By: Trevor Devage
By now you’ve probably seen the “We Believe” ad Gillette launched January 14. If not, please take two minutes and watch it HERE.
The ad, with at least 20 million views so far, encourages men to hold other men accountable against behavior caused by “toxic masculinity” such as sexual harassment, bullying, and disrespect for others, especially women. About 1.5 million have rated the ad at YouTube. And almost two-thirds of those comments were negative.
“RIP Gillette,” one man wrote. “You were my go-to brand, but now I’m never buying any of your products again. Not a good way to appeal to men by calling us all creepy perverts.”
And women objected too. One wrote, “Despite this ad and the climate we live in, women will always pick the Jerk over the Nice Guy.”
ARE YOU OFFENDED?
I can’t resonate with either comment, nor with the wave of criticism the video has received. So let me ask, are you offended by the ad? If so, I’d really appreciate it if you would tell me why. Because, frankly, I can’t see what’s to be upset about.
Blogger Matt Walsh, writing at the Daily Wire, is one of the commercial’s critics. He says we need to allow boys to be boys “without their natural boy-ness being constantly suppressed. Boys are energetic, aggressive, creative, competitive. They need safe and accepting outlets for these impulses.” I see his point. But he also asserts that most men already knew that rape and harassment are wrong, long before the Me Too movement. They do those things anyway, he said, “because they are evil.” I’ll grant him the evil part.
But I’m inclined to agree with one commenter at YouTube, who wrote, “The men who say this is sexist probably do what the ad talked about: harassing women and bullying.” Talk to the women in your life, and all of them will report experiences of being demeaned if not harassed, ignored if not objectified. It’s a problem more subtle than rape and assault alone.
WHAT ABOUT CHRISTIAN MEN?
And here’s my concern: why did it take a razor blade company to raise the issue and call us to account? Where is the church in this debate? How are Christian men different from the negative stereotypes critiqued in this ad? What is a Christian man?
Scripture shows us answers to that last question. While men outside the church might think Christianity is feminine or weak or sappy, the apostle Paul calls men to courage and strength.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” Paul wrote (Ephesians 5:25). Men obeying this command will sacrifice their own pleasure and preferences to help their wives experience what’s best. Regularly this will demand emotional and sometimes physical muscle worthy of any action hero or NFL linebacker.
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul sets a standard for human interaction that is too often trivialized by the sentiment of a wedding ceremony. When we hear verses from that chapter recited as a white-gowned bride and tuxedoed groom gaze into each other’s eyes, we may not take account of all this Scripture demands. These words apply equally to women as well as men, of course, but read them again thinking about the current discussion of male behavior. Note how each description is the exact opposite of celebrated stereotypes of masculinity:
Love is patient.
Love is kind.
It does not envy.
It does not boast.
It is not proud.
It does not dishonor others.
It is not self-seeking.
It is not easily angered.
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
WHAT A MAN!
Before Paul wrote, Jesus demonstrated these qualities. He see him welcoming children, stopping to help a suffering woman, and answering the plea of a man born blind. When confronted with a woman caught in adultery, he held her self-righteous accusers to the same standard of holiness he demanded of her. We watch his path to the cross and see him enduring insults, beatings, and unimaginable pain, all for the sake of reconciling humanity to fellowship with God. What a man! Like no one else, he shows us “The Best Men Can Be.”
Without Christ, men and women will continue to misunderstand, offend, and accuse each other. Only by following the example of Jesus and submitting to the demands of Christian love will they have any chance of escaping the pride and self-seeking that distort so many relationships.
The Gillette ad may point us in the right direction. But at best it’s only a beginning. The teaching of Scripture and the example of Jesus give us the most accurate picture. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). There’s no better way to become “The Best Men Can Be.”