Although some may see nothing more than brutality and ancient eastern mysticism associated with mixed martial arts, many Christians are using the sport as a way to praise God.
Mark Driscoll, named one of the 25 most influential pastors of the past 25 years by Preaching magazine, has recognized that people may have preconceived notions about MMA based on its origins. In “A Christian Evaluation of Mixed Martial Arts,” the pastor attempts to redeem the sport in the eyes of Christians on his blog.
“Some argue that we should reject MMA because some aspects of the sport stem from Eastern religions and philosophy,” the pastor explained. “MMA involves a host of various combat traditions, including disciplines such as wrestling and boxing that do not have roots in Eastern religion.”
Instead of shunning those who enjoy MMA, the Seattle based pastor said that Christians should rely on their individual conscience to distinguish whether or not they should watch or participate in the sport.
“I would argue the line should be drawn wherever one’s conscience permits. But to bind everyone with your conscience is to do what the Bible forbids,” Driscoll wrote. “All of God’s people are to obey all of God’s Word, and beyond that we are to operate according to conscience. Many Christians are involved in MMA as their conscience dictates.”
The pastor named MMA fighters like UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones who tattooed Philippians 4:13 on his chest, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Vitor Belfort who is a Christian, and former WEC Lightweight Champion Ben Henderson who walks into his fights playing gospel music.
In a previous interview with UFC, Jones said he had no problem being known as a Christian MMA fighter.
“I think being remembered for standing for something is a lot more important than just for a cool move that you did,” Jones said. “I’d rather be known as that Christian fighter or that peaceful fighter or that fighter that’s spreading positivity and kindness and confidence and way more than tactics. It’s important.”
Roger Pattison, a training partner at Capital MMA in Alexandria, Va. released a statement saying that Christians and the MMA were a good match.
“Christianity and MMA are completely compatible,” Pattison said. “A surface glance at it and many will just see a couple of brawlers caged like dogs. Once you understand the history behind the styles, the technical aspect and the respect that is inherent in this sport then you will truly appreciate what it has to offer.”