Banning Circumcision: Scandinavia Merely Following the Legacy of the Gentile Church

There was a recent news report, perhaps you’ve seen it, that Scandinavian countries are seriously considering a ban on ritual circumcision. The Huffington Post reported:

In September 2013, the Child Rights International Network released a joint statement from the Nordic Ombudsmen for children and pediatric experts which said, “As Ombudsmen for Children and pediatric experts we are of the opinion that circumcision without medical indication is in conflict with Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which addresses the child’s right to express his/her own views in all matters concerning him/her, and Article 24, point 3, which states that children must be protected against traditional practices that may be prejudicial to their health.” It was signed by representatives from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, and Greenland.

Christian critics are especially concerned that this move will eventually eliminate or at the very least severely diminish the Jewish and Muslim ethnic populations in Scandinavia. Mark Movsesian over at First Things writes:

To put it mildly, a ban on the non-therapeutic circumcision of boys would cause some hardship for Jews and Muslims. At the very least, parents who wished to have their sons circumcised for religious purposes would need to have the circumcisions performed outside their countries—assuming a ban on circumcisions would not also prohibit parents from transporting children for such purposes. Most likely, a ban would simply cause Jews and Muslims to leave Scandinavia in large numbers. In fact, opponents of the ban allege that is its goal.

This report  got me thinking about the ban on circumcision in the church of Augustine and Jerome in the late 4th and early 5th centuries. You might remember that these two giants got into an interpretive dust up over the practice of the Mosaic Law among Jewish believers: Paul, Peter, James and John. The debate was in response to Jerome’s Galatians commentary which Augustine read. On the one side, Jerome believed that all the apostles agreed that the doing of the law for either Jew or Gentile was “hurtful and fatal” and that neither of the two men in the Antioch Incident Peter or Paul actually believed that doing the law was acceptable. According to Jerome Peter was just pretending to follow Jewish customs for the sake of reaching the Jews. And Paul went along with the theatrics. Rather they were “pretending” so that they might not bruise the conscience of Jewish Christians. In his response to Augustine, Jerome says of a person maintaining Jewish practices and at the same time believing in the Jesus:

But while they desire to be both Jews and Christians, they are neither one or the other. (NPNF 1, 338)

Augustine, on the other side, protested against the intentional deception of the apostles on the grounds of biblical inspiration. And instead argued that at that time in the progress of the Gospel, it was acceptable and indeed appropriate for Jewish believers to practice the Mosaic Law as long as they did not see it as a necessity for salvation and did not compel others to follow the Law, either Jew or Gentile. As long as it was for the honor of the tradition that God had given in the Old Testament, the foreshadow of the grace to come, it was appropriate for Jewish believers to practice the Law. Augustine believed both Peter and Paul practiced the law. This fascinating debate can be followed easily in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Series 1, volume 1 edited by Schaff. Look them up here, here, here, and here.

What is interesting however is that while they disagreed over the early Christians, they agreed on the issue of Jewish practice in the church in their own time, the the early 5th century. Here Augustine summarizes their shared view in a letter to Jerome (the final in the series of communication on this issue):

For now, when the faith had come, which, previously foreshadowed by these ceremonies, was revealed after the death and resurrection of the Lord, they became, so far as their office was concerned, defunct. But just as it is seemly that the bodies of the deceased be carried honourably to the grave by their kindred, so was it fitting that these rites should be removed in a manner worthy of their origin and history, and this not with pretense of respect, but as a religious duty, instead of bing forsaken at once, or cast forth to be torn in pieces by the reproaches of their enemies, as by the teeth of dogs. To carry the illustration further, if now any Christian (though he may have been converted from Judaism) were proposing to imitate the apostles in observance of these ceremonies, like one who disturbs the ashes of those who rest, he would be not piously preforming his part in the obsequies [funeral services], but impiously violating the sepulcher . . .

And I now, as speaking in the sight of God, beseech you by the law of charity to believe me when I say with my whole heart, that it never was my opinion that in our time, Jews who become Christians were either required or at liberty to observe in any manner, or form any motive whatever, the ceremonies of the ancient dispensation; although I have always held, in regard to the Apostle Paul, the opinion which you call in question, from that time that I became acquainted with his writings . . .  Jewish ceremonies are to Christians both hurtful and fatal, and that whoever observes them, where he was originally Jew or Gentile, is on his way to the pit of perdition, I entirely indorse that statement, and add to it, “Whoever observes these ceremonies, whether he was originally Jew or Gentile, is on his way to the pit of perdition not only if he is sincerely observing them, but also if he is observing them with dissimulation”.  (NPNF 1, 355-56)

Augustine and Jerome placed a ban on circumcision in the church. A ban that continues today in the pervasive supersesessionistic theology of our church. It seems the largely Gentile church today needs seriously to consider how multi-ethnic it has been and now wishes to be in the 21st century. The Christian tradition has little high ground on which to stand when it comes to the issue of banning Jewish practices. Do you think these two giants of the Christian tradition were correct in their conclusions about Jewish and Christian identity? What would the church be like today if Augustine didn’t agree with Jerome? Interesting questions to ponder.

