Should Christians Watch or Participate in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)?

This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with three children, an SBC pastor, a PhD student at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube.

There is no media that anyone participates in or observes that is neutral. Everything must be filtered through God’s Word. Hold onto what is good and hate what is evil (Phil. 4:8-9, 2 Cor. 10:5). So, how does a Christian watch Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) unto the glory of God?

Don’t sin by…

1. Enjoying the violence. The Lord is who you should love, not the sin of violence. Whenever a fighter says that they want to break their opponent’s arm or “kill them,” we should not hope for the same things. Wanting bad things to happen to anyone in an unjust manner is evil.

2. Enjoying the physical pain of other human beings, for they are God’s image bearers. Michael Bisping drives me crazy! Whenever he was knocked out by Dan Henderson after running his mouth, it was tempting to rejoice over his pain. Although, it is not wicked to want one to win and one to lose, it is wicked to hope for the pain of another human being.

3. Thinking about putting your “enemies” or “boss” in an arm bar, triangle, or guillotine; or knocking them out with one punch. When you watch something that is violent, and you think “I want to do this to so and so…” you should repent and probably stop watching violent things!  However, it must be noted that the problem is within you, not outside of you.  Run to the cross!

4. Thinking that seeing a good fight is better than being with Christ. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying sports; however, whenever we had rather enjoy sports than go to heaven to be with Christ at this moment, sports are an idol in our lives. We must believe with Paul that to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Phil. 1:21).

Do enjoy the Lord through…

1. The physical giftedness of the athletes. All of these athletes were endowed by God with the gifts, abilities, etc. in order to participate in MMA with excellence. Their performances silently scream God’s existence and reveal His glory whether they verbally admit it or not.

2. The intellectual giftedness of the athletes. Frankie Edgar for example beat a bigger, stronger, more experienced B.J. Penn to win the lightweight title; but, he also defended this title in an even more impressive fashion. I had never seen B.J. Penn man-handled the way Edgar handled him in their second fight. Primarily, Edgar won because he executed a perfect game plan. This intellectual ability was given to him ultimately by God.

3. The “heart” and grit of the athletes. Anderson Silva, after losing at least 3 rounds to Chael Sonnen, pulled off a triangle choke for the win in the closing minutes of the 5th round even though he was gassed. The ability to continue on, to use every last bit of energy to pull out the win, was given to Anderson Silva by God while he was still in his mother’s womb. Grit and Heart cannot be taught or coached.

4. Recognizing man’s constant need for the gospel, and God’s provision for that need. Each of these fighters fight so that they can make money. As you witness the training, the sweating, the pain, be reminded that Christ died to conquer the results of the Fall, including difficult labor. As you see MMA fighters’ toil, and hear their constant mentioning of providing for their families, remember to always run to the cross of Christ. The reason why fighters must fight is because we are not in the Garden of Eden anymore. Christ however, the second Adam, came to restore all that Adam messed up (1 Cor. 15). Paradise (a Garden of infinite delight) is just around the corner for all those that repent and trust in Christ alone for their salvation. Enjoy the Lord through the gospel of Christ!

In conclusion, every time we watch MMA or any other sporting event, the ultimate goal should be to enjoy the Lord. The only way to enjoy the Lord is to recognize His fingerprints while discarding the Fall’s fingerprints. Praise be to God that the Fall’s fingerprints have been conquered, are being conquered, and will be conquered through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ!

What do you think?

This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with three children, an SBC pastor, a PhD student at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube.


  1. says

    Same argument applies to football, boxing, and many other sports. To be honest, all athleticism is about showcasing the person rather than the God who created him, so I would think this argument might justifiably be applied to all athletic competition.

    • Tim B says

      Had a seminary prof who taught philosophy who beleived that competition was unbiblical. I disagreed with him at the time. While I still don’t totally agree I’m coming to the conviction that it is ungodly to be entertained at the expense of another’s physical, mental and/or emotional well being. In other words, I don’t expect to see people blowing someone up with a great hit in a football game or destroying one another in a mma match in the millenial kingdom. Some of what we are entertained by is pretty much a return to the Roman gladiators.

  2. Bruce H. says


    Paul must have watched the MMA of his time. I cannot say with certainty that he “watched” it like we do football, however, I think he pulled from his past the things he knew needed to be done to be a champion. I see grace to be the motivational and driving force in our lives and who but Paul would know the sufficiency of grace.

    “Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” 1Cor. 9:26, 27

    Ditto to rick.

    • Bruce H. says

      Something happened to my sentence before dittoing rick. Here it is.

      “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

  3. Bill Mac says

    I see your points but I think MMA is unlike normal athletic competitions. Violence is the point. It is the partially sanitized equivalent to gladiatorial contests. If you don’t enjoy seeing someone punched or kicked, how is it possible to enjoy MMA? I’m sorry but you simply can’t gospel-sanitize every worldly pursuit. MMA is professional violence. Do people really come away from MMA thinking they are now closer to God?

