Circumcision is a highly confrontational topic amongst today’s parents. In America we are very desensitized to the concept of male circumcision. And As Christians, we know that it was at one time a God mandated act for all Jewish men to show their commitment and to mark them as his people. We Christians often have the perception that honoring that Old Testament command honors our Jewish heritage (our Savior was a Jewish man, after all) even if the act is no longer a mandated one for us. Yet, when we go into the New Testament we discover that it is not an encouraged practice to continue.
Part 1. What The New Testament Says
First we see that Circumcision means nothing for our salvation. We probably know this, right? After all we are to speak with our mouths and believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord and we are saved, not speak with our mouths, believe with our hearts and remove a part of our penis’s.
27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker. Circumcised or intact does not matter when it comes to if you follow the law or not. The circumcision of the body makes no difference for condemnation
28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical.
God no longer values a circumcised penis. It went from being symbolic to being nothing but removing a part of a penis just because. And since the “medical benefits” are all dis-proven myths (read on for info on health), all circumcision is cosmetic surgery on an infant, who can’t safely be under enough anesthesia to not feel the procedure, just for their parents penis preference.
29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.
Circumcision has been transformed from physical transformation to circumcision of the heart. Which means, to remove the sin and wickedness from your heart and follow Christ.
3 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision?
1 Corinthians 7:19
19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts.
Part 2: Biblical Circumcision vs Today’s Medical Circumcision
Today we hear a lot about whether circumcision was or was not promoted or advised but little about what circumcision was. We know that today’s common medical circumcision includes the removal of all of, or most of the male foreskin. What we read about circumcision in the bible, it is often assumed that we are referring to the same procedure done in a similar fashion. With further research we find, it is not. The original biblical circumcision, starting at Abraham’s time, was called the “Milah”. It was a much smaller removal of skin, only actually removing the very tip of the foreskin that extends beyond the penis, leaving most of the male foreskin intact. The glands that connect the foreskin to the penis remained intact and would have been left to retract on their own as a child got older, the way an uncircumcised child’s is. This type of circumcision continued through into the New Testament and would have been the same procedure that Christ endured as an infant.
A second step was added to the religious ritual in, 140AD, after it was already declared that circumcision is no longer something necessary for men to be burdened with in the name of salvation. So we need to be mindful of what we are comparing. Apples to Oranges. Circumcision today is nothing like the procedure once mandated by God. Also, God removed that mandate and the New Testament clears up any doubt that the removal of any percentage for foreskin means anything to God for Christians.
Though Jewish families still ironically refer to circumcision as a Brit Milah, most groups follow the form of circumcision that came after 140 AD, the Periah- which is not the biblical supported circumcision of the Old Testament
Part 3: The Illusion of Health and Cleanliness
Lets start this by saying that Americans are really good at coming up with a reason when they need one. When circumcision originally became popular in the U.S. it was to prevent boys from masturbating by removing the most sensitive and sexual part of their penis (Yes, the foreskin is where the majority of their nerve endings are and the removal of it greatly effects sexual activity for both the male and his sexual partner). Worked well, eh? When that crazy talk was disproved they went on to other things like, “Circumcision cures epilepsy!”. With our science today we can see just how crazy that is but now that we have reached beyond that we have new myths that are constantly being proven wrong.
The argument that circumcised males are more protected from HIV, for example, is from a study performed in Africa where we took 1/2 the participating males and circumcised them and the other half of them and left them intact and then watched to see which group got HIV the quickest. The clock started as soon as they got their assigned position, meaning that those left intact got to go right on out and start spreading it around while the group assigned to be circumcised had to wait for their procedure and then wait 6 weeks to heal before they could become active. In that period of time, the intact males were already off catching their diseases, giving the illusion that intact males get HIV quicker than circumcised males. TA-DA! Study performed. This is the study that we are basing this stat off of. Other studies done shows there to be no difference in HIV between circumcised and uncircumcised males.
The issue of cleanliness is a bit nuts too. Infant males foreskin is attached to the head of the penis (the same way fingernails are attached to your finger) so when boys are young their penis only needs to be wiped cleaned just like a finger would be wiped clean. No retraction. As the male gets older the foreskin naturally becomes more pliable and loose. The only person who should ever retract his foreskin is the male himself because he can feel how comfortable it is and how far it goes back on his own and pulling it back further can damage the cells keeping it attached. Once it is retractable the male just washes it in water while showering or bathing. No soaps, no scrubbing, just like women don’t scrub down their labia’s. Just rinse.
When it comes to infection rates in males, the issue of infections in intact males is very tied into this cleaning process. When a young male, whose foreskin is still adhered to the head of the penis, is forcibly retracted, it causes a wound on the penis. See, the foreskin is protecting the penis from bacteria and germs but when that protection is ripped off, it becomes a breeding ground for those germs. The high rates of infections for males are a direct result of improper care and causing a wound in an area where urine and feces can end up (remember, their wound bandage is a dirty diaper!) . When males are left alone and not forcibly retracted, there is no higher risk of infection in males.
All in all, There really is little to no good reason to circumcise as an American Christian. God created males bodies to be and function as they are meant to and if he didnt want boys to have foreskin he wouldn’t have given it to them. After all, it isnt like he made a mistake that he afterwards said “oops, whack that thing off! I didn’t mean to put that there”. The foreskin has important functions for men from infancy through adulthood.