Christianity… A Sissy Religion??

3 02 2010

I love martial arts. It was probably the influence of growing up in Korea. Among the many theological books, evolution, and soccer books, if you browse my library, you’ll notice a handful of martial arts books, mostly on Taichi (태극권) or Palkeukkwon (팔극권). I took Taekwondo in elementary school, Aikido in college, and taught myself some Palkeukkwon forms, secretly desiring to be like Jet Li. In high school, some of my friends and I would go to the weight lifting club, not to lift weights, but to use the mats in the gym to spar each other for fun. Interestingly, never during my perennial interest in martial arts have I found significant relevance of it to my religion: Christianity. For Christians will tell you that fighting is bad and we must be peaceful people, and the Jesus we often envision is this Caucasian man (influenced by all the Renaissance paintings) who is always serene, calm, and never fighting back, with the exception of the temple incident. This serene, maybe even sissy, image of Christianity has recently become more of an issue for evangelistic purposes. The New York Times featured an article on Monday titled, “Flock Is Now a Fight Team in Some Ministries“, about the small but growing use of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) as a form of Christian outreach to an unchurched demographic, namely men between ages 18 and 34. The article states:

Men ages 18 to 34 are absent from churches, some pastors said, because churches have become more amenable to women and children. “We grew up in a church that had pastel pews,” said Tom Skiles, 37, the pastor of Spirit of St. Louis Church in Arnold, Mo. “The men fell asleep.”

Scholars have said that Islam has been attracting lots of young men because of its masculine face of the religion, something that seem devoid in the feminine image of Christianity. I am not sure if MMA is a beneficial way of attracting converts to Christianity. Actually, I know at least the method is faulty, and what the Quest Church Pastor, Edward Cho, says in the article is a point to be heeded, that is, “What you attract people to Christ with is also what you need to get people to stay.” Christianity is never an attraction, it is attractive, well, Christ is offensively attractive, but it is never just an attraction. But the truth that there is an unreached demographic, better reached by Islam, is a fact that Christianity must face, think through, and engage without being too syncretistic. Whether it statistically attracts more females than males, it is entirely untrue that Christianity is a sissy religion. Anyone who thinks otherwise never read the images of Christ in the Book of Revelation, but the church, whether it is redefining what it means to be masculine or preaching the costly yet adventurous life of following Christ,  should do something, like these MMA involved congregations have attempted to do, instead of just waiting in the pastel pews falling asleep, misrepresenting the God who ultimately gives meaning to what it means to be man and woman.

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3 responses

3 02 2010
dreadpiratescetis

I be telling you a story:

A beefy manly man who does MMA spots a meek and mild Christian who fits the stereotype of nerd. The MMA scallywag walks over, calls the nerd some names and then punches him. The nerd gets up brushes himself off, and states “I won’t fit you, but I’m not those names you’re calling me.” The fighter hits him again, and the scene repeats. This happens four more times and the nerd gets up more and more slowly each time. “Stay down!” the MMA fighter shouts. “Not until you recognize me as a brother.” the nerd whispers.

Who then is a sissy?

ye have some good ideas and i be liking the discipline MMA can bring, but where ego comes into play, Christianity can go right out the window.

18 03 2010
Paul Park

dreadpiratescetis, thanks for the comment. First, I’d like to mention that you misread my entry, in that I am not in support of MMA, I merely note that they raise a good issue, which is that there is an unreached group of males aged 18-34. In response to your story, you’re right, muscle and beefiness is not the definition of manhood, but neither is your story’s suggestion: persistance or mental toughness. Is that really the essence of biblical manhood? I’m not so sure. They are Christian virtues, but are they exclusive to males?

19 03 2010
dreadpiratescetis

I am sorry I misread ye. Thank ye for clarifying.

“persistance or mental toughness. Is that really the essence of biblical manhood?”

Is thar a model charted in the scriptures? Ney, I don’t think there is, well at least just one model. That be many and persistence and mental toughness are part of it as Paul talked about it, and Jesus did too, depending on your view of the atonement. If ye follow a Christus Victor model like that found in The Passion of the Christ, then yes, that be a model.

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