Does Circumcision Violate the First Commandment?

A few days ago a friend and fellow blogger posted an article, How 11 New York City Babies Contracted Herpes Through Circumcision on her Facebook page and asked me to comment.  She was asking her readers to comment on whether or not we should be allowed to circumcise.  At the time, I was a delegate for Ron Paul to the Texas State GOP convention, so I had no time to comment.  I did however have some time during boring speeches to think about it and read all of the comments on her post.  I will address her original question as well as many more.

It’s funny how God works.  I have actually been thinking about this very issue as it keeps coming up in religious discussions.  I had decided I needed to write about it, about a month ago and began doing lots of research.  Then I get this little reminder, thanks Mommypotamus!  Since I tend to be long winded in comments I decided to just go ahead and write my piece.

Lets start with the different reasons for circumcision:

HEALTH

Around 1/3 of states have ceased funding for medical circumcision.  The American Medical Association calls circumcision “non-therapeutic” and The American Academy of Pediatrics states very clearly:

Over the past several decades, the American Academy of Pediatrics has published several policy statements on neonatal circumcision of the male infant.1–3 Beginning in its 1971 manual, Standards and Recommendations of Hospital Care of Newborn Infants, and reiterated in the 1975 and 1983 revisions, the Academy concluded that there was no absolute medical indication for routine circumcision.

There is “no absolute medical indication for routine circumcision”.  Some people still argue that it is medically necessary.  I guess these are the same people that still think the appendix is a useless organ.  It is a scientific fact that the foreskin is adhered to the glans.  The intact foreskin protects the glans from urine, feces, and irritation, as well as keeping contaminates from entering the urinary tract.  Unfortunately, most people, including many health care providers, are completely ignorant of this fact.  When my first son was born, 17 years ago, I used a pediatrician, going through all the recommended appointments, we have since learned it’s better for our family if we only visit a pediatrician when absolutely necessary. At one of them I had to literally force her hands away from my son as she kept insisting she needed to retract his foreskin.  I mean that, I LITERALLY had to force her to stop!!  I think I must have learned in our Bradley Birth Class that it was attached for a reason.  I don’t know how else as this was way before the advent of google.

 

COSMETICS/LOOKS

I would wager to say that the majority of people who circumcise their son do it solely for this reason.  Dad was, so little Billy should be too.  He needs to look like me, etc. etc. etc.  Or the old argument “You don’t want him to get laughed at in gym class do you?”  These are ABSOLUTELY not valid reasons for removing a part of the body that God put there.  It is never too late to stop the cycle.  I know many families that have and the father is not only OK with it, but plays a major role in the decision.  I even know families that after having several boys circumcised because Dad was, became educated and quit the cycle with subsequent boys.  I commend them for making that decision.  I’m sure in this culture it’s not easy.  All of my brothers were circumcised because my Dad was and this is just what was routinely done in hospitals.  Luckily, my husband was not so the decision was easy for us.

 

RELIGIOUS

Obviously, we know circumcision has a long history dating back thousands of years in biblical Judiaism.  God commanded His people to follow this law.  What is ironic is the law that God commanded is not the practice that is done today.  Let’s clarify a few things.  I wrote about this in an earlier post about Seder Meals, but I will briefly reiterate some of it here.

“Modern Rabbinic Judaism  is not biblical Judaism, the Temple and Old Testament Priesthood are gone and it was not in existence until the 2nd-6th century.  “Biblical Judaism died and two religions claimed to be the legitimate heir, Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism.  Thus the Judaism we know of is a jealous sister, not a mother faith to Christianity.  It’s practitioners are not the people who remained faithful to the old religion.  As a biblical Judaism with it’s sacrifices, Jerusalem Temple, ritual purity, tithes, and priests disappeared 2000 years ago.  It is a new faith explicitly made to fight Christianity”

On to the circumcision practices.  God commanded the Jews to practice a specific type of circumcision, Brit Milah.  Around 140 A.D. the post temple Jews began to practice Brit Peri’ah.  I found this great diagram below on the Fisheaters website.

You can see from this diagram that the common circumcision practice of today, either medical, religious or cosmetic, IS NOT what God commanded of His people.

 

DOES THE BIBLE REQUIRE IT?

