Should Christian Parents Circumcise Their Infant Sons?

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(The majority of the inspiration and information gleaned for this blog post was from the excellent and thorough What the Bible Really Says About Routine Infant Circumcision by Laura Jezek, and the Whole Christian Network, a faith-based anti-circumcision activism group. If you would like more information, beyond what I have outlined here, I highly encourage you to check those two amazing resources out!)

The Biblical Act of Circumcision

First off, before embarking on any kind of faith based discussion of circumcision, it is important to clarify that the circumcision that Abraham and his descendants practiced was something entirely different from modern circumcision. Biblical circumcision merely involved cutting the tip of the foreskin, not completely removing it!

Simply put, God never ordained that the foreskin or any other part of the human body should be amputated (i.e. his creation destroyed). Our modern invention of foreskin amputation took place in Victorian times when several doctors and psychiatrists came up with the idea in hopes of discouraging masturbation. It didn’t work, but the practice soon became ingrained as “tradition”.

To quote Lori from the Laurel of Leaves blog:

The Hebrew word used to describe Old Testament circumcision is “namal”. Namal means “clipped,” like you might clip your fingernails. There are totally different words used in Hebrew for “cut off” or “removed.”

The whole idea of circumcision as it was ordained by God at that time in history was that a little blood would be drawn as a symbol. It was a symbol of the sin of the world, which would eventually be repaid by the Messiah. God-ordained circumcision was in the same category as animal sacrifices (another symbolic tradition with blood that found its fulfillment in Jesus).

Also think about how you as a parent would feel when you saw your son being circumcised. Imagine the pain as a parent knowing what your child is having to endure. Then imagine the pain of the Father as He watches His only Son endure the pain of suffocating to death on a cross in order to take the sin of the world into hell and pay for it Himself. (But don’t forget that God never asked His people to mutilate any part of the male genitalia. Clipping a tiny bit of the foreskin to draw blood is nothing like amputating the entire thing.)

You can read more about the Biblical practice of circumcision and how it differs from American circumcision by checking out Christian Parents and the Circumcision Issue by James E. Peron, MS, Ed.D. 

Where Circumcision Falls Within Your Faith

Right off the bat, we need to establish that circumcision – whether old school Hebrew “clipping” or New Age Victorian “removal” – is NOT a requirement for Christian faith.

This issue was resolved long ago by the apostle Paul and the early Church. Circumcision has absolutely nothing to do with your salvation. It is one of many Old Testament requirements that ended the moment that Jesus Christ died for our sins. Circumcision had to do with the Old Testament relationship between God and the Jews. It has NEVER been a requirement for Christians.

To quote the articulate Miss Jezek:

There is no room for debate or speculation. Christians are forbidden by Scripture from practicing routine infant circumcision by the New Testament. There are only two sets of Christians who still circumcise their sons: Those who do not know the Bible well enough to know what it teaches about the subject, and those who know but simply do not care (the Bible isn’t their measure of living, their own mindset is.)

Circumcising Outside Of God’s Mandates

All things have their place in history. But when you take archaic Biblical commands that are now void and null, and try to inject them into modern day living, that is nothing short of willful disobedience that is a slap in the face of God. God delights in the pointless and forced mutilation of Christian babies genitalia against their will about as much as he’d delight in my pointlessly sacrificing a goat and splashing it’s blood against my local churches altar. And how much more so the barbarity of the action in God’s eyes if I acknowledge, “I know it’s not required of me.. I just WANT to do it”?

God does a lot of things with a plan and a purpose, and circumcision certainly was at one time within God’s plans. But a temporary season of salvation through symbolic sacrificial blood does not justify the needless genital mutilation of young men today, in this era.

The act of genital mutilation in young boys against their will is no better than the senseless act of genital mutilation in young girls. Pro-circumcision defenders are no better than pro-“choice” defenders, trying to justify child murder. When circumcision – outside of God’s will – is foisted upon an unconsenting child, it is a form of child abuse and sexual assault. (The United States currently holds this view for female circumcision, and male circumcision is a far more invasive and dangerous procedure. On a scale of human rights, circumcision is circumcision, regardless of sex.)

At one time in our dark world history salvation was paid for through blood and sacrifice. It wasn’t joyous. It wasn’t pretty. It was ugly and horrid and necessary for propitiation of sins. Well, now Christ has paid that ultimate price for us. Anyone – especially Christians – who insist on perpetuating and needlessly carving up their sons genital’s is not acting from a stance of faith or love, but of selfish personal preference.

It does not take a Biblical scholar to see that when it comes to forcibly holding a screaming child down and cutting away healthy skin from his body, and leaving him permanently scarred against his will – that’s one step above child abuse and one step below abortion.

Does Circumcision Fulfill Your Christian Mandate To Love, Protect and Nurture Your Son?

Any medical procedure performed on your child should be fully evaluated in light of your Christian obligation to love, protect, and nurture him.

Under accepted bioethical principles, parents can consent to surgery on behalf of a child ONLY if it is necessary to protect the child’s life or health. “Routine” circumcision fails this test because it painfully and permanently removes a normal and healthy part of a boy’s penis, does not protect the child’s life or health, and in fact creates new risks. (Click to here to read my article, “Infant Circumcision vs. Adult Circumcision: Why Waiting Is Best” for details on the risks and health concerns of infant circumcision.)

As Christian parents you need to be aware that no medical group in the world associated with child health supports the routine circumcision of male infants. Removing the foreskin is no more justified than removing a finger or any other healthy body part.