 

  • Dan Bollinger

    Rather than ponder what some dead dudes might think, I’d rather ban male and female circumcision worldwide and spare children from forced indoctrination into a religion/belief/family tradition that they have no choice in. The bodies of babes are not for adults to carve upon. There are inalienable rights at play that trump third-party interests.

    • Andrew

      Are you the author of the discredited 2010 study that claims that 117 baby boys die in the United States each year due to circumcision?

      • Hugh7

        He’s not the author of the Brazilian study that found a death rate of one in 6,700, which would translate to 156 deaths/year in the USA.
        And https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ad-hominem

        • Andrew

          Ad hominem doesn’t mean what you think it means.

          Ad hominem attacks are strictly fallacious when the attack has little or no bearing on the argument at hand, for example, dismissing a female scientist’s opinion on a subject because she is a woman would be a fallacious ad hominem attack…[P]ointing out someone’s known track record on a subject would also not count [as an ad hominem fallacy].

          As for the mortality rate, even the European opponents of circumcision who criticized the AAP’s 2012 report didn’t try to claim that 117 or 156 boys die each year in the United States due to circumcision. If true, such a medical statistic would have been very helpful to their argument.

          • ricky2B

            The easy solution to this problem is for US medicine to impose an ethics requirement, that all intended circumcisions be registered in advance and that follow-up reports be made for six months afterward. Easy enough in today’s digital world, but US medicine does not want to document the outcomes of all circumcisions because it is well known that there are a significant number of deaths from circumcision. Exposing the truth about them would end the practice, which is a big money maker for doctors. You seem to have an inside track on the issue. Why don’t you propose, aye INSIST, on the tracking of circumcision outcomes by anyone who does them? Get the truth documented, so you can really shut up those bothersome advocates for the rights of children?

          • aunursa

            Exposing the truth about them would end the practice, which is a big money maker for doctors.

            You may be surprised to learn that doctors would make more money if the procedure is delayed.

            Why don’t you propose, aye INSIST, on the tracking of circumcision outcomes by anyone who does them?

            If circumcision opponents want to advocate for the tracking of all neonatal circumcisions in the United States, I would support that. But why stop at six months? Let’s track all boys who receive a neonatal circumcision through their whole lives. See who’s right and who’s wrong about the (alleged) effect on sexual performance, sexual pleasure, and the various other medical conditions that circumcision may or may not cause or prevent.

          • Adam Cornish

            How would we know? We can only estimate the number of deaths in the US, because the CDC won’t allow deaths to be attributed to circumcision. Cause of death is always exsanguination, or herpes infection, or necrotizing fasciitis, or something else which wouldn’t have occurred, had the child not been circumcised in the first place.

          • Andrew

            the CDC won’t allow deaths to be attributed to circumcision

            Citation, please.

          • Adam Cornish

            Try it yourself. Do you really think that with the number of amputations, and glans removals, and herpes deaths, etc, that the rate of death from circumcision is zero? How about deaths from MRSA, or necrotizing fasciitis (flesh eating virus)?
            Go to the CDC site, and try and find out how many deaths were attributed to circumcision.

          • Andrew

            Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. The one who makes the assertion is responsible to provide evidence. When I make a claim, it’s my responsibility to support it. When you make a claim about the CDC, it’s your responsibility to support it.

            If it’s that simple to find evidence that

            the CDC won’t allow deaths to be attributed to circumcision

            then it should be very easy for you to provide a quote and link to the relevant page.

          • Adam Cornish

            How can I show you evidence of an absence?
            If the CDC doesn’t keep records of circumcision deaths, it doesn’t keep records of circumcision deaths.
            If it doesn’t work that way for you, well, it doesn’t work for me, either. It does the American public a great disservice.

          • Andrew

            Therefore your assertion that the CDC refuses to classify circumcision as a cause of death for infant boys is wild speculation, made without any evidence.