    • says

      Please explain the difference between MMA and Boxing/Karate/TaeKwanDo/Judo/ect. Should no Christian watch or support any form of Martial Art whatsoever according to your view?

      • says

        It is a matter of brutality and purpose. The brutality of boxing and MMA sets it apart – the purpose is to injure someone. Football is dangerous (as is any other sport), but the purpose is to score points. If football is done properly, people don’t get hurt (as much anyway). If MMA and boxing are done correctly, people get knocked out, pummeled into submission, etc.

        Wrestling (the sport, not the silly TV stuff) has a purpose beyond the brutality. So do martial arts. People get injured by accident or by fouls, but not on purpose. They have rules to prevent those.

        I guess I’m an old fogey, but to me, MMA is to sport what porn is to romance.

        • says


          I would respectfully disagree with your characterization of MMA. Yes people do get knocked out-just like they do on a football field sometimes- but the point of the sport is to put your opponent into a position where he can no longer defend himself. There is a referee that stops the action if a fighter is in that position.

          MMA is a physical version of chess. You are working and maneuvering your opponent into a position where your skill set puts him on the defensive and forces him to react to you rather than attacking you.

          The best part of MMA is not involved in striking an opponent at all- in fact pure strikers (boxers) do not typically fare well in MMA. The best part of MMA is the ground game moving from guard to half guard to side control or full mount and then putting your opponent into a position where they have to surrender.

          The guys in the ring have a ton of respect for each other- often hugging and always at least shaking hands after a bout. There is no intent to do grave bodily harm to someone, but it does happen although not nearly as often as it happens in football.

          I’m not going to attempt to “Christianize” any sport or try to make it “acceptable.” I have followed MMA for years and see the beauty in it. I grew up watching boxing with my dad and grandpa and for me MMA is a great replacement for what boxing used to be- 2 guys with nothing between them but air and opportunity laying it on the line to see who is better at their chosen discipline. When it’s over they shake hands and go home.

          If you’re ever in Oklahoma, I’d love to have you over to watch a PPV and show you the majesty that occurs in the cage. Truthfully, until you watch it with someone who can explain some of what is going on it does look a little like a bar brawl between guys in spandex. :)

          Also, as a side note, I find Jared’s post here strange and lacking. I think it is distasteful to try to find a way to “justify” things that don’t need to be justified. If the sport becomes a god or if you find yourself wanting someone to get hurt, you’ve got deep spiritual problems beyond MMA or football or tiddlywinks. I agree with your statement below about sanctifying our preferences and I think that’s what has been done in this post. Have we really reached a point in Christiandom where we have to “sanctify” everything? I guess considering the availability of “Testamints” “Godstrong brcaelets” and “Christian fiction” I should not be surprised, but it still makes my skin crawl.

        • Dave Miller says

          I have to admit that I’ve watched precious little of it – some snippets on TV and such. If it floats someone’s boat, I’m not going to try to sink him. But what I have seen displayed a brutality I couldn’t get behind.

  4. says

    We have to be careful about sanctifying our preferences. If you like MMA, then you don’t have to convince me. But to argue that it is somehow an act of glorifying God to watch seems like a huge stretch.

    The “sport” has little purpose than to bludgeon another human being.

    It seems so contrary to biblical values, the fruit of the Spirit, etc. (Meekness? Gentleness? anyone?)

    • Bruce H. says


      Compared to what we watch today, MMA is just a varied shade of grey, isn’t it? Where is the grey break-off? I have heard many speak about their favorite football team on this post; college and pro. Many are hurt during the game and many are affected years afterward. Where is the line in the sand? I mean that in a nice way. (IMTIANW)

    • says

      Dave, can you watch football unto the glory of God?

      I’m not trying to sanctify MMA. I’m trying to glorify God while watching MMA, football, basketball, television, etc. If we cannot glorify God while watching these things, then we must be watching them for sinful reasons.

      • John Wylie says

        Anyone who has played football knows that there are people out there who are deliberately trying to hurt people. If the standard is meekness or gentleness than you would definitely have to rule out football.

      • Dave Miller says

        Do you really think God is somehow glorified by people in a ring trying to hurt each other?

        Look, as I said, if you want to watch it, you don’t have to answer to me. I consider it a matter of personal preference – such as is discussed in Romans 14 and 15.

        But to say that somehow that sport glorifies God strains credulity to the breaking point. I’m just not interested in that kind of spiritual and theological gymnastics.

        • says

          Dave, if you can’t watch sports unto the glory of God, you shouldn’t watch sports.

          If you can justify watching football biblically, I don’t see how you can be against MMA. This is not mere preference. You’re saying I cannot watch MMA unto the glory of God. That’s not a “preference” statement. I’ve explained in the above article how I believe someone can watch MMA or any other sport unto the glory of God. What do you disagree with in my article?

        • Christiane says

          Contact sports generally have the potential to cause injuries. And some contact sports are documented to have caused deaths. Mixed martial arts is one of those sports.

