At birth, the foreskin is normally fused to the underlying glans, protecting that delicate organ and, also, the urinary meatus. As the child gets older, the foreskin very gradually loosens and becomes retractible.
The practice of circumcision, as performed during the time of Abraham, involved “cutting off the protruding tip of the typical infant foreskin with a single cut,” leaving most of the foreskin intact. No attempt was made to loosen the foreskin prematurely, so the penis was able to develop normally. Modern circumcision, however, forcibly detaches the protective foreskin from the glans and removes what would eventually become a third or more of the adult’s total penile skin covering. Once the foreskin is removed, the “exquisitely sensitive” glans penis comes in direct contact with feces, urine and abrasive diapers. Infant’s screams, as well as changes in heart rate and respiration, transcutaneous p02, adrenal cortical hormone secretion, sleep, and behaviour patterns, testify to the pain caused during and after circumcision. It takes 10 to 14 days for the area to heal.
Circumcision often causes an ulceration at the urethral opening (meatal ulceration), affecting 20% to 50% of all circumcised infants. In many cases, the opening narrows (meatal stenosis), although it may take years for the condition to be noticed. The normal urinary stream in the male is a spiraling ribbon. The urinary stream in meatal stenosis is needle-like, prolonged and frequently associated with discomfort.
Circumcision also affects sexual pleasure. The inner layer of the foreskin produces smegma, which keeps the glans soft. Without its protective and moisturizing cover, the sensitive glans becomes dry and leathery, resembling skin instead of a mucous membrane. In addition to maintaining glans sensitivity, an intact, mobile foreskin also provides indirect stimulation during intercourse.
During intercourse with an intact penis, the male’s mobile sheath is placed within the woman’s vaginal sheath. It is impossible to imagine any better mechanical arrangement for non-abrasive stimulation of the male and female genitalia than this slick ‘sheath within a sheath.’
The belief that circumcision is necessary in order to make the penis easier to clean and to prevent infection simply isn’t true. As long ago as 1971, the American Academy of Pediatrics stated, “There is no absolute medical indication for routine circumcision of the newborn….
A program of education leading to continuing good personal hygiene would offer all the advantages of routine circumcision without the attendant surgical risk. Therefore, circumcision of the male neonate cannot be considered an essential component of adequate total health care.
Nevertheless, some doctors continue to promote circumcision, exerting considerable influence on parents’ decision. One such pro-circumcision doctor at Northwestern Hospital in the U.S.A. who tells parents that “his own sons are circumcised and he wouldn’t ‘run the risk’ of being intact.” That hospital’s circumcision rate of 87.7% is well above the state average of 63%. Also in the U.S.A., Vermont’s Gifford Memorial Hospital, on the other hand, does not promote circumcision and will not perform the operation until the baby is at least 24 hours old. That hospital has Vermont U.S.A.’s lowest circumcision rate, only 4%.
Third-party reimbursement, also encourages circumcision. Not surprisingly, circumcision rates are higher in U.S.A. states where doctors receive more from Medicaid for doing them. When circumcision was categorized as cosmetic surgery by England’s health system in 1948, and the system no longer reimbursed physicians, circumcision rates fell to below 0.5%–without an increase in infections or corresponding increase in cervical cancer among women.
What is viewed as a simple, accepted practice has significant long-term consequences that both men and women need to understand.
We provide educational information on this website including current medical association positions, Canadian law, statistics, articles from newspapers, articles from religious sources or other information to assist with a better understanding of this issue.
This article was reprinted from http://www.canadiancrc.com
The Canadian Children’s Rights Council position is that there is no medical benefit to the routine genital mutilation (circumcision) of any children (defined by U.N. as those under 18 years of age). Further, all Canadian children, both male and female, should be protected by the criminal laws of Canada with regards to this aggravated assault. Currently, the protection provided by the Criminal Code of Canada includes only genital mutilation (circumcision) of female children.
Our position is that all children should be protected from all forms of genital mutilation (circumcision of all types) including but not limited to, circumcision that doesn’t affect sexual function or that may be viewed by others as sexual enhancement surgery. Male circumcision does affect sexual function.
Canada and many other countries have responded positively to the U.N. initiatives to stop female genital mutilation (FGM), so female genital mutilation in Canada is all but non existent and is by law considered to be aggravated assault, an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada.
It is unfortunate that the feminist groups which sought the protection of female children did not seek the protection of male children. Their lack of concern and effort to protect male children has been viewed by some as a control and misandry issue of the western radical feminist movement
There is much evidence in the various articles and documents on this website and elsewhere that suggests that the radical western feminists’ groups have unfairly blamed the female circumcision (genital mutilation) issue as being some form of male dominance or control over women in countries that previously practiced female genital mutilation. The evidence is substantially to the contrary.
