Welcome to Grace in a Cage – the series asking:
Is the world of mixed martial arts compatible with living for Christ?
It is a question I have asked myself for a while. Last year I read Liam Thatcher’s excellent post Who would Jesus punch?, a response to American pastor Mark Driscoll’s A Christian evaluation of mixed martial arts. Give them both a read if you have time. This is from Liam’s post;
[Driscoll] argues that Mixed Martial Arts (MMA, otherwise known as Ultimate Fighting or Cagefighting) is a misunderstood sport. It’s actually far safer than one might imagine, and it’s redeemable. Christians whose conscience allows them should feel free to watch it and participate in it. In a sense, I don’t have a problem with some of his conclusions, since although I don’t personally think MMA is a particularly edifying sport for a Christian to watch, I too think it’s a matter of conscience.
Liam goes on to question the legitimacy of some of the arguments Driscoll uses in his defence of MMA. I feel that Liam is right in most of his concerns. Some of Driscoll’s points are slightly unsound, and he focuses on secondary issues as if they are primary ones. This includes quoting statistics to show that MMA is not as dangerous as we all think (safer than cheerleading, apparently) therefore let’s give it the A ok.
Pretending for a moment that this is how we assess sports, let’s play spot the difference. These two athletes have both had a successful night in their respective fields.
I meander somewhat. The point is, the question is already out there and being addressed by people much more bible-literate and in Driscoll’s case (no offence Liam) capable of throwing a harder punch than myself. But I want to explore the subject for myself, and not just say “yeah, what he said” to whatever convincing point I happened to read last.
This series will work through the elements of MMA that are potentially at odds with how Jesus calls us to live. We will try to grasp what is at the heart of MMA. We will look at how scripture can guide us, and see some Christians involved in today’s MMA world. We will take into account the behaviour and demeanour of those who fight in MMA, as well as those who watch it. I will probably draw on my own limited experience of training mixed martial arts as well.
While my opinions and experiences will undoubtedly shape my writing, I do not have a preconceived conclusion for the series. Maybe there won’t be one. I write as a 25 year old who loves Jesus, and loves MMA, in that order. And that order is important. If I became convinced that watching or partaking in MMA is not honouring to Jesus, I would drop it. And you know what? It wouldn’t be too much of a biggy. Not when considered in the light of everything I’ve gained.
Is it possible to love your neighbour as you rear naked choke him into sleepy land? Can I do unto others as I would have them do to me whilst swinging a left hook at their head? Join me and let’s find out.