The early Christians lived in a society saturated with a disregard for life. From infanticide to public executions to the brutality of the “games,” Rome knew little of the sanctity of life. Believers were decidedly counter-cultural on this matter. They refused to attend the games, and even renounced them at baptism. It was ultimately through Christian influence that these practices were outlawed.
In his recent article, What does the Bible say about mixed martial arts? , Adam Groza argues persuasively that a Christian should not enjoy the violence of such contemporary “games”:
Psalm 11:5 says, “The LORD examines the righteous and the wicked. He hates the lover of violence.” This is a hard verse for at least two reasons. First, it does not say that God simply hates violence, but rather, that God hates those who love violence. Second, it confronts our culture’s lust for violence, a lust which many Christians indulge rather than reject.
He goes on:
Baptists believe the Bible should inform every aspect of life. The Bible teaches that sin brought death, suffering, and violence to creation. Violence is something we may justly tolerate but never celebrate.
As noted in this article, the already-prevalent infatuation for MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) among Christians appears to be increasing. Groza describes a church which even uses UFC as a church event. They charge $10 and watch the fights on the big screen. When asked if MMA conflicts with scripture, the pastor replies, “If it was still no-holds barred, if it was underground or illegal, then yes. But this is legal and sanctioned. It’s got rules. You’re talking about stellar athletes, so I don’t believe it does at all.”
I find it interesting that he could just as well be describing the bouts between gladiators in the ancient arenas of Rome. Stellar athletes? Check! Legal? Check! Sanctioned? Check! No conflict with Scripture here.
Is it coincidental that as our society’s value for life has decreased, our craving for violence has increased? Has our determination to not appear “wimpy” overcome our desire to be Godly? Are we more concerned with being a free-willed American than a submitted Christian? Will we now be participants in the cultural shift we so decry? Will we ignore the clear declaration of Christ, “Blessed are the peacemakers?”
So far . . . not so good.