A tragedy is occurring in Canada right now. Canada’s health services have recognized that they shouldn’t be paying for circumcision. It has no value as a health measure. Parents, out of medical ignorance, or who wrongly believe their religious obligations necessitate genital mutilation of their male children are asking that it be done.
The medical evidence we have examined in detail provides substantial proof that the penis head, when protected by an intact foreskin, provides normal sexual stimulation during sexual intercourse for all ages of males, while those males that have had their foreskins removed by means of circumcision feel less sensitively , especially among men over 40 years of age. In numerous countries in which male circumcision is virtually non-existent, such as in Japan, men more frequently use condoms because of the increased sensitivity with an intact foreskin which itself is full of nerves and protects the penis head and keeps it in its normal condition.
If “medical necessity” is claimed, we suggest that such a claim is invariably fraudulent. Since in Finland, and in other countries, which have a zero rate of male circumcision at birth, and the risk of needing one later is one in sixteen thousand, six hundred and sixty-seven (1/16,667), every claim for “medical necessity” should fully investigated.
This article was reprinted from http://www.canadiancrc.com
What about parents who take their daughters to other countries for this “medical procedure”?
Some of this “circumcision” doesn’t affect sexual function. Canadian’s who take their female children to other countries to have them circumcised are committing a Criminal Code of Canada criminal offence and will be prosecuted upon discovery after returning to Canada. Male children deserve the same protection as female children.
There are a multitude of human rights and international law issues involved when Canadian law extends Criminal Code offences to those Canadian Citizens who commit such acts outside of Canada when Canadian child citizens are victims of female genital mutilation.
Such good intentioned laws contravene international law by infringing on other countries sovereignty.
There is evidence that circumcision was practiced from around 4000 BC and was strongly tied to religious practices.
It has been variously proposed that circumcision began as a religious sacrifice, an offering to ensure fertility, a tribal mark, a rite of passage, an attempt to emphasize masculinity, a means of humiliating enemies and slaves, or as a hygienic measure.
Darby describes these theories as “conflicting”, and states that “the only point of agreement among proponents of the various theories is that promoting good health had nothing to do with it.” Immerman et al. suggest that circumcision causes lowered sexual arousal of pubescent males, and hypothesize that this was a competitive advantage to tribes practising circumcision, leading to its spread. Wilson believes that circumcision represents a signal of commitment to a group, and may serve evolutionary purpose by reducing the incidence of extramarital sex.
The oldest documentary evidence for circumcision comes from ancient Egypt. Circumcision was common, although not universal, among ancient Semitic peoples. In the aftermath of the conquests of Alexander the Great, however, Greek dislike of circumcision (they regarded a man as truly “naked” only if his prepuce was retracted) led to a decline in its incidence among many peoples that had previously practiced it. Circumcision has ancient roots among several ethnic groups in sub-equatorial Africa, and is still performed on adolescent boys to symbolize their transition to warrior status or adulthood.
Religious circumcision :
In some cultures, males must be circumcised shortly after birth, during childhood, or around puberty as part of a rite of passage. Circumcision is commonly practised in the Jewish and Islamic faiths. Jewish law states that circumcision is a ‘mitzva aseh (“positive commandment” to perform an act) and is obligatory for Jewish-born males and for non-circumcised Jewish male converts. It is only postponed or abrogated in the case of threat to the life or health of the child. It is usually performed by a mohel on the eighth day after birth in a ceremony called a Brit milah (or Bris milah, colloquially simply bris), which means “Covenant of circumcision” in Hebrew. It is considered of such importance that in some Orthodox communities the body of an uncircumcised Jewish male will sometimes be circumcised before burial. Although 19th century Reform leaders described it as “barbaric”, the practice of circumcision “remained a central rite” and the Union for Reform Judaism has, since 1984, trained and certified over 300 practicing mohels under its “Brit Mila Program”. Humanistic Judaism argues that “circumcision is not required for
In Islam, circumcision is mentioned in some hadith (it is referred as Khitan), but not in the Qur’an. Some Fiqh scholars state that circumcision is recommended (Sunnah); others that it is obligatory. Some have quoted the hadith to argue that the requirement of circumcision is based on the covenant with Abraham. While endorsing circumcision for males, Islamic scholars note that it is not a requirement for converting to Islam.
The Roman Catholic Church formally condemned the ritual observance of circumcision and ordered against its practice in the Ecumenical Council of Basel-Florence in 1442. The Church presently maintains a neutral stance on circumcision as a medical practice.
