Posted by: mystic444 | August 14, 2012

Circumcision and Religious Freedom

Not too long ago – perhaps a couple of months – a judge in Germany proclaimed it a crime to circumcise male children (except in cases of medical necessity, whatever that may mean). He said that circumcision is harmful to the child, and interferes with his right to make his own free choice as to his religious affiliation.

Frankly, I consider it amazing that a German judge can get away with such a decision. After all, Germany is so hypersensitive about “anti-Semitism” that it is illegal there to even question anything related to the “Holocaust”! If you even dare suggest that only 5,500,000 Jews were killed rather than 6,000,000, you’re in danger of a jail sentence.

However, the opposition to circumcision is not confined to that judge’s district of Germany. We in the USA have our own activist groups seeking to criminalize the practice – particularly perhaps in the San Francisco area of California. See for instance this LA Times article about “intactivists”.

Now I have to admit that I find the arguments against infant circumcision absurd. Apart from the argument about the child having the right to make his own religious decisions, there are basically two arguments: (1) it is claimed that circumcision ‘mutilates’ the child; and (2) the person’s capacity for sexual pleasure is diminished. To me, both of those arguments are laughable. 😆

I was born in 1951. At that time, it was the generally accepted belief of the medical profession that circumcision was important and desirable for health reasons. Therefore, circumcision was virtually automatic. My parents had me circumcised, and probably didn’t even give it a thought. They certainly didn’t have any religious reasons for doing so – they were “Bible believing” Christians who followed the teaching of the Biblical (“New Testament”) book of “Acts” and the letters of the Apostle Paul, that circumcision was not necessary for Gentiles to be fully embraced as equals with the circumcised Jewish believers in the Christian community. It is the “circumcision of the heart”, not that of “the flesh”, which is important. Nevertheless, they didn’t question the doctors’ opinions as to its desirability for health reasons.

I had been living on this earth many years before I ever realized that anything was ‘missing’; I can’t remember now when I first came to realize that I wasn’t born that way. So I never realized that I was “disfigured” or “mutilated”; and even after I found out that I was circumcised, I just ‘shrugged my shoulders’ and thought “so what!” I have never in my life considered myself disfigured and been embarrassed about my ‘lack’. My wife never had any complaints either! 😀

I have also never considered that I was lacking in “sexual pleasure”. In fact, it’s kind of scary to think that sex could be any more pleasurable! Any more ‘pleasure’ could perhaps be fatal! 😆

I have to believe that I am not alone in my opinion. After all, as the LA Times article pointed out, the generation of the 1950s and 1960s, when probably 90% of American males were circumcised, came to be known as the “love generation” – the generation of the “hippies” who believed in “free love”. There sure didn’t seem to be any feeling of embarrassment about their supposedly “disfigured” condition, or sense of sexual lack.

When my first son was born, doctors were still strongly recommending circumcision, so we just naturally had the procedure performed on him. He has never complained about it, considered himself “deformed”, or given any indication of lasting harm. (Yes, he did scream vigorously when the doctors were operating, and I well remember my desire to burst into the operating room and ‘rescue’ my son from those ‘cruel doctors’. But I restrained myself, and my son quit crying almost as soon as he was in his mother’s arms afterward.)

However, when my other son was born 7 years later, the doctor we consulted said that medical opinion no longer considered that there was any health advantage to circumcision. All that would be necessary was a tiny bit of extra effort in bathing. Therefore, since we had no religious reasons for circumcision (my wife and I were both “Bible believing” Christians, as our parents had been), our second son was not circumcised. From our own experience with our second son, I have to believe that the doctor was correct in saying there was no health advantage. My son has certainly never been sickly or had any disease as a result of not having that little bit of flesh cut off.

My first son never had any reason to complain that we had ‘compelled’ his religious faith by having him circumcised, since there was no religious reason for it. However, my wife and I did exert a strong influence on both our sons’ religious convictions. We took them to church meetings with us – we didn’t hire a baby sitter and leave them home to avoid overly influencing them. Not only that, though; we taught them Christian beliefs at home as well as through church attendance. And it’s that constant influence of teaching and example that plays – in my estimation – a far greater role in forming the religious beliefs of children than does any single ritual act (whether it be circumcision or baptism, or anything else). The Jewish child who is circumcised will not be greatly influenced by that act if he is not taught by parents and rabbis the religious significance of the act. As I said concerning myself, I never even realized that I was circumcised for many years; and when I did find out, it had no religious significance because I was not taught that it did.

