“Pornography is like a politician the week before an election, it will promise you the world and never deliver.”


I clearly remember the first time my young eyes focused on the glossy images in Playboy magazine. After all, it wasn’t hard to find. When I was growing up men kept it on their nightstands next to that day’s sports page. They read it for the articles of course. But once I saw that first nude image of the female body I was hooked. It is with great regret and many tears that I confess that I can’t remember a lot of things from my childhood, yet the images of those women have seared themselves into my mind. Whispering empty promises of satisfaction and fulfillment on the next page, or in the next issue – to put it in today’s vernacular with the next click of the mouse. Only to be left guilt-ridden and empty.

This plague of pornography reminds me of the foolish woman described in Proverbs 9:14-17 “She sits at the doorway of her house, on a seat by the high places of the city, calling to those who pass by, who are making their paths straight: “Whoever is naive, let him turn in here,” And to him who lacks understanding she says, “Stolen water is sweet; and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.” Yet in all our wisdom today, we still believe that stolen water is sweet, and satisfying the lust of our flesh in secret can be gratifying. This only leads to death. Which begs the question…


Upon arriving home late Wednesday evening I learned of the death of Hugh Hefner. The founder of Playboy magazine, who at the age of 27 published his first issue in December of 1953. On the first page of the first edition Hefner wrote, “We want to make it clear from the very start, we aren’t a family magazine.” The ultimate of understatements. What I could not wrap my mind around is why so many were celebrating the rotten fruit produced by this man’s life? By the time morning had dawned every want-a-be comedian on Twitter and Facebook jokingly asked, “How could Hefner go to heaven if he already lived there?” Although I regrettably know many believe that to be true. But really…what was his great contribution to the American landscape?

Now, to be fair I don’t want to saddle Hefner with inventing pornography or the publicizing of the nude female image. It is almost impossible to trace the roots of pornography back into history. Man drew nude images long before the first photo was snapped. However, there is no denying that he was one of the pioneers of the porn industry that helped blaze a trail for the acceptance, normalization, and saturation of pornography into the very fabric of society that we see today. Yet, he is still celebrated by people who should know better, and their hypocrisy is on display for the world to see. Where is the National Organization for Women to protest this man’s memory? The man who objectified women as mere sexual play things, and dressed them up in bunny ears and fishnets for the entertainment of sexually perverse and oppressive men. Where are the women who have and still would protest Christian men’s ministries like “Promise Keepers” for holding women back? No, instead he is celebrated as a man that helped bring about the sexual revolution but ask yourself honestly: “Are we better off as a society post-Hugh and Playboy?” NO, NO, and I will say it again – NO! The porn industry has exploded today, and although Mr. Hefner does not deserve all the credit, he certainly deserves a majority of the blame.


Today, Playboy magazine is nothing more than a dusty old forgotten antique on the back shelf of our nation’s history. With the invention of the internet came internet pornography, relegating pornographic publications like Hefner’s mag a thing of the past. Men and women no longer need to go into a public place (risking embarrassment) to purchase porn. No, now they can browse thousands upon thousands of virtual lovers for free from the comfort of their living rooms.

According to PornHub (one of the Web’s largest porn sites), American’s porn-watching sessions are, on average, the longest in the world. Worldwide PornHub had over 14 billion hits last year. That averages to 1.68 million visits per hour the entire year. Porn revenue is more than the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC ($6.2 billion). Around 70% of men aged 18–24 visit porn sites on a weekly basis. Hugh Hefner helped to normalize porn, he put it in millions of American homes. He was the driving engine that helped make porn mainstream. He glamorized it to the point of destroying our nation’s cultural, moral, and spiritual fabric.

It is nearly impossible to estimate the damage that he did. Especially to young men. Not that porn doesn’t negatively affect women who view it, but despite what our culture would have you believe, our minds are wired differently. As a father of six boys, I’m keenly aware of this fact. Men are distinctly visual creatures. My generation didn’t have the internet, but we all knew where dad kept his stash, and of course we would pass them around. The effects continue to echo through our culture and the results have been devastating. Boys grow up to believe that they are entitled to sex on demand. That marriage is too confining, promiscuity is liberating, and any potential “love interest” had to be hot. Mr. Hefner while living the “Playboy lifestyle” created a new cultural norm for the female image that has to be air-brushed, enhanced, sculpted, and waxed. In other words, the kind of woman that no woman could live up to.

Even though the reality of this woman does not exist it won’t keep many men from desiring and pursuing their desires through fantasy. How many families have been torn to pieces after a wife realizes her husband is addicted to porn? How many men live in shame because of their enslavement to this so called “secret sin?” The science is in. The studies and statistics are available for those brave enough to look. Pornography changes the brain. It is as addictive as cocaine and has many of the same chemical effects on the brain when it is consumed. It is an addictive, consuming, and escalating behavior that leaves you lonely and hurts your partner. Porn warps our thinking about sex, and perverts the sacredness of sex between a husband and wife. Most importantly, it is a sin that is a stench in the nostrils of a holy and righteous God (1 Corinthians 6:9).


In Job 31:1 we read “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” In 1 John chapter 2, we are warned of the dangers of “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes.” And of course who can forget the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:28 

“I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

How can you view pornographic images and not lust? The answer is simple – you can’t.


Tragic. The most tragic part of his legacy is it will still continue to be played out long after he is gone. Even though Mr. Hefner was once a revolutionary of the modern sexual revolution, at the end of his days he was clearly left behind. As a pioneer in the pornography industry, the horrifying effects of his invention must be laid at his feet. At the end of his life Mr. Hefner had already declared “victory” in the cultural war over sex and sexuality. So much so that two years ago he decided that nudity was so prevalent that nude models no longer needed to grace the covers of his magazine. Americans were now desensitized to his brand of porn.

Hef may have one the cultural battle, but he lost the war. Believe it or not he was raised by conservative Christian parents. His Methodist mother even prayed that God would one day use him as a missionary. But as a rebel is known to do he threw off the “repressive” biblical and sexual morality of his parents. He would become a missionary delivering his damaging message of sexual hedonism around the globe. I will not miss Hugh Hefner, and I certainly won’t celebrate his life. There are times that I still feel animosity towards him for the “innocence” he took from me at an early age. Nevertheless, my faith informs my thinking. I pray in the end that Mr. Hefner turned to Christ in repentance and faith. The God of the Bible that he both learned about as a boy and publicly rejected for all of his adult life. As far as I know.


As a pastor I believe that I should provide help when I can. If you struggle with sexual sin, especially in the area of pornography, let me suggest a great resource. A book called “Wired For Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain” written by William Struthers. This book is not for the faint of heart, but it will help you to understand how pornography works, and why the male mind is particularly susceptible to visual pornography. Although the book primarily focuses of the effects of pornography on the male mind it does not limit the book to only male readers. It is a great resource for women who want to better understand their husbands, or moms that have sons. The need for a book like this reinforces the fact we live in a fallen world. Until next time, think biblically.