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Mike McKinley responds to this NYT piece on churches using mixed martial arts to draw people to the gospel. (See, e.g., Xtreme Ministries or Jesus Didn’t Tap [tap=give up].) Here are Mike’s concerns about the resurgence of macho Christianity:

  1. It’s derivative and unoriginal. It was lame when Billy Sunday was doing it 100 years ago.
  2. It makes the gospel man-centered. Coming to Jesus isn’t a way for you to deal with your daddy issues. I get it, your dad didn’t hug you when you were little and you want to be a different kind of man. How about you go hug your kid then? Jesus didn’t come to help you get in touch with your inner MMA fighter.
  3. Like it or not, the gospel is at least in part about weakness. It’s about the almighty becoming weak to save us. It’s about us being helpless and unable in our sins. There’s no way to Christ that doesn’t start with brokenness and an admission of impotence. Yes, Jesus is the strong man who binds the adversary, but he bound him by suffering, humiliation, and weakness.
  4. It discourages and mocks godly men who aren’t macho. There is an undercurrent of disdain in all of this. Proponents of this testosterone Christianity can’t help but take shots at guys who wear pastels and drink cappuccino. You might not like guys with manicures, but there’s absolutely nothing morally wrong with it. A reserved, quiet, well-groomed man can be a good Christian. Believe it or not.

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66 thoughts on “Jesus Didn’t Come to Help You Get In Touch with Your Inner MMA Fighter”

  1. Roger King says:

    Did he just call Billy Sunday lame?… :(

    1. No. He called “It” “lame”. “It” was something apparently Billy Sunday was doing along the lines of macho ministry. Billy Sunday was used by God to accomplish many great things, but as a fallen man he wasn’t perfect. Apparently this was something he did that wasn’t perfect.

  2. sean leroy says:

    Don’t know if I’d write a similar piece – kinda nit-picky – but I did esp like his #3…

  3. A reserved, quiet, well-groomed man can be a good Christian.

    MMA fighters and fans can be good Christians too. Many such people are also reserved, quiet, (and) well-groomed.

  4. Real men don’t have to prove it.

  5. adam says:

    I don’t TOTALLY disagree with him, and I find the religious language they use annoying and no better than the other Christian marketing material out there and I am not an MMA guy, I don’t watch it, (and some may find it ‘lame’) but…

    I would never characterize Jesus was ‘weak’ or that Christianity or the gospel is about ‘weakness’. Think about it, Jesus knew that he was going to be crucified (with what seems like every chance to escape) and still went forward ‘like a lamb to the slaughter’ that is the opposite to weak!! At least the ‘weak’ that is known to most. Running away would be weak.

    Jesus was not weak, he was meek!! (there is a fundamental difference)

    And I think there are a lot of good traits that can come from it. If someone thinks its just guys jumping into the ring to punch someone they would be greatly mistaken. There is also learning, discipline, training (endurance) and being sportsmanlike (as a Bible college grad I know a lot of Christian guys have trouble with the last one!!!). Of course it would have it’s dangers if not followed by proper teaching on meekness as well, but calling Jesus ‘weak’ (and thus asking Christians to be weak) is just as dangerous!

    I’m not “macho”, I have no desire to be, and I don’t feel mocked by this. If this is how some guys want to find other Christian men with common interests, talk to non-Christians about Jesus, get teaching (that is hopefully is well rounded – despite the emphasis), I say go for it.

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Adam, note 2 Cor 13:4 on Jesus’ weakness and ours: “For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.”

  6. Seth Kempf says:

    Real men DO have to prove it…but, you’re right, not necessarily through being an MMA fighter.

  7. Tim Bertolet says:

    To quote Mark Dever: “What you win them with is what you win them to.”

    Somehow I don’t think the image of Jesus as a mix martial arts fighter comports with the Gospels’ picture of a Jesus’ whose yoke is light and who does not break a bruised reed or snuff out a smoldering wick.

    Would this MMA fighting not be analogous to the same kind of passionate fighting we see taken up by the Zealots, albeit by fists instead of swords? While the kingdom of God doesn’t create androgynous or feminized men, such alternate vision of passion, manliness and toughness is hardly the path of the kingdom.

    I’m all in favor of promoting strength and responsibility among men but “macho” is hardly strength–it can be the sort of bravado that hides an empty soul like a white washed tomb.

