Yes, Circumcision Is a GOD THING—Biblical, Hygienically Necessary, and an Excellent Exercise in Humility!
Pastor Dan Gayman
For the above reasons plus more, I am a strong believer in and advocate of male circumcision for descendants of Abraham. The same God Who hung the planets in their orbits and created a universe absolutely beyond the reach of mortal man’s ability to understand even the beginning of its complexities is the same God Who, almost four millennia ago, commanded routine circumcision for male descendants of Abraham. The God of Scripture is well known for His ability to insult our human intellect and allow His children the opportunity to test their degree of submission to His authority. Will we obey His Word? As a Christian seeking to practice your faith, it is your duty to live in humility to the authority of God and comply with His Word.
The Twenty-first Century is witnessing a meltdown of Christianity. The culture war waging in contemporary America has placed almost every truth of Scripture in its gun sights. No generation in the annals of history has been more tested and tried than this one, especially for those seeking to live by God’s unchanging standard of truth, found in His Word.
Not unlike every other aspect of historic Christianity, circumcision is under assault from progressive Humanists out to remake the world in the image of man and eliminate God’s truth. We have an urgent need for a voice of truth, a north star, a compass to lead the confused and disillusioned of the Twenty-first Century into the dawn of hope, promise, and life. That pathway is found in the absolute, authoritative truth of God’s Word!
This study proceeds upon the postulate that God is the origin of truth; His Word is His moral will for us, His children. As we should know, God’s Word to His children is unchanging and forever true. It is applicable to every generation. That remnant Christians may reconnect to God and live in conformity to His divine will, this study on circumcision proceeds.
Circumcision of Caucasian males has roots far back into history, for almost four millennia. Jehovah Himself initiated circumcision when He in directed Abraham to circumcise the foreskin of every male child about 1910 B.C. Circumcision was to be the sign (seal) of the covenant that Jehovah made with Abraham and would mark the seed of Abraham throughout time and history. Speaking to Abraham, Jehovah declared this: “And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations…and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant…And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant” (Genesis 17:11-14).
The rite of circumcision is rooted deep in the fabric and history of God’s covenant people. Abraham received this practice as “…a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised…” (Rom. 4:11). Circumcision has relevance for God’s covenant people as a spiritual, covenantal, and hygienically necessary rite. God designated circumcision to be performed on the eighth day because Vitamin K, responsible for the production of prothrombin, rises to its highest level on the eighth day of life. What does prothrombin do? It causes the blood to coagulate and prevent bleeding when the rite of circumcision is performed. Circumcisions on the eighth day at the hands of a trained person in a sanitary environment are safe and routine.
There should be no theological controversy regarding the rite of circumcision, for God established it for Abraham’s children as an “everlasting covenant” (Genesis 17:13). Please note that the New Testament clearly indicates that the rite of circumcision is not a requirement for salvation. The first major ecumenical council of the church at Jerusalem in A.D. 50, attended by the Apostolic Fathers, ruled that the rite of circumcision was not a requirement for circumcision. Under no circumstances was circumcision to be associated with salvation, which is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and nothing else (Eph. 2:8-10). Rather, the issue of circumcision in the New Testament arose because believing Jews (Judeans) sought to make circumcision a requirement for salvation (Acts 15:1-6). Scripture makes it clear that while circumcision is never a necessary qualification for salvation, neither is it condemned for its covenantal blessings or health and hygiene benefits. Scripture is clear: the rite of circumcision is not a requirement for salvation, nor is any other law or ordinance of God. Keeping the Ten Commandments does not save us; however, that does not mean we can discard them! Men who are uncircumcised when they become Christian are not under any obligation to be circumcised (I Cor. 7:18). Therefore, any man who seeks circumcision in order to be saved (or justified) clearly does so in vain (Gal. 5:4). Neither is a man in the wrong if after becoming a Christian he chooses of his own volition to become circumcised. He may choose to become circumcised to be marked as the seed of Abraham and share in its other benefits. Remember this: circumcision’s covenantal and hygiene benefits cannot be denied. “What advantage then hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Rom. 3:1-2).
