Posted Sep 27, 2016 by Michael L. Brown

God alone knows the heart and only He can judge who belongs to Him and who doesn’t, but there is something exceedingly strange about a fighter pulverizing his or her opponent, leaving them bloody, dazed, and broken on the floor, while giving honor to Jesus Christ who gave them the victory. How can this be?

This past Saturday night, the most feared woman in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Cristiane Justino, better known as Cris Cyborg, walked out to fight her Swedish opponent to the accompaniment of a beautiful worship song known around the world, also holding up the cross around her neck before kissing it.

When the fight began, as expected, Cyborg dominated her game opponent, punching her in the face and kneeing her in the stomach and throwing her to the ground until the other woman’s face was a mess, her left eye swollen shut and blood staining her shirt and shorts.

Was Cyborg helped by the Lord to administer this beating?

It is true that, in keeping with MMA custom, the two combatants hugged in the ring afterwards in a sign of mutual respect, and it is true that, for them, this is a sport that they engage in by choice. It is also true that, ultimately, the fighter’s safety is of paramount importance, meaning that no one wants to see a fighter permanently injured or, worse still, killed.

But is there nothing odd about blasting praise music through a massive PA system and kissing the cross before beating the living daylights out of an opponent, often rendering them unconscious with kicks and punches before the referee mercifully steps in? (Remember, we’re talking about doing this for the entertainment of the crowds, as was done in ancient Rome in the Colosseum, as opposed to engaging in a just war to protect a country or engaging in an act of self-defense.)

Is there any harmony between violence like this and the Spirit of God?

Again, I am not judging the hearts of the combatants and claiming they have no relationship with God. That is for Him to decide. I’m simply raising some very obvious questions.

An article last year on the MMA Weekly website highlighted some post-fight comments made by a few of the fighters.

The first comments of the likable Benson Henderson following either a win or a loss are, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” citing Philippians 4:13. Is this what Paul had in mind?

After Cuban-born Yoel Romero knocked out Lyoto Machida, he said, “What happened to you USA? What happened to you? What’s going on? You forget that the best of the best of the world, the name is Jesus Christ. What happened to you? Wake up USA.”

If this wasn’t clear enough, he added in his imperfect English, “Go for Jesus, not forget Jesus, people.”

Obviously, I share Romero’s sentiments and wish that more pastors would preach what he preached, bringing a wake-up call to the nation.

But Romero had just knocked out Machida – literally, knocked him unconscious – by pummeling his face with his elbows, after which he preached Jesus to the crowd, which was there to see violent knockouts just like this. How can this be?

It has been common for decades for Catholic boxers to make the sign of the cross before fighting, while others kneel down and pray in their corner before the bell rings (think Manny Pacquiao, as a prominent example).

And they will often thank God for helping them defeat their opponent, which could also mean through a flurry of violent, life-threatening blows.

But does the Lord really get involved in all this? Is He really helping these fighters smash their opponents/ (You could just as well ask if He influences the outcome of other sports events, while I’m quite aware that many question the violence of the NFL and the physical debilitation it brings.)

I have friends who have spent time with Manny Pacquiao, and he seems to be a genuine believer who loves the Lord and has a big heart to help his needy countrymen in the Philippines. In fact, the boxing promoter Bob Arum famously commented that Manny was the welfare system of his nation.

It is also clear that Manny does not want to hurt his opponents and has even let up at times rather than punish them unduly. Once again, I am not writing this as his judge.

But when Jesus-exalting music blares through a massive auditorium where fans have gathered to feast on violence and bloodshed, something is terribly wrong.

In times of revival, when the Lord is near and the beauty of the Lord is present and the fear of the Lord is in the air, something like this could never happen in a million years.

May He sensitize our hearts and the hearts of these athletes.