    It’s ironic that this whole ‘gospel use of MMA’ reminds me of those ‘super-apostles’ that Paul confronted in 2 Cor., who were apparently quite fond of slapping their congregants around (2 Cor. 11:20). Have we really come full circle?

  8. Roberto G says:

    Concerning MMA… I think there can be a genuine Christian appreciation for MMA competition and athletes. Whether this should be used to support “macho” Christianity is another story. I think such gimmicks are wrong.
    But MMA’s growing popularity is due to men’s (across the board) attraction to it. Whether macho or non-macho men. We like competitive contact sports.
    There are knuckle heads who simply like the violence.
    However, most mixed martial artists’ attitude towards their “job” is identical to other athletes. They do what they do to be the best full contact fighters they can be and earn a living at it.
    Real appreciation enters the picture in that MMA puts many good aspects on display. Starting backwards.
    Most MMA fights end with both fighters hugging it out(sometimes even kissing eachother on the cheek). Not exactly macho, but very sportsmans-like.
    The fights themselves are as much mental as they are physical.
    This in itself shows that it’s not mere human cock-fighting.
    The training involved requires time, hard work, and dedication.
    I think these are all positive and admirable.
    There is also a motif that I think is legitimate to make a connection with MMA. God is a warrior. The biblical storyline includes a definite warrior motif.
    And even though God became weak, it should not be forgotten that God’s “weakness” is stronger, wiser, and more relentless than what our enmity has to offer in opposition to Him.
    So, no, the Lord Jesus most certainly didn’t come to help us get in touch with our inner MMA fighter. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. And He did it as the Divine Warrior.

  9. Tim Bertolet says:

    According to the NYT piece, at events “Vendors hustle hot dogs and “Predestined to Fight” T-shirts. ”

    –well at least they’re Calvinists… *sarcasm*

  10. Joey says:

    In 2 Corinthians, and elsewhere, Paul definitely makes the case that the power of God flows through our weakness. When we are weak, he is strong. So I think the point is well made that Christianity is about our weakness in some respect, and that idea can be lost in the arrogance of macho ism.

  11. This was awesome. Great post, Mike McKinley.

  12. Andy says:

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with having Christian guys get together to train for MMA together. I also don’t think there is anything wrong with Christian guys not being in to MMA, and more into music or art or anything.

    Everything to the glory of God. These are wise guidelines, so long as they apply in specified form to everything we do.

  13. Chris says:

    Since the men believe that this is how masculinity is demonstrated, maybe we should allow the women to take up pole-dancing classes for the sake of their femininity. The outsider would love that.

    Western Christendom is over. These idiots are just pushing it further into the depths of trash culture.

    1. RJD says:

      Well said, good analogy.

    2. Andy says:

      Idiots, Chris? Or brothers in Christ?

      1. chris says:

        Idiotic brothers. Maybe brothers, but certainly idiotic. Do you not agree? I mean, really. Are for everything now, against nothing except the idea that somethings are just plainly stupid?

        Have we come that far, that we assert the notion that we are manly, but we balk at the idea that men can still call a spade a spade. Are we that effeminate in our speech, not knowing how to actually say things, so we go to the mattresses instead?

        Like I said, Western Christendom is dead, because it is in bed with the culture of death. Long live Christ!!

        1. Chris,

          Well, I sort of agree. I do not think that “mixed martial arts” are sinful to practice, especially as training for our armed forces/police forces ordained of God for our protection. But to pummel another made in the image of God as the sole purpose of the “game” is not wise or good.

          I am not, however, certain of what you mean by “Western Christendom.” And if it is indeed dead, I sure hope the “Eastern Christendom” is still kicking. Or the Northern Christendom. Or Christendom somewhere.

          1. chris says:

            Brad,
            Christendom means the whole cultural influence of the Gospel, not just within the church, but as the foundation of vocation and practical living in all the spheres of life- business, law, statecraft, institutions, etc.

            The church has caved on so much that culture is now just a flat, barren landscape. Steve Jobs’ iPad is a cultural marker now, and that is what gets attention. Institutional dominion is of little interest to most Christians, save for Doug Wilson and a few others.

            1. Calvin says:

              Ahh, i see Chris your into the New Perspective or you are Post-Mill? Which one is it?

