Turn the Other Cheek…With Your Fist

Tossing aside lessons like “love your enemies” and “turn the other cheek” a number of evangelical churches are using mixed martial arts to recruit young people and spread the word that “Jesus was a fighter.”

This article in the New York Times contains the following:

The outreach is part of a larger and more longstanding effort on the part of some ministers who fear that their churches have become too feminized, promoting kindness and compassion at the expense of strength and responsibility.

“The man should be the overall leader of the household,” said Ryan Dobson, 39, a pastor and fan of mixed martial arts who is the son of James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, a prominent evangelical group. “We’ve raised a generation of little boys.”

And then there’s this quote during a fight from John Renken, pastor at Xtreme Ministries:

“Finish the fight! To the head! To the head!”

I can’t remember if he got that line from Matthew or Luke.

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3 Responses to “Turn the Other Cheek…With Your Fist”

  1. John says:

    Feodor Emelianenko, widely regarded as the best in the MMA world is an Orthodox Christian.

    Feodor: “I try to get a blessing before all important things, including my fights. God willing, my spiritual father[Archpriest] Andrei Zinoviev will make the trip [to fight in Thailand] with me.”

    Probably the most famous Orthodox Christian in the American sports arena is Troy Polamalu (Steelers).

    Polamalu: “This life that I struggle to live, I try to do so in the eyes of my spiritual father [Elder Ephraim of St. Anthony’s Monastery].”

    Each of these Orthodox athletes are in obedience to their spiritual fathers.

    Their faith and humility inform them as men who just happen to be professional athletes.

    The Evangelical MMA practitioners seem to be striving to have their faith (and apparently their very manhood) conform to the image of the MMA fighter.

    Big difference.

    Living out the Orthodox Christian faith is a life of ascesis, struggle against sin and evil in the world. I remember seeing the back of one of Feodor’s t-shirts that had a drawing of him choking out (with a rear naked choke) a dragon. In the Holy Scriptures, the dragon is a representation of the devil.

    Living out the faith Evangelical-MMA style is apparently about being a fighter, showing the world that one is a “winner” by beating or choking a fellow human being into submission.

    Big difference.

    Orthodox Christianity has lots fighting words to live by..just two examples:

    “The true Christian is a warrior making his way through the regiments of the invisible enemy to reach his heavenly homeland.”
    – St. Herman of Alaska

    “In every battle with the enemy, you must emerge victorious. Either die in the struggle,or win with God. There is no other road.”
    – Elder Joseph the Hesychast

    Maybe someday these unmanned Evangelical MMAers will to learn to fight in an Orthodox manner like Feodor and Troy.

  2. Marc Tumeinski says:

    Interesting editorial by Chris Ringwald, editor of the Catholic diocesan paper in Albany NY:

    http://www.evangelist.org/archive/htm10/0121opinion.html

    Love your enemies (Mt 5:44; Lk 6:27).

    A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so also you should love one another.

  3. Marc Tumeinski says:

    John 13:34 A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so also you should love one another.

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