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You Shall Circumcise

You Shall Circumcise 

By Mitiku Adisu

Debates over infant male circumcision are raging once again. A recent Johns Hopkins report warns and suggests that "state governments need to start recognizing" the medical benefits and costs of not circumcising infants. Top pediatricians now agree that the benefits of circumcision far outweigh the risks. Some scientists and parents do not agree, obviously. Others decry any "cutting" as tampering with a beautiful thing evolution has allowed to survive. Yet others are quick to point out that parents [adults] have no business deciding for a helpless infant and that the infant should decide for itself at a later date.

As in all public debates, finding resolution to such an intimate and emotionally charged matter is not easy. Shall we then leave it at that? By all means, no. First, the suggestion that adults should not make decisions for infants is simply absurd. What is the purpose of parents if not to make the best decisions they can for and with their children? Do we realize how much, as adults, we confide in and confer on important issues with our parents? In other words, individual choices are not always what they are made out to be. What parent wants to see their child harmed? Is it not the instinct to protect and nurture? We are not sure if some in the no-circumcision band are not straining to recreate a cost-free, pain-free utopia. Remember that [male] parents were once infants, and they rarely want to reverse their circumcision! Secondly, how far do those who argue adults have no business making choices on behalf of infants want to go? Should a parent feed a child broccoli or not? Do those advising against adult "intrusion" in an infant’s life realize they too happen to be adults? Does it really matter if the science agrees or not, so long as one is set in their ways? Thirdly, we need to be asking who makes public policy locally and globally. If you think it's the public, think again. What happens when a proposed policy aims to save billions in health-care costs while ignoring equally valid [in this case, singularly valid] religious reasons?

Another intriguing fact is that in the developed world, the decline in male circumcision is increasing "rates of multiple infectious diseases associated with lower rates of male circumcision, such as HIV/AIDS, herpes and genital warts, as well as cervical and penile cancers."Conversely, an increase in male circumcision in Africa has shown the health benefits outweigh the risks. The irony is that the developed world is lagging behind in adopting a policy it funded and "sold" to Africans!

Circumcision, on the other hand, has clear [pun intended] spiritual and social benefits for those who follow the Abrahamic faith.What if Johns Hopkins scientists swapped their "Mammon [cost] says so" for "Thus saith the Lord!"? "For the generations to come, every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised..." [Genesis 17:12].

Why [infant male] circumcision? Why on the eighth day? And with what results? That is exactly what S.I. McMillen, M.D. attempted to address in None of These Diseases [Revelll, 1963]. That is, diseases that a Hebrew community was spared from for 4,000 years and continues to be spared from as a result of listening to Yahweh. In other words, the Johns Hopkins scientific report is encouraging, though it is not necessarily a new discovery nor the only way of arriving at the truth. I leave you with excerpts from None of Theseclick.