“Spending eternity next to Marilyn Monroe is an opportunity too sweet to pass up,” Hef once quipped. And while this quote was probably spoken somewhat in jest, it gives many clues into his twisted, self-centered worldview. A worldview that believes women are placed on this earth to be objectified, exploited, and used to further the satisfaction and reputation of ungodly men.
No Glamour in Death
As news broke over the recent death of Hugh Hefner, there is one little known fact about his life that was made widely known rather quickly. According to numerous sources, the Playboy mogul purchased his own gravesite directly next to Marilyn Monroe in 1992 for the price of $75,000. Their remains will be interred side by side in Los Angeles at the Westwood Village Cemetery, the resting place of many historically famous names. One thing this tells us is that, even in thinking of his impending future death, Hugh Hefner could not break free of his idol. The idol to turn a woman’s outward sex appeal into the be-all and end-all of existence………..his existence. Even in death, he wanted her sex appeal to be linked with his legacy in some lasting way. A way which he believed would give his life ultimate meaning, even when he wasn’t alive to enjoy it any longer. Yes, Hefner used Monroe’s lifetime sex appeal to further his post-mortem reputation. In the eyes of others, he could still be seen as “Hef…..the ultimate ladies man.” This was one of his driving motivations in buying the grave lot to begin with. By purchasing a grave next to hers, Hef was using her beauty for almost the same reason he made her the first cover girl and centerfold of his infamous Playboy magazine. That reason: attention, pleasure, and adoration………..for himself. Indeed, this is a very deep, disturbing level of depravity.
A Faulty Worldview
Hefner believed these things with all his heart. That is why he wanted Marilyn “next” to him in death. He was pulling teeth to make sure his worldview (of exploiting women for his benefit) would “fit” his situation when he actually died. Because if not, his worldview collapses into nothingness. If your worldview doesn’t give meaning after you die, then get rid of your worldview. It is phony. And you are deceived. Ultimately, I am certain that Hugh Hefner believed in an afterlife, but one devoid of all meaning. At some level, the Bible recognizes that everyone is aware of this thing called ‘forever and ever.” It is made clear in the Book of Ecclesiastes when the preacher declares, “He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
Idols Only Bring Destruction
There is something deeply evil- even satanic– about the opening quote at the beginning of this article. Notice that he used the word “eternity.” I believe that there is something more going on here than simply the ‘pleasant’ thought of being buried next to Marilyn Monroe. Hefner was so blinded by the enemy, and his own evil heart, that he was fooled into believing either one of two things. Either that he would be buried forever on this earth, next to Marilyn, in an unconscious state of being, with no end of the world ever coming. Or, as I suspect, he may have been saying that he believed that he and Marilyn would somehow, some way, spend eternity together…….consciously……sexually. And why wouldn’t he think this way? If you are dead in your sins, and you create an idol in your heart about how to live while you are on earth, then why would you not make an idol out of the afterlife too? Oh Mr. Hefner, what did you become?
A Deeply Troubled Beauty
There is a strange irony in all of this ‘being buried next to each other’ stuff. Both Hefner and Monroe were very lonely people. Lonely in very different ways, but lonely nonetheless. When most people think of Marilyn Monroe, they don’t imagine her, first and foremost, as a deeply troubled and unhappy woman. They remember her as smiley and carefree, standing over a subway grate in a beautiful white dress which was nearly blown over her head. They remember beach photos of her laughing and playing in the sand, again while wearing teeny, tiny outfits. And yes, they most certainly remember that magazine cover. In every instance, men ogled. Women were envious. These are the ways most of the rich and famous are remembered, especially if they died young and beautiful.
More Than Just Pretty
How sad that Marilyn was exploited instead of treasured. How sad that she was, for the most part, an object of lust and riches in the eyes of men. Yes, she made poor decisions. But where were the rescuers? Where were the real men? Why didn’t some young, chivalrous man run over and pull her dress back down to cover her fully-exposed legs? And did anyone ever warn Marilyn about having her naked self plastered all over a magazine circulated to millions of perverted men? Did anyone really care? Did anyone sacrifice for her? The men who saw her in Playboy and with her dress riding up did not care about her gasping, starving heart. They just wanted her body. For the most part, she will be remembered as a sexy blonde who appeared on the first cover of Playboy, made some decent movies, and ended up committing suicide. How sad it is to remember people without their struggles, emotional pain, and loneliness. Her face may have been really beautiful, but her life wasn’t. Folks, as beautiful as she was, there was more than meets the eye. Her face was the face of loneliness.
