I’d intended for today’s post to be the final in my series about a hysterectomy after sex. I’m going to hold off on that until Friday because God has been nudging me to write about something else for today: how our own woundedness hurts others.
I often describe my journey toward healthy and holy sexual intimacy in marriage as a journey of healing. My resistance to sex was rooted in my own brokenness. Insecurities, poor self-esteem, and a disbelief in my own worth had created heart wounds. My own premarital sexual activity made the wounds deeper and more painful. All those wounds gave the enemy places to tempt me to sin.
My work on sex began on the surface with my words and actions. This made a big difference in our marriage and set me on the right path. However, changing my behavior did not heal my wounds. It’s more like the behavioral changes exposed them so that I could work on them.
The work of healing has involved much introspection, reflection, and wrestling with God in search of healing and wholeness with Him.
I’d put off my healing for so long, unwilling to do the work and face the hurt. As a result, I bestowed upon my children a view of marriage and love that they will not easily shake. I taught my daughter that it is okay to be domineering. I taught my sons that loving a woman means walking on eggshells.
Fortunately, all three kids also witnessed the changes in our marriage. The positive changes they saw should help them combat some of what they learned during their formative years. Nonetheless, I know that my delay in pursuing healing communicated negative lessons for far too long.
My own woundedness may well have wounded my children’s future marriages, albeit it less so than if I had never pursued healing. My children will have to unpack the broken view of intimacy I bequeathed to them.
Hugh Hefner’s death has prompted a variety of articles and retrospectives about his life and his impact on our society’s views of sex and sexuality.
As I’ve been reading the deluge of pieces about Hugh Hefner’s legacy, I’m filled with thoughts about the way we bestow our woundedness on others. Although I’ve read a few glowing tributes to the man and his Playboy empire, the majority of what I’ve read has captured the complexities and the darker corners of his life and legacy.
Behind-the-scenes exposés show what life was like at the Playboy mansion. I’ve read of women who needed help walking after painful sex acts, the frequent need for Quaaludes in being prepared for sex, expectations of participating in group sex, the mandated sexual availability of women to guests at the mansion, and more.
Most of what I’ve read turns my stomach. Some people may say that the women chose that life and therefore don’t deserve much compassion or consideration, but I doubt it is a choice that comes from a healthy place in a woman’s life. Even if it is a life freely chosen, I can’t imagine what it is like to have those experiences and be able to go on to have a healthy view of sex and sexuality. If a woman hadn’t been wounded when she came to the mansion, she still might have carried some wounds with her when she left.
My heart has been heavy for all the ways Hugh Hefner’s legacy has wounded women—the ones who worked and lived with him, and the ones affected by the ways Hefner shaped our society’s views of sex and women. His impact shaped men’s views of sex, too.
Pornography—even something as “tame” as the still images in Playboy—has hurt so many. My sister marriage bloggers Bonny Burns, J. Parker, and Sheila Gregoire have written especially good pieces about Hefner’s impact on society, on marriage, and on women through the proliferation of porn.
Hefner’s impact has wounded so many—but those aren’t the wounds God has been encouraging me to write about today.
Hugh Hefner was often described as a man who had it all—endless sex, women, and wealth. What man could want for more, right?
Two things have stood out to me in stark contrast against his image.
- He grew up in a home without love or affection. When he was evaluated by educational psychologists as a boy, their recommendation to his mother was to be more loving. He grew attached to bedding with a pattern of bunnies on it (one article said it was a stuffed animal in the shape of a bunny).
- The most devastating experience of his life was learning that his first wife had cheated on him when he was in the army.
In multiple interviews, he stated that he grew up without love and affection, and then the woman he trusted to give him love as an adult betrayed him. The two primary women in his young life left him feeling bereft of love. As I read through the many articles about the man behind the Playboy empire, my attention turned from the legacy Hefner created and toward the wounded boy and young man that he once must have been.
In the years before he created an empire that damaged so many, I think Hugh Hefner was a young man with his own heart wounds—and for that man, my heart aches a little.
As I think about him standing before God in judgment, I see him in his silk pajamas with a smug smile on his face—but I also see a wounded boy holding on to a bunny blanket.
I don’t want to make Hefner into too sympathetic a character. He did real damage to countless people—women who were objectified and exploited, men who were taught that sex was so much less than what God had intended it to be, and couples who had learned wrong lessons about how women’s bodies should look and what sex is supposed to be like.
The enemy presented him with temptation, and he grabbed at it with both hands. In my opinion, he covered his wounds with a glittering surface that gave him the illusion of love without any of the risk or any substance. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if he had instead sought God-given healing of those wounds rather than allowing those wounds to invite the enemy to come in and set up camp.
Hefner had tremendous creativity and business acumen. Just imagine what he could have done if he’d expressed his gifts from a place of healing and wholeness rather than from a place of brokenness and sin. He could have done so much good.
Out of what I see as his own woundedness, Hefner bequeathed to the world a damaged and damaging view of sex. Had he sought God’s healing rather than avoiding the pain, he would have left the world a richer place. Instead, his wounds begat even more wounds in others.
Maybe it’s too much of a stretch to say he was wounded, and maybe I’m seeing this all wrong. I am, after all, basing this on articles and old interviews. I may be completely wrong, but this is where God keeps leading me: when we don’t heal our wounds, we pass them on. Why should Hugh Hefner have been any different from the rest of us in that regard?
We all have gifts and strengths. The way we use those gifts can leave legacies both large and small in our wake. When we operate from a place of woundedness, we pass on a legacy that only leads to more woundedness.
If you are carrying unhealed wounds in your heart, you are missing out on so much—and so are those around you. Out of your woundedness, you might accomplish much—but in your wake, you will leave wounds for others to have to deal with.
Out of Christ-centered healing and wholeness, you can leave behind a much better heritage.
Seek Jesus. Pursue healing. Let your marriage and your legacy benefit from that place of wholeness.
You’ll pass along a heritage of wholeness and holiness, and you will live a much richer life than Hugh Hefner ever did.
Image credit | Pixabay.com