Circumcision is customary among the Coptic, Ethiopian, and Eritrean Orthodox Churches, and also some other African churches. Some Christian churches in South Africa oppose circumcision, viewing it as a pagan ritual, while others, including the Nomiya church in Kenya, require circumcision for membership. Some Christian churches celebrate the Circumcision of Christ. The vast majority of Christians do not practise circumcision as a religious requirement.
Circumcision in South Korea is largely the result of American cultural and military influence following the Korean War. In West Africa infant circumcision may have had tribal significance as a rite of passage or otherwise in the past; today in some non-Muslim Nigerian societies it is medicalised and is simply a cultural norm. Circumcision is part of initiation rites in some African, Pacific Islander, and Australian aboriginal traditions in areas such as Arnhem Land, where the practice was introduced by Makassan traders from Sulawesi in the Indonesian Archipelago.Circumcision ceremonies among certain Australian aboriginal societies are noted for their painful nature: subincision is practised amongst some aboriginal peoples in the Western Desert.
In the Pacific, circumcision or superincision is nearly universal among the Melanesians of Fiji and Vanuatu, while participation in the traditional land diving on Pentecost Island is reserved for those who have been circumcised. Circumcision or superincision is also commonly practiced in the Polynesian islands of Samoa, Tonga, Niue, and Tikopia, where the custom is recorded as a pre-Christian/colonial practice. In Samoa it is accompanied by a celebration.
Among some West African groups, such as the Dogon and Dowayo, circumcision is taken to represent a removal of “feminine” aspects of the male, turning boys into fully masculine males. Among the Urhobo of southern Nigeria it is symbolic of a boy entering into manhood. The ritual expression, Omo te Oshare (“the boy is now man”), constitutes a rite of passage from one age set to another. For Nilotic peoples, such as the Kalenjin and Maasai, circumcision is a rite of passage observed collectively by a number of boys every few years, and boys circumcised at the same time are taken to be members of a single age set.
Brit milah, which means “covenant of circumcision,” is a Jewish ritual performed on a baby boy eight days after he is born. It involves the removal of the foreskin from the penis by a mohel, who is a person that has been trained to safely perform the procedure. Brit milah is also known by the Yiddish word “bris.” It is one of the most well-known Jewish customs and signifies the unique relationship between a Jewish boy and God. Traditionally, a baby boy is named after his bris.
There are numerous references in the Hebrew Bible to the obligation for circumcision among Jews. For example, Leviticus 12:3 says: On the eighth day a boy is to be circumcised. And the uncircumcised are to be cut off from the Jewish people – Genesis 17:14: Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.
Disputes over the Jewish Mosaic law generated intense controversy in Early Christianity. This is particularly notable in the mid-1st century, when the circumcision controversy came to the fore. Alister McGrath, a proponent of Paleo-orthodoxy, claimed that many of the Jewish Christians were fully faithful religious Jews, only differing in their acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah. As such, they believed that circumcision and other requirements of the Mosaic law were required for salvation, if one equates fully faithful religious Jews with Legalism (theology).Those in the Christian community who insisted that biblical law, including laws on circumcision, continued to apply to Christians were pejoratively labeled Judaizers by their opponents and criticized as being elitist and legalistic, besides other claimed sins.
The Council of Jerusalem of about 50 AD was the first meeting in early Christianity called upon to consider the application of Mosaic Law to the new community. Specifically, it had to consider whether new Gentile converts to Christianity were obligated to undergo biblical circumcision for full membership in the Christian community, but it was conscious that the issue had wider implications, since circumcision is the “everlasting” sign of the Abrahamic Covenant. Jewish culture was still trying to find its place in the more dominant Hellenistic culture which found circumcision to be repulsive.
At the time, the Christian community would have considered itself a part of the wider Jewish community, with most of the leaders of the Church being Jewish or Jewish proselytes. The decision of the Council came to be called the Apostolic Decree and was that most Mosaic law, including the requirement for circumcision of males, was not obligatory for Gentile converts, possibly in order to make it easier for them to join the movement. However, the Council did retain the prohibitions against eating meat containing blood, or meat of animals not properly slain, and against “fornication” and “idol worship”.Beginning with Augustine of Hippo, many have seen a connection to Noahide Law, while some modern scholars reject the connection to Noahide Law and instead see Lev 17-18 as the basis. In effect, however, the Jerusalem Church created a double standard: one for Jewish Christians and one for Gentile converts.