          • Adam Cornish

            Let me ask you this. We all know that two boys died from their metzizah b’peh, by contracting herpes which was fatal for them. No one can find any record of it at the CDC site.
            If you can, you are a better man than I.

          • Andrew

            If you want to argue that direct oral contact poses a serious risk to the child, you’re on much firmer ground. If you want to ban the metizizah b’peh, go for it.

      • ricky2B

        By whom has it been discredited? (Other than fanatical proponents of boy circumcision?)

  • http://www.facebook.com/barefootintactivist Barefoot Intactivist

    Genital mutilation should not be imposed on children. Feel free to mutilate your own genitals, though.

  • disqus_BNbEfrPmXP

    Circumcision should be a personal choice when
    the person is old enough to decide for themselves.

  • Bud Yanker

    As an atheist, this has nothing to with Christianity vs Judaism vs Islam vs the Spaghetti Monster. It’s just basic human rights to be left alone and be permitted bodily self-determination. It’s that simple when it comes to any useless cosmetic procedure.

    • Hugh7

      Based on the second “I’d Really You Rather Didn’t” it seems improbable that the Flying Spaghetti Monster endorses genital cutting:
      “2. I’d Really Rather You Didn’t Use My Existence As A Means To Oppress,
      Subjugate, Punish, Eviscerate, And/Or, You Know, Be Mean To Others. I
      don’t require sacrifices and purity is for drinking water, not people.”

      • Bud Yanker

        Hugh 7 you are correct when discussing his Noodleness. The FSM is definitely anti-sacrifice and against anything that Yahweh, Allah or the Trinity require from their followers. Looking forward to the beer and strippers!

  • Broken Arrow

    So these Scandinavians believe that parents should have no right to make decisions for their child…unless it was more than 8 days prior in which case the mother *should* have the right to make a decision for the child…to murder it while it is still in her womb.

    • Dee Resnick Forlano

      The abortion argument is a red herring – If you are pro choice, then it’s his body, his rights, if you are pro life, then his rights should extend beyond birth – easy peasy. No matter which side of this debate you’re on, you have to logically be against forced genital cutting.
      As far as decisions go – yes, you get to make decisions for your children – however no other decision you get to make involves permanently removing body parts. Can you think of one other healthy normal body part that a parent gets to decide if the child gets to keep? Can we remove ear lobes or pinkies if we don’t think the kid will need them or the spaghetti monster says to remove them? What about tattoos – can we inflict other permanent body modifications on our children?

      • Bobbienry

        Well, how do you feel about this?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashley_Treatment

        • Dee Resnick Forlano

          Again – red herring. Human rights are human rights regardless of the mental or physical age of the person in question.

    • RolandDay

      It makes little sense to inject abortion into this issue.

  • Mglass

    The problem with this debate about circumcision is that it is endless. Other important ethical considerations surrounding circumcision are sidelined or ignored or treated as a debating point between pro and anti-circumcision advocates.

    The last time some progress was made was when Jewish authorities agreed that Christian slaves in Jewish households did not have to be circumcised

    The first problem is that of incompetent or unqualified circumcisers. It should be an absolute no-brainer that people without qualifications should not be allowed to circumcise anyone, and that incompetent circumcisers should be weeded out pronto. You would think that there would be effective laws to stop them. Not so!

    Then there’s the occasional death of a child from blood loss or infection. In both cases this should be put down to incompetence on the part of the circumciser. Why aren’t all candidates for circumcision tested for bleeding disorders before being circumcised. How come anyone is circumcised in less than hygienic conditions?

    Then there’s the problem of the forced circumcision of adult men. It happens in a wide variety of countries. People tut-tut when it happens, but the perpetrators frequently get off without punishment. Charging the perpetrators with sexual assault and branding them as sex criminals might help to discourage this practice wherever it occurs, but so far all the International Criminal Court has done is to pussyfoot around the issue by referring to forced circumcisions as “other inhumane acts,”

    Then there’s the problem of consent. It is a contentious issue whether children should be circumcised, but if one parent objects, then it should be a no-brainer: no circumcision without the written consent of both parents. That simple rule would stop some very nasty fights between parents. Now try asking lawyers and doctors to bring in such a rule. You’d have more success whistling Dixie.

    Another problem is that of dangerous traditional practices. A simple rule could insist that no circumcision may take place unless it is performed by a qualified doctor, or at least under the supervision of a qualified doctor. Even an apparently sensible provision like that would be resisted.

    Every time something goes wrong with a circumcision, those who oppose the practice call for its abolition. Those who insist on circumcision would be well advised to look at reforms to stop the abuses. Then we might be able to make some progress.

