I’ve been reluctant to write this. Christians have gained enough negative attention over silly cultural crusades, so I don’t want to add to the problem. But I decided to proceed anyway.
I was a big MMA fan throughout my high school and college years. I love competition, and MMA always seemed like one of the truest forms of competition–two men locked inside an octagon seeing who can beat up the other. Even after entering Bible college, UFC, one of the most popular MMA organizations in the world, pay-per-views were my study breaks on the weekends, a time to get away from school for a few hours. As time passed, I noticed something that alarmed me. My thoughts began to gravitate towards fighting, and I felt myself becoming more aggressive (not in a good way). Therefore, I decided it was best for me to stop watching mixed martial arts.
At the time, I treated it like any other Christian liberty issue; I couldn’t do it in faith anymore, so I needed to stop. In my mind, other Christians didn’t deal with that temptation, so they could enjoy it without defiling their consciences.
Since then I have given quite a bit of thought to the issue of MMA, and I have come to the conclusion that this is not a Christian liberty issue. Rather, I believe that fighting, as a sport, is sinful at its core. Before you leave the page and curse at me for attempting to bind your conscience, hear me out. Read my argument, and tell me why I’m wrong.
The overall premise of my argument is this: MMA’s core principle is a celebration of violence, which stands in contrast against Scripture.
I’m not a pacifist. I believe there are times to fight, and violence can be justifiable when protecting the weak and helpless. But just because something is justifiable does not mean it is to be celebrated. Violence entered into the created universe because sin entered into the created universe. Genesis 6:11 says, “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.” The earth being filled with violence reveals that it was filled with sin. In Ezekiel 45:9, God commands the leaders of His people to “put away violence and oppression.” We are created for love and community, not to wage war against other individuals. To celebrate and find entertainment in something that is a result of our sinfulness is absurd. There are many things to celebrate in this world, but violence is not one of them.
“How about football, Cody? Or hockey? People get hurt in those sports all of the time.”
Yes, people do get hurt in other sports regularly, but there is a significant difference. In football, the goal of the sport is to score more points than the other team by getting the ball into the end zone. You stop the other team by tackling them to the ground. Though people do get hurt, injuring another player is not the overall goal of the game. Actually, there are penalties to protect players from injury. Not to mention, football players wear a whole lot of padding.
MMA fighters, on the other hand, achieve victory by physically beating down another person. Points aren’t awarded for getting a ball into an end zone, but by landing more strikes (kicks, punches, elbows, etc.) on your opponent. Bonuses are actually given out for “Knockout of the Night.” The main difference between football and MMA is the core principle of violence.
There is no way for us to square MMA with Paul’s words in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” MMA is not pure because its core value is a result of the impure, the Fall.
If you’re a Christian who watches MMA, I’m not saying I doubt that you’re a Christian. But I do encourage you to examine yourself and examine MMA. How does it line up with the gospel?
Do you agree or disagree? In light of the immense popularity of mixed martial arts, I believe this is a conversation that needs to happen. Why not have it here?