Yesterday, when I awoke, the headline read, “Hefner, Playboy founder, dead at 91.” I naively thought, that just maybe, he certainly would not be honored in death, but when one is referred to as a “revolutionary,” an “activist” and his so called accomplishments were outlined, Hefner appeared to have went out in celebrity fashion. After Jimmy Kimmel paid tribute to Hefner in his normal lighthearted fashion, some felt he was “disrespectful” and “not cool.” Kimmel apparently sent a news crew to Hefner’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and added to the insults. Kimmel, according to the Huffington Post article, joked that Hefner was perhaps the only person disappointed with heaven. There was even media buzz about Hefner’s “legacy.”
I don’t want to sound so sanctimonious as if I never, back in the day, viewed some of his publications, but I was taken back as to how he was in the minds of some deserving a of star and deemed as a leader of free speech and a sexual revolution. In case you are as naive as I, there really is a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame where people were pictured paying their respect and placing flowers beside his star after news of his death.
Yesterdays Fox News article recalled an interview by the New York Times in 1992 asking what he was most proud of in his life. Hefner responded: “That I changed attitudes toward sex. That nice people can live together now. That I decontaminated the notion of premarital sex. That gives me great satisfaction.” The report also recalled Hefner’s strict Methodist upbringing and how he told Associated Press in 2011, “Part of the reason that I am who I am is my Puritan roots run deep. My folks are Puritan. My folks are prohibitionists. There was no drinking in my home. No discussion of sex. And I think I saw the hurtful and hypocritical side of that from very early on.” The Fox News article also recalled Hefner as the country’s mood became more hedonistic, once said, “If you had to sum up the idea of Playboy, it is anti-Puritanism … not just in regard to sex but the whole range of play and pleasure.”
I have to admit that what stung me the most at the moment I read the headline, was not so much the luxurious lifestyle he secured off peddling his pornography, but that he died at 91 of natural causes. The only other health issue recorded was a minor stroke back in 1985. How many faithful servants of the Most High God left this old earth without so much as honorable mention and in some cases, having been the victims of sickness, tragic accidents, and in even homicides, preventing them from living the full number of their days? Then God helped me to get my focus where it should be. I then recalled a keyword from the article, hedonistic which means to engaged in the pursuit of pleasure, sensually self-indulgent. This led me to another passage I have been trying to grasp for some time:
“But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit” (Jude 1:17-19).
One translation reads, “remember, beloved, the prediction of the apostles.” In other words, this is what will happen before Jesus returns. First, there will be mockers in the last days who follow “their own ungodly lusts.” I would say that those who took part in Hefner’s sexual revolution, for those whom he “decontaminated the notion of premarital sex” would qualify. Now, you really don’t have to look hard to find scoffers at the promises of God these days, but what about those who say nothing out loud but scoff with their rebellious actions at the commandments of God? Wouldn’t these qualify too? You may say that being hedonistic is taking it too far, but to be so simply means to be engaged in the pursuit of pleasure, sensually self-indulgent. My friend doing what our flesh tells us to is a guaranteed formula for destruction.
Secondly, the last days prediction says these mockers will be those who separate themselves or cause divisions, sensual or worldly people. Again, you won’t be hard pressed to find them these days. And then the clincher, “having not the Spirit.” That’s heavy! Now at this point, I have to drop the analysis of Hefner’s ungodly message of pleasure and look within the walls of the church. Jude earlier in the passage told of people already living among them, “hidden reefs at your love feasts” (Jude 1:12). Furthermore, Hefner probably never claimed to have the Spirit since he lived his life in total rebellion of his Puritan roots. But are there those among us today, yea even in the pulpit, that are “sensual, having not the Spirit?” You will have to search the headlines for yourself and draw your own conclusions as to the current state of the churches in America, but there is one conclusion that we must draw here: If we follow our own ungodly passions, desires of our flesh, we will be “devoid” or “having not the Spirit.”
At least maybe Hugh Hefner in his passing will cause us all to examine the gospel message that is so often re-thought, re-packaged, and even sometimes re-worded to make it more palatable for the masses these days. Do we have the faith that was “once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3) or do we have one devoid of the Spirit? In the first few verses of Romans 8, I think it becomes very clear that something is amiss with comfy, palatable gospel message of today. For therein we find that to be “carnally minded is death, but to be spiritual minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6). Why? “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God.”It is not subject to God and never could be (Rom. 8:7). Furthermore, it is not possible to please God while in the flesh. Recalling the words of Jude, this should be alarming. If you don’t “have” the Spirit of Christ, you don’t even belong to him (Rom. 8:8-9). This verse to me best sums up the message delivered unto the saints by the apostles:
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify (kill) the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom. 8:13).
In other words, if we claim to “have” the Spirit and are not progressively taking the sword of the Spirit to the deeds of our flesh, then something is wrong. Now, it should be obvious to even the carnal Christian that Hugh did not make it into heaven to be disappointed as Kimmel jokingly said. That is of courses something missed the headlines such an account that he repented and accepted Christ as his Saviour. But if that were the case, he would not be disappointed at the lack of nude women in heaven, for even Hugh would have a new Christlike heart. Even though I had a moment when I read of this purveyor of such a deceptive sensual lifestyle, I really don’t want to see anyone burn in hell. But my concern here is more for the believer. If we have somehow stopped crucifying the flesh and started making provisions for it, if we are pursuing sensual pleasures instead of God’s will for our lives, then we have fallen prey to the false gospel that the apostles predicted would be so prevalent in these last days.