Christian parents seek out `holistic circumcisions’

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c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Mark Kushner pulled up to the Watson family’s suburban Philadelphia home a week after the birth of their first son, Colin. In the dining room, he unpacked the tools of his trade: sterilized surgical instruments, topical anesthetic, prayer shawls and a small bottle of kosher wine. The shawls went […]

  • There are more than 120 references to circumcision in the New Testament, beginning with Acts 15. For Christians, circumcision has no value. Christ was the last blood sacrifice, and Christians, instructed to no longer adhere to outward signs, are to circumcise their hearts, not their bodies. Christians are saved through faith expressed through love, not through painful anachronistic blood rituals that have no place in the 21st Century.

  • Thank you mentioning the AAP findings and decision on circumcision.
    Thank you mentioning the removal of healthy body parts for a “look alike” fashion statement.
    As a follow up you can quote the stats which show a 55% decline nationwide (Florida is at 37%)
    And you might mention that the Italian Catholics for centuries put to death anyone who circumicized or castrated others. Also mention that 85% of the rest of the world does NOT cut.
    The Jews picked up the fad from the Egyptians who cut their slaves.
    Greeks designed foreskin restoration for the victims.
    All pathetic no matter which way you look at it.
    And the mothers – just stepping back – where’s the mothering instinct to protect their newborns?
    Sorry for a better way to say it but it still makes me sick.

  • Misty

    The baby would be happier if he had his foreskin intact!It is against Catholic law to circumcise. This should be taught better in the Catholic church, then perhaps more innocent boys would be saved from this torture. As a mother who just “deferred to her husband” and had her first son circumcised before learning the truth, I urge ALL women and mothers to please please please do your research and MOST importantly, listen to that gut reaction and your heart, and ignore the man in your life’s penis thinking. How many fathers and son’s compare their penises anyway?I am so thankful that other mothers reached out to me (and got through to me!) before I had my second son, so that at least he could be spared the trauma and permanent harm of a permanent amputation of 1/2 of his penile skin.

  • Ryan

    I agree that circumcision is not medically necessary, but since the majority of Christian parents in the U.S. still have their sons circumcised, they might as well have a mohel do it if they are going to have it done. Mohels remove the foreskin more quickly.

  • Steven

    These two parents made the decision to circumcise their son like millions of others do in each year. I am sure they read up and discussed the pro’s and cons of the procedure. The fact that they did it in the comfort of their own home is great. I say ‘well done’ to them for having the courage to follow their conscience. I (like all my friends) did the same for my son – albeit in hospital after he was born. Despite the comments of the writers above I would gladly do it again as I feel there is a benefit from the surgery. God allowed his own son to have it done and that is good enough for me, aside the decreased risk of HIV and cervical cancer. All the best to you mom and dad. May your son have a long and happy life.

  • Sarah

    OMG! What a nasty, intolerant comment by the intactivists’ hero, Marilyn Milos!! But it’s well known that her feelings towards Judaism are not exactly “kosher”.
    Just shows what “intactivism” is really about when you read what their main cheerleaders, like Marilyn Milos or John Gersheker have to say about Jews and their sacred practices.
    I’m disgusted.

  • Rood

    The entire “covenant” of Genesis 17 was a later addition to the Biblical narrative, placed there by Jewish Priests following the Babylonian Captivity to reestablish their authority over the Jewish people who had remained untouched by the “Captivity”. The original “covenant” between Abram and his God is found in Genesis 15. Nowhere does it mention genital mutilation.

  • Lawn

    As lifelong Presbyterians like the Watsons, we have celebrated having a son and two grandsons and were grateful for their wholeness and every structure put there to work together. So circumcision seemed completely anti-human. And we were not about to betray these precious young males with such audacioius acts of ordering parts cut off to meet any of our notions. Sovereignty over one’s own body is the holy, just and sacred issue here. No loving parent ultimately should go beyond that right and trust. Humanistic Judaism, for example, does not advocate the bris, and wonderfully so much of the best literature, books, articles and activism against circumcision comes from Jews who have been most burdened and victimized by this hideous practice. May other Christians wake up and not follow in the Watsons’ path, for their sons’ sake.

  • Tony Lesce

    Circumcision is an absurd blood ritual that belongs with a primitive tribe deep in the jungle, where beating drums drown out the cries of the victims.

