From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Circumcision: Sanctification or mutilation?

The Circumcision of Christ  (Durer)
The results of yet another study touting the health benefits of circumcision have been in the news lately.  Reuters has reported that not only can circumcision protect men from the AIDS virus, but it can also protect their female sexual partners from the cervical-cancer HPV virus.

Nevertheless, there is a growing movement against what many consider to be mutilation without consent.  According to the Doctors Opposing Circumcision (DOC) website, DOC is “an organization of physicians, and others who are opposed to non-therapeutic neonatal circumcision.”  Their stated goals are “to protect the normal genitalia of infants,” and to discourage this “unnecessary” surgical altering that occurs solely “for cultural reasons.”

Dr. George Denniston, founder and president of DOC, presents a quiz on the DOC website in order to separate what he calls circumcision “myths” from circumcision “scientific facts.”  Inherent within this quiz are the following conclusions:  circumcision is excruciating for both infant and adult recipients; the foreskin is far from just a useless appendage; the practice of circumcision violates both the Golden Rule and the AMA Code of Ethics; and the loss of the foreskin has caused many sexual difficulties and diseases.

Many adherents of Judaism, Islam and Christianity might beg to differ with Dr. Denniston’s quiz conclusions about circumcision.  The Jewish “covenant of circumcision” (brit milah in Hebrew, or bris miloh in Ashkenazi) traces its roots to God’s covenant with Abraham in Genesis 17:1-14Leviticus 12:3 reiterates that this circumcision shall occur on the eighth day of the child’s life.  Converts to Judaism were (and often still are) also expected to undergo this procedure.  Rather than viewing circumcision as a mutilation, Jews often view it as a completion (almost like sculpting out what’s not necessary in order to further perfect the male body). 

Although circumcision is not mentioned in the Qur’an, it is mentioned in some Hadith.  Many Islamic scholars endorse male circumcision, but do not consider it to be a conversion requirement.  Circumcision occurs within many African churches, and the Circumcision of Christ (as mentioned in Luke 2:21) is celebrated by a number of Christian groups throughout the world.


Copyright January 15, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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