CIRCUMCISION: THE PAINFUL DILEMMA
by Rosemary Romberg
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Most Americans know very little about circumcision. However, most are aware that it is mentioned in the Bible, and that the infant Jesus was circumcised. Many people deduce, perhaps subconsciously, that whatever circumcision is, it must be a beneficial thing because it was done to Jesus.
Christians consider Jesus the most perfect being to have ever existed. Yet His foreskin was cut off. Therefore, many conclude that the amputation of the foreskin must be a “perfecting” of the body, rather than a detraction or mutilation.
During the Middle Ages and Renaissance many works of art depicted the circumcision of the infant Jesus. . . One writer comments on the observance of this event during the early days of Christianity:
…Half smiling and half philosophising, the grand old fathers of theChurch were pitying the Christ infant for what torture He had to suffer, and it is still to be revealed whether such a celebration is to commemorate a happy event in the life of Christ, or rather His introduction to martyrdom!7
Foley, in his vehement attack on neonatal circumcision states:
Certain Christian clergymen … are quick to point out that Jesus Christ
submitted to circumcision. They are not so quick to point out that Jesus
also submitted to crucifixion.8
Perhaps we should consider Jesus’ crucifixion and the circumcision of helpless infants both as examples of innocent beings being tortured … except that His crucifixion had a clearer purpose.
… Perhaps the parent who has already had a son circumcised and now feels remorse can find some solace in the fact that the most celebrated infant to have ever been born was also a circumcised baby. However, for those who have yet to make the decision, no modern day Christian should have himself or his son circumcised simply because Jesus’ foreskin was cut off. Mary and Joseph were not modern day American parents who made a decision “should we or shouldn’t we have the baby circumcised?” In ancient Israel, at the time of Jesus’ birth, new parents had no choice about circumcision. Virtually all infant boys born to the ancient Hebrews were circumcised. Jesus was hardly in a position to be the exception. It was “against the law” not to have it done. Today’s young parents, who must decide whether or not to have a doctor amputate their baby’s foreskin, are in an entirely different situation.
… The American Christian male today probably had his foreskin cut off in infancy… However, few Christians consciously think of medical circumcision as relating to their religion.
…The operation is not performed in Christian churches. No Christian ministers or priests are expected to circumcise babies.
From the time of St. Paul and the beginning of the Christian church until the last few decades in the United States- a time span of almost two millenia- Christians were rarely circumcised…
The Christian is urged to learn the facts. The medical and “hygienic”arguments which have been posed for circumcision are not valid. Circumcision was declared unnecessary for Christians very early in the Church’s formation …
Our medical profession has become for many a false religion…Doctors are perceived as “holy men” and medical procedures are followed like “religious rituals.” Infant circumcision is but one of the medical rituals that we have accepted in a manner not unlike that of religious faith.
Certainly the medical profession provides a needed function, but we must seriously re-evaluate its role. Except for those who choose to use only spiritual or other alternative means of healing, all people make use of the medical profession for treatment of diseases and injuries. But the foreskin is neither a disease nor an injury! By signing circumcision permission papers, perhaps the Christian parent is ascribing to a false religious rite. For if God made a “covenant” with the ancient Hebrew patriarchs, He made no such “covenant” with the “patriarchs” of our medical profession.
In 1 Corinthians St. Paul states: Ch.7:18- Is any man called being circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised; is any called in uncircumcision? Let him not become circumcised.
Paul was addressing this to prospective converts of his day. However, the modern Christian should consider this passage as it relates to infants. For the child who is born to Christian parents is in a sense “called” in that he will be raised as a Christian. And the infant male is born with his foreskin. Therefore, isn’t the infant male “called in uncircumcision?” Perhaps the Christian parent is specifically going against this Biblical edict by having his son circumcised! Therefore, should not the Christian churches take a stand against circumcision for Christian babies?
Since attributes such as love, kindness, and caring are essential to the Christian character, the Christian should accept that a baby’s entrance into life should be as peaceful and loving as possible, and that he should have the right to keep all parts of his body. With a Christian spirit of love, the Christian parent should spare his son the trauma of foreskin amputation.
7 D’Alba, Alexander, M.D. “Circumcision; the Savagery of the Cradle,” p. 8.
8 Foley, John M., M.D. “The Unkindest Cur of All” Fact, Vol. 3, issue 4, July-August 1966, p.6.