Vertical Masculinity

Masculinity is not a one-dimensional, blasé topic to be overlooked and there are far reaching and devastating implications when we allow “horizontal” masculinity to contaminate our thinking, confuse our relationships, and clutter our churches.”

It should come as no surprise, to those who know me well, that I am both intrigued and inspired by the Emmy-nominated Netflix docuseries Chef’s Table. It’s not just the new and modern takes on cuisine that makes for a provocative show, but each episode steps into the story, kitchens, and minds of the international culinary stars who are rethinking and redefining gourmet food. I just finished watching the final episode of Season 3 and stepped away once again motivated to create and dream.

Virgilio Martínez is the chef and owner of Central in Lima, Peru. The feedback he was receiving after opening the restaurant was frustrating Martínez. Many of the food critics shared that the food reminded them of the cuisine they would find in New York or London. “I was confused about what type of food I was going to serve. I was very influenced by 10 years of being abroad. I was doing European cuisine with this Peruvian touch. There was something missing, this lack of identity. I had to do a few changes.”

Virgilio’s soul-searching led him to explore the different regions of Peru and things would soon change after he experienced life with a family in the Andes: “I started to talk to people, and I learned some Andean philosophy of life… They actually see the world in different levels and altitudes.” After the trip, he decided to create new dishes based on the ecosystems and altitudes of Peru.

“When you go up the mountains, you find different species, people, cultures, and different thinking . . . about gastronomy, nature, whatever. You see the world in altitudes — and attitudes — and our perspective has to change. All these different climates and landscapes, geography, cultures, and people are driving a new way to see our landscape, our environment. I started to feel connection, that Peru was so much more than Lima.”

What was it that changed Chef Martínez’s perspective and direction? “They see the world in a vertical way, not in a flat, horizontal way. That was it for me. It really changed the way I was thinking of Peru,” he says.

What does this all have to do with masculinity and Christianity? I believe that many of us have been fed a flat, horizontal way of thinking about masculinity and what it means to be a man. Instead of appreciating God’s creativity in man, we have accepted the taught cultural and Christian “recipes” for masculinity. Manliness is way more than just a sloppy, congealed mess of dutiful leadership and fighting warrior. Masculinity can be a balanced plate of vulnerability, mystery, strength, peace, nurture, fortitude, and emotion.

Our creator offers us a taste of extreme altitudes if we’d only take the time to explore the Scriptures and learn the stories of others. Masculinity is not a one-dimensional, blasé topic to be overlooked and there are far reaching and devastating implications when we allow “horizontal” masculinity to contaminate our thinking, confuse our relationships, and clutter our churches.

“The White House Council on Boys and Men documented that a third of all boys are raised in fatherless homes, the suicide rate of young men between the ages of 13 and 22 has soared to four times that of girls of the same age, and many of our young men are failing in massive numbers to reach mature adulthood. The answer is not adhering to the same macho, hyper-masculine stereotypes (human constructs) that led us down a path of male destruction. Our answer, as Christians, must come from the Scriptures.” READ MORE “Masculinity in America” HERE

Like the culinary artists on Chefs Table, it’s time for us as parents, teachers, mentors, and leaders in the church to rethink and redefine what it means to be “manly.” It’s time to live with purpose and see the world in a vertical way.

We are living among a culture of confused young men who need to find their identity in Christ rather than our failed, unscriptural stereotypes. We must stop pointing them to the horizontal, man-made definitions of masculinity and gender and help them seek a life-changing connection to their Creator and live out their “imago dei.”

 

 

 

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