  • Miriam Pollack

    I am extremely dismayed by the vulgarous slander hurled at Marilyn Milos by Sara in her insinuating comment, “Marilyn Milos!! But it’s well known that her feelings towards Judaism are not exactly “kosher”.
    Just shows what “intactivism” is really about when you read what their main cheerleaders, like Marilyn Milos or John Gersheker have to say about Jews and their sacred practices. Neither Marilyn Milos, nor John Geisheker, is in the least bit antagonist or disrespectful of Judaism. They are, as am I, a Jewish mother of 2 sons, appalled by circumcision. If we, as Jews, are to be honest, then we full disclosure would require us to tell parents that the foreskin is not a redundant piece of skin. In fact it has crucial protective, sensory and sexual functions comprising up to half of an adult erect penis and containing far more sensory fine touch receptors than any other part of the penis. The Great Rambam knew this and advocated it for reducing sensory pleasure. Check out his comment in the The Guide of the Perplexed, trans. S. Pines (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1190/1963) Vol.2, Part3, Chapter 49, Page 609. Furthermore, creating this kind of pain in a newborn is highly neurologically significant attested to by numerous studies. Trivializing or sanctifying it changes nothing for the infant. The so-called “medical arguments” have not held up to careful scientific scrutiny which is why the American Academy for Pediatrics still does NOT recommend routine neonatal circumcision. This is the MITZVAH and every Jewish parent should be informed before spiritualizing what is, in truth, a violent imposition on the innocent bodies of our innocent baby boys. If you want to hurl the invective of “anti-Semite” there are plenty of legitimate targets. Marilyn Milos and John Geisheker should be objects of your deepest appreciation for their undying heroism in this cause, not objects of your misplaced venom. Shame on you!

  • Pat Nybili

    Who made ms milos an expert on the bible and what it says? Leave it to your own interpretations. Jesus Christ was circumcised. if its good enough for him. Its good enough for me. Anachronistic Blood Rituals? Hmm do i detect a hint of anti-semitism? It’s obvious that for someone who quotes the bible not to have tolerance for another persons’s beliefs says it all. When did Ms. Milos find out that circumcision was an anachronistic Blood ritual? Was it after the circumcision of her first, second or third son?

  • I do not say that I am an “expert on the Bible,” but I have read it and the many comments about circumcision in the New Testament, in which it says circumcision is of no value for Christians. Christ was circumcised because he was a Jew. He died so that others would be saved by faith expressed through love not outward signs. I first heard circumcision decribed as an “anachronistic blood ritual” when Hanny Lightfoot-Klein said that to a female rabbi at a conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Hanny, the rabbi, and I all spoke. And yes, I have three circumcised sons. In those days (the 1950s and 1960s), circumcision was done behind closed doors and the doctor told me it didn’t hurt, only took a minute, and would protect my sons from a myriad of ills. Imagine my surprise, many years later, when, as a nursing student, I saw a baby strapped to a plastic board and struggle against his four point restraints. Then, imagine the horror I felt as I watched his reaction to having his foreskin clamped with hemostats, torn from the glans, crushed, sliced, and finally amputated–while he screamed until he couldn’t scream anymore, gasped until he couldn’t gasp anymore, until he finally went limp. I suddenly realized that my own precious babies had suffered in the same way. As I cried, the doctor looked at me and said, “There is no medical reason for doing this.” That day literally changed the course of my life, which I’ve dedicated to ending a practice most of the world has never considered. You need not scorn me for having my own sons circumcised. I was young, ignorant, and believed a doctor who lied to me. I will go to my grave knowing I didn’t protect my sons from a primal wound and that my sons will never know the wholeness of their body or the fullness of their sexual experience. I have apologized to them all! I have deep sorrow and profound regret that I did not protect my sons, and so I do what I can to educate others. Am I anti-Semitic, emphatically NO! Do I believe Jewish and Muslim and all babies deserve to be loved, respected, and protected, emphatically YES! Every person has a right to his own body, to make such a personal decision for him/herself. As Ronald Goldman, author of Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective, said, “Just because I don’t like asparagus doesn’t mean I don’t like vegetables.” Just because I don’t like circumcision of non-consenting infants and children, doesn’t mean I don’t like Jews or Muslims. My mentor on the subject of circumcision was Edward Wallerstein, author of Circumcision: An American Health Fallacy (Springer 1980). My first benefactor was reporter, author, photographer Ralph Ginzburg. My dear friend Dr. Dean Edell, is outspoken against circumcision (his first three sons were circumcised, his last two are not). Being against circumcision makes a person against circumcision not against Semites. We are horrified by female genital mutilation, yet the screams of both genders are the same, both genders die from harmful traditional practices. Why do we not protect our sons? Everyone has a right to be safe and to be secure in their body. Of course, we know everyone has a right to their own religion but that right ends where the skin of someone else’s body begins. A boy is a Jew because his mother is a Jew, not because of his circumcision. Circumcision is accepted because it’s been practiced for millenia, but it’s time we looked at it through the human rights lens of the 21st century.