  • PeterLondon

    The vast majority MGM is performed by Muslims. Only around 0.8% of boys that suffer this have it done to them by Jewish parents. That said, parts of the Jewish community and some parts of Israel play a leading role in promoting this sexual abuse.

    The Jewish people are mainly victims in this matter like the rest of the world. As they say: “Few are guilty; but all are responsible”. So the Rabbis, Mohels and political leaders, are guilty; but the rest are responsible.

    Indeed, we all need to fight against this terrible evil: we are ALL responsible.

    Jews & Israelis fighting against MGM

    The great Jewish people span the vast range of political and social viewpoints. And time and again, Jews are found at the forefront of civil rights movements.

    Even in Israel itself, more and more Jews are refusing to attack their son’s penises with knives – and the movement is growing every day.

    Jewish mother with an intact son!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3xBHgeAc3E

    And here’s a Jewish father refusing to mutilate his son’s genitals:

    http://www.drmomma.org/2009/12/jewish-fathers-letter-to-his-son.html

    And here are many, many other righteous Jewish men and women from Israel and around the world telling their stories and fighting this terrible mutilation of Jewish baby boys:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4UEbsg-k5Y

    http://www.jewishcircumcision.org/index.htm

    http://www.jewsagainstcircumcision.org

    https://www.facebook.com/JewsAgainstCircumcision

    http://www.beyondthebris.com

    http://www.cutthefilm.com

    https://www.facebook.com/JerusalemCircumcisionResources

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_ftgwUL4aE

    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/news/jew-against-circumcision

    http://www.britmila.org.il

    http://www.intactnews.org/node/112/1313862929/jewish-voices-current-judaic-movement-end-circumcision-part-3

    http://intactnews.org/node/168/1341064800/humanistic-judaism-increasingly%C2%A0critical-of%C2%A0child-circumcision

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4272455,00.html

    http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/even-in-israel-more-and-more-parents-choose-not-to-circumcise-their-sons-1.436421?block=false

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfnqN3YgTd8

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DRsJXJop5I

    Mohel tells the truth

    Watch this evil Mohel showing and boasting about the “instruments” he uses to torture and mutilate little Jewish boys. Or as he calls it: *”tickling”* them.

    Evil child abusing Mohel

    http://youtu.be/XN65C9tbLP0?t=4s

    Here he states quite clearly that the purpose of him mutilating little boys’ genitals is to damage their sexuality:

    Mutilate infants to damage their sexuality

    http://youtu.be/XN65C9tbLP0?t=10m34s

    Jewish father describes himself ritually torturing and sexually mutilating his own son — with a psychopathic justification:

    “But the mohel with whom I had worked countless times suddenly handed me the knife. He pointed to my squirming son, whose hands and legs were tied to the board. The foreskin had been pulled up over the glans of the penis and was now protruding through a narrow slit of the small, stainless steel clamp….’It’s the greatest honor a father can have,’ he added….There is no greater primal anger than that caused by seeing another male in carnal contact with your wife, in this case the physical intimacy of mother and son. And there is no greater primal envy than that caused by looking down at the person who was brought into the world specifically to be your survivor….The breast provides, but the knife protects. It channels the father’s natural anger and jealousy into one controlled cut. He takes off one small part in order to preserve — and love — the whole….No father should be denied this experience, even vicariously, of inflicting upon his child a ritualized blow so intense as to make him both shake and recoil.”

    — Birth Rite, by Joshua J. Hammerman,The New York Times Magazine, March 13, 1994.

    Theodor Herzl:

    Theodor Herzl was the father of modern political Zionism and in effect the founder of the State of Israel. He and his wife Julia refused to amputate the foreskin of their son Hans, because they considered the practice “barbaric” and they wanted “strong, virile Jewish men to populate Israel, without any ‘essential’ part of them missing”.

    Theodor is buried on the top of Mount Herzl in Israel.

    Mohels sucking little boys’ penises:

    Rabbi – why mutilating a little boys genitals and sucking a baby’s penis is good fun:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1X6YEbkYTo

    Jewish babies killed by the Rabbi because they contract herpes HSV-1. 15 deaths this year:

    http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2013/03/15-babies-die-every-year-in-nyc-from-metzitzah-bpeh-herpes-hospitals-cover-up-deaths-leading-yu-rabbi-claims-567.html

    Moses Maimonides:

    Here, Moses Maimonides, a Rabbi, and a preeminent medieval Spanish, Sephardic Jewish philosopher, astronomer and one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages; states quite clearly that the purpose of mutilating the genitals of little infant boys is to:

    1. Decrease the pleasure of sex

    2. Damage the penis

    3. Cause terrible pain to the baby boy

    4. Reduce the frequency of sexual intercourse

    5. Amputate the protective covering of the penis

    6. Damage the female sexual response, by reducing her emotional and physical attachment to men. He calls this “the strongest of the reasons for mutilating the genitals of infant boys [circumcision]”

    Is was a smart guy – as everything he lists above has been proved by modern research and science.