The Historicity of Circumcision
The sign of circumcision was a universal mark upon all the nations descending from Abraham. All eight sons fathered by Abraham and his seed after them were to bear confirmation of the sign of circumcision on their male children, including hundreds of millions of offspring from the covenant seed of Isaac, the seed of Ishmael, and all the seed of Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. The covenant of circumcision was everlasting. The English word everlasting is from a Hebrew root word olam and conveys the idea of a vanishing point, time out of mind, eternity, always, eternal, perpetual, and without end. God intended the act of circumcision to forever mark the seed of Abraham.
Today, millions of Christians continue to practice circumcision, but in the face of increasing opposition. Following the example of Ishmael, the Arab world also practices circumcision (Genesis 17:25), but only around the age of thirteen. For centuries, the circumcision of male children has been a routine practice among various branches of Abraham’s family.
In fact, it was not until the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s that routine circumcision, not unlike other biblical principles, came under assault. In 1971, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a report stating, “There is no absolute medical indication for routine circumcision of the newborn.” By 1983, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology had decided against routine circumcision. However, this all changed in March of 1989, when the American Academy of Pediatrics published a “Member Alert” bulletin declaring, “Newborn circumcision has potential medical benefits and advantages…” (T.E. Wiswell, Pediatrics, May 1985 and March 1987).
The Health Benefits of Circumcision
Jehovah did not elaborate on the medical and hygiene blessings derived from the rite of circumcision. Neither does the Bible give any explanation why one should not eat the flesh of swine and other unclean meats (Leviticus 11, Deuteronomy 14). Yet, it is abundantly clear that there are major health reasons why Jehovah instructed His children to omit these unclean creatures from their diet. There is growing evidence that routine circumcision has enormous health benefits, aside from the biblically documented covenantal and spiritual blessings long associated with this procedure. “Three recent large-scale studies of African men have found that circumcision markedly lowers the risk of infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS; it also reduces infection from other sexually transmitted diseases, including the cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV). Researchers say that’s because the foreskin can develop microscopic tears during sexual activity, allowing infections to more easily reach the bloodstream. Circumcision has also been found to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections in a baby’s first year. Citing those studies, the American Academy of Pediatrics in August 2012 shifted its previously neutral stance on circumcision and announced that the procedure has ‘significant health benefits’. For every 909 circumcisions, the pediatricians reported, one man will be spared a diagnosis of penile cancer” (The Week, November 2, 2012, p. 11).
Circumcision Is a God Thing
The medical and health benefits of routine circumcision are far-reaching. Consider the exhaustive studies conducted in the United States to determine the potential benefits of circumcisions. The following medical benefits are among some of the more apparent blessings for those who walk in obedience to the commands of the God Who created heaven, earth, and all things therein.
1) Circumcision is an effective prevention of urinary tract infections. The bacterium that collects under the foreskin is a direct cause of urinary tract infections. Exhaustive studies have determined that circumcised males are not nearly as vulnerable to UTI’s as uncircumcised males.
2) Circumcision reduces bacteria and allows for better hygiene. Threatening bacteria known as smegma grow in the area under the foreskin. This substance is secreted by sebaceous glands under the foreskin. Unless special hygiene procedures are practiced faithfully, this bacterium grows in the area under the foreskin, causing a condition called balanitis. Balanitis is an infection of the foreskin area common among uncircumcised males. Routine circumcision would end the danger of balanitis.
3) Circumcision on the eighth day prevents circumcision later in life. Up to 10% of uncircumcised male children are not able to retract the foreskin by the time they are six years old. This problem, known as phimosis, produces several health complications, including problems associated with emptying the bladder, inflammation of the inner lining of the foreskin, painful urination, habitual bedwetting, prolapse of the rectum, hernias, and hydrocele. These health problems often make it mandatory that circumcision be done later in life. Again, routine circumcision on the eighth day eliminates these health problems.
4) Circumcision prevents one’s wife from developing cervical cancer, which is a common cancer for women. In 1988, 7,000 women died of cervical cancer in the United States. Studies have demonstrated that women who are married to circumcised males are at much less risk of developing cervical cancer. It seems to me that Christian parents have a responsibility to protect the future spouses of their sons by having their sons circumcised, preferably on the eighth day.
5) Circumcision provides a dramatic decrease in penile cancer. Studies show that less than 1% of circumcised males die of penile cancer. Even among this small percentage, deaths occurred among males who had been circumcised later in life. Male children circumcised as infants are seldom diagnosed with this deadly disease. Excellent information on this subject is found in None of These Diseases written by S.I. McMillen, M.D., Revell, 1984 edition. Parents who wish to provide for the health of their sons and their future wives should take advantage of the blessings and rewards of circumcision.