  • pat nybili

    you are entitled to your opinion and im entitled to mine. Again you quote the new testament. My bible has both. what you quote is your interpretation and your beliefs. These parents made a decision for their son and should be respected for that. We as parents have to make many decisions for our children. I believe that God has given us that wisdom to care for our young in what we believe to be in the childs best interest. Thats what we as parents are charged with. I will disagree with you on the value of circumcision. If it had none it would not have lasted these past 3000 years. For every doctor that agrees with you, there are others that disagree with you. There are over a half billion circumcised men in the world and i do not believe that they are all mutilated. Most men who were circumcised as adults that i have spoken to are very happy with their decision and wish it had been carried out when they were infants. you are right about this being the 21st century and modern medicine has made circumcision a lot less traumatic also.

  • John S.

    Ms. Milos,With all due respect, the circumcision issue in this article pertains to people’s personal religious beliefs. While FGM is rightly banned in the U.S., the right to circumcise males based on religious beliefs is legally upheld. I personally do not believe it is productive to condemn people for carrying out a circumcision as part of their religious practices. (such as Jews and Muslims have always done) I also think it is disingenious to clad your anti-circumcision message with the same dramatic emotional imagery used by abortion foes and anti-animal cruelty advocates. I was circumcised by choice at age 25 and have never regretted the decision. My now 24 year-old son was rountinely circumcised by a caring, compassionate pediatrician in under 10 minutes and seemed to experience none of the horrific “drama” found in your colorful description. To some extent, I’m glad your message has made parents consider all of the implications when considering circumcision for their sons. Regardless of their choice, in time they will have to explain their decision to their sons if the question is raised. I experienced ridicule and embarassment in growing up where virtually all of my male schoolmates were circumcised. I resented NOT being circumcised and felt my parents were negligent in not doing so. It is not always a huge favor being done for a son by not circumcising him, as all anti-circumcision advocates firmly believe.

  • Rood

    It has become apparent that a few circumsexuals from Circlist, (JohnS, or vintrest, and Pat Nybili, et al)are out and about, again, making their usual suggestions that, for them, male genital mutilation might be more than a purely personal homoerotic fascination with the permanently exposed glans penis. Quite by itself their ascription of genital mutilation to a “religious” practice demonstrates a profound ignorance of religious history and a deceptive attempt to hide their own fascination with genital mutilation. They would be advised to study their own personal history, first, before make religious claims about events which they have demonstrated that they know nothing.Any “wink” given by the Law to genital mutilation merely reveals the ignorance of the individuals in charge, and the deference they give to figures of supposed authority. Nevertheless our laws clearly criminalize the act of merely touching an infant’s genitals, much less mutilating them.

  • John S.

    “Rood”,Thank you kindly for demonstrating the propaganda tactics most often used by radical Intactivists. If you cannot factually refute, then turn the attack personal and discredit, slur, and defame. These verbal tactics are taken directly out of the old Nazi propaganda manual used by the goose-stepping, swastika-wearing, jack-booted thugs your kind admires so much. You talk a lot in your reply about ignorance and profound ignorance-I’ll let the readers decide. As far as being a “circumsexual” I could counter that you are a foreskin fetishist. Your “Rood” comments are beneath contempt and vividly show why Intactivists haven’t made much progress in recent years. The only “mutilation” demonstated here is of the truth. My apologies to the moderators for the total lack of civility and respect in this exchange-I will not reply to any further personal attacks, so, as always, get your kicks and have the last word.

  • V3ry articl but, because i want to translate, and rewrite to my language.