          My younger son and my daughter were both trained in karate as children (reason: this is what you do when you raise a child in deepest New Jersey). For years, they were driven to Porta’s Karate-do Academy in Pompton Lakes, NJ for lessons. It helped them to develop a lot of personal confidence in their own abilities to defend themselves against physical violence, from a young age (we started them young). It was also a chance for them to learn responsibility and it didn’t hurt that the dojo encouraged respect in the same way that my husband and I were training our children.

          The children loved their training and my son has told me that it kicked in when he got sick at Coast Guard boot camp and had to tough it through that ordeal in spite of catching the flu-like ‘Cape May Crud’, legendary as taking out some Coastie wannabes.

          Not sure that the element of watching any sport that leads to injury and death is ‘entertainment’, though. It certainly was a very pagan form of entertainment for sure. And Christians were not up in the stands watching either . . . they WERE the entertainment, and I won’t go into the details.

          It’s for a person to evaluate for themselves whether or not a sport is something destructive for them to watch . . . does it feed the kind of sick perversion that causes us to slow down when we drive by an accident scene? If it has that element for us, then I suppose we have to face that and decide if we want to encourage that in our lives by feeding it.

  5. says

    First, I have never watch MMA. Not interested. But boxing? Yes. And who in here is attacking the sport of TR, the boxing prez? Blasphemy I say! TR said,

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

    Maybe life itself is a boxing match.

  6. says

    Not buying these football=MMA arguments. Concerted efforts are being made to make football less violent and physically damaging.

    I’m pretty lenient in what entertainment choices I would allow for other Christians, but MMA is over the line for me.

  7. Randall Cofield says

    Posted this on the other thread, but thought I’d re-post it in it’s proper “venue.”

    I think (and I smile while typing) a case could be made that anyone who habitually engages in the rough-and-tumble world of blog-posts and commenting is no more or less involved in masochism than someone who watches MMA.

    For example:

    1) The superman-punch to the kisser of the disagreeable theologian abounds in the blogosphere.

    2) Uppercuts regularly shatter the glass jaws of hyper-sensitive combatants.

    3) Lacerating elbows are often used to pummel opponents helplessly pinned to the apologetic mat.

    4) Incendiary polemic arm-bars often force our fellow pugilists to flame-out by tap-out.

    5) Powerful group rear-naked-chokes stand alone as the preferred method of brutality on a site that shall here remain un-named…

    I could go on, but then I’d ruin my acrostic…

    • Dave Miller says

      Since I oppose that kind of blogging, it is also wholly appropriate that I would oppose that kind of “sports” competition.

      • Randall Cofield says

        I’m with you, Dave. But we’ve all been “TULIPed” time and again…and we keep coming back…

        Gluttons for punishment? Or made for battle? (see below)

  8. Randall Cofield says

    I readily admit I’m a little conflicted about watching MMA. I like it, maybe too much, but could walk away from it if I became convinced it is sin.

    There is something primal about MMA, and I can’t quite put my finger on it.

    Could it perhaps have something to do with this passage?

    Ge 1:28 “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

    I know, I know. Many have taken the “Dominion Mandate” to extremes. I’m not advocating that. But I would also point out that this commandment was never retracted and it would certainly seem to have some Kingdom implications. (no, I’m not a Post-Mill.)

    But did God in some way program us to fight, to battle sin/evil, to subdue wickedness (both in ourselves and in those with whom we have influence), to have godly dominion to His glory?

    Lot’s of fighting/battle metaphors are used in the NT.

    I would also say that our largely egalitarian culture seeks to emasculate godly manhood…and there are a lot of frustrated men out there that don’t understand why they are frustrated.

    SO, here’s my question: Did God make men for battle? Did he put it in our DNA? If so, how would you see this relating to the almost-primal lure some seem to experience when it comes to boxing and MMA?

    NOTE: Anyone accusing me of being a Driscollite will be in danger of getting smacked. (emoticon inserted, then expurgated)

    • Dave Miller says

      More seriously, I think that with some, MMA and other such pursuits have been a point of symbolic resistance against the feminization of men.

      • Randall Cofield says

        Yeah, the whole “Wild At Heart” sort of nonsense (I’m sure that’ll hack somebody off).

        I didn’t buy into that. Yet MMA and boxing still appeal to me for some reason…

    • Dale Pugh says

      While I definitely agree that men are created with a strong competitive nature (I speak in generalities here), I have to wonder if we’re created for what amounts to “blood sport.” I have two sons. Both were highly competitive with one another and their friends. I encouraged healthy competition as they grew into the young men they have become. But MMA just seems to cross a line.
      Although, I have to admit that I have enjoyed some episodes of “Bully Beat Down.” Seeing some jerk get what’s coming to him just seems to satisfy my sense of justice.

  9. John Wylie says

    1Corinthians 9:26 “So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.” (ESV)

    It seems funny that Paul could write about boxing and never make a negative comment about it if it was some kind of ungodly spport.