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T. Letoka posted a comment · Oct 01, 2016
Dr. Michael L. Brown, if Christians were filled with the knowledge of the will of God (Col 1:9), they would know that this stuff is not His will. The Lord Jesus Christ has got nothing to do with folk making punching bags out of what is meant to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. Down here in Africa they do it without boxing gloves to cheering crowds in the name of "culture". If you wanna get away with anything in Africa, just say the magic word: "culture". You could kidnap a high school girl and marry her by force and be covered by "culture". You could abuse boys and devirginize teenage girls as much as you like on some "mountain school" (initiation school) where they claim to initiate them into adulthood and simply say the magic word. In good ol' America "pleasure and money set the rules". But you see, to the Church the Bible is the canon.
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angelsanz23@gma... posted a comment · Sep 30, 2016
Dr Brown, you hit it right in the head. In the days we are living today, we had become pleasure seekers. Even in the church, today's church attendance is base on watching a show and if the show is not good, then the church is not good. I understood long time ago that sports like (Boxing, MMA, etc..) are not appropriate for a Christian to Watch. The lord demands from us Sanctification, which means that we have to be separated for him and only him, we have the liberty of do whatever we want to do, but not everything is good for us. If we want to shine as light for the world, we can not compromise with the world, we shall not eat the King's meal. Good Bleesing.
Royce posted a comment · Sep 30, 2016
"God alone knows the heart and only He can judge who belongs to Him and who doesn’t". C'mon Dr. Brown. You're MUCH smarter than that and you know that is NOT what the Bible teaches!! I've commented on this statement by you before and I previously listed a dozen Scriptures or so that prove that's not the case. I'm with you 100% when you say, "Again, I am not judging the hearts of the combatants and claiming they have no relationship with God" because they have said or done nothing that gives us the ability to say. We cannot judge by appearance alone (John 7:24). However, Scripture is clear, there are ample times when one says or does something where we CAN and SHOULD say, "You are not a Christian." In fact, that said, I think it's high time for Christians to start asking, a whole LOT more, the question "What makes you think you are a Christian?" Or "Who is the 'Jesus' you speak of?" Or "What does kissing that cross (or wearing a 10 lb. diamond studded cross around your neck) mean to you?" Last time I looked, Matt. 7:13-23 was still in the Bible. Fact is, MOST self-professing Christians, well, aren't.
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Rev. Randy K. posted a comment · Sep 28, 2016
Maybe you need to write and article or two on what/who a Christian really is Dr. Brown. I don't watch garbage like MMA or professional wrestling, so obviously I've never even heard of Cristiane Justino. On a whim I googled her name. Up came a bunch of pictures. I didn't look long as one was of her standing stark naked behind a man who was also stark naked. She was standing off to the side behind the man enough that her private parts could not be seen and the man had on a pair of boxing gloves with his arms crossed covering his private parts. I know without a doubt we are not saved by our works Dr. Brown, but can a person honestly be a Christian if they simply believe Jesus died on the cross for their sins and rose from the dead--regardless of how they live? Today in America we have politicians and people supporting them that are adamant supporters of abortion, same sex marriage and transgenderism while adamantly claiming at the same time that they are indeed Christians. Today in America we have homosexuals and transgender people fully living their lifestyle while adamantly claiming they are indeed Christians. Many of the pro-homosexual and transgender supporters who claim to be Christians claim they have a better understanding of God's love than those of us who maintain that homosexuality is still a sin in God's eyes. For many years I wondered how the Christians in the Corinthian church could actually be proud about having a man who claimed to be a believer in their midst who was guilty of a sexual sin that was even practiced among unbelievers! However, when I began hearing people who call themselves Christians arguing that they have more of the love of God and understand God's love better than those of us who maintain homosexuality is a sin, my understanding of I Corinthians 5 became very clear. People haven't changed in 6,000 years because human nature hasn't changed in 6,000 yearts.... a part from having a new nature as a result of being truly born again. For us Christians in United States, I predict that our greatest persecution will come from religious people--even those who claim to be Christians. Of course, that is nothing new. It was the religious leaders of Jesus' day who were responsible for having Him crucified on a cross.