What Would Thomas Aquinas Say About Hugh Hefner?

By now you’ve heard the news. Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy, is dead.

Reactions to his death have been spirited and diverse.

On one end—the main stream media end— you’ve got those who are hailing him as a champion of free speech and liberator of the sexually repressed. Ugh. This keyboard needs a vomit emoji. Patrick Trueman from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation got it right when he wrote, “Hugh Hefner was not a champion of free speech. He was a pioneer in the sexual objectification and use of women.”

But I digress.

On the other end are those—even Christians—who have no qualms expressing their hatred of the man.

See this response to Jason Evert’s tweet yesterday:

So What would Thomas Aquinas have to say about all this?

Well, Aquinas would essentially say something you’ve heard a million times before: “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

Here’s an excerpt of his from the ST:

Hatred is opposed to love [. . .] so that hatred of a thing is evil according as the love of that thing is good. Now love is due to our neighbor in respect of what he holds from God, i.e. in respect of nature and grace, but not in respect of what he has of himself and from the devil, i.e. in respect of sin and lack of justice.

Consequently it is lawful to hate the sin in one’s brother, and whatever pertains to the defect of Divine justice, but we cannot hate our brother’s nature and grace without sin. Now it is part of our love for our brother that we hate the fault and the lack of good in him, since desire for another’s good is equivalent to hatred of his evil. Consequently the hatred of one’s brother, if we consider it simply, is always sinful.

ST II-II, Q. 34, A. 3.

If you’re looking for a good article that strikes this balance, check out Christopher West’s article, “A Compassionate, Christian Reflection on the Death of Hugh Hefner” here.


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