the religious justification for circumcision in question and the harmful effects of circumcision
2 essays today and that accounts for the great length here (upcoming essays will be shorter). We did not want to break these essays into separate posts.
the religious justification for circumcision in question
People need to govern their religious fervor with reason or else risk degenerating into fanaticism. We have made that remark in a couple of earlier essays. And, it is easier said than done for humans. We now dare to add: Extremists rarely, if at all, see themselves as extreme in their positions.
The below image is of some carved pieces of wood that illustrate the saying “see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil”. Perhaps there could be one for “think no evil”.
One of the reasons that I write this essay is that Christian “doctors” in mid 19th century America were invoking Christian Scripture (the Old Testament) to add force to their touting of the alleged benefits of male circumcision. Since God had required male circumcision of the ancient Hebrews, so their thinking went, then the practice must be good, must have positive health benefits. This issue of the routine circumcision of infant males in the US is what led me to start this blog. And, candidly, after the first essay on 4 June 2012 on this topic, I thought for a day or two that that was the end of my blogging. This is a very painful subject for many. But, we need to honestly address this issue in the US in the hopes that there will be a better, less ignorant, future for succeeding generations of Americans.
For a more thorough discussion of male circumcision, its harmful effects, the modern and bogus justifications for it, and why this matters, see our first essay at this link:
Women also should read this linked essay since male circumcision impacts you! (Please note that Kristen O’Hara’s book may now only be available on Amazon.com in a Kindle edition.)
Obligatory disclaimer: We are not “anti-Semitic”. We are not “anti-Semitic” because we give voice to these thoughts and concerns. We also recognize that what we will write may appear to some as being heretical. Our intention is not to offend. (As well, this is not the first time we have appeared “heretical” or as “apostate” to some readers. Enter “Adam and Eve” in the search box and you can read our essay (July, 2012) about their story in Genesis – more notable for what it does not tell us.)
There is an account in the Old Testament about male circumcision being required by, or as a sign of, the covenant between God and the Jewish people (known at that time as Hebrews or Israelites). We are putting forth this “anti-thesis” as food for thought.
To us, the religious justification or divine sanction for male circumcision appears not to be logical, and may not even be true. This is where we need to say “may”. Neither you nor I were present when Abraham, Moses, etc. received instructions from above. One either accepts this divine sanction for male circumcision on faith, or one rejects it. (We only present the reality of the dilemma.)
1. The logic or lack thereof.
If the male foreskin is so offensive to God, one may rightly wonder: why did He create human males with a foreskin? Seriously. Many people believe that God does not make mistakes. Why then would He require the Hebrews to remove the foreskin of their males? We submit that if the human male’s foreskin is offensive to God, He would have created human males without one. Be aware that the vast majority of men throughout history have been natural (i.e. not cut, not circumcised). Even the lowly appendix and the tonsils are now known to play a part in the human immune system. God knows better than man.
2. The veracity of the Biblical account of male circumcision.
Let me say that there are many useful and beneficial things found in Scripture. The commandments call men to freedom from their own self-destructive tendencies. There is no question about that. (As well, one must work at one’s faith. The effort is worth it.) But, it needs to be said that it is difficult for many to take Scripture as fundamentalists do, that is literally accurate in all its passages.
Here we present a plausible alternative scenario of how and why the ancient Hebrews adopted male circumcision (one which does not include Divine commands).
The ancient Hebrews were in Egypt on at least 2 occasions. Abraham and others went to Egypt and then later the Hebrews were again in Egypt (likely as refugees) for some time before the Exodus under the leadership of Moses. The ancient Egyptians practiced circumcision on their males. Why they did this is open to speculation. I have even read of the assertion that this was done in an attempt to cure premature ejaculation in males. (Such a violent “cure” given that the health risks of the “operation” were so much greater in ancient times.)
