Lovers of Violence?

Are American Christians contributing to the devaluation of life?

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.

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8 thoughts on “Lovers of Violence?

    • Only if it’s the Chiefs! And as a life-long Georgia Bulldog fan, I’d view Tebow more as Alaric. 🙂

      Seriously, while I would find distinctions between football (as well as other sports) and MMA, I do see the glorification of sports (and entertainment in general) to be similar to that of the Roman empire. Nothing wrong with them in themselves or in enjoying them, but the place they are given in our culture far outweighs their importance.

  1. I guess I think about the glorification of violence when I think of NFL football in specific. Those guys regularly knock folks unconscious and guys regularly get injured. It seem that the rougher the game the more that some like it. Not sure when the game got so violent. I really don’t remember it being that way when I was growing up. Do you think that fans have become spectators in a modern day Colosseum?

    • As players have gotten bigger, stronger, and faster, the game has certainly gotten more physical – so I can see your point to a certain degree. Enjoying the “regulated violence” is something a Christian fan should be cautious about slipping into.

      I’m not sure I’d go too far with the comparison, though. NFL crowds have yet to reach the blood-lust of the Romans. When a player IS injured you usually hear a respectful silence, players praying . . . an overall atmosphere of concern instead of the crowd calling for his death.

      Another distinction that I would draw is that the violence/brutality of football is a by-product of the game (it can be played without that sense of violence, and violence is not the goal). The gladiatorial combat as well as the MMA/UFC has violence as its means AND end.

      I would note also there are other parallels between modern sports and ancient games. For example, the modern crowds are likely motivated by craving for a sense of vicarious experience – something they have in common with the Roman crowds in the Colosseum. I think this is a danger regardless of the type of entertainment, something to be concerned about, and perhaps an interesting topic to explore in a future post.

      [It’s late as I’m posting this comment, so I hope this rambling makes some form of rational point. I may read this in the morning with regret!]

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