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Written by Kevin L. Howard   
Can boxing glorify Christ?  This question originally came to me years ago when a few Christians won championships in boxing, and some were vocal about their faith in Christ (e.g., Foreman and Holyfield).  And perhaps there have been more in recent years, but I'm out of touch with the boxing scene now.


For some people, a question of boxing glorifying Christ seems overbearing.  After all, boxing is a sport and Christians can engage in sports.  Some folks contend that we need more Christians mingling in such circles.  But I wish to caution this mindset, at least regarding boxing. 


A few years ago, I decided to refrain from watching boxing, but this resolve came with much agony.  Not only do I love to see a good fight, I get emotionally charged from it.  The question on the table, however, is not whether I like it, but whether I can watch boxing without endorsing unnecessary violence, albeit controlled violence. 


Some Christians will say that boxing is not true violence because both people have agreed to participate.  But consent doesn't justify it.  Would consent justify a fight to the death?


Boxing does not mesh with Christianity in at least two areas: 1) its purpose, and 2) its method. 


What is the purpose in boxing?  Regardless of whether one answers "for fun," or "for points," or "for exercise," boxing seems to be about harming another "innocent" person, all in the name of competition.  Merely seeking to defeat one's opponent by scoring more points is fine.  But the problem comes with the method-the only way to victory is through one person hitting his opponent to disable him.  At the core of boxing is an intent to injure, or at least an intent to score points via harming the opponent.  Even if one boxer doesn't want to harm his opponent, the nature of the sport requires him to.


Many people will protest, "Christians have a right to enjoy sports."  And I agree that Christians can enjoy most sports.  But when it comes to boxing, what makes us any different than the Romans who gathered to watch the gladiators?  Like them, we find entertainment in someone else's pain.  Victory, fun, and prize money take precedence over the boxers' health. 


In the past when I've presented my views about boxing to my Christian friends, some of them countered my argument by saying that if I considered boxing incompatible with Christianity, then I had to say the same about football or other rough sports.  But pointing to another rough sport doesn't refute my argument against boxing.  It may only mean that I should widen my condemnation to other sports, or it may mean that other sports could be based on different purposes and methods, which make them acceptable for Christians to embrace.


Because of my views on boxing, some people have accused me of legalism.  They say I should relax and loosen up.  "We're free in Christ," they say.  But certainly Christian freedom doesn't mean we're free to do whatever we please. 


Others will say that Christ is glorified by the boxers who publicly praise God after their fights.  But it's odd to hear a guy praise God after he has just beaten the stew out of his "innocent" opponent.  


Watching boxing only encourages me to desire the demise of a boxer, and his demise can only come through violence.  Therefore, I challenge my fellow believers to examine boxing.  They should consider carefully the violent nature of boxing before they sit down to rally on a particular boxer.  Often our culture and faith stand in conflict, and we have to choose between them.  Does boxing offer the spectators and participants a legitimate chance to enjoy themselves while honoring God?  Perhaps.  But I doubt it.


For more on legalism, see "Rethinking the Church" and

"Are Christians Free to Drink in Moderation?

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