Therefore, I am compelled to ask this question: if circumcision is forbidden because it interferes with a child’s “free will”, will it not also be necessary to forbid the religious training of the child in order to leave him “free” to make his own decisions? It’s only that training that provides the religious significance of the act. And even without the circumcision, if the child is raised to be a Jew (or Muslim, or Christian), will that not interfere with his “free will” as much or more as the ritual act? Will atheists be forbidden to teach their children their atheistic philosophy in order to leave the children “free” to make their own philosophical and religious decisions? How far will we go in order to keep from hindering the “free will” of our children?

Parents have the right – and the obligation – to make choices for their underage children all of the time, and to compel their adherence to the choices the parents have made. It can be in the food the parent believes is appropriate for the child; or it can be in the medical decisions (doctor visits, inoculations and other shots, and medicines which the child may not wish to take). There are many things that the parent decides for his child which the child may strongly object to – but the good parent will not be hindered by the objections of the child.

Like probably every other child, I never wanted to get a shot at the doctor’s office; but I had no choice in the matter (even though we all know that there is no medicine or medical procedure that does not carry with it some – at least slight – possibility of dangerous ‘side effects’). I probably cried many times when I was forced to get a shot. I don’t remember that though. In fact, the only shot I actually remember was a time when I didn’t cry. I was probably 6 or 7 years old, getting an inoculation required for school, and my father had promised that if I didn’t cry he would buy me a toy mail truck. I really wanted that truck, so I walked into the doctor’s office with determination, rolled up my sleeve, and “took it like a man”! 🙂 And I got the truck afterward.

With all of the things that a parent decides for his child – without asking the child’s permission – why should it be any different with such things as circumcision (or baptism) and religious training? None of that prevents the child from leaving the ‘faith’ in which he was raised when he reaches maturity – and many do ‘rebel’ against their parents’ training.

No, let’s stand strong for “religious liberty” – a religious liberty that includes the liberty of parents to raise their children the way they believe is right, and make decisions for them until they reach an age where they’re able to think and decide for themselves. If the Jewish or Muslim child who is circumcised later wishes to renounce the Jewish or Muslim faith, the fact that he had a little bit of flesh cut off will not hinder him from doing so. His circumcision of the flesh will no more compel him to be Jewish or Muslim than did mine when I was raised as a Christian.

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Responses

  1. Mystic444 I hope that the folks @ TUT read this the next time we have a circumcision argument. No one can accuse you of being biased. TQ for the account.

    • I really appreciate your comments, MJ. As this article makes clear, I just can’t understand all the furor over circumcision – a religious practice carried on safely for thousands of years, and the so-called ‘victims’ did not (for the most part at least) feel themselves to have been ‘victimized’. To attack the practice as a way of getting at the beliefs of a religion you despise is not a good thing, in my estimation.

      I also have another related disagreement with Mark Glenn: his assertion that there is no such thing as a ‘good’ Judaism. Mark maintains that what today passes for ‘Judaism’ IS true Judaism, and of course he rejects it as evil. However, in this he seems to me to be in conflict with Jesus Christ himself, as his teaching was relayed through John in the Apocalypse/Revelation. In two of the seven ‘letters to the churches’ in the first 3 chapters of Revelation (2:9 and 3:9) Jesus referred to those who claim to be Jews, but they’re NOT; they are liars because their true affiliation is with the ‘synagogue of Satan’. In other words, Jesus said that the ‘synagogue of Satan’ are NOT true Jews and don’t practice the true Judaism; Mark disagrees and says the ‘synagogue of Satan’ are telling the truth when they claim to be Jews.

      I side with Jesus Christ. He himself was a true Jew; he believed, practiced, and taught true Judaism – while rejecting the lies of the false Judaism which teaches as doctrines the commandments of men. Those who follow his teachings – even if they’re unaware that what they believe and practice is in fact precisely what Jesus taught – are the true Jews. During the time of Elijah there were 7000 ‘true Jews’ who had not bowed down to Baal. Jesus and his disciples were ‘true Jews’. Paul said that there remained a ‘remnant according to the election of grace’. And John in the Revelation saw 144,000 ‘true’ Jews – 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes – who were sealed with the name of the Father on their foreheads. There is indeed ‘good Judaism’; but it’s not what passes for Judaism in the thinking of ‘majority Jews’ or most Gentiles – that ‘Judaism’ is a false impersonator of the true thing.

