Mixed Martial Arts (MMA): Does God Support 'Jungle Fighting'?

The Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competition taking place in Brazil has generated debate as to whether a sport that aims to "crush" an opponent is anti-Christian in nature.

Although Evangelical Christian fighter Vitor Belfort recently defended the sport by claiming that there is a separation between sport and religion, the brutal sport has continued to generate controversy and heated debate among religious and non-religious groups.

Famous Brazilian journalist Milton Neves recently compared the MMA with the Colosseum in Rome, and the modern day Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

"Spartacus would never practice MMA nor would Nero permit this kind of carnage at the Colosseum in Rome!" Neves wrote.

A large majority of Christians are opposed to the violent sport, especially among pastors and evangelical leaders.

"What sport is this? Does a fallen person, who is unable to react, and who cannot even defend himself, need to be punched in the head so hard?" a pastor from Assembly of God in Rio de Janeiro, Ciro Sanches Zibordi, wrote on his blog.

According to Zibordi, Christians should prioritize the sanctification of their bodies, and value God’s creation by taking care of their bodies. The Pastor highlighted that violence should not be ignored.

However, taking a more neutral position, another Brazilian pastor Renato Vargens said that the MMA sport is simply replacing boxing.

"Well, some people reject this sport because they think is too violent, others believe that any kind of martial arts is ‘something for dogs.’ Do not demonize a sport just because you consider it too violent," said Vargens.

However, not all Christians reject the sport for its violence. Evangelical Senator Magno Malta climbed into the octagon fighting ring in Rio de Janeiro this weekend to honor the sport.

"Brazil took the tractor and went to its supremacy in the world of MMA," said Malta referring to the massacre of Brazilian athletes. Malta added "God is Faithful. Today, He is the greatest promoter of the `jungle fight` in Brazil."

Pastor Geremias do Couto of the Assembly of God Church considers the sport inappropriate for a Christian. "I respect those who participate and watch it, but the violence of the sport does not match with principles of a Christian life."

Michael Caceres contributed to this article.

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