I think that it is very likely that the Hebrews adopted the practice of circumcision while they were in Egypt. Here is my reasoning. During their lengthy stay in Egypt (prior to the Exodus), the Hebrews were guests of the Egyptians. As such, they desired to be accepted by their hosts and to appear as good citizens (somewhat different from the various groups and recent arrivals in the USA who have no interest in assimilation). By adopting at least some, if not many, of the customs of their hosts, they could in effect say to the Egyptians: “See, we adopt your customs and practices, and are not so different from you. We are your friends and good citizens/residents.” The Hebrews continued this practice even after leaving Egypt and returning to Palestine.
I go looking for a link to demonstrate this and I find others have come to the same conclusions as I, albeit independently and previously. We are not unique in our thinking and that is good, as it shows others share our thoughts and we are not alone after all. (Also, would you believe that I went searching for these links as the last task before posting this completed essay? It is true. Perhaps these links ought to have been placed at the end of this essay.)
For some good background, check this linked article out.
Also, Wikipedia takes this up here:
Centuries later (recall that the Old Testament was in oral tradition for several centuries prior to finally being written down in the last few centuries before Christ), some pubescent boys began to angrily question the “necessity” for this needless amputation of natural, healthy and functional tissue. (Can you blame them?!) They protested that none of the neighboring peoples were doing this – so why did they have to undergo this ordeal? The Rabbis did not have a ready-made answer. The Hebrews (or Israelites, if you prefer) did not know when they as a people had adopted the practice. An explanation for the adoption of the practice may not have been in their oral traditions.
Regardless of religion, priests the world over are loath to admit either error or the possession of incomplete knowledge of the Divine will. (They are so protective of their “prestige” in these areas that they will cling to absurd nonsense that has been disproved over time rather than admit to error(s). This is a classic case of exposure anxiety as addressed in the essay of January 3, the book review of Blunder.) Here was both a challenge and an opportunity for the Rabbis.
The prophets and rabbis of the intervening centuries had not condemned circumcision. And, yes, none of the other neighboring peoples were practicing circumcision. The Israelites believed that they were the “Chosen people” of God. (To clarify, the Israelites were chosen for a task. They were not “chosen” to be given preferential treatment by all the other peoples of the world as some contemporary Christian Zionists mistakenly believe. We addressed this last autumn in the essay on Christian Zionists.) Circumcision became a symbol of the specialness of the Israelites, as something that identified them as God’s “Chosen” people. Neither Yahweh nor circumcision were known to the neighboring kingdoms and tribes. Circumcision thus was a sign of that special relationship between God and the Israelites.
Eventually, when the Rabbis were editing and finally writing down their Scriptures, there was a Divine sanction for circumcision and it was purposely traced back to the time of Abraham as he was the most important patriarch in their history.
If you think this scenario is far-fetched and outside the realm of possibility, consider a couple of other examples. There is some concern with the translations of (St.) Jerome in the late 4th century of the Christian era. He translated the Scriptures from the Greek into Latin (called the Vulgate, circa 383 A.D.) Some believe that Jerome engaged in “selective editing” (some passages were altered and others were omitted) and thus his translation is not entirely accurate. In Buddhism, oral traditions prevailed for hundreds of years before being committed to writing (in Pali, not Sanskrit). There were conclaves of Buddhist clergy during this time to try to correct or maintain the integrity of the oral tradition, especially necessary when competing traditions arose that did not agree on important points. And, there are written works that appear 4 to 6 centuries after the death of Gautama (Buddha, died circa 480 B.C.) that were not part of the oral tradition, and yet their authors asserted that Buddha had spoken them during his lifetime. (An example is the Jatakas, essentially moral parables attributed to Buddha that were of the nature of Indian folk tales and were not necessarily Buddhist in origin.) Clerics will attribute their own works to the founder of their religion so as to give more authority to these later works.
Back to circumcision. When you mutilate the genitals of children, male or female, it is a violation of their right to bodily integrity. Such mutilation is really about power and control and has nothing whatsoever to do with God’s will. Remember, as we said at the start, one must govern one’s religious fervor with reason.
