I’ve never been the type of guy to (openly) take pot-shots at Christianity, or any religion for that matter (diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks, I always say), nor would I ever sit down with someone of faith and poke holes in the theology they believe to be concrete. As long as someone doesn’t force their religious beliefs upon you like fact, what harm can they really be doing? What I’m trying to say is, LEAVE TEBOW ALONE, YOU GUYS.
But this Fight Church thing, however, I just don’t know.
Oh, you haven’t heard about Fight Church? According to the film’s website, Fight Church is “a documentary about Christianity and fighting directed by Academy Award Winner Daniel Junge and Bryan Storkel.” More specifically, it’s a true story about a group of Christian ministers in New York that use MMA and kickboxing as a means to spread their message, and it comes with the nifty little tagline “Can you really love your neighbor as yourself and then punch him in the face?”
To Fight Church’s credit, the film does seem to take aim at the moral contradiction inherent in preaching love of your fellow man one minute and choking that very man unconscious the next. It doesn’t take a genius to see the connective tissue that exists between fighting and religion: both require dedication, understanding, and maybe even a bit of delusion. Both have served as safe havens for troubled souls and could be described as therapeutic by those who practice them.
But it’s the moment that these pastors start comparing the trials and tribulations of Jesus Christ to those found in the octagon that I begin to cringe.
Like I said, I’m not a very religious person (I would consider myself more a deist than anything else) and haven’t been to church since Sunday School, but I have a hard time believing that the practice of pummeling your foe into unconsciousness or submission is something that Christ would have supported. One of his more famous quotes, from John 13:34-35, states “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Corinthians 13:13 states, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” I could go on.
The point is, no such love exists when the cage door closes. Fighters respect one another, sure. In some instances, they become lifelong friends with one another even after doing battle. Do you remember Scott Smith and Pete Sell ending their exchanges with high-fives and hugs at the TUF 4 Finale? Because I sure as shit do. But when Sell crippled Smith with that body shot, and when Smith dropped Sell with that Hail Mary (no pun intended) right hand, they did it with the sole intention of hurting each other as badly as need be.
And that’s the moral quandary that Fight Church seems to focus on. The problem is, the answer to the question it’s posing — “Can you really love your neighbor as yourself and then punch him in the face?” is a definitive “Helllllll no” in my book. Unless you’re the Ultimate Warrior, that is, in which case you can pretty much do whatever the f*ck you want.
True conviction to one’s religion is not cherry-picking selections from the book you have vowed to model yourself after and omitting others at your leisure, it’s fully dedicating yourself to the binding constraints of the beliefs you supposedly value more than life itself. I’m not saying it’s the correct model to live by, but it is a model. And that’s my issue with the pastors of punishment (new band name, called it) placed center stage in Fight Church. Because as the guiding figure of my life, Ron Swanson, once stated, “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”