Recruitment efforts at the churches, which are predominantly white, involve fight night television viewing parties and lecture series that use ultimate fighting to explain how Christ fought for what he believed in. Other ministers go further, hosting or participating in live events. The goal, these pastors say, is to inject some machismo into their ministries — and into the image of Jesus — in the hope of making Christianity more appealing. “Compassion and love — we agree with all that stuff, too,” said Brandon Beals, 37, the lead pastor at Canyon Creek Church outside of Seattle. “But what led me to find Christ was that Jesus was a fighter.”Son of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, Ryan Dobson, made the sissification of Christian boys clear by pointing out that
The man should be the overall leader of the household. We’ve raised a generation of little boys.”I've seen this marriage of martial arts, machismo and God in my own sport, taekwondo. My own association was torn apart when one of the master instructors became an Evangelical Christian and started to use his gym as a way to convert people to his beliefs. I once went to one of his Christian workouts, to see what it was like. There's nothing like having the Gospel shouted at you as you spar, doing push ups for not saying you accept Jesus Christ into your heart as your own personal savior, and generally mixing faith and fighting to make me think that if there is a God then S/He should smite the hell out of these people. But alas, there seems no God willing to punish Christians for using combat sports to reinvigorate an insecure and white masculinity. Black evangelical churches have chosen not to participate in the "kicking for Christ" craze and, like the original Muscular Christianity, the 2nd wave of macho godly men is about fears that white men have been feminized by our economy and culture. Facing growing economic insecurity, the increase in women's educational levels and salary potential, and, lets face it, the fact that American culture just doesn't consider straight white Christian guys very sexy, many of them are drawn into the promise of the Promise Keepers (or the new Dockers ads for that matter). The promise goes something like this:
Wear the pants. Be a man. Act macho. Show that you're physically tough and willing to beat the shit out of anyone who tries to take your power. Then all the rest- the structural collapse of white masculinity, the economic and military collapse of America, the environmental collapse of the world, uppity women and racial others- can all be beaten back into submission so that once again you can rule the world.Sadly for these boys, it just ain't going to work. Structural problems cannot be solved by getting in the ring. I should know. I have been doing combat sports for 15 years and although I love to beat the crap out of people, it's just not going to change my position in the wider world. And white men fighting in the ring to re-secure the privilege of their religion, race, and gender in the world is never going to work, If for no other reason than a lot of us are much better fighters than they'll ever be.