I have never met the man and have only seen him in interviews on TV a few times.  However Hugh Hefner had an enormous influence on my life.  His publication and lifestyle introduced me at a very young age to a world of voyeuristic fantasy that almost cost me my marriage and my ministry many years later.
I do not blame him, but I know that I am not alone in my recognition of his impact in my life.  In fact, I think he has had an enormous impact on our culture.  There are three main areas we see his impact throughout our society today.

1. Pleasure is the ultimate good

Hugh Hefner encouraged a pleasure at all cost lifestyle.  Pleasure and doing what “feels good” became the focus and purpose of life and many bought into it.  Hugh’s influence came when our society was headed into a very prosperous time and people had more leisure time.  Society bought into the lie that the purpose of life is pleasure and that if we would just seek the highest pleasure we would be happy.

2. Sex is the most important part of a relationship

Just as pleasure became the purpose of society, sex became the purpose of relationships.  People began to focus on the physical aspect of the relationships over the relational.  The results were the divorce rate skyrocketing and many families being devastated.  Intimacy and commitment were forgotten and many people married for purely physical reasons.  Sex before marriage has became such a norm in our society that people who wait till marriage to have sex are considered weird.

3. A woman’s sexuality is her source of power

Hugh Hefner and the playboy empire grew during the 60’s when the women’s rights movement was also growing.  When we look back over the years, which do you think has had more affect on our society?  I would argue that Hugh’s attitude about women has prevailed.  A woman’s sexuality is seen as her source of power and influence.  Singers today are known for their bodies and their willingness to flaunt them more than their singing.  The women in TV and movies who have the power are usually using their sexuality as a part of that.  No wonder we have so many body image issues with our young girls today.
I am not bringing these points out to judge or condemn Hugh Hefner.  These points are to illustrate the impact one person can have.  Hugh probably did not set out to impact the world.  He was just a guy born in Chicago Illinois who was trying to make a living.  However, his lifestyle focus has impacted our society for generations.
What can we learn from Hugh Hefner’s choices?  Our decisions can influence people, and our decisions can influence the whole of society.
What decisions do you need to make that will make a positive impact instead of a negative one?