A Lonely Playboy?
But Hefner was lonely too. Yes guys, Hef was a lonely man. I imagine some men might read this and think I was smoking weed or something. No, completely sober I am (Yoda moment……sorry). But yes, he was lonely. His life was a series of jumping from one idol to another. Most of the things he desired were good things (or neutral things), in and of themselves. But as is the case with idolatry and the wicked heart, he took good things and made them ultimate things…….destroying many lives in the process. One of his many idols was money. Money which gave him more of a platform to exploit and use women. For it was his money which purchased his infamous “Playboy Mansion.” A place known for unspeakable debauchery and exploitation of women. And this same money also increased his desirability among the opposite sex, which ultimately didn’t help him in the least. You see how one idol fuels another idol. What a vicious cycle. Girls, sex, money, fame, reputation, mansions? What do all these things mean to him now? They all have one thing in common: they are things that cannot produce steadfast and eternal joy. And he knew it. No doubt about it. Hef was a lonely man.
A Modern Day Solomon
Hefner’s life sounds a lot like Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, doesn’t it? The former King of Israel experienced many of the same pleasures as Hugh Hefner did, and it never completely satisfied him either. Their lives were strikingly similar, at least in Solomon’s early years. But Solomon learned from his folly, and wrote about what he learned. He passed it on through the written Word of God. Readers, pay close attention. Here is the some of the gold Solomon passed down……..
I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well—the delights of a man’s heart. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:8-11)
The Same, But Opposite
On the other hand, Marilyn was craving genuine attention and affection from men, and she never found the satisfaction she was looking for. Sadly, she sought escape in turning to prescription drugs. But satisfaction didn’t come from pills either. Ultimately, the pills led to her demise. But the drugs were simply the evidence that she was a tortured and lonely soul. Hefner was lonely because he didn’t want that which was real (love, stability, family), and therefore never searched for it. Marilyn was lonely because she did want that which was real. She just never found it. She wanted real feelings, real joy………….real love. It wasn’t about the sex for her. Not primarily anyway. Forget about the bikinis and the dress flying over her head. She was looking for something more ultimate than sex. Things like genuine affection. Love. Good and natural desires for sure. But when we expect humans to ultimately and always fulfill those desires, they will disappoint us. And we become disillusioned. Again, what loneliness this is! How sad and desperate she must have been. The only One who can satisfy us with infinite love, joy, and satisfaction is Jesus Christ. His love is eternal. I hope Marilyn found this out before the pills became too much for her body to handle.
How These Things Should Affect Us
Christian, we ought to be so thankful everyday that we never have to be lonely. Yes. we may feel like we are sometimes. But God still says to us, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Let us take comfort, and rejoice in that precious truth. And when we see others struggling mightily to replace their loneliness with idolatry, let us reach out to them with the precious gospel of Jesus Christ. I can only hope that someone did that for Hugh Hefner in his final days. I can only hope that God’s Holy Spirit gave Hugh Hefner and Marilyn Monroe a new heart before they died. And if that were the case, neither one would be searching for happiness in sex, money, fame, or emotional affirmation. None of that “striving after the wind” anymore. They would be where Christ is, wondering why they ever searched for ultimate joy in the temporary, finite things of the earth. God help us to minister to the hurting people of our day and age. God help us to point them to the hope of the gospel!
Conclusion of the Matter
After searching for ultimate fulfillment in just about everything except God Himself, Solomon wrote these famous words:
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
And C.S. Lewis once said………
If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.
Being buried next to a sex symbol like Marilyn Monroe adds a final, disturbing notch to Hefner’s name and legacy (a very sad legacy). And not only that, it adds insult to injury for a woman who struggled deeply with the pain of loneliness. We Americans have defined “beautiful, successful life” in all the wrong ways.
I know that both Hugh and Marilyn are in another world right now. I just hope it is the world where God is pleased to look upon them as His children. I do not take any pleasure in the thought that either, or both, of them could be under God’s wrath for eternity. But if they died the same way they lived, searching for and clinging to idols that cannot satisfy, then hell is where they would be. Sad, terrifying thought.
Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21)
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