    “Similarly with regard to circumcision, one of the reasons for it is, in my opinion, the wish to bring about a decrease in sexual intercourse and a weakening of the organ in question, so that this activity be diminished and the organ be in as quiet a state as possible. It has been thought that circumcision perfects what is defective congenitally. This gave the possibility to everyone to raise an objection and to say: How can natural things be defective so that they need to be perfected from outside, all the more because we know how useful the foreskin is for that member? In fact this commandment has not been prescribed with a view to perfecting what is defective congenitally, but to perfecting what is defective morally. The bodily pain caused to that member is the real purpose of circumcision. None of the activities necessary for the preservation of the individual is harmed thereby, nor is procreation rendered impossible, but violent concupiscence and lust that goes beyond what is needed are diminished. The fact that circumcision weakens the faculty of sexual excitement and sometimes perhaps diminishes the pleasure is indubitable. For if at birth this member has been made to bleed and has had its covering taken away from it, it must indubitably be weakened. The Sages, may their memory be blessed, have explicitly stated: It is hard for a woman with whom an uncircumcised man has had sexual intercourse to separate from him. In my opinion this is the strongest of the reasons for circumcision.”

    Link to full text

    http://www.circumstitions.com/Jewish2.html#rambam

    Moses Maimonides
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moses_Maimonides

    Genital Autonomy for all – Intersex, Male & Female
    http://www.genitalautonomy.org/about-ga/

  • jwillitts

    I find that the discussion is missing the point I am making in this post. What about the questions I raised about the place of Jewish identity in the church?

    • RolandDay

      St. Paul said in Romans 9:

      30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness[d] did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,

      “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
      and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

      Perhaps that will answer your question.

    • Dee Resnick Forlano

      This isn’t and never has been a Christian issue. Except in the US where Christians seem to forget that they follow Christ and ignorantly use the old testament as an excuse to genitally mutilate their children.

  • RolandDay

    This article starts with misinformation. No “ban” on circumcision has ever been proposed. The only thing that his been proposed is to defer non-therapeutic ritual circumcision to a time when the child is of age to decide for himself in accordance with his own religious rights about his physical integrity, to which he has a right under international law.

    With regard to circumcision of gentiles, the Apostles, meeting at Jerusalem in the first century, decided to omit circumcision from the list of requirements for gentile believers.

    Peter, himself, spoke against circumcision, saying:

    “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

    The Council at Jerusalem is reported in the 15th Chapter of Acts of the Apostles.

    A deferral of circumcision until the child can decide for himself would not offend Christian practice. It would protect the human rights of the child.

    • jwillitts

      It is only slightly a misstatement. For it captures the meaning of the ban for Jews. For Jews the circumcision must be performed according to the tradition on the eight day. To wait to the 12th year is to ban “Jewish circumcision”.

      • Hugh7

        Here are contact details for 150 celebrants, 97 of them rabbis, of non-surgical Brit Shalom: http://tinyurl.com/britshalom

      • ricky2B

        According to Glick (_Marked In Your Flesh_, Oxford Univ Press), 70% of Jewish boys who are circumcised in the USA are cut in a hospital by a doctor on the first of second day of life. Several European countries and South American countries report events that indicate no more than about 40% of Jewish boys are circumcised in those countries. It is beginning to appear that only in the US and Israel are “most” Jewish boys circumcised. So all those non-circumcised Jewish boys . . . and all those boys given a US medicine circumcision . . . are they not Jews too? Why would you take away their status over something so trivial as having the body one is born with? Or with not having the precise type of circumcision you believe they should have had? According to your formula, is Metzitzeh b’Peh essential for a valid circumcision? Is it essential that nothing interfere with direct contact between the mouth of the mohel and the baby boys penis (such as a glass tube)?

  • jwillitts

    Can you have a Jewish ethnic identity without circumcision? What would it mean to ban circumcision other than to ban the Jewish ethnicity? What are the constituent elements of a person that mark them as a member of an ethnic group? Can one ethnic group forbid another how they are to distinguish themselves?

