Of course, any sport can be considered “extreme,” depending on how it’s played. However, extreme sports are commonly thought of as athletic activities that carry a high level of inherent risk. Participation in extreme sports requires skill and more than a little bravery. With the added exhilaration comes an added danger to the participant. Some popular extreme sports are skydiving, mountain climbing, parkour/freerunning, bungee jumping, mountain biking, wakeboarding, and BASE jumping.
The Bible has no clear-cut answer to the question of extreme sports. Is there anything immoral about strapping on a parachute and jumping off a building? No. Is there a biblical command against performing a lazy boy or a heel clicker during a motorcycle jump? No. So there is nothing that would make extreme sports wrong from a strictly biblical standpoint. Whether or not to participate in extreme sports comes down to an individual’s motive and conscience (and courage).
Before you grab your gear and head out for some volcano surfing, however, you should at least consider some of the following biblical principles:
We are to obey the laws of the land (Romans 13:1–2). If our extreme sport of choice requires us to break a law, then we should probably find a new activity. For example, in almost every city, BASE jumping from buildings or other structures is illegal, and those who jump are breaking the law. Christians should be known for their law-abiding behavior, not their law-breaking exploits. Before diving into an extreme sport, we should ask ourselves, “Is what I’m about to do legal?”
We are to be good stewards or caretakers of what God has given us. One of the things that God has given us is our bodies. First Corinthians 6:19–20 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” Before we participate in extreme sports, we should ask ourselves, “Am I honoring God with my body, even as I knowingly place myself at risk of injury?”
We are to be God’s fellow workers in spreading the gospel around the world (Matthew 28:19–20). Before signing up for the X Games, we should ask ourselves, “Is this venue aiding the propagation of the gospel?” (It could easily be the case that the best way to reach those involved in extreme sports is through a believer who also happens to be an extreme athlete.)
We are to glorify God in everything we do. “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). And we are to strive for humility. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10). It often seems that extreme athletes are focused on glorifying themselves and their accomplishments as opposed to glorifying God. Before donning the wingsuit and jumping off that cliff, we should ask ourselves, “Am I motivated to do this for my glory, or for God’s?”
Extreme sports is not for everyone, of course. There are those who are unwilling to put their lives on the line for an adrenaline rush or who consider extreme sports an unnecessary and foolish risk. But there are some Christians who are fully able to stay humble and magnify God through extreme sports. They use their involvement in extreme sports to showcase their faith and be a witness for Christ among their fellow extreme athletes.