You’ve seen the latest Gillette commercial that has the Evangelical world in a tizzy, right? If not, go watch it. You’ve seen all the response articles and Facebook posts from your great uncle concerning the commercial, correct? Well, here’s one more. But this response is not directed to the actual commercial, but one particular Evangelical critique of the commercial from an article on desiringgod.org. It’s called, “Grooming the Next Generation: Did Gillette Miss a Spot?” if you want to read it. (Shout out to my friend Rachel for knowing what fires me up!)
The crux of the article is that effeminate men will go to hell, and that the Gillette commercial is encouraging men to be effeminate. There are, I think, a few ways to tackle this argument, but I’m going to hit on several points the author used to show why desiringod.org’s definition of masculine is arbitrary. More than arbitrary, it’s sometimes contrary to Scripture.
The author cites a few verses from 1 Corinthians which could be interpreted as instructing men to “act like men.” The author agrees with Paul’s instructions, saying, “Too often we swing from decrying chauvinism and abuse to producing a society of plastic forks, nonfat lattes, and men who don’t mind going to church because of the free babysiting.”… Nonfat lattes? Really? I could cheaply use this sentence alone to point out the sheer ludicrousness of his whole argument, but I’ll try to keep above that.
He then goes on to describe the horror he and his wife experienced upon going to Disney World and witnessing a plethora of effeminate men whom he categorizes as such because of their “lispy sentences, soft mannerisms, and light gestures,” just to name some of his criteria. Again, “light gestures?” Could you be a little more vague and meaningless, please? What is considered a heavy gesture? Throwing out one’s arms so wide while telling a story that you whack unsuspecting passersby in the face with the back of your palm? But I digress.
He credits these behaviors to a type of sexual immorality called “soft men” by Paul, although when I read several different versions of the verse he cited, (1 Corinthians 6:9,) I don’t see the word “soft” anywhere, but okay. The author goes on to provide different examples of godly men from Scripture who are, in his opinion, neither violent nor effeminate. Let’s go through the list, shall we?
“Godly men are like Moses, not Pharaoh.” Pharaoh most certainly abused his power in ways Moses did not, but it’s foolish to forget that Moses was, like every human today, a person. Moses did not initially act with strength and courage as Paul commanded us to do in 1 Corinthians 16:13. Moses seemed to think he wasn’t man enough for the job: “I have never been eloquent…I am slow of speech and of tongue” (Exodus 4:10). Moses’ first response to the call of God was to make an excuse on why he wasn’t able, which, according to the author’s standards, is a pretty effeminate thing to do. However, because God makes us strong when we are weak, (2 Corinthians 12:11,) Moses overcame his fear enough to lead.
“They are like David, Not Saul” Again, King Saul was certainly a toxic power monger. But if you want to talk about seemingly effeminate yet godly men, you’d be hard-pressed to pick a better target than King David. David, the poet whose contents of his poems talk about weeping, sleepless nights, and joyful songs would probably fit the modern day bill of an effeminate worship pastor. He played the harp, for crying out loud and danced with a tambourine! I wonder if this author would count these behaviors as heinously feminine as consuming nonfat lattes. Yet, David is called a man after God’s own heart. Clearly, these behaviors weren’t distancing him from the Lord.
The author concludes by essentially saying that the modern-day long-haired, soft-handed Jesus often portrayed is a gross misrepresentation when we know that He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
I agree. He is the Lion and the Lamb, and I said a few posts ago, he came “not to bring peace, but a sword.” Yet,
Jesus washed feet.
Jesus wept a lot.
Jesus held people.
Jesus didn’t flaunt his authority, but diverted attempts to trap him with responses of parables.
Jesus did not count his equality with God a thing to be grasped (Phillipians 2:6).
I could go on and on, and I’m sure anyone who has read the Bible has thought of even more examples while reading this. The point though is not to get caught up in whether behaviors fall under masculine or feminine because, as we can see, that’s a very difficult line to define. Some godly men write poetry late into the night and make music for the Lord. Others are warriors of great physical strength. Others are wifeless apostles with feet dirty from travelling. Criticizing a commercial is pointless, but I think we all ought to criticize our own culturally-influenced concepts of femininity and masculinity. Scripture does not care about our definition of masculinity. The Bible was not written today nor was it written by westerners. The more we subconsciously or consciously insert our personal understanding of roles and behavior into the Holy Word, the more we will forever miss the point.
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