It really should be a no-brainer, especially for Christians who have historically stood for human rights and protections, that children should be protected from permanent bodily alteration inflicted on them without their consent.

Since routine circumcision is not supported by Christian teaching, and the medical community universally states, “There are no valid medical indications for the routine circumcision of baby boys”, the choice of loving and compassionate Christian parents should be obvious.

If a Christian chooses to force circumcision on the helpless infant that God entrusted to their care, it is NOT born out of Scripture, medical necessity or even love. It is by default a matter of personal preference and conformity.

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How the Bible Views Conformity With the Ways of the World

“I’m willing to let my baby experience this so he’ll look like his daddy.”  

“I prefer the look of a circumcised penis.”

“I want this for him, and that is all that matters.”

Conformity, for conformity’s sake, is a sin according to the Bible. No longer can parents say “I want junior to look like the other boys his age” since over 90% will be intact by the time he is using public bathrooms and locker rooms. He will be the minority, living with the choices that his parents made for him, without regard to his thoughts, feelings, or preferences.

Conformity, even if it had any virtue (which it doesn’t) needs to be tempered with common sense. If Daddy had lost a thumb in a hunting accident, would you want your son’s hand to look just like Daddy’s? Of course not. Nor should a loving father desire that his imperfections be foisted upon his sons perfectly formed body. We must use the common sense God gave us.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:1-2

It is NOT your place to shape, mold or mutilate your sons body to fit societies – or your – idea of conformity or perfection. To follow the ways of the world, and indulge in actions that mutilate the perfect body God gave you, is a sin. How much more so if you do it to the tiny body that God entrusted to your care?

“You adulterous people! Do you not know that conformity with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” – James 4:4

Practicing Circumcision Is Anti-Christ: New Testament Scripture On Circumcision

(Notes and commentary from Laura Jezek.)

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us.” – Galations 3:13

Paul teaches here that circumcision was meant to be a curse. No one is supposed to WANT to do this to their babies! Christ has been the substitution for our children, that our sons should never have to shed their blood again.

“Behold, I Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing!” – Galations 5:2

Enough said.

“You were running well, who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you.” – Galations 5:7

No matter who or what is persuading you to circumcise your baby boy, know for sure, this persuasion is NOT coming from God. There has never been any form of mutilation that has been acceptable in God’s eyes, with the one exception of the Old Covenant ritual to foreshadow Christ’s sacrifice. To circumcise a baby for any reason other than that, is abhorrent to God.

“I wish that those who are pushing you to do so would mutilate themselves!” – Galations 5:12

Have you ever heard Paul so intense about anything? Mutilation is his word. And it will come up again.

“Beware of the dogs! Beware of the evil workers! Beware of the mutilation! For we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God, and glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh!” – Philippians 3:2

Paul has three things to say about those who would still practice routine circumcision after the ushering in of the New Covenant and the final sacrifice made by Christ. First, he calls them dogs, the lowest of insulting terms in those days. Second, he calls them evil workers. Scripture is clear: maiming an individual, outside of a direct order from God, is evil and morally unacceptable. Third, Paul minces no words; he calls unordained circumcision what it really is – mutilation. This is the second time Paul uses this term.

Finally, Peter – who spent his time ministering to Jewish believers – summed up the absurdity of the controversy. He knew that any involvement with things like circumcision or animal sacrifice, in light of Christ’s work on the Cross, was blasphemous and sacrilegious.

“For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandments delivered to them. It has thus happened to them according to the true Proverb: ‘A dog returns to its own vomit’ and ‘A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mud.’” – 1 Peter 2:20-22

Paul called those who would continue circumcision “dogs,” and truly anyone who would desire the continuation of something so morbid and unpleasant (something God says in Galations 3:13 was meant to be a “curse”), would truly be the equivalent of a dog returning to its vomit. We should praise God every day that He set us free from chopping up animals on an altar and slicing our babies with knives. The relief He intended us to feel should flood our soul whenever we think of it. How perverse that some would still be blood-thirsty enough to crave what God Himself sees as detestable.

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Your Son (And His Penis) Belong to God, Not You

Christian parents, let’s take God serious. Let us mind His word and love our children the way Jesus Himself loves them. Let us protect them, cherish them, and tenderly care for them.

Our children are gifts of the Lord. They were created by His hand, knit together in the womb. God brilliantly fashioned every part of their bodies and has pronounced His creation “very good.” His handiwork is to be admired, not despised. He has more reasons for creating a foreskin on your son than you or I could ever begin to imagine or comprehend. God makes no mistakes. We have no spare parts.

Your children belong to God, not you. He is the one who made them, and He has a purpose that you may only dimly be aware of. The Lord has entrusted this precious life into your care. For a short while you will be all he knows. You get to have fun with him and share in his joy of discovery. But he doesn’t belong to you. You must look after him and encourage him. You must protect him, even from yourself and your own prejudices if need be.

Because the bottom line is, it is not your penis. It is your sons. It belongs to his God, himself and his future wife far more than it belongs to you.

We are to love our children as God loves us, and that includes letting them make their own choices. If circumcision is a path your son desires to take, he can always make that choice later in life. But circumcision – like abortion – is forever. It can never be undone.

Choosing to protect your son from this horribly painful and totally unnecessary procedure is a decision that honors God, honors your spouse (even a circumcised father), honors yourself, honors your community, and of course honors your child.

Let us give each new baby a peaceful beginning, a compassionate introduction to the world. And let us surrender all of our actions to the Lord. It is a huge responsibility, and a huge privilege. Saying no to routine infant circumcision is just about the greatest display of love, compassion, and respect you may ever have the opportunity to show your child.