              1. chris says:

                New perspective? I have read hardly a stitch of NT Wright, so no. Post-mill? Yeah.

                Is this a test of some kind?

                I am a huge fan of Dooyeweerd too, does that get me a lolly or something?

              2. Calvin says:

                Sorry I meant to say Federal Vision not New Perspective.

                Just trying to see where your coming from with your comments about how Western Christendom is dead.

                O yeah and the fact that your a “huge fan of Dooyeweerd” does not get you any prize it just lets us know that you are a nerd.

    3. Josh S. says:

      By far my favorite comment so far.

  14. Joel Enoch Wood says:

    Key point in the NYT piece:

    “…in the hope of making Christianity more appealing.”

    That is the humanism driving most of the contemporary church… making Christianity appealing. It’s is the Spirit that regenerates the heart, prepares the heart as a farmer prepares the soil, to receive the seed of the implanted word. We can’t stand the thought that we would pour our lives into something that the vast majority of people would reject… the Gospel. So we make it about them so they’ll be attracted to it and “get” it. What they get is a big dose of us and nothing of the gospel.

    1. sam says:

      “…in the hope of making Christianity more appealing.”

      This was not a direct quote of any Christian MMA fighter; the best I can tell this was simply commentary by the NY Times writer. NYT is trying to interpret what they see as a “phenomenon” through their humanist lens. I’m not sure any of the actual quotes of the Christians involved display similar sentiment.

      I’ve said elsewhere, is it a surprise that there are Christians in the MMA world? Are only certain Christians called to honor God in their profession? I say praise God that there are witnesses to Christ in that sport!

  15. Mike says:

    I love MMA and have watched it for 15 years. I think its fine to invite a neighbor over to watch a fight. I find nothing inherently incorrect with it any more than watching a football game together. However, trying to backdoor the gospel on them is sleight of hand. This really comes down to a matter of what a person believes about mans ultimate decision factor in salvation. Hey, if I believed synergism was correct, I would have an MMA ministry as well!

  16. David (not Adrian's Son) Rogers says:

    If all things are determined by God to occur for His glory and if one cannot argue from explicit Scripture against something, then how can this activity be criticized as “derivative” and “unoriginal” and “lame”? God ordained it to occur; can anything then actually be “mediocre”? Unbiblical, yes. Cite the Scriptures. Mediocre? Did God indeed give rock and roll to us?

    1. Chris says:

      David,
      Just because something is, does not mean it ought to be or has ethical sanction. This is a dangerous argument you are suggesting here, if not altogether silly. Remember, God may have ordained the destruction of Israel and her captivity, but He destroyed the nations who acted on His behalf in her destruction. What they did was wrong, although ordained by God. Even as Jesus was crucified according to God’s will, but the one’s who did it, the Jewish nation, were destroyed in 70 AD.

      The fact that this stuff is up for discussion is just more evidence that Christendom is over. There have always been fighters for vanity, throughout the centuries, but it is only in our day that it is being presented in this manner. Are we better than our fathers?

      My question is: is this a legitimate vocation? These guys are not soldiers defending a country, or even necessarily fathers defending their families. They are men taking advantage of blood-lust in others.

      Besides they take what is metaphorical in Scripture and turn it around back into a reality. Second, they use the notion of having been predestined in a way that is not necessarily an ethical justification, as I mentioned before. Just because thins are predetermined it does not follow that everything is good. This is a deeply confused view of God’s ways.

      1. David (not Adrian's Son) Rogers says:

        By what Scriptural standards do you judge these activities to “lame” or “legitimate”?

        I am asking for a biblical standard for evaluating things to be “lame” or “mediocre”?

        I asked questions. It is an opportunity for a Calvinist to make a biblical apologia against mediocrity.

        My questions do not give enough insight to evaluate whether I am making a “dangerous argument” or not. You are reading between lines that are not explicitly given.

        Cite the Scriptures.
        Make the explanations.
        Improve your theological reasoning by the process.
        If successful, Calvinism is improved.

        Release the hounds.

      2. Mike says:

        Hey Chris, you asked “is this a legitimate vocation?” and stated “They are men taking advantage of blood-lust in others.” My rhetorical question for you is this…do you like boxing, football, hockey or Lucross? If so and you find these to be legitimate sports, then your assertions are not logically consistent ; ) of course you have to agree these other “violent” sports are legitimate.