    • Frederick Newman

      The US banned female circumcision, a defining characteristic of some Muslim groups.
      Ask the Russian Jewish people if you can have a Jewish ethnic identity without circumcision.

      • jwillitts

        To my knowledge female circumcision is not a mainstream teaching of either Jews or muslims. Circumcision is not an ethnic marker for Jewish women. For Jewish identity for women other rites were outlined to mark ethnicity. I am not well familiar with the plight of Russian Jews as you are, but I would only add that as a rule this would have only been only a provisional halakhah, if one at all, for maintaining Jewish identity. Much like during the Maccabean period the Sabbath require was suspended in the time of war (1 Macc). Surely, Russian Jews would assert that circumcision of males on the eight day was a distinctive ethnic marker.

        • Hugh7

          “Those who advocate for FGM from an Islamic perspective commonly quote the following hadith to argue that it is required as part of the Sunnah or Tradition of the Prophet:
          ‘Um Atiyyat al-Ansariyyah said:
          A woman used to perform circumcision in Medina.
          The Prophet (pbuh) said to her:
          Do not cut too severely
          as that is better for a woman
          and more desirable for a husband’.” 1,8
          - http://www.religioustolerance.org

    • Dee Resnick Forlano

      Absolutely – If your mother is Jewish, you’re Jewish. Done! I promise, no one is going to ask you to drop your pants to prove your Judaism. (if they do, call the police ASAP!)

    • Adam Cornish

      Ask the Russian Jewish people. They consider themselves fully Jewish, and retain their foreskins. The constituent elements are the same as any other ethnic group, they declare themselves as belonging to the ethnic group.
      Americans voted to ban female circumcision. They also judged that Christian Scientists take their children to receive medical help, when their lives are in danger, even though the parents believe in prayer, not medicine.
      What if the child later objects to being branded by the ethnic group? Does he have a recourse? Are they going to put back the 20,000 nerves?

  • Till Benz

    It´s as simple as that:
    If you want to keep infant circumcision, you can find reasons for that,
    but then you have to skip human rights, individual freedom and the basic rules of any enlightened state of law.
    Do that and you can justify infant circumcision.
    But I strongly doubt that any western society is willing to skip these named values (including Israel).
    And if you don´t do that, than you have no choice than to ban infant circumcision. Then there´s only one question left: How long will it take to become aware of that.

    I guess I shoud add that:
    One look in the sources is enough to convince yourself that religion has always changed over the times (including the Jewish practice of circumcision).
    So I understand that it´s always hard to change traditions and expecially if they´re so closely linked to the own identity as it is in Judasim.
    But the changes are the reason why relgions survived and stayed useful for people over thousands of years. And looking on Jewish history no one can tell me that the ending of circumcision would end Judaism. Jewish people faced much bigger challenges successly.
    And I strongly refuse to accept that Judaism is against human rights. Sometimes it´s the change that keeps the inner values.

    • Bobbienry

      Circumcision itself has changed within Judaism during that time. Prior to the 1st century AD, Jews removed only what we would now call the tip of the foreskin, rather than the entire foreskin (thus making the operation reversible). Then a rabbinical council voted to change the practice to the modern, irreversible form.

      • Till Benz

        According to what I read, there was even a break.
        “During the walk through the desert the people of Israel abandonned it till Josua brought up the ritual again (Jos 5, 2ff)”
        Quoted in translation from
        Rienecker, F. / Maier, G.: Lexikon der Bibel, page 237 Beschneidung, Brockhausverlag Wuppertal, 1994

  • Gary Harryman

    OMG, did I really read – “…a ban on the non-therapeutic circumcision of boys would cause some hardship for Jews and Muslims.” Hardship on people who sexually mutilate babies? Does it cause a hardship on rapists to make rape illegal? Male or female, infant or adult, Jew, Christian, Muslim, forced genital mutilation of a human being is a violent violation of that victim’s fundamental human rights. There is no acceptable excuse for such child abuse. Infant circumcision is a crime against humanity.

    • Adam Cornish

      Just like the hardwhip on Islamic Americans, when female circumcision was banned.
      Now that it is done, there is virtually no one questioning whether it was right or wrong. Almost no ‘you’re treading on my religious rights’ discussion.

