Playboy is known for exposing skin, but the uproar over the December 2008 edition of the magazine's Mexican licensee has exposed a whole lot more.
While there is justifiable anger at the sacrilegious treatment of Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, the outrage by some betrays a bit of hypocrisy within our culture. Publish a magazine the revels in the pornographic, lust-driven drive to gawk at disrobed women, eh, that's fine. Just don't dare pose a woman naked as the object of lust if she happens to be the Virgin Mary. That, for some reason, crosses a line.
Don't get me wrong. I agree that Playboy's photographers and editors definitely went for shock value in heavily Catholic Mexico by depicting model Maria Florencia Onori as Mary, and that the decision was inflammatory and insulting to Catholics, as well as Christians of all denominations.
But when all is said and done, it's no worse than any other pornographic depiction of the female form. What's more, finding Onori's depiction as Mary to be more morally offensive is symptomatic of a Marian idolatry that is equally offensive to a holy God who alone is worthy of worship.
As God shows us in His Word the Bible, the naked female form is to be adored and desired ONLY by the individual woman's husband, and vice versa. Just as Adam and Eve before the Fall were naked and unashamed, so husband and wife are to be naked and unashamed in their marital relationship. Sex is to be frequent and freely given (I Corinthians 7:5). Sex and sexual desire are very good, provided they are within God's design (Eph. 5:3-5;22-33).
As Jesus made clear, lusting for anyone other than one's wife or husband is truly adultery, an adultery at full flower in the heart and at risk of bearing fruit through speech and action. Playboy exists because men are willing to fork over cash to better practice their sexual lust. In doing so they practice a form of idolatry that worships the created above the Creator, perverting the gift of sexual desire and sexual beauty outside the parameters designed by the gift-giver, God.
God's standard may seem rigid, harsh and joyless to us at first, but that's because we judge by sinners' standards. It's a lot easier to feel righteous about ourselves when we draw artificial lines that say "tasteful" nudie mags like Playboy are okay, just so long as they don't portray a religious icon as an object of that lust.
Here's what God tells us in his word, as written by Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in his letter to the Romans (1:18-32):
18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Rather than huff and puff about the gall of Playboy in offending practicing Catholics, let's look at the bigger picture. Both Playboy "readers" and Marian devotional Catholics practice idolatry. The latter have a patina of religious righteousness about them that the former may lack, but God doesn't draw artificial distinctions, for there is no one righteous, "no, not one"(Romans 3:9-10) and what's more (3:19-20):
19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being  will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Yes, Maria Florencia Oroni is not to be adored. Mary the mother of Jesus is not to be adored. The Lord Jesus Christ alone is to be adored. For he is "the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature" (Hebrews 1:3) and yet he humbled himself to the point of death on a cross (Phil 2:8) so that now, resurrected in glory and seated at Father's right hand (2:9-10).
Let us fall on our knees and adore our Lord Jesus. Let's repent of the various idolatries we have in our lives, be they secular or religious in flavor. That would be a great act of adoration of the Lord Jesus Christ at this time of year when we celebration the incarnation of our Lord and Savior.