The Decree may be a major act of differentiation of the Church from its Jewish roots, the first being the Rejection of Jesus. Although the outcome is not inconsistent with the Jewish view on the applicability of Mosaic Law to non-Jews, the Decree created a category of persons who were members of the Christian community (which still considered itself to be part of the Jewish community) who were not considered to be full converts of the wider Jewish community. These partial converts were welcomed, a common term for them being “God fearers” (similar to the modern movement of B’nei Noah), but there were certain rituals and areas in the Temple from which they (Gentiles) were excluded, just as, for example, only the Kohen Gadol could enter the Kodesh Hakodashim of the Temple. This created problems especially when the Christian community had become dominated by new Gentile members with less understanding of the biblical reasons for the dispute.
While the issue was theoretically resolved, it continued to be a recurring issue among Christians. Four years after the Council of Jerusalem, Paul wrote to the Galatians about the issue, which had become a serious controversy in their region. There was a burgeoning movement of Judaizers in the area that advocated adherence to traditional Mosaic laws, including circumcision. According to McGrath, Paul identified James the Just as the motivating force behind the movement. Paul considered it a great threat to his doctrine of salvation through faith and addressed the issue with great detail in Galatians 3.
Paul, who called himself Apostle to the Gentiles, attacked the practice, though not consistently. In the case of Timothy, whose mother was Jewish Christian but whose father was Greek, he personally circumcised him “because of the Jews” that were in town. He also appeared to praise its value in Romans 3:1-2.
Paul argued that circumcision no longer meant the physical, but a spiritual practice. And in that sense, he wrote: “Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised”-probably a reference to the practice of epispasm. Paul was circumcised when he was “called.” He added: “Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.”, and went on to argue that circumcision didn’t matter: “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts.”
Later Paul more explicitly denounced the practice, rejecting and condemning those who promoted circumcision to Gentile Christians. Paul warned that the advocates of circumcision were “false brothers”. He accused Galatian Christians who advocated circumcision of turning from the Spirit to the flesh: “Are you so foolish, that, whereas you began in the Spirit, you would now be made perfect by the flesh?” He accused advocates of circumcision of wanting to make a good showing in the flesh (Gal 6:12) and of glorying or boasting of the flesh. Some believe Paul wrote the entire Epistle to the Galatians attacking circumcision and any requirement for the keeping of Jewish law by Christians, saying in chapter five: “Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.” However, no Christian denomination today is known to reject members who are circumcised.
In a late letter he warned Christians to beware of the mutilation, saying that Christians were the true circumcision because they worshipped in the Spirit of God. The Catholic Encyclopedia: Judaizers notes: “Paul, on the other hand, not only did not object to the observance of the Mosaic Law, as long as it did not interfere with the liberty of the Gentiles, but he conformed to its prescriptions when occasion required. Thus he shortly after circumcised Timothy, and he was in the very act of observing the Mosaic ritual when he was arrested at Jerusalem.”
Simon Peter, who later came to be called the first Pope, condemned required circumcision of converts.When the various passages from the New Testament regarding circumcision are gathered together, a strongly negative view of circumcision emerges, according to Michael Glass. Some Biblical scholars think that the Epistle of Titus, generally attributed to Paul, may state that circumcision should be discouraged among Christians, though others believe this is merely a reference to Jews.
Circumcision was so closely associated with Jewish men that Jewish Christians were referred to as “those of the circumcision” or conversely Christians who were circumcised were referred to as Jewish Christians or Judaizers. These terms (circumcised/uncircumcised) are generally interpreted to mean Jews and Greeks, who were predominate, however it is an oversimplification as 1st century Iudaea Province also had some Jews who were not circumcised, and some Greeks (called Proselytes or Judaizers) and others such as Egyptians, Ethiopians, and Arabs who were.
A common interpretation of the circumcision controversy of the New Testament was, that it was over the issue of whether Gentiles could enter the Church directly or ought to first convert to Judaism. However, the Halakha of Rabbinic Judaism was still under development at this time, as the Jewish Encyclopedia notes: “Jesus, however, does not appear to have taken into account the fact that the Halakha was at this period just becoming crystallized, and that much variation existed as to its definite form; the disputes of the Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai were occurring about the time of his maturity.” This controversy was fought largely between opposing groups of Christians who were themselves ethnically Jewish. According to this interpretation, those who felt that conversion to Judaism was a prerequisite for Church membership were eventually condemned by Paul as “Judaizing teachers”. The source of this interpretation is unknown; however, it appears related to Supersessionism or Hyperdispensationalism. In addition, modern Christians, such as Ethiopian Orthodox and Coptic Orthodox still practice circumcision while not considering it a part of conversion to Judaism, nor do they consider themselves to be Jews or Jewish Christians. A resurgence in routine circumcision is believed to have begun in the Victorian era in attempts to cure masturbation at a time when it was considered shameful.