Toxic Masculinity?

P.T. Barnum said, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Well, Gillett got that! I have watched their commercial several times trying to find value.

First, there is nothing concerning a quality and affordable product that I can find. Second, the stereotype of men is insulting—a commercial portraying any other group of people in the manner men are shown would not be tolerated. Third, while yes there are some toxic men (and women) in our society they are a great minority and I do not really need a company designed to make money with grooming products trying to teach me morals and proper behavior. I understand they are not the only company to do so—I have a problem with all of them and implore them to just tell me about their products and how I benefit if I purchase them.

The exception I take to this ad is the generalization. I am blessed to be around men who in the greatest sense of the word, are men—they are the “best a man can be.”

I was raised by one. I have a son and two sons-in-law who are men. I have other family and friends who are men and despite their flaws, are not “toxic”. They wake up early to scrape the ice off their wife’s car windows. They put the dishes away. They make coffee when their woman is returning from a long cold run. They do the laundry. They buy flowers just because. They are actively engaged with their children. They stand up to and defend those who are being bullied but understand the difference in letting “boys be boys” and “girls be girls”.

They do not do these things because the women in their lives are incapable, because they certainly are very capable—they do these things because they love and are responsible men who fulfill their calling as a man—they are trying to be the best they can be.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:11 (ESV) “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” I loved rough-housing as a child, it is not appropriate as a man. There are many things we do as a child that does not translate into adulthood. They key is growth.

Paul goes on in 1 Corinthians 16:13 to remind us, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” If that was Gillett’s intended purpose, I missed it. Perhaps my biggest concern is for my two young grandsons. How are they getting judged just coming out of the gate? What will being a “man” mean 20 years from now? How are we treating and preparing this generation of men?

I rely on God’s Word, for men and women, and trust as Joshua 24:15 says, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Through Him and because of Him, we know what a man should be.

Politics of Life

It amazes and saddens me how divided we have become as a nation. I fully support having differing views, but the barriers of understanding and being civil to each other we are establishing is troubling. Talk about building a wall!

I find it ridiculous that President Trump has been ridiculed for providing a fast-food buffet for the Clemson national champion football team—an event by and large loved by the guys. I felt the same when people made fun of the vegetable garden on the White House grounds being put in by First Lady Michelle Obama.

My point is we are way to driven by our pre-conceived ideas and beliefs that we cannot see the good in others. Let me give you a parable to illustrate: We don’t like Joe, but Joe runs into a burning building. He saves a baby, he runs back in and saves the puppy, he runs back in and saves the kitten. After the building collapses the headline is that he did not save the gold fish and therefore he is selfish and horrible!

That is how many people look at those in elected positions when they start saying “I hate you” and soon that attitude is extended to the citizens who support the person we do not support. In full disclosure I am a conservative and support those candidates who most closely align with my philosophy of how this nation should be governed. Because of my ideology I have been labeled, directly and indirectly, as a sexist, a racist, a homophobe, a Nazi, along with other demeaning traits. I am far from perfect in how I see others, but I try hard to see people the way Dr. King dreamed of, to live in a nation where people are not judged by the color of their skin (or other physical attributes) but by the content of their character.

Even more importantly I strive to live by God’s Word. A particularly appropriate passage I believe is 1 Peter 2:17 which says, “Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.” (MSG)

– “Treat everyone you meet with dignity.” This says “everyone” but it does not say we have to agree with everyone, but it does say to treat them with dignity.
– “Love your spiritual family.” As followers of Jesus Christ we are called to reach the world in His name, but we are also called to support and love our spiritual family. We do this through worshipping together, serving together, and fellowshipping with each other.
– “Revere God.” God must come first in our lives; if we cannot do this the other relationships are infected or at best hollow.
– “Respect the government.” The Greek word is “king” or “emperor”. That is the historical context we must consider because at the time that was the one who ruled the nations. Today, in America, we do not have that system, we have a Constitutional Federal Republic where each of us has the rare privilege of voting for our elected officials. Again, this does not say we have to agree with elected officials, but it does say to “respect”. That also means to respect the system, which means the Constitution of the United States.

I am not particularly fond of the expression “we can agree to disagree” mainly because it is often used as a copout from important debates. It is okay to disagree and sometimes even healthy for growth, but God’s Word tells us we are to interact in all things treating others with dignity and respect. Am I doing that? Are you doing that? God truly knows and does judge us by the content of our character.

The Hug

What better feeling do you get than when you receive a hug? A hug brings us a sense of acceptance, comfort, security, an acknowledgement of love.

The week after Christmas I got to spend some long-lost time with my grandson Oliver. Living over six hours away, I do not get to see him often and like most toddlers he is pretty shy around people he is not familiar with. Being Grandpa made me no exception. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great and fun time and he was a joy to be with! But I kept feeling self-induced guilt that our relationship is not closer although I know there is no blame for anyone, it is just the circumstance of life. As he gets older, I am confident that we will use the marvels of technology to develop a relationship.

However, there was one moment in the midst of a large family gathering that he came to me, put his arms up to be held, sat on my lap, and gave me a hug. It was a hug I will never forget! What accompanied the hug was a look of trust and love even though he is still trying to figure out who I am and exactly how I fit into his life.

Yes, a hug is what we need and a hug is what we need to give. But, do you ever consider the most important hug that was not able to be given?

When I picture Jesus on the cross and hear the words “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) I hear acceptance, comfort, security, and I hear love. I envision someone who wanted to hug each of us despite us putting Him on the cross. Jesus reached out to hug us, but physically could not because His hands were nailed to the cross.

Here is the good news if we trust in Him as our personal Lord and Savior that hug will come to us one day and as the song says “I can only imagine what it will be like”!