        1. chris says:

          Mike,
          I skateboard. My only adversary is the concrete. I am not a sports-fan, save for tennis and cricket- sports of the kings bro.

          But, about your argument: I don’t think the point of the sports you listed is to take-down your opponent, it is to score goals. Boxing excepted, of course.

          David,
          You said that “God ordained it to occur, can anything then be mediocre?” This is what I was referring to. Besides, I never even used the word mediocre. I would call it idiotic and trashy, a heaping, stinking pile of refuse with no place in the life of the church, carrying with it the smell of rank death and vanity. But, I would never call it mediocre.

          1. Jeremy says:

            Chris –

            As a former football player I assure you that while “scoring” is the ultimate goal, the mindset of almost all players is physical violence (not that it makes it justified). “The Hit” is something that is sought after like a drug. This doesnt in anyway justify the article above, however I just wanted to add to your thoughts on the objectives of the sports listed by Mike :)

            1. chris says:

              Point taken. Thanks. Add football to the refuse heap.

    2. James says:

      First of all that fact that God ordains whatever comes to pass is a Biblical truth that has to be acknowledged Ephesians 1:11, says it. We also know that man is evil and he is judged by God for it because God is against it. In the Old Testament, David sinned against God, 2 Samuel 11. Part of the judgement of God on David for his sin was that one of his sons Abslom would fornicate with his wives on a rooftop.

      God tells David “Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’ ” 2Samuel 12:11-12.

      Notice God said “I will do this in broad daylight,” I understand that to mean that God ordained this abomination. At the same time, God did not make Abslom do anything he did not want to do, Abslom’s intentions were evil while God’s were not. Then God judged Abslom.

      David Rogers,

      God hates evil, and he wants us to hate evil aswell. And God wants his children to obey his word, it would be evil not to. How does the Bible tell us to talk about Jesus to unbelievers? The Bible never says “appeal to their flesh and then find a way to incorporate the Gospel.” The Bible tells us to preach “Christ and him crucified.” 1Cor 2. Some people will love it while others will not, our job is to get the message right and then preach it, not to improve it by making the packaging attractive to the lost. 2Corinthians 5:20 we are “ambassadors” not diplomats.

      1. David (not Adrian's Son) Rogers says:

        I have made no affirmation of this practice. It seems you guys are reading a whole lot into these questions I have asked. If this is “evil” then call it “evil” and “apostate” and back it up with scripture. Explicate specifically that this practice is “fleshly.” Or give me the standards from Scripture for evaluating “lameness” or show me how “lameness” = evil.

        In Phil. 1:15-18, note vs. 18 Paul “Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.” Did God ordain/determine all of the components of the “pretense/selfish ambition” proclamation to bring about his glory?

        Then why do you not rejoice rather than criticize?

        Could it be that God only “allowed” this “pretense/selfish ambition” for its end results but did not “ordain” all of its components that contributed to the end event of Gospel proclamation?

        Does God have the freedom to work synergistically? Or is he limited in that capacity? You can answer with insults (like Calvin did) or you can simply answer or explain your answer.

        N.B. The “you” in the above is a generic Calvinist “you” not a specific one directed to James or Chris.

        1. David (not Adrian's Son) Rogers says:

          God “works all things after the counsel of His will.” Does this have to mean He only works ALL THINGS [monergistically] after the counsel of His will, or does He have the freedom to work ALL THINGS [synergistically sometimes] after the counsel of His will [if he wants to]?

        2. James says:

          David, who has insulted you? All Calvinists are saying is that we don’t know the secret will of God, and you assumed by your question that we do. I don’t know always in the exact way a particular event, good or evil, how it will be to God’s glory.

          I have seen people come to Christ through listening to questionable people like Benny Hinn, or poor presentations of the Gospel. Does that mean that Benny is a true man of God, no becuase he has made a bunch of false prophesies and is into the word of faith movement. God will judge Benny and any other teacher, false or not, and he can also choose to use them.

          Calvinists, at least the Biblical ones, are not philosophically driven they are driven by making sense of the entire counsel of God. And where the Bible commands me not to do evil, and not to condone evil, I should obey and leave the rest to God.

          1. David (not Adrian's Son) Rogers says:

            No one has insulted me. I just noted that Calvin sometimes had a tendency to begin to answer questions about his theology with broad invectives against the “wickedness” of those who would dare? to raise contrary points. I have also noticed some contemporary Calvinists as doing the same. I’m not saying that it has happened yet but it may. And yes, I know some Arminians do the same.

