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You Shall Circumcise

You Shall Circumcise 

By Mitiku Adisu

Debates over infant male circumcision are raging once again. A recent report by Johns Hopkins warns as well as suggests that “State governments need to start recognizing” the medical benefits and costs of not having infants circumcised. Top pediatricians are now agreed 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 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 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 decide for infants is simply absurd. What are parents for then if not to make decisions the best they could for and with their children? Do we realize how much as adults we confide 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 not the instinct to protect and to nurture? We are not sure if some in the no-circumcision band are not straining to recreate a cost-free, pain-free utopia? Let us also remember [male] parents were once infants and rarely do these want to reverse their circumcised state! Secondly, how far do those who argue adults have no business making choices in 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 is the public, think again. What about when a proposed policy is intended to save billions of dollars in health care costs but disregards equally valid [in this case, singularly valid] religious reasons?

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

For those who take their instructions from Abrahamic faith, however, circumcision comes with clear-cut [pun intended] spiritual and social benefits. 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 was exactly what S.I. McMillen, M.D., tried to address in None of These Diseases [Revell, 1963].  That is to say, diseases a Hebrew community was spared for 4,000 years and going 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 These. click