These are the words of Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy, who recently passed away. Eleven years ago, on Hefner’s 80th birthday, Charles Colson observed, “Hugh Hefner did more than anyone else to turn America into a great pornographic wasteland.” I remember as a young man in the 60’s having to deal with the erotic mystic of Playboy magazines. I can still visualize some of my struggles with the lure of the playboy center folds.
Camille Paglia, my favorite feminist, maintains that magazines like Playboy represented “the brute reality of sexuality.” It is the unregenerate erotic urge found in the male soul. “Pornography,” says Paglia, “… is not a sexist twisting of the facts of life but a kind of peephole into the roiling, primitive animal energies that are at the heart of sexual attraction and desire.” As a Christian man, with a biblical view of sex, I view this as a distortion of sex as God’s good gift. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). Hefner said that he started Playboy as, “a personal response to the hurt and hypocrisy of our puritan heritage.” In rebellion against repression he advocated indulgence. Isn’t it possible for God’s love (agape) to redeem the erotic impulse?
Remember after the creation of man and women, Genesis 2:25 says, “The man and his wife were both naked and they felt no shame.” It has taken me many years to come to peace witht the erotic energy of sex in my soul. I felt it was like a fire inside my soul that had to either denied and avoided. But I have learned that the answer is to redeem the energy of eros with the love of God (agape). Eros is natural but it needs to be redeemed. This can only happen if we acknowledge and embrace eros.
In those playboy pictures you could feel “the intense sizzle of sexual polarization.” Paglia calls it, ” that long-ago time when men were men and women were women.” The erotic energy of the masculine, colliding with Playboy porn was explosive. But Playboy is no more. How is the Christian masculine soul dealing with erotic energy today. Pagila believes our gender-blending age as taken the sizzle out of sex. The more the sexes have blended, the less each sex is interested in the other. We live in a period of complaint and dissatisfaction, resulting in sexual confusion and rancor regarding the genders. Sexual energy has gone underground. Rather then learning to embrace and integrate eros, today we are more confused then ever about sexuality.
Today Paglia sees, “men turning from women and simply being content with the world of fantasy because women have become too thin-skinned, resentful and high-maintenance.” Could it be that men have abandoned sexual polarization, for the personal fantasy world of internet porn? Ross Duothat believes, “Our era is less overtly sexually destructive in part because we are giving up on sex itself, retreating into pornography and other virtual consolations.” There is less personal risk of failure in relationship to the feminine, if a man hides in the shadows of internet porn.
Paul exhorts us in I Thess 3-4, “Keep yourselves from sexual promiscuity. Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body, not abusing it, as is so common among those who know nothing of God.” I know that this blog is read by many younger men. My testimony is this. I wish I would have come to peace with the erotic in my own soul years ago, learning to live with it in the “open spaces” of God’s light and grace. I would have been a more healthy, passionate man both in marriage and life.