning. The voices promoting sexual “freedom” in the 1960’s were deafening – the Church was almost silent. Or at least, if She was talking, it was so quietly that I didn’t hear what She was saying.
God made the sexual act in such a way that it bonds a man and woman together. Recent studies have found that during the sexual act, a woman’s body releases a powerful hormone which creates a bonding effect to the man with whom she is having sex. Every moral and psychological implication of the sexual act shows that it is supposed to be something special, reserved for that one with whom you are bonding in marriage. Thanks for Playboy magazine, it has become sport, and our society is suffering the consequences. Yet no one except Christian people will admit to this, and shamefully, many who call themselves Christians are on the side of extramarital experimentation, closing their eyes to all the sociological and moral devastation which such immorality brings with it.
I have been celibate for six years now. My second wife is unable to have sex due to a painful physical condition which prevents intercourse. I have found, both after my first wife died, and after this discovery, that I can live without the media-promoted idea that it is necessary to have sex as often as I can. The reason is that in finding the love of God in my heart, I have found the paradise I was looking for. Sex promised to give me meaning. Being loved by God has given me that meaning. Playboy magazine and and all the various activities which it promoted caused my life to spin out of control. In Christ, my life is in control. Looking for sex all the time made me a boorish person around women, always trying to get them into the bedroom. In Christ, I have found that truly loving people means to serve them, not to take advantage of their bodies. In promiscuity I found loneliness, sorrow, and destruction. In Christ I have peace, the joy I was falsely told by Playboy that random sex would give me.
I wonder if we will ever recover as a society from the damage done by Playboy magazine, the pornography it gave rise to, and all those in the media and government who stand on the side of unrestrained hedonism? The genie is out of the bottle, the disciples of pleasure are in all the media outlets and even in the Christian religion, still telling our world that any sexual expression you wish to follow is okay, even after decades of societal and moral decay. Sex is used to sell everything from hamburgers to cars. Buy this, and the sly innuendo in the advertising infers that you will get laid. Viagra and Cialis advertising offers you pleasure on the spot. God forbid that a person might actually admit that his sexual life is over, or that he can enjoy life without sex. No, take the blue pill and be happy! God forbid that you should ever have to stop. I read somewhere online that Hefner, in his waning years, lived on these little blue pills. What a sad commentary on his life and what he put value in.
The worst part is to see religious leaders joining the Playboy bandwagon, normalizing activities such as homosexuality, transgenderism, and gay “marriage,” rather than offering to the world the love of Christ which can bring people out of bondage and into morally balanced lives of the normal sexuality as God intended. Those who do stand for the God-ordained union of one man and one woman for one lifetime are roundly condemned as “bigoted” and “homophobic” haters. But is it really hatred to offer people a way out of their chains, a freedom from their slavery? With all my heart I wish someone had come alongside me when I was destroying my life, my health, and my relationships, and offered me the way to the joy I was wrongly seeking in the pages of Playboy magazine.
We are seeing a slow turning away from such behavior as more and more young people are heeding the warnings being put out by people like myself, but it is an uphill battle. I do not expect that there will ever be a complete end to immoral behavior, but this is a battle worth the fight. If I can tell my story to one young person and help them avoid the pain and sorrow I inflicted upon myself, then it is worth it.
Postscript: I was all ready to publish this latest writing effort when I heard something on the radio which made me quite angry. It was a conservative radio talk-show host, talking about Hugh Hefner and making statements applauding the fact that Hefner “stood for our First Amendment free speech rights.” He also, at the end of his monologue on Hefner, said “Yes, he was quite a man” and “he lived a real interesting life.”
Such inane blather is one thing, and to be expected of the anti-family, anti-religion liberals in our country, but for such to come from a member of political conservatism, which labels itself as “family friendly,” is beyond my understanding. How anyone of a conservative mindset can look upon the utter wreckage of the American family, which has resulted from the last sixty years of unfettered pornographic expression in America, and say that Hugh Hefner was anything other than a deeply evil man, is beyond me! And to defend pornography on the basis of some imagined “Constitutional Right,” is offensive to those of us who realize that words are capable of either great blessing or great destruction. The shame of our country is the politicians and lawyers who, when confronted with Playboy magazine in the sixties, did not have the moral fortitude to shut it down and throw Hefner in prison to think about his life choices. The reality is that they probably were hiding copies under the sheets of their own bedrooms.
There is no constitutional right to do or say that which harms others. To treat women as objects, to promote that which destroys lives, to come to the defense of the sexually immoral, to destroy a country by destroying the families therein – this is not a right. Mr. Hefner made his choice, and in doing so, has done irreparable harm to millions. As a Christian, I must forgive you, Mr. Hefner, for leading me astray. May God have mercy on your soul.