  10. William Thornton says

    Funny this should come up here, since I just discovered that my long ago ancestor, Brutus Spufus Thorntonus, an inveterate diarist was a big fan of MGA, Modified Gladitorial Arts, a sport created for the Christians of that era who just couldn’t handle fights to the death and who were more comfortable with contests that had all the gladiatorial accoutrements like blood, snapping sinews, and cracking bones but not to the death.

    He was for a time still a little uncomfortable with folks being entertained by two nekkid men intent on bashing each other’s brains out until his church elder said, “Spufus, don’t worry about all that. Go and enjoy…to the glory of God.” That, and the promoter’s policy of collecting all the teeth, hair, and eyeballs and donating them to the less fortunate helped him achieve peace about it.

    He though it was just great that all that – the bronzed, buff, athletes; the purity of the viciousness of the contest, the clever ways the athletes would find to harm their opponents – could be subsumed under “enjoying the Lord.”

    He would have been quite puzzled, I think, to learn that we have contests where armored men push each other around agressively to the end that some silly oblate spheroid crosses a line and an arbitrary number of immaterial “points” are awarded.

    How much better is the clarity of purpose that comes from a simple goal of inflicting enough violent and intentional harm on your opponent to disable him.

    Uncle Spufus was confirmed in his spectating of such bloody contests to the glory of God in another way, his son Vic practically grew up amid the incensed mobs at these contests and what he learned there helped him get a really good government job as Lictor – Victor the Lictor. It all worked out just great. Vic was the original Nike dude, sans swoosh.

    Too bad he didn’t trademark the thing. I might have been rich.

    • Randall Cofield says


      Well done.

      Rick Patrick, the official satirist and court jester of Traditionalism, would be proud of you.


      (That’s for the “Driscollite” comment, Mr. 2 VP)

    • cb scott says

      Well done, William, well done.

      I think a song should be written to commemorate this post.

      I think it should be written to the tune of: “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”

      A fitting title could be: “The Night They Harry Pottered Old MMA Down.”

  11. says

    There were Roman soldiers who were Christians. The stuff they did would make an MMA fighter’s tattoos fall off.

    I happen to enjoy watching some violent sports.

    We had a kid on our high school football team who was a real terror (hard hitter) in Pop Warner. Then he joined a non-denom. church and became a quite ordinary player with little intensity on the field. That really bugged me because we needed more guys who could really hit.

  12. mike white says

    I used to watch a lot of mma last summer. I was seemingly addicted. But I got busy doing other things when the free stuff was on (I never would pay to watch sports on tv). Now i do not miss it at all, and have no desire to see it again. Part of that may be due to my increased wrestling with the evil around me. Part also due to God’s moving in my life to help renew my mind after righteousness.

    • Dale Pugh says

      I’ve about come to the conclusion to turn off the satellite at my house, Mike. Just getting through the commercials can be a chore at times, especially those for shows I would never watch. The stuff we’re bombarded with on a moment to moment basis is astounding.

  13. Jeff says

    For what its worth – I think everyone would agree, there is a difference in “violence for violence sake,” and the “competition of struggle.”
    Part of the problem that some people have with MMA is that, “in the very least” the promotion and call from it appears to be the thrill and attraction of violence for violence sake. (Psalm 11:5)
    Another part of the problem for some Christians is how it presents itself, and its packaging . . . in appearance it seems to embrace, “grunge culture,” celebrating “badboy imagery” and embracing a “gladatorial type” atmosphere and mentality. Which doesn’t appear to be a “side note” of its participants, but rather part of the appeal of the sport. It doesn’t feel like something you can feel good about letting your children watch.
    Right, wrong, or indifferent, (in my not fully informed opinion) if you took away the cages, the dark setting, the backstreet feel, the grunge, and the “badboy” imagery and had a clean “submisison competition” without all of the surrounding “darkness” then, some Christians would have an easier time entertaining the thoughts of accepting it as a “competition of struggle”. Sometimes people cannot get through the “stuff” that its packaged in.

    I cannot put words to it, so I’ll just say it this way, the reality is that football has a different “feel.” In the purest form, it does feel like a “competition of struggle.” It comes with a different, “respectable” feeling atmosphere. It doesn’t feel like a back ally “business meeting”, or an underground gang fight. In its intended form, it feels like a family setting that my children can watch, (even my girls). As a football fan, almost every other football fan I know likes to watch “smash mouth, ground and pound, man to man” move the ball down the field, football. One difference is, that no one really likes to see someone get “smashed in the mouth.” No one I know really likes to see injury, harm, or bloodshed. It is not intended to “knock someone out” and when it does happen, no one feels good about it.