We know that practicing Jews believe that it is still necessary to follow this law for salvation.  Being a Christian, I know that this is no longer true, not only for Christians, but also for Jews, even though they don’t know it.  God’s chosen people were freed from these obligations the moment His son died for us.  In fact, the first drop of blood from Christ’s circumcision was enough to free them from this obligation, but we know the story and that God chose to shed every last drop.  As Catholics we are well aware that Christ was circumcised.  We commemorate it every year.  This fact alone is not enough reason for a Christian to have their son circumcised.  We need to understand that circumcision was meant to form a covenant between God and His people before Christ.  There is no longer a requirement for God’s people to be circumcised.  We see in 1 Corinthians 7:18

Is any man called, being circumcised? Let him not procure uncircumcision.  Is any man called in uncircumcision?  Let him NOT be circumcised.

 

DOES IT VIOLATE THE FIRST COMMANDMENT?

Lets look at what the Church had to say about this in the Council of Florence in 1439.  Remember this was when all Christians were united under one religion.  Martin Luther would not split from the Church for around another 60 or so years.

[The Holy Roman Church] firmly believes, professes and teaches that the legal prescriptions of the Old Testament or the Mosaic law, which are divided into ceremonies, holy sacrifices and sacraments, because they were instituted to signify something in the future, although they were adequate for the divine cult of that age, once our Lord Jesus Christ who was signified by them had come, came to an end and the sacraments of the new Testament had their beginning. Whoever, after the Passion, places his hope in the legal prescriptions and submits himself to them as necessary for salvation and as if faith in Christ without them could not save, sins mortally. It does not deny that from Christ’s passion until the promulgation of the Gospel they could have been retained, provided they were in no way believed to be necessary for salvation. But it asserts that after the promulgation of the gospel they cannot be observed without loss of eternal salvation. Therefore it denounces all who after that time observe circumcision, the [Jewish] sabbath and other legal prescriptions as strangers to the faith of Christ and unable to share in eternal salvation, unless they recoil at some time from these errors. Therefore it strictly orders all who glory in the name of Christian, not to practise circumcision either before or after baptism, since whether or not they place their hope in it, it cannot possibly be observed without loss of eternal salvation.

Well, I think that pretty much clears it up.  The religious practice of circumcision DOES violate the first commandment.  How so?  When we put our faith in a religious practice from a religion that is no longer a legitimate heir we are no longer serving God.

What about medical or cosmetic circumcision?

This is a bit more tricky.  Most people who practice these do so out of ignorance of the religious implications of the act.  In that case I would say they are not violating the first commandment.  I do, however, believe that is could be argued that they are violating the fifth commandment.  As Catholics we believe that the fifth commandment does not just cover murder.  Christ Himself extended the fifth commandment to include being angry and the Catechism of the Catholic Church states in the section on the fifth commandment under “Respect for bodily integrity”:

2297…Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputationsmutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.

We can see from the statements above from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association that routine circumcision is not medically therapeutic, therefore it DOES violate the moral law of the fifth commandment.

God gave material laws to the chosen people to prepare them for the more abstract spiritual laws from the Son of God.  Had our Jewish brothers not been so faithful to these covenants, Christianity would not have been able to flourish.  Their obedience to God’s tangible laws for material things allowed their souls to easily accept Christ’s spiritual laws.

 I truly admire their willingness to obey God’s laws.  I am forever grateful for the role the faith of the chosen people played in my religion.  Having said all of that, I firmly believe that circumcision is no longer required by God to show our obedience and that there is absolutely no medical reason for doing so.

 

SHOULD WE OUTLAW IT?

I see no reason that routine medical, cosmetic circumcision performed on baby boys in the hospital should not be outlawed.  The tougher one is the religious practice.  My immediate, knee jerk reaction is to say yes!  Outlaw it all!  When I put more thought to it I realize that we need to think about the ramifications of our government outlawing a religious practice.  If we lived in a Christian society it would be another story, but we don’t.  We live in a secular fundamentalist society.  In their view there is no difference between religions.  They have no regard for God and His laws or commands.  Advocating for the outlaw of this practice could them be used as precedent to outlaw one of mine or your religious practices.  I think the better approach is to pressure the Jewish community to take voluntary actions to ensure no other child contracts herpes from their Mohel.  If you look at the numbers, 11 reported cases in 11 years is nothing compared to other things that should be outlawed or more strictly regulated.  The number of deaths from Gardisil (71 in a few years) alone should have our community in outrage over vaccines.  Not to mention the countless numbers of deaths and vaccine injuries from all of the other vaccines.  Instead, we are at a steady rate of increasing the amount of vaccines children receive every year.  Like everything else, education is the key and force is usually not the best option, especially where the government is concerned.  We must stay steadfast and proactive.  Talk to your friends and neighbors about these issues.  You never know who you may enlighten.

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