(poster boy for modern unholiness, Brock Lesnar)

Mixed Martial Arts — fast becoming America’s 4th or 5th most popular spectator sports and/or most powerful influence on ugly t-shirts worn by mall patrons, is clearly not everyone’s cup of tea. But would even a detractor like Bob Ryan denounce such competitions as ungodly? Perhaps not, but that’s where Adam Groza, vice-president of enrollment and student services at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif, comes in. From Baptist Press News.com :

Sadly, some evangelical churches are embracing the violence of MMA and UFC. One Florida church used an octagon stage design. I can’t imagine a church using a bar as a stage design, but apparently while it’s wrong to imbibe alcohol it’s OK to imbibe violence. Canyon Creek Church in Lynwood, Wash., even held a church event for UFC 100, where for only $10 a person you could watch the fights live on pay-per-view. Pastor Brandon Beals is referred to on the church’s website as “the fight pastor” and is quoted as calling it “very fan-friendly.” Does he think it conflicts with Scripture? “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.”

UFC and MMA amounts to violence porn, a term which has been applied to movies with wanton violence such as “SAW,” where violence is not part of the plot, it is the attraction. Violence for violence’s sake, as opposed to instrumental or redeeming violence, desensitizes the viewer to the graphic horror of watching two people pummel each other for the sake of entertainment. UFC and MMA offer exactly the kind of violence condemned in Psalm 11:5. Ezekiel 7:23 decries, “the city is full of violence.” Why are Christians supporting violence in the city?

No doubt Christian MMA and UFC fans would argue that their sport leads to evangelistic opportunities. This same argument is made by those who drink alcohol at bars: You get the chance to witness. But Christians are not pragmatists, even when it comes to evangelism. God-honoring evangelism doesn’t adopt methods or practices that compromise holiness. Noble intentions cannot justify an unholy fellowship of light and darkness.