    I fully understand, and agree that Biblically, competition in its purest form as competition is allowed and acceptable, (ie – running the race, beating the air). I also hear those who say MMA is a “competition of struggle” complete with intellectual strategies, etc. I understand what they are saying. But, for many people, it is getting “through the stuff around it” that makes it hard to give it an honest evaluation. The question would remain, if you changed its atmosphere, would be it getting a better hearing from Christians? Furthermore, if you changed its atmosphere, would it have the same audience?
    I understand the opinions and feelings. The fact is though that anytime someone wants to “abhor that which is evil” and “cleave to that which is good” that want some Biblical discernment in order shed light on the subject. The best place I can come to, is “when in doubt, don’t”. As Adrian used to say, “If its doubtful its dirty.” “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

    • william says

      I am ambivalent about mma and would not have bothered to offer anything here except for the way support for it was put.

      Christians who like either boxing or mma will have to wrestle with a core that is focused on this: the object is to render your opponent helpless by inflicting serious injury on him. That is what a knockout is, the ultimate victory in the so-called “competition of struggle.” That is not the object in any other sport of which I am aware – not football, not wrestling, not rugby, not other sporting contests where serious injury is incident rather than the desired outcome.

      If my fellow followers of Christ can accommodate that to the glory of God…have at it.

      • John Wylie says


        Did you ever play football? I was an offensive and defensive lineman, and I’ll guarantee you that a defensive lineman is trying to hurt that QB. Maybe not trying to permanently injure him, but you’re trying to inflict enough hurt on him to make him gun shy.

        • William Thornton says

          John, there is a fundamental difference, is there not? Did not the NFL just mete out serious penalties for the program of intentional injuries? Does a boxer or mma guy receive ire or applause for rendering his opponent unconscious by inflicting serious injury (a knockout being by definition something that seriously injures the brain)?

          Like I said I am ambivalent.I just was struck by support for mma being offered to the glory of God and in enjoyment of God.

          Seriously bizarre….and evidence of a major disconnect.

  14. Bill Mac says

    Most people, and especially Christians, have (or should have) an inherent sense of justice. So it is no surprise to us when we feel pleasure when who we perceive as “the good guy” puts the smack down on “the bad guy”. And although the good guy does not always win in real life, we feel let down when he/she doesn’t in our entertainment.

    But it is a fine line between justice and vengeance, even in our hearts. And watching brutality contests, in my opinion, is crossing the line. I can see no respect for image-bearers in such contests.

    Mark Driscoll has on more than one occasion suggested that watching MMA is a manly pursuit, especially for Christians. My response is this: Some men do manly things, others watch it on television.

  15. Euphranor says


    Great topic! On (1) under “don’t” you say “don’t enjoy the violence” and then go on to speak against hoping someone’s arm get’s broken or someone get’s killed. But what someone getting punched in the face, kicked in the chin, choked out, etc? Without doubt these too are acts of violence, and are, in fact, inseparable from the sport. So how exactly is one to enjoy MMA and not enjoy the violence?


    • Bill Mac says

      “So how exactly is one to enjoy MMA and not enjoy the violence?”

      It’s like watching porn as long as you don’t enjoy the sex.

  16. says

    Ok, two of you now have compared MMA to porn. I think that’s a ridiculous comparison in any analogy.

    If you can enjoy football without enjoying the violence, you can enjoy MMA without enjoying the violence.

    There are points in MMA just like there is in football. If you can’t knockout or tapout your opponent, the judges decide based on a point system.

    I understand the argument against combat sports, but I don’t understand the argument against MMA as if it’s worse than other combat sports. If you’re against violence, and violence cannot be separated from the sport as you watch it, then you cannot justify watching any sport that contains violence: wrestling, boxing, football, basketball, baseball, NASCAR, etc.

    • Jeff says

      I think you may have, in the very least, coined the arguments. Violence is “contained in” some sports, and “constitutes others.” Which is where the heart of the disagreements lie.

    • says

      I dunno, Jared. My first thought when reading this argument is that I could write a similar one and replace MMA with porn.

      Don’t sin by…
      1. enjoying watching the sexual act
      2. enjoying the degradation of the people involved
      3. thinking about engaging in this with others (lusting or putting your wife/husband in the role of a porn star)
      4. thinking that seeing a good porn is better than Christ

      Do enjoy the Lord through (and this makes me sick typing these)…
      1. The physical giftedness of the porn stars
      2. The intellectual giftedness of the marketers, directors, etc.
      3. The determination for some of these stars to look this way and train themselves in this way.
      4. Recognizing God’s provision to them (look at all the money they make to support their families…)

      Now, I don’t think MMA is the same thing as porn. Far from it. But what I am saying is that the grid you are using to argue FOR MMA could also be used to argue FOR pornography. That’s why I don’t think it works. But that’s just me….

      • says

        Mike, the difference is that seeing any sex-act outside of our own marriage beds with our spouses is evil. Seeing a violent act is not wicked. Enjoying violence, however, is. That’s the difference.

        • says

          What about intentionally seeing a violent act?

          And wouldn’t you say that it’s “intentionally” seeing any sex-act outside of our own marriage beds? I mean I can only thing of a hand full of scenarios where someone might accidentally see that…but I think that’s the point.

          I do appreciate your point here and it does clarify a little bit. Thanks, jared.

