“The Circumcision Decision”

Perfect just how God made him!

 

 

 

 

     There is no American medical organization that recommends routine male infant circumcision yet our society continues to subject our babies to this mutilation. Although many people believe there are medical reasons to circumcise, studies show that there are no definitive results that indicate a medical purpose for removal of a newborn baby’s foreskin. What is the foreskin, where does the act of male circumcision originate from, and why do we still perform them today?  Looking back at the origins and history of male circumcision and taking into account currently available scientific evidence, it is clear that there is a physiologic purpose for the foreskin and that there is potential harm in removing it.

 

     Westerners primarily view the foreskin as unnecessary.  This is as much a lie as is the thought that was believed up until approximately twenty years ago that babies do not feel pain. The foreskin is a double-layered, heavily nerve-laden and vascular structure that is an integral and normal part of the male anatomy.  It is a continuation of the skin on the shaft of the penis, and the inner foreskin is a mucous membrane like the inside of the eyelid or the mouth.  This mucosal area is present where the inner and outer foreskin meets.  Smooth muscle fibers keep it close to the glans but make it highly elastic. The foreskin is attached to the glans by a highly sensitive frenulum, which also helps return the foreskin over the glans.  The presence of specialized nerve endings called Meissner's Corpuscles have been reported in the foreskin, especially the rigid band, which is at the very end of the flaccid penis.  Meissner’s Corpuscles are abundantly present in the palm of your hand.  To understand the sensitivity involved, try rubbing the back of your hand and then the palm.  You will notice a difference in the amount of sensation. The five most sensitive areas of the penis have been documented to be on the foreskin and the glans is more sensitive in the uncircumcised penis.  This God given foreskin has many purposes.  In babies as well as adults, the foreskin protects the glans from abrasions and prevents unwanted bacteria from entering the urinary meatus.  Throughout a man’s life, the purpose of the foreskin is to protect the glans from the elements, injury, and from drying out.  The foreskin also has an important role in his sexual activity. In an adult male, the foreskin provides the additional skin needed for a full erection.  Due to the fact that the foreskin has thousands of these nerve endings, the Meissner’s Corpuscles, it enhances an intact man’s sensations. The gliding action produced by the foreskin and the glans working together reduces friction and gives pleasure to both the intact man and his partner. Surgical removal of the foreskin eliminates many fine-touch receptors from the penis, leaving a scar and causing the skin on the glans to be thickened and far less sensitive.

 

Fig. 1 Three Zones of Foreskin (Ronald Goldman, circumcision.org)

 

 

     The term circumcision comes from the Latin word circumcises or circumcīdere, meaning to cut, or to cut around.  Today circumcision is known as the surgical removal of the skin that covers the tip of the flaccid penis, usually performed soon after birth. Circumcision rates are decreasing in the United States and the procedure is no longer widely recommended as a medical necessity by physicians. “In view of the acute, as well as long-term, risks from circumcision and the legal liabilities that might arise, it is timely for health professionals and scientists to re-examine the evidence on this issue and participate in the debate about the advisability of this surgical procedure.” Even today, many of the Jewish faith advocate against circumcision as it is commonly performed. (jewishcircumcision.org) 

 

 

     Let’s take a look Biblically as to where circumcision originated.  The ceremony was appointed by God to be the special badge of His chosen people, an abiding sign of their consecration to Him. It was established as a national ordinance in Genesis.  “This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.” (Genesis 17:10-11)  In compliance with the divine command, Abraham, though ninety-nine years old, was circumcised on the same day as his thirteen year old son Ishmael (Genesis 17:24-27).  As commanded slaves, whether home-born or purchased, were circumcised as well (Genesis 17:12-13).  All foreigners had to have their males circumcised before they could enjoy the privileges of Jewish citizenship (Ex. 12:48-50).  During the journey through the wilderness, the practice of circumcision fell into disuse, but was resumed by the command of Joshua before they entered the Promised Land. “At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.” (Joshua 5:2-9)  It was to be observed for all generations following, among the tribes of Israel. 

 

 

     However, circumcision isn’t mentioned from Canaan till the time of Christ.  As a rite of the church it ceased when the New Testament times began.  “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Galatians 6:15) “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:11)  Some Pharisees wanted to impose circumcision on the Gentile converts.  “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” (Acts 15:1) “But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, that it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” (Acts 15:5)  But the apostle Peter quickly debased them.  “And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.  And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear.” (Acts 15:6-10) Jeremiah declares “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised;” (Jeremiah 9:25)

 

 