            As I said above, the “you” is not directed specifically to the actual persons here but are directed generically to any Calvinist who wishes to engage. Now, to you James I say and ask.

            You noted in your reply,

            “I don’t know always in the exact way a particular event, good or evil, how it will be to God’s glory.”

            My questions are directed not toward the white-black categories of good-evil but toward asking Calvinists to give criteria for evaluating “lameness” or “mediocrity” given the Calvinist principle that God “ordains/determines” ALL THINGS and I would ask whether he chronologically then initiates ALL THINGS, thus initiating the mediocre crapola that I produce in my efforts. (The quote marks are for emphasis on the conceptual terms not necessarily an indication of citation — I don’t know how to use italics in this commenting box)

            How involved is God in the ordaining/determining and I ask, in the “initiating”, of those events and products that many say are “lame”?

            Did God ordain/determine the MMA evangelism techniques to be “lame” “derivative” and “unoriginal” or is that the pathetic contribution of weak vessels?

            Also again, in light of Phil. 1:18 do you “rejoice” with regard to the MMA evangelism techniques?

          2. David (not Adrian's Son) Rogers says:

            Also, my questions are articulated in order to discern how well the Calvinist theological system can address questions like mine. Appealing to mystery can be seen as a weakness. Now, it may be an inevitable necessity (and actually, one will inevitably have to appeal to it) but why is the appeal to mystery only one which Calvinists can appeal? Why cannot Arminians when their system is challenged for answers appeal that we don’t know all about how God does something but that doesn’t defeat the system?

            The worthiness of a theological system is improved when it makes some attempt at an answer. Who knows, you may give good answers that move be toward Calvinism? Doesn’t God ordain means as wells as ends? And did he ordain everything about the MMA means toward the ends and thus one should rejoice?

  17. James says:

    Everynow and then I will look at an MMA fight, but I dont understand why we need MMA in the church. When I read the line “making Christianity more appealing,” I was dissapointed. Where is that in the Bible? That we are suppose to make church appealing to unbelievers by appealing to their flesh. It’s not. Chris is correct, what’s next? attracting women to church by appealing to something in their flesh? like somehow making church appealing to feminists.

    1. Mike says:

      Just an encouragement to think about events where you’re Church reaches out. Are you having a Super Bowl party, car wash, mechanics helps, movie night or whatever else. Now, take the same set of logical principle as outlined in the beginning of the blog and see if they fit any of the categories. It should be a fun one to see if your thinking is consistent ; )

  18. James says:

    Chris what do you mean “Christendom is over?”

    1. chris says:

      Western Christendom has no clue about its cultural mandate, so instead the people argue for a total submission to whatever comes down the road, including this heap of garbage everyone is discussing here.

      That is what I mean.

      1. James says:

        I see, I agree with you bro.

      2. Cody says:

        Chris, so… hows your local church doing? and are you helping it improve daily? Hows the your local Christian MMA academy, still keeping lost, young, hopeless kids off the streets and out jail? What was last weeks bible study about after MMA practice? (rhetorical)….. we are the Body. we are suffering for His glory. lets make the moves needed to improve our ques., where we’re at is where we’re needed. MMA MAY be a needed bridge, time will tell,… but for those who are on STILL building that bridge, lets not as brothers, burn them while they TRY to bridge the gap for a lot of young, lost souls…. all for His glory.

      3. Cody says:

        thats all he was saying too…. FROM MIKES OWN BLOG::: “Now, look. Except for Menikoff, I am the biggest fan of tattoos on this blog (btw Aaron, I told you so about that ink on the inside of your lip… bad news, brother!). And I like contact sports a lot. In fact, I can’t even watch MMA because I don’t like who I become when I’m watching it.

        But I hate this “macho” resurgence in Christianity. I’d be inclined to ignore it, but it seems to be growing and being pushed from high profile platforms.

        1. Cody says:

          WRONG post. thx

  19. Clint says:

    It is interesting that we are the ones who love the doctrines of grace and yet criticizing “2nd class Christianity” is our next greatest love. Lamer than Billy Sunday.

