Tag: Christianity Today

Hugh Hefner was a man who unabashedly dredged sexuality out of the private corners of life and into mainstream thought. One person I spoke to today noted, “He won; He remade us into a culture in which the libertarian approach is dominant.” I think there are a lot of others who could share the credit for this, but Hef’s impact is not a small one.

Though Hef didn’t invent hedonism, he has been one of its most famous recent proponents. Hedonism is a philosophy and way of life that is rather at odds with certain aspects of Christian faith, and this is not new–This has been the case since antiquity. But let’s be clear that Christianity also isn’t inherently ascetic. The sensual pleasures are properly seen by the faithful as a gift from God to be enjoyed, as a garden of delights (just go read the “Song of Solomon”, some of the raciest prose ever written, and it’s purely from the Bible). However, it is inside of a covenant relationship, a complete and full giving of two people to each other–not just bodies, but minds and hearts–that sexual pleasure is a garden. Those who pursue sensuality as an end in itself, often find that the fullness of the experience is diminished and twisted. The garden is instead a mire and bog, infested with dark and lonely things. The waiting rooms of psychologists and divorce attorneys are full of the human wreckage of unrestrained sexual appetites. Jail cells are full of perpetrators whose lusts reached into the bathroom windows of strangers, or even the underpants of school children.

Christian publications, such as Christianity Today point out the dark legacy of an explosion of addictive pornography left in the wake of Mr. Hefner’s revolution. They cite surveys such as Barna, which show the destructive impact of porn on Christian life:

…most pastors struggle with porn—57% of pastors and 64% of youth pastors. These numbers equal the national average of 64% of men who admit to viewing porn at least monthly, according to a survey done by Proven Men…And it’s impacting all of us. According to a 2011 Lifeway Research survey, when presented with the statement, “Pornography has adversely affected the lives of our church members,” 69 percent of pastors surveyed agree. And an additional 14 percent did not know or preferred not to answer.

Even some of those who would be his natural allies on the left, have been critical. A CNN article which praised Mr. Hefner for bringing sexuality into the open, and for hiring blacks when others wouldn’t, still faulted his objectification of women, treating them as second class citizens whose main role is to sexually satisfy men:

His legacy is full of evidence of the exploitation of women for professional gain. In creating Playboy, and maintaining its brand over six decades, Hef championed a world in which women serve to delight and entertain men, where their bodies are objects, where modification to appeal to male senses often took precedence over comfort (because who really wants DDDs?).

Russell Moore, of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, asserts that “Hugh Hefner Did Not Live The Good Life”:

We can’t, though, with his obituaries, call his life “success” or “a dream.” Hefner did not create, but marketed ingeniously the idea that a man’s life consists in the abundance of his possessions and of his orgasms. To women, he marketed frenetically the idea that a woman’s value consists in her sexual availability and attractiveness to men.

Only God knows the ultimate state of his soul, of course.

So marveled Egyptian TV host Amr Adeeb, in the aftermath of the Palm Sunday bombings of Christians by ISIS. The forgiveness expressed by a widow of one of the victims had taken his breath away:

Stunned, Adeeb stammered about Copts bearing atrocities over hundreds of years, but couldn’t escape the central scandal.
“How great is this forgiveness you have!” his voice cracked. “If it were my father, I could never say this. But this is their faith and religious conviction.”
Millions marveled with him across the airwaves of Egypt.

It has often been said of the ancient church that the blood of martyrs was the seed of the Church. The witness of the Coptic community, which has seen numerous attacks in the past few years, has made an impact, both on the Coptic church itself, and on the wider community.

Christianity Today quoted Christian psychiatrist and former member of parliament Ehab el-Kharrat as saying, “The Coptic community is definitely in defiance. The services of Holy Week have doubled in attendance, and the churches are flowing out into the streets.”

With regard to their muslim neighbors:
“The families of the martyrs are promoting a worldview that is 180 degrees contrary to that of the terrorists,” he said. “The great majority of Egyptians now carry deep respect for the Copts, who are viewed as patriotic people of faith.”



One of the more prominent scholars of the 20th century has just passed from the scene.  Marcus Borg was a liberal scholar famous (and infamous) for being part of the “Jesus seminar.”  Like many in Christianity’s left wing, he denied the Resurrection of Jesus and the idea of an afterlife.  (One of my ideas for the website I’m working on is to have a “rogues’ gallery” of personages who have done harm to the orthodox and traditional faith of the Christian Church, and Borg would be among the top candidates).

To his credit, he is reputed to have been a genial fellow:  “He patiently listened to all sides of the debates and knew the strengths of evangelicalism and historic orthodoxy, even if he pointed more often to weaknesses. Borg was the kind of progressive/liberal theologian who welcomed evangelicals to the table—as long as they would listen, as well” (From article linked below).  He was a friend of N. T. Wright, with whom he disagreed on many points.

For now, his soul is in the hands of God, and I wish peace to who were close to him.

For more on his legacy, check out this article from Christianity Today: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/january-web-only/died-marcus-borg-liberal-jesus-scholar-and-friendly-provoca.html?start=2