Gillette's recent "toxic masculinity" ad has once again sparked a discussion in our country about what it means to be a man. I've read opinions of those in and out of The Church both supporting and attacking the ad and the ideas within. But all the noise got me curious about what Jesus Christ himself taught about being a man, and what our church's official doctrine is. My intent is not to politicize scripture, but just share what I found.
Many feel threatened by the ad, claiming that it is an attack on men in general, and I don't think that was their intent at all. Masculinity can be positive. In the scriptures, The Lord asked his disciples what manner of men they ought to be, and then answered, "Even as I am." What kind of a man was Jesus?
Elder D. Todd Christofferson gave a great talk in October 2006 called "Let Us Be Men." He talks about the Savior's attributes that we, as men, should try to emulate. According to Christofferson, "Jesus rejected temptation. The Savior was obedient. Jesus 'went about doing good.' The Savior was fearless in opposing evil and error."
In the 1999 talk "Behold the Man," first counselor in the presiding bishopric Richard C. Edgley said "I suppose it is natural for us to equate strength, machoism, and maybe even boisterous and aggressive behavior with manhood. However, the attributes of true manhood are not necessarily physical." When we compare the world's view of masculinity with the gospel view of masculinity, it's easy to spot the differences. Gillette's ad encourages men to stand up for others, to not encourage aggression and violence, to speak out against sexual harassment, and to set good examples. Where does that conflict with what the Savior taught?
To close with Elder Christofferson's words, "He gave his life to redeem mankind. Surely we can accept responsibility for those He entrusts to our care. Brethren, let us be men, even as He is."