Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Christians in the UFC

In the last several years the Ultimate Fighting Championship has hit the scene with force that seems to be potentially unstoppable. During the early 90's the UFC, which is mixed martial arts fighting (MMA), was banned throughout most of the country. In fact it was on the precipice of extinction. Why, you ask? I suppose the problem was the fact that it was brutal. Many nay sayers attributed the UFC with being the human version of cock fighting. True, it is not for the faint of heart, then again neither is football, kickboxing, bull riding or any other of the countless sporting events that are hazardess to your health. 
Allow me to briefly explain for those  of you who are unaware of the sport. MMA is basically taking many forms of martial arts and combining them in an arena that allows you to strategically use them offensively and defensively to defeat the opposition. Such martial arts include: Kickboxing, jujitsu, wrestling, boxing and etc... These forms of martial arts include submissions and ground and pound tactics, which is where, for most, the brutality comes in. The entire point of the fight is to win by whatever means necessary. This might include submitting the opponent, or nocking the opponent unconscious. Many times the fight comes to a judges decision based on the points that were earned by striking during the match. For better or for worse this is the concept. 
     Having followed the UFC for a number of years now I've come to know a lot of the fighters in all the classes. Of course I don't know them personally, however, you see someone so much on television you feel like you know them right? Anyway, every now and then there is a fighter who professes to be a Christian. I don't mean they make a reference to thanking God after a fight, but that they really act like  Christ followers and conduct themselves, through word and deed, as a Christian would. 
I would like to hear some feedback from you as to how you feel about Christians being in the UFC. Should Christians get in the octagon and beat each other to a pulp as an occupation. Does God call Christians to fighting occupations to be Salt and Light? Consider this and please respond with your convictions or support.


Anonymous said...

Two scriptures come to mind...
Paul said "All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful..."

"The body is the temple of God,... anyone who destroys it, God will destroy."

I do not think this advances the Kingdom of God. Just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I think Christie made very good points using very relevant scriptural references. However, I think there is something different in the male psyche, the physiological and mental composition of males, that allow for Christ-like expression within this type of primal competition. However, I can barely stomach UFC/MMA fights myself...Mitch

Alan Burchfield said...

Thanks for your input Christie and Mitch. However, I have another question for you to consider. Out of curiosity, where do you draw the line? Could football, boxing, competitive wresting, etc.. fall under the same category as far as not advancing the Kingdom of God? All offer their own degrees of brutality. In an attempt at wanting to be consistent how do you reconcile the other sports? Just wondering, not arguing.

Anonymous said...

Good point about drawing the line, each would have to make his own decision about whether or not God would have them be a part. I know there are somethings that God has impressed upon me to do that He hasn't said to others.... For instance, I know that I can't go to a casino for any reason or buy alcohol to cook with...because I am a witness for him in the Sunday school class I teach and the children I am raising and their friends. Whereas others feel free to do it...Just an example. The Holy Spirit will tell them if they should be there or not or if we should be. I couldn't watch. Christie

Anonymous said...

BTW, all the youth are on facebook and some of the grownups!!! Ha!!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Christie. Although the Bible clearly identifies some things as sinful, I don't think any of us can draw a line on many behaviors or actions. It's different for different people based on their own personal relationship with Christ. And I know that my own lines have changed periodically. It usually means restricting certain types of behavior or actions, but sometimes the opposite is true....MM

Anonymous said...

While beating another's face in may not be the "Christian thing to do," what we have to realize is that Christians are a minority in a secular world. We are called to preach the Gospel everywhere. Be it pro wrestling, MMA fighting, or your office cubicle, it's up to you to bring Christ to the one next to you.

Now, while hurting someone intentionally is not Christian, being a good athlete requires some dedication and discipline, as does being a Christian. A fighter may win a fight and pause to thank his "Lord Jesus Christ" but does his life outside the octagon say as much about that dedication as his time in the gym training can say about his MMA record? If it doesn't, maybe he's not truly honoring his Christ as he should be.

Anonymous said...

You may also see some of Paul's comments on the benefits of physical activity.

Or the full armor of God.

Or all the wars fought in the OT.

Or Jesus' crucifixion for that matter.

The bible is full of references - specific and implied - about violence and doesn't necessarily take a particular view on it, except when the intent of violence is to harm.

The fact remains that the world, from Cain & Abel to present times is not, has not been, and will not be nice, pretty, and peaceful.

Few of us work in a truly "Christian" job - be it business, sports, public sector, defense, etc. Just because a sport has some brutality does not make it inherently evil or ungodly.

Yes, there are Christians in UFC (look at Matt Hughes if you want an example). Yes, there are Christians who watch the UFC. Neither is sinful.

Anonymous said...

Hey Man from maine at your service... I got saved and im borna again.. about one year ago. Ive watched the tremendous growth in myself through christ and the holy spirit. I have been led and called to start training and some day when gods ready for me. enter the octagon. I never thought i would be a fighter for sport. Im fighting with god in my corner. For purpose of that when i make money fightting im going to use it to build churches and fix old ones up. Along the way i know i can reach many people and minister the word of god through my life testimony and scriptures. God can use any one for anything, or any career on this earth to further the kingdom of god. God is in control not humans. We as christians dont have the right to tell people what to do. God is my boss. My commander. Hes in my corner fighting beside me. Hes even living with in me through out the week. Stay pure and dont give into temptation all you christian soldiers out there put on your armor and sharpen your swords for our eternal mighty God. The Alpha and the Omega.... God Bless

One Stop said...