          • says

            Mike, I wouldn’t say that intentionally seeing a violent act is sinful (If my neighbor is protected; for then, I would need to protect my neighbor. I couldn’t sit idly by while my neighbor was murdered.). I think sex is in its own category since it’s supposed to be an intimate act between a husband and a wife in a life-long committed relationship. We are only supposed to see one man or one woman in a sex-act (one’s spouse) our entire lives. To see anyone else other than our spouses in a sexual situation is evil. I think the Bible at least implies this about sex, but doesn’t imply this about other sins. Seeing a sex-scene is evil; seeing an act of violence isn’t. Enjoying violence is evil.

        • cb scott says

          The constant viewing of gratuitous violence does cause problems in the viewer extremely similar to that of viewing porn.

    • Dave Miller says

      I stand by my analogy. What porn is to sport, MMA/Ultimate Fighting etc is to sport.

      Porn takes a natural human thing and degrades it and exploits it for entertainment.

      These sports take a natural human thing – competition – and degrade it and exploit it for entertainment value.

      I think the analogy is apt.

      • says

        Dave, I couldn’t disagree more. There’s numerous rules to protect the fighters. Referees step in to stop individuals from being seriously hurt. It’s not a full-contact sport. The goal is to win by giving and receiving as little damage as possible. I agree with the chess-match analogy. The goal is not to hurt individuals for life (even though ungodly fighters may desire such things; ungodly football players may as well; ungodly football fans may as well: think of the KC Chiefs’ fans that celebrated Matt Cassel’s injury.).

        Once again, I don’t see much of a difference between football and MMA. More people have life-long injuries from boxing and football than from MMA.

    • Euphranor says


      I’ve no interest in arguing for football or the other sports. I think that’s a red herring, since you’re post (and my comment/question) is about MMA. I simply want to know how one enjoys MMA without enjoying violence, as you suggest, when the sport consists entirely of acts of violence.

      And, I didn’t mention porn .


      • says

        Euphranor, thanks for the comments. I don’t agree with your presupposition that MMA “consists entirely of acts of violence.” In the above article, I mention strategy, heart, grit, skills, athleticism, etc.

        Furthermore, I don’t think the violence in MMA is dehumanizing. Most fighters are good sports with one another and have a mutual respect for one another; a respect for human dignity.

    • Dave Miller says

      A discussion of whether football is morally acceptable is perhaps worth having. But we do not determine right or wrong by those kinds of comparison. I see distinct differences between the sports:

      1) In football and other sports, violence is present, but it is not the primary point. In boxing, MMA, UF, etc, the violence is the point.

      2) Football is working through equipment, through PED testing, through rules changes, etc, to reduce the injuries.

      3) Can I block someone or tackle someone without violating scripture? Probably. Can I pummel them in the face? I couldn’t, not even for sport.

      So, I make a distinction. But the question in this post is not whether football is (in Jared’s catchphrase) “unto the glory of God” but whether MMA is. Football is really not at issue here.

  17. Euphranor says


    Thanks for responding. I appreciate that you do not agree, but is my assertion really a presupposition? You mention strategy, heart, grit, skills, and athleticism. Surely you realize it is strategy for the sake of violence. Heart for the sake of violence. Grit for the sake of violence, and skill, for the sake of violence. All of these “good” things are executed in acts of violence. So, to my original question, how do you enjoy skill for the sake of violence, but not violence? How do you enjoy the athleticism of throwing an elbow to a face but NOT the violence itself. I really am interested in how a person goes about enjoying the skill of fighting but not the violence of the fight, since the skill is the skill of violence.


    • says

      Euphranor, the same way you can enjoy a gifted linebacker, but not the fact that he injured someone on that last play.

      Once again, I don’t think the violence in MMA is dehumanizing. I’ve explained “how” I separate the violence from the skill in the above article. I understand you disagree, which is fine.

      • Euphranor says


        Thanks for responding. As I understand it, a linebacker doesn’t aim to injure another player. But in MMA, isn’t the point to either (a) cut off another person’s airway or put such pressure on their bones and joints so they have to “tap out” before they pass out or (b) knock them out, or in such a daze they cannot defend themselves. In either case, both (a) and (b) are extremely violent and it remains unclear how you can enjoy the sport but not the violence. I never said here that MMA is dehumanizing, by the way. You’ve repeated that but I actually am not making that argument here. It is enough that the sport is inherently violent such that you cannot enjoy the sport without enjoy the violence.


  18. says

    Wow! I just finished reading all the comments posted… I think what it boils down to is education. Usually, people who are against MMA either don’t know the facts or are just generally against most things. I would love to reply to many of the comments above and clear up a ton of items about safety, violence, porn, etc., but I would be here all night!
    I will say this… I am thoroughly immersed in the MMA community. I visit MMA gyms every day. I attend weigh-ins, rules meetings, and MMA events nearly every week. I train, coach, corner, and manage MMA fighters. I also Pastor MMA fighters/coaches and their families. The one thing that is for sure, the issue of MMA & Faith is not a black & white one!