  • Steven

    All this ranting – this is becoming a mudslinging match. And now something about circumfetish? Are we starting a new dictionary. Give me a break. Who is making the biggest noise here?Why don’t we leave it up to the parents to do what they feel is best for their kids. Invariably we can all be criticised for whatever we do by others or our children. I think as long as you GENUINELY have the child’s wellbeing at heart, that’s what is important. Like I said before – why would God (the most perfect being in existance) have allowed his people to be circumcised if it was going to be such an awful thing to bestowe on them. Added to this – at that stage there was no anaesthetic or modern instruments to do it with, yet he still commanded the Jew to do such. Now I’m not saying that this means that non-Jews are bound by that covenant, but the very fact that He chose that piece of anbatomy to excise, says to me that it can’t be that significant to maintain. If you have it (a foreskin) that’s great. I won’t belittle you for it. Equally for the many of us who DON’T have a foreskin, extend us the same courtsy. I don’t rant around like some of the writers above because they chose not to circumcise. A tolerant world – mmmmmm my AR*E. I (and all my mates who are circumcised) have never had a problem with what was done to us. And we function perfectly normally. Maybe because that’s all we’ve known, but still it works fine either way. Like I said – I had my son done (and it appears so did all my mates) and I have no regrets. To you Marilyn, I say good 4U if you don’t agree. For those who chose otherwise to circumcise their kids (like the Wilsons) good for you too.Peace 🙂

  • Rood

    Dear Steven:Sorry to have to inform you otherwise, but circumcision forever prevents a man from functioning “normally”, as you say. Research has in fact demonstrated that during intercourse the intact penis is necessary for normal sexual functioning of both the male and the female. Circumcised men can only “make do”. The ill effects of circumcision, for instance, prompted the need for K-Y and other artificial lubricants, and that, by itself, demonstrates that circumcised sex is not normal. Intact men don’t need or use artificial lubricants. Furthermore, we make often make a mistake when we take the bible too literally. “God” did not mandate the mutilation of infant boys … it was Jewish priests who inserted Genesis 17 into the Biblical narrative. And that occurred over a thousand years after the putative life of Abram. The passage was placed there by Priests not for religious edification, but for a political reasons: specifically, as a means to reestablish Priestly authority over the many Jews who had remained in Palestine during the Babylonian Captivity. (Those kindly, returning Priests also tore apart the many families of mixed marriages, too, among their people, but that’s another story.)In the absence of any other temporal power, following the Captivity, those religious forced genital mutilation upon their people as a means to instituting compliance to their will. Convince an illiterate herder of the need to mutilate the genitals of his newborn son, and you’ll have the power to demand almost anything. How else do you suppose Temple priests got their food? They didn’t work for it.Circumcision has absolutely no basis in religion: neither Jewish or Muslim. It’s merely a painful, corrupt, outmoded and bankrupt tradition.RoodN.B. By the way, should you want to see circumsexuals busy at their own game, go here: Light to the Nations: An Introduction to the Old Testament, by Norman K. Gottwald, Professor of Old Testament, Andover Newton Theological School, Harper & Brothers, Publishers, c. 1959A Covenant of Blood: Circumcision and Gender in Rabbinical Judaism, Lawrence A. Hoffman, University of Chicago Press, c. 1996

  • LG Blair

    There is not a medical indication for circumcision. The AMA and the AAP have found that there is no reason to recommend it as a routine medical procedure. In regards to religious ways, what right do you as parents have to force your religion on your kids, whether it be by a so-called “medical” procedure, or forcing them to attend church, or whatever? You don’t have that right, and I as a highly devout non-religious unbeliever resent my parents for forcing religion on me from an early age as well as removing my beloved foreskin. I’m currently in the process of reversing that horrible mistake they made by restoring my foreskin, albeit it won’t have all those sensory nerve endings that the real thing has (so it’ll never be the same, which hacks me off even more).

  • To John,You probably wanted to be circumcised because you lived in a circumcising society. Boys in non-circumcising societies never think of such a thing. Had your parents told you how lucky you are to not have a primal wound or a scar on your penis and psyche, along with the protective and erogenous functions of the foreskin, perhaps, you could have responded like one man did when asked whether he felt different in the locker room. He said, “Yes, gloriously different!” My grandson thanked me for teaching his mom to protect his body. His wife has thanked me, too.I have just returned from the 10th International Symposium on Circumcision, Genital Integrity, and Human Rights at Keele University in England. There, Paul Mason, Commissioner for Children in Tasmania, told a physician, who circumcises boys for cultural reasons so they won’t be circumcised in a back-street alley, that “human rights and the rights of a child to genital integrity trump both culture and religion.” If a child grows up and wants a circumcision, he or she can have it done to themselves. Parents do not have a right to cut normal parts off their child’s body.Because circumcision has been done for millenia, many people have not yet applied the human rights lens of the 21st century to the practice. When they do, these harmful traditional practices will end.