  • Gary Harryman

    Perhaps it would be helpful to spend two minutes and look at the basic human genital anatomy: Neurologically, the most specialized pressure-sensitive cells in the human body are Meissner’s corpuscles for localized light touch and fast touch, Merkel’s disc cells for light pressure and tactile form and texture, Ruffini’s corpuscles for slow sustained pressure, deep skin tension, stretch, flutter and slip, and Pacinian corpuscles for deep touch and detection of rapid external vibrations. They are found only in the tongue, lips, palms, fingertips, nipples, the clitoris and the crests of the Ridged Band at the tip of the male foreskin. These remarkable cells process tens of thousands of information impulses per second and can sense texture, stretch, and vibration/movement at the micrometre level. These are the cells that allow blind people to “see” Braille with their fingertips. Cut them off and, male or female, it’s like trying to read Braille with your elbow. A woman can live without the sensitivity of the visible part of her clitoris. A man can live without the only mobile and most sensitive part of his penis – the Ridged Band of the foreskin. But, both men and women are better off with their natural fine-touch parts intact. And so are their sexual partners. Forced amputation of any human body parts, male or female, infant or adult, is a violent violation of fundamental human rights that sub-normalizes the victim for life. It is a crime against a person’s humanity. Calling such a violent crime “circumcision” or a “religious rite” cannot absolve the criminal from guilt nor mitigate the harm.

    • Andrew

      What Taylor and his cohorts found on the ridge were Meissner’s corpuscles, which are also found elsewhere in the body, namely on the skin and in places highly sensitive to touch, such as fingertips and the soles of the feet. Dr. Taylor concluded that such cells contribute a great deal to the sexual sensitivity of the grown male, even though he drew this conclusion based on research of dead men. Thus, Taylor never compared his findings to live subjects.

      It’s important to consider that his study is based on corpses, not living males. Furthermore, it is important to consider that Dr. Taylor is a member of an active group trying to ban infant circumcision.

      • TLCTugger

        Dr. Taylor has passed away and is not here to defend his work. Please find work refuting his findings instead of just throwing stones.

        You might start by asking any intact man. Foreskin is the best part. Circumcision alters sex dramatically when done “correctly” and carries a risk of common unintended effects. Whether for better or worse, informed adults can decide for themselves.

        Hundreds of thousands of men are enduring a tedious process of non-surgical foreskin restoration to undo some of the sexual effects of circumcision.

        • aunursa

          Dr. Taylor has passed away and is not here to defend his work. Please find work refuting his findings instead of just throwing stones.

          Irrelevant. Medical and scientific studies do not receive immunity from criticism upon the death of the researcher. Especially when advocates continue to cite the study to support the researcher’s conclusions as proof of medical fact.

          Men who are not circumcised can attest to their own sexual performance and pleasure. They are not in a position to attest to the effects of circumcision on a man’s sexual performance or pleasure. Men who were circumcised as adults can attest to the effect of adult circumcision on their own sexual performance and pleasure. However they cannot attest to the effect of neonatal circumcision on a man’s performance or pleasure.

          • Adam Cornish

            The aspersion that he belongs to “an active group trying to ban infant circumcision” is false, because he is dead.
            His work has been confirmed in Morris Sorrells’ work. That was also published in the British Journal of Urology.

          • Andrew

            I have notified “The Circumcision Decision” website to update their article on Taylor’s Ridge. You may wish to notify CIRP to update their website, specifically this page that refers to Taylor in the present tense. http://research.cirp.org/index-e.html

            That Taylor is no longer alive doesn’t change the fact that his membership in a group seeking to ban infant circumcision opens his work to the possibility that “his study was biased because he was searching for evidence to support his stand against circumcision.” A study by researchers who are neutral – who neither promote nor oppose circumcision — would preclude the possibility of confirmation bias.

          • Frederick Newman

            Would you dispute that circumcision removes a considerable number of nerves?
            Are you dismissing the work of Morris Sorrells on fine touch receptors?
            Do you think that people like Dr. Morris of Australia have a motivation to minimize the amount of sensation lost?

          • Andrew

            I didn’t cite anyone named Dr. Morris, so I fail to see the relevance of any such person’s alleged motivation.

            The issue is not whether circumcision removes a number of nerves. The issue is whether circumcision adversely affects a man’s sexual pleasure. Medical studies, taken as a whole, do not indicate that neonatal circumcision adversely affects a man’s sexual pleasure. Moreover, even the collectives surveys of men circumcised as adults do not indicate that adult circumcision is more likely to decrease a man’s sexual pleasure as it is to enhance his pleasure.

      • ricky2B

        The entire curriculum of medical schools is built around a year of study on cadavers (“corpses” is such an infantile word to use in a serious discussion), known as Anatomy Lab. That is how we learn about the human body without the horrors of human vivisection (with which child circumcision shares many features). So, do you claim that everything learned by first year med students in Anatomy Lab is therefore invalid?

