Two Men Who Shaped Nations

Individuals can have tremendous influence – for good or for evil. Some people live a life of integrity, humility and service for others. Other people live a life fully devoted to self, and to gratifying their selfish and sensual desires.

There are two elderly Americans who have both made a profound impact on not only America but the rest of the world. One is a man who renounced self and dedicated his life to his God and the welfare of others. The other, who has snubbed God altogether, has made a name for himself as one totally absorbed with himself, and his lusts.

Writing in the June 19, 2007 Human Events, Doug Patton explores the lives and legacies of a famous preacher and a lecherous hedonist. “In the last half of the 20th Century, two men profoundly influenced the moral climate of America. Both are octogenarians now, living out the last days of their very different dreams. One was born in Al Capone’s Chicago in 1926. The other was born a few years earlier, in 1918, on a dairy farm near Charlotte, North Carolina. One was named Hugh Marston Hefner, the other William Franklin Graham, Jr.”

“Playboy magazine founder and publisher Hugh Hefner and Christian evangelist Billy Graham have pursued destinies as diametrically opposite of each other as is possible. Both men have produced offspring who have chosen to follow in the footsteps of their fathers. After a prodigal early life, Graham’s son, Franklin, has for many years been a committed Christian evangelist who has now taken the reins of his father’s ministry. Christie, Hefner’s daughter from a long-ago failed marriage, has been running her father’s hedonist empire at Playboy for several years.”

The very recent death of Graham’s wife helps to illustrate the great divide between these two men. “The death of Graham’s beloved wife of 64 years, Ruth, brought to mind the stark differences in these two men’s lives and legacies. ‘Ruth is my soul mate and best friend,’ Graham said before Ruth died, ‘and I can’t imagine living a single day without her by my side. I am more in love with her today than when we first met over 65 years ago as students at Wheaton College.’ Billy Graham’s comments may be prophetic. His own health is failing, and it is not uncommon for lifelong spouses to follow soon after the passing of their mate. But Dr. Graham’s statement is indicative of the way he lived his life of service and sacrifice.”

“Contrast that with Hugh Hefner’s proud proclamation a few years ago that Viagra is ‘the greatest recreational drug to come along since the sixties.’ No doubt the drug has allowed Hefner to continue the facade he has built for himself and everyone who still admires him and his lifestyle.”

The legacy of these two men has been as profound – but in two quite different directions. “Hugh Hefner and Billy Graham, like all Americans, have been free to live their lives according to their own consciences. But beyond the freedom to simply live their own lives, they also have been free to evangelize. For the last six decades, both have spread the word of their chosen philosophies, and in so doing have changed the course of American culture.”

Consider the message of Graham: “Graham, of course, has evangelized for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His is a simple and a selfless message of morality, compassion, fidelity and faith. He has told us we should be faithful to our wives. He has told us to love our neighbors. He has told us to live our lives for God, not ourselves. And he has told us that because of our sin, all of us, himself included, need a savior in order to live such lives. Utilizing radio, television and live appearances, Billy Graham has spoken to more people than any other person in the history of the world. The lives that have been changed for the better by this man’s ministry are incalculable.”

And now look at the gospel according to Hugh: “Hugh Hefner has spent his life living and preaching the sensual pleasures of a playboy. His entire existence has been in the pursuit of his own sensual pleasure, and he has sought to spread that message to the nation and the world. Hefner, who founded his magazine in 1953, first published his ‘Playboy Philosophy,’ in its pages in the 1960s. It was a manifesto of hedonism couched in lofty sounding terms meant to convey the message that self is the center of the universe and that the quest for pleasure is its highest pursuit.”

Patton concludes: “The pagan and the saint. One was driven by lust and the insatiable pursuit of pleasure; the other driven by the love of lost humanity and the God who has the answers. One surrendered his God-given sexual nature to so many women he can’t even remember their names; the other remained completely devoted and faithful to a godly lover, mate and the mother of his children for a lifetime.”

“One was responsible for promoting a philosophy that has brought about an epidemic of abortion, broken homes and sexually transmitted disease; the other obediently preached the uncompromising Word of God as he was given the wisdom to know it. One is now filled with memories of a lifetime of narcissism; the other with memories of millions of men, women and children surrendering their lives to Christ in order to be made whole.
The contrast is stark, for them and for us.”