  20. Damon Titus says:

    Thanks Mark (writer of the piece). I’ll go ahead and share it with my two brothers at church who MMA. You know, the ones who think manliness is found in following Jesus. The ones who love me: A non-mma guy who wears a tie to work, shaves with a badger brush, and use brylcreem in his hair.

    1. Damon Titus says:

      The ones who are usually quiet and reserved, and who are incredibly tender and loving to their wives and children.

  21. Jason Mallow says:

    First things, you have to separate the MMA issue itself. The fact that some churches are having “ministries” that train and/or support MMA fighting isn’t so surprising. There have been Christian Boxing gyms around for a long time and I’ve been to churches that offered a martial arts class(not MMA) as an opportunity for fellowship and as a means of interacting with unbelievers. On one hand there will always be “Christian” ministries that go too far but just because a church offers an MMA class doesn’t mean it’s encouraging its male members to drink beer/participate in the “MMA culture” any more than a church having members that are apart of a Christian Motorcycle club are partaking in “biker culture”. The blurring of the message of the gospel is dangerous and there are questions about what really is this “movement” (if there is such a thing) teaching men. However extremes can be telling and lessons can be learned even from misguided and error filled ministries. (of course that means dialing down the testosterone a bit in order to listen and think clearly)

  22. Theologian says:

    Chris,
    What a pessimistic view of the church you seem to hold. I am guessing you are in your twenties, wish you lived in another country because the grass looks greener. perhaps God is calling you to move into the two thirds world, but your assessment of western Christianity is too pessimistic, holds out no hope for change, and seems to be relatively unhelpful. anyone can say these bones are dead, but only one who has been called by God and empowered by Him can be the means of speaking life into deaf corpses.

    1. chris says:

      Theologian(?),
      Not the church, Christendom. I am forty-one years old, married for fifteen years and have four daughters.

      But yeah, you could say that I look at the better part of the institutions that claim to be the church, and would have to say that they have simply left off from the ancient paths. They have replaced worship of God with worship of men, and they legitimize every piece of trash that comes skipping down the road. Until there is deep repentance we will continue to see more of these carpet-baggers attempting to use the name of Christ to legitimize their crap.

      Cormac McCarthy has a great description of these kind of men in his book The Road:
      “Creedless shells of men tottering down the causeways like migrants in a feverland”.

      “What’s next! What’s next!” they cry. But “Remember” is never heard.

  23. Theologian says:

    deaf should be dead

  24. Brooks Waldron says:

    I think this post is a bit over stated, although I agree with the basic points. However, I think I detect in point 2 what seems to me to be a common false dichotomy that is popularly made among us reformed evangelicals. Mike says, “Coming to Jesus isn’t a way for you to deal with your daddy issues. I get it, your dad didn’t hug you when you were little and you want to be a different kind of man. How about you go hug your kid then?” By this comment, Mike seems to suggest that letting Jesus help you with your “daddy issues” is somehow necessarily opposed to the gospel and to gospel obedience. I understand if all Mike meant was that the way we deal with such issues is not necessarily to be macho men but to hug our own kids (I do think this is what he meant), but I don’t like the suggestion that the gospel does not help us deal with our “daddy issues.” Of course it does. Christ came to bind up the broken hearted, healing us of whatever issues we have so that we can indeed love our own children well. But moving too quickly to the advice, “you go hug your kid then”, before dealing truthfully with our own brokenness, seems exactly like the macho brand of Christianity that Mike is trying to correct.

  25. Rob French says:

    What about what we might call, for lack of a better word, the “life factor” or “safety factor”? Yes, I understand that we are not “under” the law as Christians–that is to say, we understand that we cannot seek or achieve righteousness via pursuit of the law. Nonetheless, the law itself does outline standards for us, standards that help to show us the character of Jesus–character that the Spirit is molding us into. There are various passages in the law that seem to imply liability for negligence/accidents (Ex 21:13) requiring the culprit to flee to a city of refuge. The point here, again, is not that we seek to obey the law of Moses, but that we recognize that the law is the way it is, because of who God is and the fact that man is made in God’s image. MMA, boxing, wrestling–and for that matter, a host of other sports–carry relatively high rates of injury, sometimes serious and/or potentially fatal. Are we disdaining life–life made in God’s image–when we promote these sorts of things? Are we guilty of negligence toward the lives of others?

