Figuring Out Fighting

I remember reading Mark Driscoll’s blog a few months ago about his trip to Vegas, and while on the whole it was an interesting play-by-play of his vacation, there was one particular line that caught my attention, spoken about MMA fighting:

I would strongly encourage all pastors and Christian leaders to spend some time familiarizing themselves with the fast-growing sport that is capturing millions of young men and ask yourself why.

This really caught my attention, for some reason. I think it’s probably because, as Driscoll usually laments/jokes about, a lot of churches today do seem as if they’re run and decorated by and for women. The church where I grew up, for instance, has light purple paint on the walls, darker purple/magenta carpet, and an assortment of flowers and plants all over the place. So I do think that this is part of something that sees guys my age avoiding the church. It just seems like heterosexual, firm-wristed men don’t belong there.

Earlier in the same entry, Driscoll does in fact explain why he thinks MMA is so popular (and consequently, in part, why the church isn’t):

Curiously, it is most popular with men ages eighteen to thirty-four–the exact group that most churches are abysmal at reaching and retaining, in part because most churches and pastors have no idea what to do with men who are not motivated by a weepy worship dude(ish) singing prom songs to a Jesus who is presented as a wuss who took a beating and spent a lot of time putting product in his long hair.

I think his caricature here is not totally unfair; like I said, I’ve been in some of these churches, and sang the same songs. It’s not that these churches are feminine in the fullest sense of the word, because that doesn’t have to connote mere cheesy sentimentality and mauve decorating schemes. But they are feminized. And that’s part of the problem.

I’ve really been wondering about this whole MMA deal as my own fascination for it has slowly grown as well, and so I’ve been asking that question Driscoll recommends to myself periodically since late September. Why are guys my age so fascinated with this? I don’t really remember any other organized fighting being all that popular, other than pro-wrestling (har). But, something else I’ve been reading has started bringing some light to why guys are into UFC et al.


“Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.”


This is part of Paul’s indictment of depraved humanity in Romans 3. This observation first hit me as I was talking to a guy I sometimes work with who described a bar fight he’d been in the night before over an inconsequential thing he couldn’t remember. These verses leapt to mind that I’d been reading around that time. It seems to me one of the biggest reasons that young men flock to this sport is because evil hearts love violence. I mean, even look at the secular hip-hop culture. The violence glorified there isn’t just competitive–it’s murderous. The way of peace they have not known, and they have no desire to walk in it.

So I do agree, part of the reason men are so uncomfortable is because what happens at a lot of churches isn’t something they can respect, or feel like they maintain a distinctive physiological difference from girls while doing it. But, part of it is that they’re evil, animal-like creatures in their lusts. Obviously we don’t see any great mystery (or compelling methodological conviction!) in the male mass-fascination with sex and pornography. Men are just crooked. And what they need is a simultaneously masculine presentation of what it means to know the universe’s king, and a strong challenge to be meek and lowly like him.


3 Responses

  1. Interesting post. My quick 2 cents:

    -Men are ‘uncomfortable’ in church for a variety of reasons, but today’s seeker sensitive model certainly fuels this because the entire mindset is geared towards the ignorant. Are we really to believe that life is as fun-loving and rosy and all-about-us-and-our-desires like they make it out to be? Real men see right through it.

    -I’ve seen the MMA and other forms of this fighting take off as well, and being somewhat in that culture before (bodybuilding), I can attest that it greatly appeals to the pride in man as a warrior, tough man, etc. There are many things out there to fulfill our pride, but pride in the toughness of our own bodies is an area that is particularly captivating.

    Good thoughts,

  2. Nathan,

    Must have missed this. I think your criticism of the MMA culture is spot-on. And it also makes me wonder how those in Christendom should think about (and possibly enjoy) MMA.

  3. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation đŸ™‚ Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Horticulture.

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