        A few years after Taylor’s work was published, a team of researchers confirmed its validity with direct application of medical sensory-inducing devices (type used to detect diabetic nerve loss) to fully consenting adult, human males. Their work confirmed what Taylor had posited about where most of the nerves are in the human, male organ of pleasure and procreation. Please see Sorrells and others, _British Journal of Urology, International_, vol 99, pp 864-869, 2007.

      • Adam Cornish

        Are you disputing the accuracy of Taylor’s work because the work was done as a pathologist? The British Journal of Urology found his work important, and valid, enough to publish. Are you disputing that Meissner’s corpuscles are found on the foreskin, or that they contribute to sensitivity?
        Got any evidence that Dr. Taylor is a member of an active group trying to ban infant circumcision? He’s been dead for years.
        I think we can safely write that one off as a fallacy.

    • ricky2B

      “Calling such a violent crime . . . a ‘religious rite’ . . .” Wouldn’t that open up permission for establishing “The Church of Man-Boy Love” to protect pederasts from prosecution for practicing their “rites”?

  • Jackno

    The parts that are cut off the MALE are some of the most highly innervated parts of the human. A whole range of sensation and sexual and protective function are lost. The lips, fingertips and nipples have similar touch sense. To take this away from another person without their consent is heinous. To do this to a newborn baby is creepy, child abuse and a human rights VIOLATION.

    EVERY HUMAN (male and female) has the RIGHT (a human right) to reach adulthood with all of the tissue (particularly all of their erogenous tissue) that THEIR genetic code provides.

    It’s about time someone stood up to these wackos who still believe that the genital mutilation of baby boys is an acceptable practice in the 21st century. If they want to chop their own let them. But doing it to a defenseless baby is, or should be, a crime.

    • ricky2B

      Please allow me to add here that neurologists are quite familiar with the drawings of Penfield (google Penfield Man) to depict how big our lips and fingertips would be were they as large as their proportionate part of nerve endings, AND the proportionate amount of space they get on the brain’s body map. In Penfield’s day no one would dare have included how large the male organ would be, were it treated likewise. Needless to say it would be quite large, especially toward its distal part, where the natural prepuce resides.

  • Rana pipiens

    Not only are the child’s rights to body integrity being violated, but so too are his religious rights. The child ends up permanently branded and has no choice in the matter. Why should the religious rights of the parents be favoured over those of the child? More importantly, why does the child have no say in a cosmetic surgery which will permanently disfigure him?

  • TLCTugger

    Religious freedom is not the freedom to harm someone else.

    After WWII most of Europe specifically outlawed targeting people for mutilation based on their creed. Time to close the loophole that has allowed male circumcision to be imposed on children.

    Circumcision alters sex dramatically. It also carries risks of common unintended consequences.

  • Adam Cornish

    The current controversy has nothing to do with Christianity imposing its will on Islam or Judaism.
    It has everything to do with the child’s right to choose which healthy body parts to keep, and that right trumping the parents’ right to observe religion. It is saying that the right of the child to make choices involving his own body is considered deeper, within the rule of law and ethics, than the parents’ right to cut off part of his body.
    This article is a red herring, and beside the point, setting up a false equivalence.

  • Frederick Newman

    Does anybody really think this article is humor?

    Does anybody think that if circumcision before coming of age was not an option, the religions of Islam and Judaism would cease to exist, or be impaired?
    These religions change, as all religions change, in adaptation to the current environment. Otherwise, over time, they would become irrelevant. If they didn’t change, a Muslim who met a non-Muslim would either make him convert, or kill him. This is no longer a tenet of Islam. Jewish circumcision (brit milah) now, is not the circumcision Abraham knew (removal of the tip only).

  • Bobbienry

    Augustine and Jerome’s attitude wasn’t universal among gentile Christians, though. Copts have practiced circumcision for a long time, if I’m not mistaken (although they have not insisted that other Christians do so). The Copts aren’t even of Jewish descent (they are ancient Egyptians). I’m not sure about the Ethiopians but I believe they often circumcise as well (Ethiopian Orthodoxy is EXTREMELY “Jewish” in its overall ethos, it even features replicas of the Ark of the Covenant in its churches, quite unlike Western Christianity)!

    • jwillitts

      As a matter of fact, they pretty much represent the view of the whole of the church, east and west. The point about Jewish ethos of the Orthodox church simply reveals the pervasive supersessionism in the Christian tradition from very early on. The Jewish ethos reveals that the Christian Gentile church assumed the place of ethnic Israel. Not exactly the vision Paul had in Romans 11.


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