      Despite these disagreements, I enjoy The Ugly Truth web site and broadcast. I consider such disagreements to be relatively minor, and I receive a great deal of benefit from the site. My favorite happens to be Jonathan Azaziah, but I like them all.

      By the way, pardon my gross ignorance – but what does ‘TQ’ stand for (“TQ for the account”)?

  2. TQ Stands for thank you. Sorry for that. I also as you have probably guess have these differences and yes they are minor, but some people major in the minor unfortunately. :D!

    Well in Islam as well we have the qualification most of them which basically negates the stereotyping of all of them regarding their not being true to Allah or practicing treachery.
    etc.

    Well as you guessed it another comment regarding circumcision came up and I considered asking you for permission to post parts of this article, However,
    I have decided against this because to be honest they are entitled to their opinion and we are entitled to ours. Just gets to the person when they equate it with child abuse. So I guess that they think Prophet Jesus suffered from child abuse at the hands of Maryam May the peace and blessing be upon them both?
    Their thinking is swings like a pendulum.
    .

  3. I am seriously inarticulate, cause I am seriously tired today!
    should read>Their thinking swings like a pendulum according to the thinking of the day.

    • ‘MJ’ – ‘TQ’ for the clarification on the meaning of ‘TQ’. 😀

      Yes, the revelation given to Muhammad (peace be with him and his family) is quite consistent with the Hebrew prophets, including John ‘the Baptist’ and Jesus (peace be with them), in proclaiming that ‘most’ of the Jewish people have departed from the ‘straight way’ and are on ‘the path that leads to destruction’ – while clearly acknowledging that there are still ‘some of them’ (“a very small remnant”) who are ‘on the right path’ and will be ‘saved’.

      I got myself into a bit of trouble on ‘Loonwatch’, though, by making precisely that point in a comment on one of their more recent articles – and saying I heartily agree with those prophets. I said that if making such a statement (that most of the Jewish people are on the ‘crooked path’) is ‘anti-Semitic’, then I unhesitatingly take the side of the ‘anti-Semitic ‘ prophets! The general reaction was ‘Oh! How awful!’; or ‘I just don’t understand. I thought you were more liberal than that’. 🙄

      If you wish to use anything I have written, feel free to do so. Probably you are right in deciding not to do so in this instance, though. Nevertheless, if I run across ‘anti-circumcision’ comments (or an ‘anti-circumcision’ article) on the site, I may perhaps post a link to my article in a polite way – saying something like “If you wish to see an alternative viewpoint written by someone who considers himself very much in agreement with you in most of the things I see on this site, you might read this article which I have written…” I think expressing myself in that way may be friendly and polite enough not to ‘stir up a hornet’s nest’. 😆

  4. LOL Mystic loonwatch thinks the Prophets are anti -semitic. Perphaps they would feel better if we said that the majority of the world is on the crooked path :D!
    It seems that the predominant majority want to worship God according to their standards. Then I wonder do they understand that it is God’s pregogative to make standards and that we worship him according to His standards.

    For example Mystic we look at the world therough the eyes of materialism and many times the best of us feel like competing for wordly things no matter how modest.
    The least of us, a homeless man will complain about his lack of a domicile. However when we look at the standards of God many of the prophets were refugees, or were exiled and lived in poverty with the acception of a pitiful few.
    How were they outstanding? They remembered God much through praise and worship like the angels, and rectified their societies no matter how difficult and, engaged in charity among other things. Basically focusing on the work that pleases God and not whatever took their fancy.
    Everyday, I asked myself whom did I please today my soul or God. Do no ask me for the results. :D!

    (Side Joke, I went to a Catholic high Schoo (Many, many moons ago)l and for some reason the priests liked handing out with me, well maybe they were trying to save me :D!
    Anyway, I saw their collective home, a lovely house that was pretty large according to world standards. Since I had traveled much as a child you can imagine my surprise at their statement regading their vows of poverty!LOL
    Give me that poverty any day…..!.) Thanks for your comments and your site.

  5. PS disclaimer: My favorite group of Christians are the Catholics many humble people in their midst May Allah guide them to the straight path.

    Still waiting for a chance to hit the folks with this fine article :D!


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