Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats. –H.L. Mencken
Editor’s Note: This the first in a series of posts on professional sports from Christian and/or Libertarian perspectives. The posts will explore the relative merits or faults of mixed martial arts, tennis, football, and baseball.
This happened and somehow I heard about it. A 38-year-old man, Anderson Silva – who was trapped in a cage at the time – broke his shin while attacking a younger man, 29-year-old Chris Weidman. Because some ‘authority’ somewhere said this was okay, the fight was broadcast on pay-per-view to millions of viewers around the world.
I am a strong proponent of people having the freedom to think, speak, and act like idiots. However, that belief and the reactions I have heard to this injury raise several issues for me.
Several times now I have been asked a question regarding this ordeal – “Man, you have to feel bad for that guy, right?” My answer is always the same, “Well, no. Not at all.” It is not that I lack empathy for others. When a soccer player lands awkwardly and tears a ligament, I wince and feel great sympathy. However, if you step into a cage and participate in a horribly violent fighting event, I will not feel a bit of compassion when you are injured. The difference is that the soccer player signed up to play soccer and accidentally got hurt. These MMA fighters sign up to hurt others and to, in good time, be hurt themselves.
It is a strange thought the viewer must have when seeing an injury like this – “Who would have thought someone could get injured in a fight?” The self-deception continues, as the desire to consume violence overpowers the disgust at the resultant pain and suffering the fight brings. The pain and suffering related to an MMA bout is not only present when an injury occurs. Rather, it is the result of every MMA match, as one participant uses physical violence to cause the other fighter to submit or lose consciousness in order to win the bout. Surely an outside observer sees even the sympathy viewers proclaim must be entirely false.
Why must the sympathy be feigned? Simply put, the viewer must know it is his money that allows the promoters to continue to put on these events where men – and women – are inevitably injured. While this required falsity – after all, the alternative is to be cold and heartless in the eyes of others (trust me) – is enough for MMA to earn my ire, there remains yet an even greater problem I have with MMA: Christians watch, like, and bond over watching MMA.
I know it seems hard to believe. Google ‘church MMA group’ and peruse the results. Here are a few examples:
Victory Church: At least they have figured out that kids should not be present at an MMA gathering.
First Baptist Church Bushland: Where they like to eat BBQ while watching men and women beat each other silly.
Unfortunately the list goes on and on. I wish I had a lot to say about how there is a centuries-old tradition against violence in the church-at-large that still thrives today. However, as many of you have experienced, there are plenty of people sitting in the pews on Sunday who are just fine with wars in foreign lands or the murder of unborn babies.
That is not to say that the Bible has nothing to say on this. I find it is quite clear in this matter:
Psalm 11: 4 The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. 5 The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.