Daily Devotional for Monday January 14, 2008

The Horrible Story of Professional Wrestler Chris Benoit

(Matthew 7:12, 22:37-39)

Last July, came the horrible story of professional wrestler Chris Benoit who in his suburban Atlanta home sometime on a Friday evening, strangled and killed his wife. Early Saturday morning, Benoit suffocated his 7-year-old son to death as he lay sleeping in his bed. Sometime on Sunday evening, he went down into his home gym and committed suicide by hanging himself. Of course the immediate question everyone wanted to know was why? Why does someone who had been a high profile performer in the violent world of professional wrestling, aka sports entertainment, all of a sudden snap and kill his wife, son and then himself.

Of course the initial speculation is that this horrible tragedy was caused by "roid rage." This is a phenomenon many athletes who use and abuse steroids experience. When the toxicology reports came back, they showed not only the use of anabolic steroids, but many other drugs that ended up forming a lethal cocktail that put Benoit in a psychotic state during which time he committed these horrible acts. In the violent world of professional wrestling, getting injured is something all of these performers have to deal with. A professional wrestler is constantly battling different injuries, having their bodies operated on dozens of times, and in the process, end up taking an endless supply of different types of medications.

Those who are part of that world have talked openly about the constant abuse of not only steroids and prescription medication, but also illegal street drugs as well as alcohol. These "sports entertainers" live in the fast lane of bright lights, cheering crowds, TV cameras, and literally sacrifice their bodies and health for a few moments of fame and a little fortune. When their brief time in the spotlight is over, what they have left is usually very little of the money they made, an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, and broken bodies they will suffer with the rest of their life, and those are the lucky ones! *In the past decade, 60 professional wrestlers under the age of 45 have died, SIXTY!!!

While those who choose to go into this world of professional wrestling/sports entertainment have got to be accountable for their actions and choices, you can't talk about this issue without talking about the man who has become a billionaire as the PT Barnum of this violent, bloody, and yes, deadly, athletic soap opera we know as professional wrestling...Vince McMahon. Like in all entertainment businesses, the performers are often exploited, used, and thrown away, while those who have created the world they perform in become very wealthy.

As the owner and creator of the WWE, a worldwide brand that generates hundreds of millions of dollars annually, McMahon has to be held accountable for what is happening in his business. Like those who run major league baseball and the team owners turned a blind eye to the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in the 90s since it was helping make baseball very popular again after the strike in 1994, not to mention making everyone lots of money, McMahon has also turned a blind eye to the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in his business.

Since it is not a sport, but sports entertainment, professional wrestling is not regulated in any way other than by itself. Over the years, their product has become more valuable as the performers got bigger and stronger, with no regard how they got that way. So while McMahon sits back raking in tens of millions annually in profits, the "entertainment" he is supplying to the world is one of sheer violence, bloodshed, and even death! Once again, in the past decade, 60 professional wrestlers under the age of 45 have died. Even though McMahon is only giving the public what they obviously want and crave, he must be held accountable for what is happening to the performers he employs.

This also begs the bigger question, how far have we really come (or not), from the days of the Roman Coliseum? One of the contentions I have consistently made over the years is that man has never really changed from the Garden of Eden. We read about man's inhumanity to man as early as the 4th chapter of Genesis in the story of Cain and Abel. Since man's fall in the Garden, evil has been part of the human experience and is all around us. It takes on many forms. One of those forms has been evil masquerading as sport.

Throughout human history, sports, men competing against each other has been part of our world. In the capitalistic world of today, never before has sport become such a huge and lucrative business. It is very rare to find sports being played in its purest form any longer. In 2008 sports at almost every level are guided and ruled by one thing, money. In looking back on the history of sports, there have always been those physical competitions pitting one man's strength and abilities against another. Most of these "fighting sports" like wrestling and boxing concluded when one man had an advantage over the other. However, there has always been more violent and brutal forms of fighting that often included weapons. These types of fights would only end when one man killed the other.

We often think back to the days of the Roman Coliseum. The "sporting events" they hosted with capacity crowds in attendance were fights amongst men to the death. As one man would gain an advantage over his opponent, the fight would conclude with the "death shot." This would literally be one man killing the other to the wild cheers of the crowd. The halftime show at these Coliseum events would include taking men and women, often Christians, and putting them in the ring with a team of hungry lions. Of course, it was only a matter of time before each met their horrible death in the jaws of the lion, again, as the crowd cheered on. Of course we look at those days and say how barbaric, how inhumane, who could find any pleasure in seeing such brutality and death?

Well, the answer to that is WE WOULD! My friend, we humans have an incredible capacity to hurt others. Sadly, we see it every day here at Liveprayer. Most do it in non-violent ways. Selfishly leaving your spouse and often your children after many years of marriage. Saying things that we know will hurt someone. Making decisions that inflict pain in people's lives. There are endless ways man inflicts heartache and pain on others. Why do people love to commit the sin of gossiping so much? They love to hear of others pain. Why do we drive by a car accident and have to slow down to look? We have this morbid curiosity with seeing others in pain.

The fact is, most people don't love their neighbor nor do they "do unto others." That is why those who follow these admonitions from the Lord stand out. It is not normal in this fallen world to love others as you love yourself. It is not normal in this fallen world to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. These principles go against the grain of how the world lives and teaches people to live. This world teaches people to love themselves above all, to put themselves first at all times. This world teaches to do unto others before they do unto you. It is the law of the jungle, kill before you are killed. So with this being the prevailing mindset of how the world lives, it is no wonder man has no real capacity to love or care for other men. That mindset transcends even to the "sports" they watch to entertain themselves.

I love you and care about you so much. Professional wrestling is only a microcosm of where we are as a people, but I believe a very telling one. It only demonstrates that our desire to be entertained by watching men suffer now becoming a mainstream form of entertainment, is simply further proof of how far our society and culture has deteriorated. It is also further proof of how far away we are from God. We no longer even try to hide our gross sexual perversion or our debauchery. We no longer have any shame or guilt and curse those who remind us of our sins. We live in open and defiant rebellion to the God of the Bible, His Truth and have rejected the love of Jesus in our lives.

We escape through the use of alcohol, drugs, gambling, deny our flesh nothing as we feed it with pornography and illicit sex of every kind imaginable, and find entertainment in seeing men brutalized and killed. Oh, now more than ever this lost world needs to turn to Jesus. He is the only answer and hope. I realize that the world doesn't want to hear about the Lord, but we see every day the destroyed lives of people who are looking for hope. That is why we do this each day. Fight to reach as many as we can through the Internet. Fight to reach as many as we can through the TV program. Look for new ways to reach the lost masses. I know there are people who are looking for a better life, who are tired of living in sin, who do yearn for real peace and joy. That is why with every breath I have, I will keep doing all I can to reach them with the hope and love of Jesus!

Please pray today for those you know who may find professional wrestling entertaining. They have bought into the lies of this world that it is acceptable to enjoy watching men brutalize each other. Like drugs, and alcohol, and sex, and gambling, once their appetite for such violence is whetted, they will need to see more brutality, more violence to satisfy their cravings. Ultimately, only seeing men die in the name of sport will satisfy them. This is not a fad that will go away. It is not only here to stay, but will evolve into more brutal forms as the years go by. Ultimately, like in all things, the only real answer is to see the hearts of men changed by the power of God. Changed from hearts that seek to view their neighbor destroyed, to hearts that seek to love their neighbor as their selves.