“The Bible is clear on violence, that there is no acceptable reason for Christians to use violence. Not even self defence.”
My belief is that one could never be certain that Jesus would approve of an act of violence. But let us suppose that a man armed with two Glock 9mm pistols is shooting into a school playground. Each pistol holds seventeen rounds. You are a slight woman who turns up behind him with a handy piece of wood. Do you knock him out? This is where many people would say that not doing so would be a sin. My main answer is that the likelihood of any of us being in such a hypothetical situation is so remote as to make it pointless to consider it. In any situation that we are even remotely likely to be faced with, violence is not an option for a Christian. See also the post “Violence in Self-Defence?”
“I am a competition sword fencer it keeps me fit and I enjoy the mental and physical challenge. How would that fit with your beliefs?”
I guess the essence of violence being wrong is that it is a forceful act that does damage to someone against their wishes. On this definition, many acts that do not actually involve physical violence would need to be defined as violence. However, when it comes to sport, the key words of the definition would be “against their wishes.” An act which is not against a persons’ wishes would not fit the definition.
I think that any debate here is therefore about the motivation(s) of those taking part and those watching. I’m no expert on fencing, but suspect it is fairly balletic and nobody gets hurt, so I would have difficulty seeing any problem with it. People might say that it acts out a means of warfare, but then what about Javelin, Discus, Shooting, Archery, Polo (a great way for cavalrymen to practice)? I think people mainly engage in these sports for the skill and challenge and any linkage to warfare is not what is in either their heads or the heads of spectators. The exception would be Shooting, particularly in the American context, where people often practise with a view to carrying a weapon and possibly using it. I would be more concerned about say, boxing, where physical injury is fairly common and there is often the expression of anger and the desire to see injury, either on the part of those involved or those watching. I can’t really see that a Christian would want to be involved there. I could also mention Football, which is non-violent, but can provoke a degree of excitement and obsession in some that transcends their enthusiasm for God. I have watched Amish folk playing ball games; the quietness of both players and spectators was remarkable.
So, in short, Sport is not violence, but it would seem reasonable to consider the players’ motivations and the possible influence on others. I should also admit to a bias here: I am utterly useless at all sports.