    • Dale Pugh says

      I’ll open myself up for an education then, since you didn’t want to try to tackle all the arguments on here. The fact that you’re thoroughly immersed in MMA would, I think, have something to do with your support of it, Joshua. Blessings on your ministry there in Las Vegas!
      You may not be aware of how many times someone will come on here with their opinion of a topic and make the statement, “You guys who are against this just don’t understand it.” Please, save us the lecture and speak to the issues at hand. Show us where we’re wrong. Give us the facts. And don’t be condescending by saying that we’re just all a bunch of ignoramuses who are against most things in general. That is a generality that simply isn’t true. I think MMA crosses a line in its glorification of brutality, but that doesn’t mean I’m an old fuddy duddy who sits around grousing about all the fun you young whippersnappers are having.
      I love to watch a good, physically challenging athletic contest. I enjoy some football games. I love basketball. I played sports in my youth (not well, necessarily, but I did show up!). No matter the activity the fact is that every time someone is knocked out he suffers a measure of brain damage. Every time blood appears an injury has occurred to the human body. Each broken bone is indicative of trauma to that bone. Those are just some simple facts that go along with many sports. MMA is one of them. The difference is that MMA (and boxing, for that matter) is ABOUT doing that kind of damage to the human body.
      Don’t get me wrong, the fighters are powerful human specimens. But they’re not impervious to such assaults on their bodies. When a guy is sitting on top of another hammering him with a fist, pounding him with a knee, wrenching his arm or leg into a position that limb was never supposed to go, or choking him to the point of cutting off the oxygen to the brain it is for the purpose of forcing a submission or getting a knock out. You can’t deny it. It is plain and simple, and it is an intent to do harm to another person.
      I will admit that there is a huge grey area here, Joshua. So educate me.

      • Bill Mac says

        And no doubt many associated with MMA, even the fighters, are otherwise good and decent people. But such things in my opinion are an acquiescence to our fallen natures.

        And what about women’s MMA?

      • says

        Dale, I certainly did not mean any disrespect. What I was trying to say was that this is a tremendously complex issue that requires a immense amount of explanation. I try not to spend too much of my time doing this sort of thing because it usually does little good and takes away from me ministering to those in need. You clearly have made up your mind and nothing I have to say will change that. I was also implying that there are certain aspects of the the issue, the sport and the culture that cannot be explained.
        For the sake of those who may not have made up their minds, here are a few random facts in no particular order…
        MMA is safer than football, boxing and most of other major sports. It actually has less serious injuries each year than cheerleading.
        The goal of MMA is to win. NOT to injure the other person.
        MMA is about competition NOT violence.
        MMA is about testing oneself.
        MMA rules meetings are about an hour long and are super detailed down to having neatly trimmed fingernails.
        MMA is completely sanctioned and regulated by the Athletic Commission, as well as, secondary governing bodies.
        Safety for the athletes is paramount. The rules are different between amateurs and pros to further protect athletes with less experience.
        There is a rich history in Martial Arts that includes great mutual respect and honor between competitors.
        Competitors in the actual sport of MMA are not 2 guys off bar stools at a truck stop. They are highly trained and skilled athletes… division one collegiate wrestlers, Olympians, former pro football players, etc.
        There is a difference between hurting someone and injuring them.
        Intent should not be overlooked. With MMA, just like with our Christian walk, intent matters.
        Even in a race, where there is no contact, a runner wins because he purposely pushes himself past the pain, past the lack of oxygen, to the point where muscles, ligaments, bones, tendons, etc. are stressed and stretched to the point (or beyond) of tearing, breaking, becoming damaged, etc. How does a runner win? He wins because his opponents body fails him despite being pushed to its limits. The winner is counting on his opponent’s discomfort and pain to be greater than his ability to push past it!
        Dieting, FASTING, working out… all these things intentionally hurt the body… evil?
        MMA takes an amazing amount of training, skill, and technique. Athletes spend years learning the art of jiu jitsu, judo, muay thai, etc.
        There is nothing violent about 2 proficient jiu jitsu practitioners engaged in a chess match like grappling exchange. It is art. There is no anger, no animosity, or ill will. There is the simple desire to move and counter move until one man is bested.
        “Violence” in itself is not evil. There are many things that are violent, but not evil. Violence becomes evil when it is used unjustly or unwarranted. Violence is evil when the wielder of it intends to wrong someone.
        There are, of course, some MMA fighters who are bad people and have evil desires and intents. There are, of course, some MMA fans who are bad people and have a love for violence, maybe even some sort of blood lust. However, to say that the sport as a whole, the participants, the fans, cannot be believes and/or live a life pleasing to God while participating or enjoying it as entertainment is wrong.
        If MMA is not for you, than it’s for you, but it certainly cannot be stripped down and simplified, have a couple of Scriptures thrown at it and be ruled immoral for everyone.
        I hope I haven’t come across angry or defensive or anything but passionate and desiring to be helpful…
        Anyway, the original blog post was great! I would love to answer any questions or continue this conversation with anyone who is truly interested. I am a much better talker than typer, so, please feel free to give me a call at 702-494-8106.