6) Circumcision has a positive effect in helping to reduce lust in men. Circumcised males tend to be less promiscuous than uncircumcised males. Some authorities agree that circumcision slightly decreases sensual pleasure in men. The reader should carefully study the nature of the sin that took place in the Garden of Eden. What is the relationship between circumcision and what occurred in the Garden of Eden?
7) Circumcision may help prevent young boys from developing an abnormal focus on the private parts, thus decreasing the tendency toward improper sexual activity, including masturbation.
The War against Circumcision
Progressive Humanists seeking to disconnect from everything biblical have also placed routine circumcision in their gun-sights. Rates of hospital circumcision in the U.S. were 79% in the 1970s; by 2010, those rates dropped to 55%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medicaid has stopped paying for circumcision in eighteen states; some insurance companies have also dropped coverage on this procedure. Growing numbers, especially from Latin America and Mexico, avoid routine circumcision.
More and more Americans are turning against circumcision. In 2011, some 12,000 citizens in San Francisco supported a ballot initiative that would have made circumcision a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or a year in jail. A judge blocked the referendum on a technicality; nevertheless, the ban’s sponsor, Lloyd Schofield, claimed victory. “Just getting people to think and discuss this is very rewarding,” he said. And in 2012 in Cologne, Germany, a regional court ruled that the botched ritual circumcision of a four-year-old Muslim boy amounted to assault, and the German Medical Association counseled doctors to stop performing the operation.
The war against Christianity should never discourage Christian parents from routine circumcision of their male children on the eighth day of life. Enormous blessings follow those who pledge to live in obedience to the divine commands of the Living God. God has shown His children an abundance of divine love for allowing them to know the secrets of living a blessed life.
Do not allow opponents of routine circumcision to use Acts 15 and other New Testament passages to invalidate what God has ordained in the same Bible. In Acts 16, following the Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15), the Apostle Paul circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:3). Paul chose not to circumcise Titus because it would be misunderstood as a requirement for salvation (Galatians 2:3). Again, we do not circumcise our male children on the eighth day of life to confirm salvation. We circumcise our male children to mark them as the children of Abraham and because we wish to maximize obedience to the law of God and live in His favor.
Scripture shows a close relationship between circumcision and moral purity. God declares the uncircumcised to signify immoral men in Ezekiel 44:7-9. When the God called Abraham to be perfect (Genesis 17:1), this was a call to walk as a covenant man and as such implies moral purity. While the author is sure that uncircumcised men can surely determine to be morally pure and certainly commit to it, the correlation between morality and circumcision is emphasized in both the Old and New Testaments by simple comparison of physical circumcision to the spiritual circumcision of the heart. Scripture teaches that a circumcised man who is not circumcised in the heart has a meaningless circumcision (Romans 2:25-29).
Opponents of circumcision argue that this procedure on the male will decrease sensual pleasure; while this may be true, can we not trust God to know what is best for His children? Historical records indicate that one of the reasons used for circumcision was that it lessened the passion of lust. The fact that apparently there is greater sexual sensation in the male who is not circumcised was a primary reason why routine circumcision was dismissed in the sexual revolution of the 1960s in the U.S. There is an obvious connection between original sin (in Eden) and the necessity of male circumcision. Many authorities claim that uncircumcised men are more sexually promiscuous, and that women married to uncircumcised men have a significantly higher rate of cervical cancer. Thus, there is a sexual component in the argument.
Furthermore, male children who are not circumcised often develop an abnormal focus on their private parts. While the same is surely true for circumcised males, the sensation must be stronger in uncircumcised males. The last thing Christian boys need is further preoccupation with sexual activity.
It is certain that there are many spiritual, moral, and health rewards for those who simply follow the command word of Jehovah. Blessings follow obedience to Jehovah. Unpleasant consequences are likely to follow those who assert human reason and pride over humility and obedience.
In my immediate family, I have three sons and twenty grandsons who have undergone routine circumcision on the eighth day of life without any complications whatsoever. I urge remnant Christians to walk in the faith of their covenant fathers and remember that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, while the rite of circumcision is also something God commanded for our benefit. It is hygienically necessary, medically beneficial, and an excellent exercise in humility and obedience to God, Who gave us so much in return for so little from us.