Does it pass the Phil 4:8 test? Would Jesus watch a UFC fight? Would the early Christians, or were forced to be the entertainment for a blood thirsty Rome participate? It's feeding appetites not just for sport, but those who want to see a good, bloody, knock-out fight. Why do you think boxing is too tame for these fans now?

It may not be sinful, but like Paul says, it also is neither expedient.

We have a much better witness than to have a good submission hold.

One Stop said...

Is the goal in football to destroy your opponent or to make a score? If the goal of wrestling to beat your opponent unconscious?

I'm in the air about boxing - though it's easy to differentiate boxing from the bloody octagon of death. Yes, we must each make that decision. Now, I'm seeing pastors, high-exposure pastors, promoting UFC. Disappoints me, I guess you can say.

Anonymous said...

It is a personal thing for sure.
The question is not; is it good or bad, but rather why do you/I watch it? If you have some kind of blood lust, or a desire to see people suffer then perhaps you need to speak to someone about that (and soon!), however if you are watching two warriors fight using skill, expertise, tactics and strength then it is a fantastic sport and thanks to regulations and medical considerations it is surprisingly safe (compared to boxing for example). Can I state for those not so familiar with the sport that 'beating to a pulp' is not the goal of these fights and many do not end in someone laying on the mat covered in blood. You can win a fight a number of ways - and the fighter can quit with a simple tap-out.
Personally I like the fact that high profile Christians like Mark Driscoll support the sport and I support those Christian fighters that carry the message of God to an area/industry that perhaps wouldn't otherwise hear it.
I think it is great that Alan has raised this subject.
James (UK)

Holli Yargo said...

MMA is a sport. It's not violence. I think Christie misunderstands the point of the scripture she is referring to. Sure, there are some immature fighters who get into fights outside the cage but, with the exception of a very few, are usually not successful at this sport. I'm female and I love the sport! I get it. It's pure and simple. --Holli (former writer for Fighter-of-Faith)

Holli Yargo said...

To Onestop: Bloody cage of death? Really? Name me one MMA fighter who has died as a direct result of this sport. I can name you MANY boxers, football players,skiers, snowboarders, and other non-combat-sport athletes who have been killed or permanently and critically injured in their respective sport. MMA is a man to man, full-contact chess match of skill, athleticism, strategy, and heart. Even John McCain, the man who coined the phrase "human cockfighting" has recanted his thoughts on the sport once rules for safety were put into place and he learned to understand it for what it is...a sport.

Anais SDR said...

I pray all will hear this. I used to live and breathe fighting and sports. I grew up doing it being trained by a former 5 time heavyweight champ of the world. I along with any athlete know that in order to be the best you have think your the best. The bible is clear that we must think of others as better than themselves.
Phl 2:3 "[Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves"
The scriptures also teach us : phil 4:8 that we are to think upon that which is lovely and pure"
fighting to beat your opponent at the cost of harming him is not lovely and pure.
I constantly hear from non believers that UFC is in no way for Christians . It seems only Christians who watch this stuff are in the defence to justify.
The bible tells us we become what we behold in 2 cor 3:18.
And finaly; we all say the prayer "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven". If you cant imagine the angels in heaven drawing blood from eachother in a cage match then please stop doing it or don't say the prayer.
We should all ask the question at all times wherever we go. "Can I invite Jesus with me to this fight or bar or whatever it is" If not then we should not go.

I am not here to be judgemental but believe the scriptures firmly stand against such. We must loose sight of self and behold the lamb if we will enter into the gates into the city.
God bless

Julie said...

Everyone has already summed up the main points and brought in scripture reference well. I just want to say I'm impressed at how the comments, for the most part, are not some heated argument, but logically pose each side's beliefs. I personally am of the belief that if the Holy Spirit convicts you that this is sin, it is sin for you. I'm frankly not interested in it, but I have a close Christian friend who is (and he's studying to be a pastor), which is why I was looking up more about the sport and the Christian view of it. The more I read, the more I can see that it has a lot to do with motive, and it's important that we don't judge the character of the fighters without knowing them. It is not our place to assume it is wrong, since the Bible is not specific on this topic, and it is not an essential issue for salvation.

Anonymous said...

As a Christian and a martial artist I watch the UFC... I also know Pastors watching it and in fact are fans... I believe being in such is non-essential to the issue of salvation... And it how you see it... These guys are there because it is their job and they are there to test each other's techniques. If you notice that after the fight fighters often hug and even encourage and praise one another... I remember in my tournament days (Tae Kwon Do)... I am not their to kill my opponent but it is to test how much I've learned versus the opposing martial artist. As Christians I believe we shouldn't judge these guys who knows that maybe they're even at a more mature relationship with God than us. I guess that's why in everything (you might be an accountant, a doctor, a programmer, a lawyer, or even as a martial artist) we offer it to God.

Anonymous said...

Stage Rage