This alternative scenario of mine is not really far-fetched when you think about it.
end of first essay
the harmful effects of circumcision
As alluded to in last week’s essay, a major cause of women experiencing difficulty in achieving orgasm(s) easily is circumcised sex. (This was the glaring omission in so much of the literature on sex in the US in preceding decades.) Why is this so? The presence of the foreskin serves to shorten the thrusts of the man and thus maintains adequate and proper timing of the stimulation of the clitoris during coitus (intercourse). The timing is key. With proper timing (at proper intervals) of the stimulation to the clitoris, the woman can quite easily achieve orgasms (multiple orgasms).
Let us quote from Dr. Sherfey’s book (briefly reviewed in our last essay). To avoid the extremely technical, anatomical language used, we will quote very briefly.
” . . . . adequate physical stimulation is still necessary for coital orgasms to occur. Inadequate erotogenic stimulation is unquestionably the most frequent cause of vaginal frigidity.” (p. 132)
“There is no such thing as a vaginal orgasm distinct from a clitoral orgasm. The nature of the orgasm is the same, regardless of the erotogenic zone stimulated to produce it.” (p. 142)
“The erotogenic potential of the clitoral glans is probably greater than that of the lower third of the vagina. . . . . The evolution of primate sexuality has occurred primarily through selective adaptations of the perineal edema and the clitoral complex, not the vagina.” (p. 143)
Consider: Around 1970, it was estimated by some researchers that as many as 70 percent of the women in the US were “frigid” as regards sex. At that same time, approximately 70 percent of the adult males in the US population were circumcised. Coincidence? We do not hear of such high figures for “frigidity” in women in countries where circumcision is not practiced. Au contraire! Frigidity is largely unknown in such countries, and the wives greatly enjoy their lovemaking with their natural husbands.
As well, the bunching up of the foreskin on the outstroke of the penis serves to lessen any discomfort from the scraping of the vaginal wall by the coronal ridge of the penis. Again, circumcision leads to unnatural and unnecessary discomfort for the wife during coitus. (Kristen discusses all these issues (and more) at length in her book.) Men, who are very prone to choosing to remain in a state of denial on this issue, also are deprived of much of the natural sensitivity of their penis as thousands of nerve endings are cut away (and lost) during circumcision.
The pediatricians, who are so ardent in their desire to see the amputation of the foreskin as soon as possible after birth, thereby do much harm to marriages in the US. (Read the essay at the link above for a more thorough treatment of the subject.) Recently, European pediatricians have criticised their US counterparts for continuing to recommend infant male circumcision. (Visit the Intact America website for more on that.) Needless to say, we do not hold these doctors and interns who do these unnecessary surgeries in high esteem. What a cowardly act – to harm a child and for no reason! Circumcision is another example of our very skewed view of masculinity in America. There is nothing at all wrong with the natural man who has not had his genitals mutilated.
Where is this unnecessary practice taking place in the world in 2013?
Only in the US (mostly for non-religious reasons), Israel, many Islamic countries, and in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Circumcision has largely died out in Britain, and is in serious decline in Canada and Australia. (Note that in many of these countries, the circumcision is performed at the age of puberty, but the damage done is the same.)
Circumcision is not done in the countries of Europe, nor in India, Japan, China, Thailand, Brasil, Mexico, etc., etc.
Readers: realize that circumcision is the exception, not the rule, across the globe.
It is rather ironic that many Church men in the US will condemn oral sex within marriage, but yet they refuse to speak out and condemn infant circumcision which later on actually does undermine the sexual bonding between the spouses. I will merely suggest that oral sex is not destroying marriages, but circumcision is causing many spouses (both wives and husbands) to be sexually unfulfilled – and that does harm and weakens marriages.
Expectant parents in the US: do not allow the “doctors” to bully you into harming your son and your future daughter-in-law through this needless, superstitious and barbaric practice.
Please do not share this essay – rather click on the link above to our first essay, read and share that essay if you like. Thanks for reading and thinking about this.