It’s no surprise to anyone, or at least shouldn’t be, that fundamentalist Christianity is often home to a particularly toxic, violent version of masculinity. These days, many churches are actually incorporating Mixed Martial Arts fighting into their “ministry,” urging men in their congregations to kick the shit out of each other for Jesus.
The notion that MMA and Christianity are compatible bedfellows is loosely based on the ideology of Muscular Christianity, a mostly-male, Victorian-era movement that linked the gospel with physical and mental toughness. Two leaders of the movement – Charles Kingsley, a clergymen and scholar, and Thomas Hughes, a celebrated Victorian era author (and boxing coach) – sought to counter the perceived feminization of church and to attract men to the faith…Like their Victorian forefathers, these organizations champion sport as a way to attract young men to faith in an age when the decline of church male membership has been well-documented. Yet MMA religious communities have refashioned Muscular Christianity to a new level of high-octane biblical masculinity.
“Jesus Didn’t Tap,” they proclaim, referring to the act of submission…
It’s this perception of “Jesus as fighter” that is at the heart of the Christian MMA ethos, one eagerly embraced by Mark Driscoll, a well-known, US-based evangelical pastor and MMA supporter.
“I don’t think that there is anything purer than putting two men in a cage…and just seeing which man is better,” Driscoll said … “… and as a pastor, as a bible teacher, I think God made men masculine… Men are made for combat, men are made for conflict, men are made for dominion.”
And then they wonder why those men who are formed in such a vile ethos commit violence against their wives and children.