Nate Pyle, the lead pastor of Christ’s Community Church in Fishers, Indiana (the Reformed church of America) reviews the movie “Fight Church” on Rachel Held Evans blog.
He begins with the reality that a growing number of churches are using mixed martial arts into their church community, and is immediate aversion to the concept. He does, however, applaud the film makers ability to be objective:
Should churches promote fighting? How does one reconcile fighting, even regulated fighting, with following Jesus? These are the questions raised by the film, but rather than answering them for us, Storkel and Junge skillfully tell the story and then seem to ask: What do you think?
Pyle then makes a number of observations, starting with how much American Christianity is impacted by American ideals, and then goes into the depths of what is considered “strength for American men”, and perhaps the most troubling part of the film:
The two kids get into the ring and the 12 year old loses. Badly. After the fight, he is with his trainers, in tears because he was just humiliated in the ring by a kid who was a year younger, a couple inches shorter, and 20 pounds lighter. My heart went out to this poor kid. His tears weren’t tears born out of physical pain, but out of shame. I know those tears. I’ve cried those tears. And despite the axiom, they didn’t build character in me, but left a gaping wound as I wondered about my masculinity. This young boy was being taught that real men fight and real men beat their opponents and now he just lost. What does that imply about him?
He’s not a man.
Shame born out of an emasculating wound can result in an anxious masculinity where one constantly worries about whether or not people see him as a man. When this happens to you, you work diligently to prove you are a man by engaging in hyper-masculine activity so that no one dares to question your manliness. You never back down from a fight, you don’t let any one disrespect you, and you see a fight where there is none all so you feel secure as a man.
I can’t help but wonder if putting kids into the cage sets them up to forever misunderstand masculinity, to always question if they are enough, and to embrace a definition of manhood that demands they be a shell of the human God is calling them to be.