Several weeks ago, I had an extensive phone interview with a reporter from The New York Times about the growing popularity of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in the wide and nebulous net of "evangelical churches." The reporter had come across one of my previous blog entries and contacted me.
The NY Times article came out Feb. 2. You can click here to read the full article.
My hour interview was basically reduced to one quote:
"I don't live for the Jesus who eats red meat, drinks beer and beats on other men."
Let me clarify, since I have a feeling I'll be getting my share of visitors over the next couple days who have no idea of who I am or the context behind that one quote. But first, some initial thoughts:
- I don't have anything particularly against MMA. It's an exciting sport and just generally, I'm a recovering sports fanatic.
- I acknowledge that it's a legitimate sport and while I'm not really into to MMA and UFC, I occasionally watch it on TV. Umm, but I still vote boxing > MMA, and Pacquiao > St. Pierre.
- I don't even have problems with churches that have ministries around MMA -- especially as a means of connecting with men. OK.
- Thinking of creative ways to bring more people to your church so that they might become followers and disciples of Christ? Great.
- I personally wouldn't endorse an MMA ministry at Quest Church even if we have numerous dudes that love MMA. They get together for the big matches and often invite me to join them. When I go, I ask them to refer to me by my MMA name: Ragin' Asian.
What I have a problem with is when we have Christians, churches, and pastors who now begin to blur the line in equating MMA to Jesus; that we somehow speak with great conviction that Jesus would have endorsed MMA or other forms and expressions of the growing hyper-machismo culture.
In an earlier post, I shared much of my thoughts and I still stand by them. Men and women are different. I get it and in fact, I embrace it and celebrate it.
I also get that there's an issue with men in the church. Statistically, only 40% of folks in the church are men, and there is also the issue of fewer men actively serving and leading within the church. As a result, some even see the "emasculation" of Christian men as one of the largest threats to the evangelical church. Really?
Emasculation as one of the greatest threats? We're focusing on genitalia here and not the heart?
The issue isn't emasculation and it's not solely with men. The issue is with both women and men that simply need to grow up. But since we're focused on the topic of men, I wholeheartedly agree:
There are many men that simply need to grow up, mature, be responsible, and take their faith in Christ