     It is important to discuss the procedure as it is performed now compared to how it was performed Biblically.  Instead of immediately doing the surgery within a day or two after birth the Jewish ceremony was/is traditionally held on the eighth day of the newborn baby’s life.  “And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.” (Leviticus 12:3)  Circumcision, as it was commanded by God, was not the removal of the foreskin at all, but a “cutting” of the foreskin.  God intended circumcision to be done as a seal for the old covenant, a shedding of blood, not to inflict pain and suffering on the child.  The word used in Abraham’s command was Namal, which means “clipped”, like you clip your nails or hair.  Another word that was used is Muwl, which means to “curtail, to blunt, to cut shorter”.  If you blunt a knife you dull it, you do not cut off a part of it.  The Hebrew language has different words for “cut off” and “remove”.  Also, if they would have done circumcision as it is performed now in antiquity it would be hard to have sustained the child’s life.  The modern circumcision was integrated into society as a so- called “cure for masturbation”.  Jewish circumcision started about 2,000 years before Jesus came. This was so the people would understand the purpose of the Old Covenant before the New Covenant came into being. When Jesus came, he was circumcised by the seemingly redundant end of the foreskin extending beyond the tip of the glans being removed, called “Milah”, hens the Bris Milah, and it was the beginning of his sacrifice.  With this form of circumcision the penis would still have a lot of foreskin and it could develop naturally, for the most part.  The highly sensitive frenulum would not have been disturbed and would still function resulting in minimal loss of sensation and the glans would have remained protected.  If you look at a picture of Michelangelo’s David, his genitalia represent a Milah circumcision.  Around 140 A.D. a second step was added to the circumcision called “Periah”, meaning tearing and stripping back of the inner mucosal lining including removing the frenulum.  This was done so young Jewish men could not “fake” being uncircumcised. “Routine” Infant Circumcision was introduced during the late 1800's and throughout the 1900's on the pretext that it offered health and hygiene benefits, would stop the habit of masturbation, and proffered an endless list of presumed cures for a variety of ailments and diseases. As mother's opted to use physicians to give birth in hospitals or clinics, rather than using a midwife for home birth, the practice of routine circumcision of male infants blossomed and became nearly universal.  As one would expect, many of those experienced in the procedure were Jewish physicians and mohels. They taught new physicians to perform the surgical procedure as was practiced by Jewish ritual circumcision procedures. This meant that most infants underwent a fairly radical complete form of circumcision. What was performed was the Jewish "Milah" followed by "Periah", with most (if not all) of the foreskin being removed and the frenulum either severely damaged or completely removed. This remains the routine infant circumcision procedure to this day.

 

 

     Cutting of newborn baby boys genitalia continues even though countless questions are growing regarding the procedure’s medical justification.  The surgery is normally performed without anesthetic and it is observably painful. The most common type of circumcision surgery performed in the United States is done using a Gomco Clamp.  For a detailed demonstration of the procedure you can visit http://newborns.stanford.edu/Gomco.html for the sake of this paper the details are as follows.  The baby is strapped down on a restraint board and the penis is thoroughly cleaned and inspected or malformations.  If anesthetic is chosen, two injections of Lidocaine are used (one on each side of the penis). The penis is then draped and instruments called hemostats are used to clamp onto the foreskin and stretch it toward the doctor.  A straight hemostat is then inserted inside the foreskin and the connective tissue is forcefully torn away from the glans. Natural separation would occur closer to adulthood.  As a guide, the foreskin is then crushed by one of the hemostats, both to hopefully reduce bleeding and to aide in where to cut.  The foreskin is then pushed back manually to behind the glans and the frenulum cut, if not already separated.  Careful consideration must be used due to the artery that is close by the frenulum.  The foreskin is then brought back over the glans and a metal bell is put in place to help protect the glans from the clamp and scalpel.  The two sides of the foreskin are safety pinned together and the hemostats removed.  The Gomco clamp can now be positioned and the amount of foreskin to be removed estimated.  With the device tightened as far as it will go a scalpel is used to amputate the foreskin.

 

 

     Many males throughout these past decades have suffered the lasting physical, psychological, and sexual dysfunctional consequences of routine circumcision, which they did not choose.  Men have expressed their feelings as likened to violation, torture, mutilation, and sexual assault. (Boyle)  Circumcision is an extremely painful, unnecessary, cosmetic surgery, which can have dire consequences. (Ronald Goldman, Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma)  “About a million people a year, newborn babies, lose a normal, healthy, functional, pleasurable, protective body part without their consent”, said Georganne Chapin, executive director of Intact America, an anti-circumcision advocacy group.  It is important as a culture that we say “whole” or “intact” instead of uncircumcised because this would imply that circumcised is the accepted norm, thus damaging the psyche of all effected in our society.    For the most painful parts of the circumcision surgery there is no anesthetic currently in use that has been found effective.  During a study to determine the common anesthetics researchers found the surgery to be so traumatic to the baby that they stopped the study so no further babies would be subjected to such pain.  They found not just pain but an increase in choking and difficulty breathing. Many complications can arise during and after surgery including amputation, serious infection, and even death. Adverse effects go beyond the initial healing period immediately post-op.  A study was conducted following circumcised boys and concluded an alarming 55% rate of complications. It has been stated that 45% of baby boys will have to have corrective surgery for their initial circumcision. Bleeding can be especially serious. A baby only needs to lose 1 ounce of blood to hemorrhage, and just 2.3 ounces to die as a result of this blood loss. It can, and does, occur at a frightening quick pace. The rate of complications occurring in the hospital and during the first year has been estimated as high as 38% and includes hemorrhage, infection, surgical injury, and in rare cases death.  “More newborn baby boys die from circumcision surgery each year in the United States than from choking, vehicle accidents, suffocation from SIDS, from sleep positioners, and from (the recently banned) drop-side cribs.”

 

 

     Sadly, contributing to the continuance of the procedure, the surgically removed foreskin is surprisingly marketable.  Foreskins obtained from circumcision procedures are frequently used by biochemical and micro-anatomical researchers to study the structure and proteins of human skin. In particular, foreskins obtained from newborns have been found to be useful in the manufacturing of more human skin.  Human growth factors derived from newborns' foreskins are used to make a commercial anti-wrinkle skin cream, TNS Recovery Complex.  Foreskins of babies are also used for skin graft tissue, and for β-interferon-based drugs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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