The Parable of the MMA Fighter and His Neighbor



(The FreeThinking Theist)


November 10, 2020

A parable, according to Merriam Webster, is “a short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle.” Jesus was famous for teaching morality through the use of these tools. With that in mind, consider a thought experiment, a modern-day “parable,” if you will: 

A trained MMA fighter notices a suspected rapist/murderer was breaking into his neighbor’s house to presumably rape and kill his neighbor’s daughter who was home alone.

What if the highly skilled MMA fighter — with all of his kicks, punches, elbow strikes, knee strikes, take downs, and submissions at his disposal — merely said, “I will only throw jabs with my weak hand at this evil man” (to prove some moral point X)?

Now, suppose that the MMA fighter fails to stop the evil man from raping and murdering his neighbor’s daughter because of the MMA fighter’s decision to not use the full power at his disposal?

Even though the MMA fighter technically “opposed” the evil man with some weak jabs, can it be said that he truly loved his neighbor?

It seems that the MMA fighter selfishly desired to stand on some weird “moral high ground X” more than a true desire to protect/love his neighbor, which according to Jesus is part of the greatest commands (Matt 22:37-39). I think Jesus would have the following to say to the MMA fighter and those like him:

“You hypocrite! You have neglected the more important [and “greater”] matters of the law . . . You blind guide! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel” (Matt 23:23-24)

Jesus would condemn this supposedly “moral” person because if this MMA fighter truly loved his neighbor, he would have set aside his personal “weird moral code X” and used every weapon at his disposal to stop the rape and murder of his neighbor’s daughter. As JP Moreland and Norman Geisler noted regarding a similar thought experiment, this person has “failed his [neighbor and God] morally.” 

This thought experiment (or “parable”) shows that love is willing to fight evil with all of one’s might — not just a portion of it. This can be applied to everything from physical violence to one’s voting actions. Always keep the two greatest commands in mind — it is all about loving God and your neighbors. And if one fails to love his or her neighbor, they have failed to love God. 

Perhaps upon reading this you realize that you have not been thinking about these matters with the teachings of Jesus in mind. Indeed, as I discuss in Human Freedom, Divine Knowledge, and Mere Molinism, there are objective oughts about our thoughts (and following actions). Be not dismayed — God has grace for you! This is not about “shaming” you, it is about learning. With that said, make sure to think and act correctly moving forward. As Jesus would say: “Go and sin no more.” 

Stay reasonable (Isaiah 1:18), 

Dr. Tim Stratton 

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About the Author



(The FreeThinking Theist)

Timothy A. Stratton (PhD, North-West University) is a professor at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary. As a former youth pastor, he is now devoted to answering deep theological and philosophical questions he first encountered from inquisitive teens in his church youth group. Stratton is founder and president of FreeThinking Ministries, a web-based apologetics ministry. Stratton speaks on church and college campuses around the country and offers regular videos on FreeThinking Ministries’ YouTube channel.

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