Well said. The contrast could not be much greater. Yet there is one fundamental commonality that unites the two men. Both are sinners. The only difference is, one acknowledged his sin early on, and turned to the finished work of Christ for a new life. The other still wallows in his old life of sin and selfishness. And such are the options for all of us. There are in the end only these two options. May we choose wisely.

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6 Replies to “Two Men Who Shaped Nations”

  1. Dear Bill, If Hugh Heffner was the evangelist of the “sexual revolution” then the prophet was Alfred Kinsey. May I recommend again the current work of Judith Reisman on for a fuller expo of this monster‘s work. May I also recommend Robert Gagnon , the Christian superman of the current homosexual versus heterosexual battle.

    Though not directly related to this article, I have been asking myself how do I answer atheist/humanist/secularist arguments, without allowing them to tie me up in knots? How do ”I cut to the chase?”

    Apart from the Bible and Ecclesiastes it seems to me that increasingly Francis Schaeffer and C.S. Lewis seem to hold the key for interpreting the times in which we live, and for the way the atheist /humanist mind is fundamentally dishonest, selective with the truth , deluded and full of deception. I think we need to hold up before the atheists their own philosophy and then show them just how inconsistent they are in honestly living it out; if they were to, they would either go mad or commit suicide, but that in order to continue functioning they dishonestly and unjustifiably select those parts of the Christian faith that further their own self-centred agendas, whilst denying the rest. This needs sorting, otherwise we can waste a lot of time being given the run around.

    The following truths are difficult for us but for the atheist they are humanly impossible to comprehend.

    “I know I’ve been flawed ever since I was born. I’ve been rotten ever since my mother became pregnant with me.” Psalm 51

    “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9

    “From within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, pride, self-will, foolishness, greed, envy, strife, malice, slander, lies, gossip and treachery.” Mark 7:21-23

    David Skinner, UK

  2. Hefner might seem to be having a lot of fun with his floozies now, but his satisfaction would be shallow and meaningless. I wouldn’t like to be in his shoes when he is called to give an account of his life when his number comes up.
    I had a friend in his late 70’s who told me that Viagra made him feel 40 again. Shortly after he was rushed to hospital and died from a ruptured artery. Sadly he played with fire, ignored the warnings about Viagra, and paid the ultimate price. I suspect Hefner will pay an even bigger and never-ending price when his time comes.
    Billy Graham on the other hand, should surely receive the salutation “well done thou good and faithful servant”.
    God gave us all the gift of “free will” so the choice of which of path to follow in life is ours. We might not want to be an evangilist like Billy, but I certainly hope that we will ALL back off at trying to copy Hefner.
    AA Hoysted

  3. Bill, this is an eloquent and moving comparison! It all boils down to selfishness, living only for self and selflessness, living your life for God and others.
    I remember doing a linguistic analysis of the writers of articles in pornographic magazines, both the journalists and the readers’ letters, back when I was at uni. It was a rather unpleasant project to research. I had to compare Playboy with the lowest of the low, Hustler. (I was actually so disgusted with Hustler it made me feel sick). In both of these publications, the subliminal anti-female language was violent, hateful and disrespectful. I added to my own analysis those of others who talk about how porn gives birth to rape and other sadistic crimes in society. This is another Hefner legacy that he can consider on his deathbed, that is, if he is still able to even feel remorse for anything at all by that time.
    Dee Graf

  4. This is a powerful and shuddering comparison.
    However, may I remind us all that Hugh Hefner is not dead yet…and despite the uncalculable damage done by his empire, perhaps were we to put our energies into praying for him that he would know of the hope of Christ’s salvation instead of judging and berating him on the internet he might yet have his moment with God. No man is beyond salvation, even in his last minute there is still hope, that is how great our God is! Imagine if he decided to turn his life around now, what a testimony it would leave to the world, far greater than all the wrongs of his past. How will this happen without prayer and intercession?!
    Nothing is impossible for Thee!
    Can I encourage everyone who reads this to pray for him, instead of just judging him, that the veil would be lifted from his eyes and look into those of his saviour. I am not asking for anyone to be sympathetic, but to simply remember such a lost man in your prayers.
    Tara Michele

  5. Thanks Tara
    Certainly no one is suggesting that we should not pray for him. By all means, let us intercede for him. But that does not mean we also cannot warn about real evil and take a stand for that which is right at the same time.
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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