For a while now, I’ve witnessed my Evangelical Christian brothers and sisters bowing at the sacred altar of Ronda Rousey.
I’ve watched them genuflect in reverence at her growing legacy of domination in her field.
I’ve seen their breathless adoration and effusive social media praise as they speak of her now-expected savage dispatch of her latest opponent.
I’ve watched their enthusiastic public invitations to pay-per-view church parties where Rousey and others will do the work of beating and bruising one another into submission.
And this week I’ve once again witnessed their giddy exhilaration in the wake of another of her brutal displays of physical dominance over another woman.
I’m always surprised (and entertained) at how out of character this is for these fanboys and girls, since I know them so very well.
You see, these are many of the same folks who spend the rest of their daily lives as the self-ordained Morality Police; always lifting up the “authority of Scripture” and leveling great consternation and judgment at those whose choices they’ve decided are morally corrupt.
For example, these are the very men and women who are often the most outspoken critics of the LGBT community, who continually and passionately claim to be using the words and underlying principles of the Bible as justification for their hateful biases against them. They are the ones who so proudly, quickly, and matter-of-factly condemn others to eternal damnation simply because, The Bible.
Yet these same self-appointed righteous defenders of the faith who daily lambaste the gay community on the grounds that God is horribly offended by their very existence, regularly revel in the gory brutality of the UFC/MMA world, as if God is somehow pleased with it all. In other words, they can finesse the idea of sin when it suits their Saturday night schedules. They can bend the moral rules if they want to see a good brawl. They can conveniently set the Bible down when they want blood.
The twisted logic on display here, is that it’s somehow Biblically and morally acceptable for two women to beat the Hell out of one another, just not for them to love, marry, and have families with one another.
As a matter of fact, if Rousey came out as a lesbian this week, that news would cause her loyal, vocal Evangelical fan base to head for the hills, screaming. Nevermind that Jesus speaks far more frequently and explicitly about violence than he ever does on sexuality, or that the vicious displays of force which comprise the totality of Rousey’s sport are about as compatible with Jesus’ teachings, as a vegan with an Angus cheeseburger. These truths are of little concern to the faithful here, not because they want to diligently obey “God’s Revealed Word” or because they seek to fall in line with “the full counsel of Scripture”, as they so often would have us believe.
Obedience to Jesus gets put on hold when the fight’s on. Then, morality becomes a far more subjective endeavor. Then, Scripture becomes much more malleable. The stark line between good and evil suddenly gets pretty darn muddy when we want to see someone’s arm ripped from its socket.
Many Evangelicals often ask me, “Do you really think Jesus would be present at a gay wedding?” I can’t be absolutely sure, but I’m willing to bet he’d be much more likely to be there, than he would be Octagon-side watching two women break each other’s jaws (but maybe I’m missing something in my hermeneutic).
The simple truth is, it turns out that otherwise traditional, conservative, Evangelical Christians really like to see two people kick the snot out of each other, and they really don’t give a damn what Jesus thinks about it or whether to not it reflects the Gospel. I would just like them to admit it. I’d like to see them acknowledge how they partially champion Scripture and selectively uphold virtue.
When it comes to their preferences, their entertainment choices, and their celebrity worship, all this talk of sin or morality or Biblical living or God’s wrath which they normally specialize in gets tossed out the window. They want Ronda Rousey to physically destroy her opponents with great, bloody ferocity, and they want to wildly applaud it all surrounded by fellow brothers and sisters in Christ—along with beer and some avocado dip.
And they should.
I’m not going to tell another Christian that participating in or watching the sport is a moral failing or a sign that they are out of alignment with God’s will at all, or that being awestruck or starstruck by Ronda Rousey’s personality or prowess is somehow a deal breaker to Jesus. That’s not really what this is about. This is about the inconsistencies that show up whenever we rush to condemn others and strain to justify ourselves. I’m not going to tell someone that he or she can’t be both Christian and a UFC fan because I simply don’t believe that. (Telling anyone they can’t claim Christ based on any qualification would be pretty ridiculous, now wouldn’t it?) That’s Jesus’ business.
I just want these Evangelical brothers and sisters to own their hypocrisy. I’d like them to acknowledge that yes, they too can be accused of playing fast and loose with Scripture when it suits them in all sorts of ways. They too “pick and choose” from the Bible when their likes require it. They too, willingly stand in opposition to portions of the Word of God—and are perfectly fine doing so.
I’d like to see those who often act as if they are holier-than-thou, admit that they are actually far more thou than all that.
Christian, you can have your UFC and your Ronda Rousey worship and your bloody Saturday night blowouts. Just don’t claim any moral high ground while you do it; don’t paint yourselves as sole bastions of pure Biblical living (and don’t make excuses where Jesus is pretty darn clear on smack downs and beat downs).
And maybe have a little more mercy and tolerance for those you believe are somehow living in a way that diverges from select Scripture verses. Because when it comes to that stuff, well you’re right here in the same rickety boat with all of us, friends.
Perhaps we should just allow people to live free of having our legalism thrust upon them, and choose to love and bear with people even when we disagree with them and their choices?
That might be a worthy fight for all of us.
Pass the avocado dip.