  26. Matt Jacobs says:

    Okay, let me see if I understand this:

    Macho is ungodly, but sarcastic, caustic, cutting comments about those who may or may not be engaging in “machismo” are godly. Interesting.

    I say “may or may not be” because, after all, everyone’s comments in these posts (as well as McKinley’s piece) are all based on the NYT’s report of this “trend” and not our own experiences with the men in this trend. The MMA aspect may just be the “ice-breaker” that the leaders use to share and teach the gospel to these men. As far as we know, personally, these men could be legitimate believers in Christ with, perhaps, some less theologically refined understandings. The New York Times tells us otherwise, so let’s begin to assault these people.

    I guess I just assumed that believers didn’t just swallow at face-value everything written in the New York Times. Interesting, since the NYT also often describes Christians as fanatics and pro-life supporters as terrorists.

    My guess: the Lord is probably less concerned with the negative effect of “MMA Christianity” than He is with the effect that internet blogs have had on Christian discourse.

    Blessings to all,
    Matt Jacobs

  27. John says:

    I was a bit disappointed with this article because I thought he tangled and conflated several very important issues. The issue here is not “macho” Christianity (whatever that is), but “marketed” Christianity. 80 years ago boxing was the greatest sport in America. 20 years ago it was basketball. Who knows what will rule in 20 more years? I still remember the sports star themed tracts of the early 90s.

    Now the sudden interest and confusion over “manliness” is an entire other issue, involving both cultural ambiguity and Christian confusion.

  28. John says:

    @ Rob French
    Wretling does NOT carry a high injury rate. In fact, it has a per-capita injury rate lower baseball. Wrestling is specifically designed as a sport to protect the participants.
    FYI, what about construction work, welding, or driving a car (more deadly than football)?

  29. Rob French says:

    John,

    I don’t doubt that your comment about wrestling is correct. I was a wrestler (high school, collegiate-style) myself for three years, and loved the sport.

    I also admit that my comment was probably tangential to the discussion at hand.

    I would say that there is a difference between sports and other professions deriving from the fact that they are executed as entertainment. My point is merely that we should be very considerate as to how we reflect God’s character, which we certainly learn about in the law, in the things we do. Man is valuable, made in God’s image; thus we should be very protective of that image, as the OT law made clear.

    As in the OT law (Deut 19:5 for example) we need to be very careful in all avenues of life to protect the lives of others–certainly, Deut 19:5 wasn’t an injunction against woodcutting, or against woodcutting in a group.

    Look, I’m a military man, so please don’t assume this is academic to me. If I obey all the rules, yet still kill a friendly or civilian because I failed to apply sufficient judgment, I expect to be held accountable, as I should, because of the value of a man’s life. I’m just questioning the wisdom of elevating violence (mixed -martial- arts) for entertainment, with a real possibility of physical injury–all of which seems to me to reflect a lack of respect for the value of a man’s life–to some sort of gospel tool.

    1. John says:

      The statistic is from the National Library of Medicine, which ranks collegiate wrestilng injury at a rate of .96% – lower than baseball’s (to be fair, the majority of baseball injuries occur to the pitcher). And I agree with what else you wrote. That seems like a balanced perspective.

  30. Jason Mallow says:

    I posted some thoughts before but expanded and explored some more here : http://iclaimnothing.wordpress.com/2010/02/07/mma-christians-and-masculinity/

    I’d be interested in thoughts and critiques. (respectful ones of course)

  31. Barbara says:

    I am reminded of the words of Blair Wingo from her poem, “You Just Lost One” (presentation on YouTube). In it she speaks of the movies she used to attend:

    “I used to glory in the violence on that screen. And even though I never hurt anyone, I was being entertained by the same things that God destroyed the world for in Genesis 6. It says the earth was filled with violence…so the only reason I wasn’t destroyed? Was God’s kindness.

    *ahem*

  32. dave warner says:

    I think the point that Pastor Mike is trying to make here is that all this nonsense about being macho because Christ was macho, or inviting men with no father figure in to this MMA ministry so people will come to Christ.
    You see we are all dead in our sins in trespasses before coming to Christ, and just like a dead man we can do nothing to make ourselves alive! It is a supernatural work of God to breath life into our bodies and give us the ability to respond to Christ.
    So I believe what pastor Mike is saying is get back to the gospel and its transforming power, not to MMA and it’s transforming power.

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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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