In January 1989 Gillette launched its new slogan ‘The Best A Man Can Get’ with an $80m campaign during the Super Bowl XXIII. The slogan caught on and was translated into fourteen different languages.
Thirty years later the company released a new campaign ‘The Best A Man Can Be’ encouraging men to reject bullying and ‘traditional masculinity’.
Reaction to the ad was overwhelmingly negative across the world with many skeptical of a company profiting by telling men how to act.
It has however opened up the debate once again as to whether ‘traditional masculinity’ is a problem.
The facts from North America where the ad was first released are alarming:
The American Psychological Association recently released “Guidelines for the Psychological Practice with Boys and Men” which were founded on the postmodern belief that “masculinities are constructed based on social, cultural, and contextual norms.”
It identified “traditional masculinity” as “anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence.”
Is this how it should be and if not what is the answer?
David French recently wrote that “grown men are the solution, not the problem” and he calls on men to shape their “inherent aggression, sense of adventure, and default physical strength for virtuous ends.”
In his view, we need more fathers to raise sons with discipline, respect, and encouragement.
We also need to escape masculinity which tells men they are to go it alone and to seek assistance is to minimalise their manhood.
We have a delicate balance, given to us by God from the very beginning, which is needed to be kept.
“…the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Work and keep translate Hebrew words meaning to improve and guard. Men were created to produce and protect, to work and provide.
However, men were not intended to be self-sufficient. Immediately after creating the first man, God created the first woman, explaining: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (v. 18). To fulfill their life purpose, men need women, other men, and especially their Father.
Self-reliance is a destructive illusion - “No man is an island” is not just a poem–it’s a fact and self-sufficiency is spiritual suicide. It cuts us off from the only true source of abundant life (John 10:10).
So how do men become the “Best A Man Can Be”?
Jesus Christ was the perfect male and should be our example.
He was strong enough to drive money changers from the temple (Matthew 21:12) but gentle enough to embrace children (Matthew 19:13-15). He was courageous enough to confront the corrupt leaders of his nation (Matthew 23) but compassionate enough to weep for them (Luke 19:41).
Now he is praying for us (Romans 8:34) as his Spirit works to transform us into his character (v. 29). He is ready to help every man become “the best a man can be.” And every woman to become the best she can be as well.
It is the challenge of a live time to live up to this standard but if we strive for it we will be our best and the people we serve will be blessed, to the glory of God.
A collection of thoughts and reflections from the people of All Saints.