        • Euphranor says

          Joshua, to be fair, you give here a false dichotomy. You say MMA is about competition not violence. Actually, its both. Its violence competition. Since it is both, one cannot enjoy the sport (competition) without enjoying the violence, which is the problem.

  19. Bill Mac says

    This all boils down to the fact that human beings like watching violence. Let’s just admit it. For as long as we have been on the planet, we have crowded around and watched, cheered, and wagered on fights. Dog fights, cock fights, bull fights, and human fights. What does it say about us?

    “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.” Gen. 6:11

  20. William Thornton says

    I thought the presentation of the issue matter to be rather bizarre (enjoying God by watching MMA, e.g., guys attempting to beat each other’s brains out) and I decline to participate or spectate for reasons stated.

    That said, I would approach this pastorally as a matter of liberty and choice. If invited to an event, I would decline and explain why and leave it at that. If asked about it, I would do the same. Traditional boxing would be treated the same.

    I have always figured that the Lord can manage all these questionable areas directly with participants, so I’d eschew beating MMA to death from the pulpit or confronting those who liked it. If someone attempted to justify it the way it has been here, I would kind but direct in my response.

    There are much bigger fish to fry than this one.

  21. Dale Pugh says

    The fact is that any number of videos could be posted here that show the brutal nature of MMA. If you enjoy it, just be honest about the fact that it is what it is–a sport aimed at forcing your opponent’s loss by violence.

      • Dave Miller says

        Your arguments would be more convincing if they didn’t all root in variations of “Well, football is violent, too.”

        • says

          Dave, no one has made an argument against MMA from Scripture, and so far, everyone who is against MMA in this thread is not against football. My point is that any Scriptural argument against MMA can also be said against football. Furthermore, several have said, “It’s a conscience issue,” but then turn around and say, “You cannot watch MMA for God’s glory.” If I say, “Eating meat offered to idols is a conscience issue,” then I cannot turn around and say, “But, you cannot eat meat offered to idols for God’s glory.”

          Either watching MMA is a conscience issue or it isn’t. If it is, then I’m free in Christ to watch it (depending on my conscience), and even though you may not be able to enjoy the Lord through it, I may be able to. If indeed you believe it’s a conscience issue.

          • Dave Miller says

            You made the argument that somehow this “sport” glorifies God. You gave little scriptural support for the idea (a few proof-texts for secondary points). When challenged, most of your answers have been rooted in the football argument, not scripture.

            At the root, if you like it, go for it. I think the idea that you have put forward that somehow when you watch this sport you are “enjoying the Lord” strains credulity. It comes across as some kind of self-justification.

            But to each his own. I am not devoting any more time or effort to this discussion.

  22. Euphranor says

    There is much to this discussion which is peripheral. The issue is not whether or not MMA people are nice, hardworking, athletic, devoted, courageous, or dedicated. The issue is whether or not the sport is inherently (and not incidentally) violent. In other words, there are sports which are sometimes violent (baseball, basketball) but not necessarily personal violent. So for instance, you can remember watching a basketball game that lacked one person hitting another person, kicking them, etc. It does happen, but when it does, there are penalties. Or there are times when in baseball the benches clear or someone takes out the catcher, but again, the sport does fine without those incidents and they are often penalized. But MMA, while being skillful and all that, is skill about violence. It is a sport of violence. I fail to see how this is a controversial statement. So if the sport is violence, then you cannot enjoy the sport and not the violence since sport=violence.

  23. mike white says

    After reading all of these comments, pro and con, I’m more determined than ever not to watch mma ever again. I see nothing in it that glorifies God.

  24. Jon says

    It seems sports have become more violent in nature in recent years. Does anyone see a parallel between sports and entertainment as a whole in contemporary America and that of the declining world, i.e. the Roman Empire? During decline people grow jaded and seek out more sensational and shocking pasttimes. I think of the fun and games of the Colosseum.

  25. says

    I wonder if the people here who are against MMA and other physical sports take an equal stance against NASCAR. The vast majority of NASCAR races include some type of violent altercation between two drivers resulting in a crash. Indeed some say most people watch NASCAR to expressly see the wrecks. Similar what about events such as demolition derby, where the clear goal is to do the most damage to other drivers cars while preventing damage to your own. Is this something that should be avoided by the Christian because of its inherent violent nature?

    • Jon says

      I don’t know that it’s that black and white. I think each person has to evaluate it in terms of the broader picture–the outlook which guides us. I just notice that sports in the past few years seem more violent than when I was a kid and it seems to have accelerated pretty quickly. I came of age in the 80’s and they weren’t airing gang fights and boxing without gloves. I keep thinking we’re going through what the Roman world experienced when it went into decline. We’ve seen some significant change in the arts and the sports situation seems to validate my assumption.