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A Tale of Two Playboys: The Divergent Paths of Hugh Hefner and Augustine of Hippo

This is a story of two playboys, their lives distant by about 1,500 years: Hugh Hefner and Augustine of Hippo. It is also a story of two philosophers, and how their philosophies changed their lives, for better and for worse.

Hugh Marston Hefner, who died on Sep 27 at the age of 91, was innate in Chicago. His relatives were from Nebraska; his father was an accountant, his mom a teacher. Hefner “was the emotionally needy byproduct of Grace, a righteous Methodist mom who never hugged him.”

“I was a very idealistic, very romantic child in a very typically Midwestern Methodist restricted home,” Hefner pronounced later. “There was no show of adore of any kind, and we transient to dreams and fantasies produced, by and large, by the music and the cinema of the ’30s.”

Augustine, who lived in North Africa and the Mediterranean during the decrease of the Roman Empire, was innate to his father, Patricius, a non-believer (until a deathbed conversion), and to Monica, his mother, a righteous Christian. Augustine was lifted nominally Christian, nonetheless Monica’s determined teaching didn’t take. Once, when the child was seriously ill, he asked to be baptized. But on his recovery, Augustine put off the eucharist for later.

A earnest scholar, the youth Augustine, in his own words, was “floundering in the broiling sea of . . . fornication.” He after certified that “the frenzy gripped me and we surrendered myself wholly to lust.”


Monica and Patricius sent their son off to Carthage to study. Yet he was anything but isolated in the decadent city. Augustine indulged himself frequently. Eventually, he chose a mistress, with whom he remained for a decade as he became a remarkable teacher and speaker. She gimlet him a son, named Adeodatus. Eventually, at the propelling of Monica, he would dump this mistress, only to take another, since “I suspicion we should be too miserable unless folded in womanlike arms.”

Hefner’s childish rebellion against his parents, and what he after called his “hurtful and hypocritical” upbringing, also incited to things sexual. In college, Hefner praised the now-debunked investigate of Alfred Kinsey that was published as “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.” Hefner got his veteran start at “Esquire” as an promotion copywriter, but he dreamed of starting a magazine, called “Stag Party,” that catered to both his unleashed passionate desires and his avarice. In a handbill to investors, Hefner stated, “Sex is surefire.”

Indeed. The repository got its investors, and readers and advertisers, in droves. The repository that finished up being called “Playboy” popularized pornography, bringing it out of the shadows and into the parlors of America.

Hefner’s talent was to unhitch sex from matrimony and children and couple it to “sophistication” and “the good life.” As the repository settled in its initial issue in 1953, “We enjoy blending up cocktails and an hors d’oeuvre or two, putting a little mood music on the phonograph and mouth-watering in a womanlike familiarity for a still contention on Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex.”

After Hefner became one of the architects of the Sexual Revolution, he went by 3 marriages and 5 other “partners,” some of them concurrently. Hefner’s law could be summed up in this matter he gave to the “Los Angeles Times” in 1992:

“Much of my life has been like an youth dream of an adult life. If you were still a boy, in almost a Peter Pan kind of way, and could have just the ideal life that you wanted to have, that’s the life we invented for myself.”

Augustine’s philosophy, however, would change. After apropos highbrow of tongue for the city of Milan, he started going to the cathedral to hear the absolute priesthood of Ambrose, the bishop. The shining law of Christ captivated Augustine, but still he held back. “Give me chastity,” the rhetorician prayed, “. . . but not yet.” The seducer would not give in but a fight, but something deeper than carnal pleasure was calling.

One day while wrestling with these matters, Augustine was alone in his garden. He listened a child’s sing-song voice circuitously observant over and over, “Take up and read.” He had been study some of Paul’s epistles, and so he review the first thing he saw. It was from the Book of Romans:

Let us walk scrupulously as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in passionate filth and sensuality, not in disagreeing and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no sustenance for the flesh, to conciliate its desires.

Suddenly the dam burst, not in licentiousness, but in liberty. “No serve would we read,” he after said, “nor indispensable I: for instantly at the finish of this sentence, by a light as it were of assent infused into my heart, all the dim of doubt vanished away.”

Eventually, Augustine became a priest, and then bishop of the city of Hippo. His writings, including his “Confessions,” supposing wish even as the Roman Empire tottered, and they helped set the march of the church for the next thousand years. Augustine, nonetheless he never utterly done assent with God’s present of married passionate fulfillment, but helped those who followed to see that only God, not this world, can perform the deepest desires.

“Thou hast done us for thyself, O Lord,” he wrote, “and the heart is nervous until it finds its rest in thee.”

And Hefner? He was commencement to knowledge the awful law about impiety enunciated by Screwtape: “An ever augmenting longing for an ever abating pleasure is the formula.” In 2001, a former Playmate told “Philadelphia” repository of the miserable array of plunge into which the old man had fallen”

The heterosexual idol . . . had difficulty anticipating compensation by intercourse; instead, he favourite the girls to pleasure any other while he masturbated and watched happy porn.

How did Hugh Hefner penetrate so low, while Augustine of Hippo soared so high? They were both sinners. Augustine competence contend that, by God’s grace, one’s adore must be rightly ordered, so that the many lovely things are desired the most; the slightest lovely, the least. That is a law worth living, no matter the century.

Perhaps Hefner, a distinguished disciple of loveless, commitment-free sexuality, competence eventually have agreed. As the porn lord once certified in his after years, “I’ve spent so much of my life looking for adore in all the wrong places.”

In making every sustenance for the strength and nothing for what could truly prove his nervous heart, Hefner walked down a dim trail that incited his youth dreams of the good life into a horrible nightmare.

God, have mercy.

Stan Guthrie is an editor at vast for Christianity Today and for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. His latest book is “The Seven Signs of Jesus: God’s Proof for the Open-Minded.” 

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