Since the recent death of Hugh Hefner, I’ve read a lot of articles about his legacy, the immorality in his life, and what kind of person he really was. The Christian and secular blogging worlds are abuzz immortalizing the man for his legacy, no matter whether they perceive it as good or bad.
I’ve seen people mourning, I’ve seen people intentionally abstaining from mourning, and I have seen people speculating about Mr. Hefner’s eternal fate. In the comments of one article, people were discussing whether or not he is in heaven after everything he did to further sexual immorality in our society.
What I’ve seen and read has left me with several thoughts that, at the prompting of my husband, I am electing to share.
My first reaction was a small, quiet part of me that drew me to think of the power of God’s love in all of this.
While people are busy pointing out how powerful the actions of this man were, I can only think that in truth, the “power” Hefner had is just a grain of sand in a moment in time compared to the power of the love of God. Despite all that Hefner did in his life and all the people who were led astray by his work, Jesus’ sacrifice and love would have (and maybe did) save him and forgive all of his horrible deeds.
Not only that, but His love has the power to save every man and woman who strayed from the fold on account of Hefner as well. It is just mind-blowing to me. What is also mind-blowing to me is how offensive those thoughts seem to be to many. It seems that many only want the Gospel to apply to them, not people who are “really bad.”
To a degree, I get that. Normally I would be stewing over such an awful man as well, especially because the pornography industry hurts and scares me so much as a concept. I had a friend who was in the adult entertainment industry at one point and the stories she told were heart-wrenching. But I recognize that there is a toxicity in this way of thinking that can easily trap us in self-righteousness and a desire to carry out revenge or justice that isn’t ours to handle. We want to control the outcome of other people’s afterlife, but it isn’t our place to do so, and in the process, we often condemn ourselves unknowingly.
I have seen some people being angry at the possibility of Hefner being able to go to heaven if he repented at the last minute. They say he didn’t deserve to have the option to be saved because of all the pain he caused others. This led me to think of the story in the bible of the servants getting the same wage paid to them for working when each started at different hours in the day.
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” – Matthew 20:1-16 NIV
None of us deserve to be saved, so why do we have the audacity to try to tell God how he should govern us and who he should save? He saw Hefner’s heart and judged it appropriately, we can be sure of that. If we were alive in David’s time, I am sure many would be lobbying for him to go to hell as well. However, he is a perfect example of the fact that God’s love can redeem anyone, even an adulterous murderer.
Instead if focusing so heavily on the depravity of one fallen man who has already been judged, maybe we should focus on our own sin and let the Law convict us so that the Gospel can lead us closer to Him. We cannot change whether or not Mr. Hefner was saved or not, but we can decide whether or not we will be recalcitrant ourselves on the day of judgment. Instead of giving ourselves over to anger, let’s be in awe of God’s love. How amazing is it that God’s love is so powerful that it covers someone who spent his whole life dedicated to promoting sexual immorality? Such is the strength and might of our Lord.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.