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Should Boys wrestle Girls?

Wrestling is huge in Iowa.  It is like football in Texas. Winning a state championship in wrestling is a great accomplishment.  This is why it was so refreshing to read the story of a High School Sophomore yesterday.

Joel Northrup was one of the favorites to win his weight class. He was 35-4 on the season.  When it came time for his first match, it was expected that he would win.  Joel, though, refused to wrestle.  It wasn’t because of intimidation.  He wasn’t injured. Instead, Joel made a decision based on conviction.

In Iowa girls are allowed to wrestle.  Since there is no girls’ league,  girls wrestle against guys.  Joel’s first round opponent was a girl.  He refused to wrestle.  His response

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Cassy and Megan and their accomplishments. However, wrestling is a combat sport and it can get violent at times. As a matter of conscience and my faith I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner. It is unfortunate that I have been placed in a situation not seen in most other high school sports in Iowa.

The young man would not fight a girl.  He was convicted that he could not do so.

The blurring of the gender lines and roles is a serious problem.  God created male and female.   He intended them for different purposes and made them accordingly.  These differences are not a matter of one having greater intelligence or value.  Instead, it was a part of God’s plan.

One of the fundamental differences between men and women is physical build.  It is true that women are the weaker vessel (1 Peter 3:7).  Peter argues that this fact means they are to be treated with a respect that appreciates this truth.

There are two important truths we should take away from this story.  One is we should praise and be inspired by the young man for standing on conviction.  It caused him a chance to win a state title, but his faith was more important.

Two, we need to realize and accept the differences between men and women.  We should fight to make sure both sexes are treated equally, but that does not mean that we do not recognize differences.  Being treated equally does not mean we all do the same activities or have the same roles.  Honoring God’s image within all humanity, means honoring the fact that God has created us differently.  Not everything a man does is acceptable for a woman to do.  Not everything a woman does is acceptable for a man to do.  Instead, we recognize God created us different, and we celebrate those differences, not attempt to remove them.



  1. While I do not agree with this young man to not wrestle, I can accept it. In my opinion, this only gives her more power. There were several cheers from the crowd when she was given the victory and that is a shame. A victory for doing nothing more than showing up. I would have had my son engage in the “violent battle” with her and give her a reason not to come back. Now, that may sound a bit harsh but at what point do we stop and take a stand? If you want to be in a mans sport, then I’m going to treat you that way, if you want equality, then here it is. I watched this many years ago when a female in my school and her parents were all about her going out for wrestling. One of our wrestlers gave her a reason not to go out and she learned a hard lesson I guess. I hate to see things like this, a young man, forced to make a decision where there should not be one.

  2. The boy made the right choice. Winning is not worth the price one must pay for going against one’s conscience, and in this case, this young man was not only thinking of the girls’ safety, but of what he considered ‘appropriate,’ which suggests that this young man had ‘moral’ values also, and the ‘touching’ of her body in this ‘sport’ was not for him, as a young man, to participate in. Some sports are too violent for ANY Christian to take part in. Violence in the world was one reasons for the flood that God brought on the entire earth to destroy all but Noah, whom, the scriptures say, found favor with God. If the opposite of ‘finding favor’ with God, is the following:

    “Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. 5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.’
    11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. ”

    – where does that leave ‘violence’ in today’s society in God’s sight?
    Yes, there will be many who will see this and call me crazy and a ‘woman’ – because they love to see ‘fights’ – be in fights – ‘bet’ on fight, have children influenced by those kinds of people, and want their children to be ‘renown’ in those areas of sports, but the two verses above will judge mankind in the day of Judgment. I didn’t say the words, God did. I fear God.
    I rest my case on God’s word above

  3. Ruth –
    I think you would be hard pressed to equate high school wrestling with “violence” in genesis 6. The Hebrew word in that text carries with it the idea of wrongful cruelty. The intention is not to be cruel toward your opponent, but to defeat him through superior technique in a sporting way with no cruelness intended. God seems to have created men with a predisposition toward physically challenging activities, wrestling and other outdoor activities like hunting (which is violent), these help a man be equipped to provide for and protect his family.

    Also, it popped in my head that Jacob was not condemned for wrestling an angel 🙂

    I do applaud this young man for not wrestling the girl, I agree it does not agree with the principles of gentleness toward women and rolling around with a women is an intimate act that should be saved for marriage and would not be appropriate in this context

  4. FemaleChristianMartialArtist

    April 7, 2011 at 1:04 am

    As a woman who trains in martial arts (I started for self-defense purposes, we do not live in an exactly safe world) I disagree with a few things. There is no reason to treat a female wrestler more harshly than any other wrestler. I agree that if a female wants to wrestle, and there is no womens-division then they should expect to be treated equally among the male wrestlers, not “taught a lesson” that other wrestlers are not “taught” The woman should not be treated any differently for any reason, if she has better technique, then she deserves to win. Granted, the people should not have cheered for no accomplishment on the girls’ part.

    As far as women wrestling men in general: In the controlled atmosphere of a training facility, I see no reason for a male to disagree to train with a female. They are not partaking in intercourse, or other forbidden acts by training together. If the man respects his female partner (as everyone who values the sport should respect all training partners and opponents) then there is no need to worry about mistreating or acting violently towards a woman, because it is training, which works both ways, and the woman agreed to train and is therefore simply a training partner. This situation is not abusive by any means in a controlled atmosphere such as a gym or a competition.
    If both opponents mind are focused on the technique, which any one who is serious about the sport will be, there is no difference in training with a male or female.
    I have been training for over 3 years of my life, the majority of the time I train with males in a controlled atmosphere. Today, someone refused to do a drill-activity in my class with me because I am a woman. This was insulting to me. I take my sport very seriously, and was shocked when he said his reason was because he was a christian. As a christian, I still see no reason to refuse to wrestle with a woman. (Galatians 3:26-29)For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
    If women and men are all one in Christ, why should a woman be forbidden to participate in a sport, even if considered a traditional “man’s sport”?

  5. I give him credit for sticking to his beliefs, but feel that
    he could have and should have wrestled her as this was an
    athletic competition. I wonder if he consulted his coach, minister, or parents before deciding what to do.

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