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Christianity and circumcision

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As with pretty much every subject Christians cannot agree on circumcision. The Catholic Church says it is not required for religious reasons, but has no problems with it being done for any other reason. The orthodox churches still say it is compulsory, and of course Jews and Muslims routinely carry out the procedure. 

 

In more modern days the focus seems to have shifted from religious reasons to health/cleanliness reasons, but personally I find such reasons inadequate to justify surgery with all the potential complications that involves. 

I know when I was born my dad and grandad argued about whether it was necessary. Grandad said "what if he gets sand in there?" and dad replied "if we go to the beach I'll let him use a spade to dig the holes". 

 

Back in ancient times people had limited access to bathing facilities, limited water and even limited soap. Cleanliness mattered greatly, and infections could be deadly. Nowadays in our first world countries we have daily showers, can buy soap in bulk and with antiseptic creams and antibiotics infections are usually of little concern. To my mind what you are weighing up is surgery verse cleaning, and surgery should always be a last resort. 

 

Back a century or two there was a lot of push from puritan sources to fight the evil of sex. One of the most famous was John Kelloggs (founder of the breakfast cereal comapny) who was quoted in saying "A remedy which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision, especially when there is any degree of phimosis. The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment, as it may well be in some cases. The soreness which continues for several weeks interrupts the practice, and if it had not previously become too firmly fixed, it may be forgotten and not resumed."

It is believed Kellogg never consummated his marriage because he believed sex "caused cancer of the womb, urinary diseases, nocturnal emissions, impotence, epilepsy, insanity, and mental and physical debility; and dimness of vision"

 

There also seems to be a strange anomaly were the US is keen on the practice while the rest of the western world isn't "There's no question that among the world's wealthy nations, the U.S. stands out when it comes to circumcision. The WHO estimates that the overall male circumcision rate in the states is somewhere between 76 and 92 percent. Most Western European countries, by contrast, have rates less than 20 percent". I haven't yet found a clear answer as to why this would be? Maybe its tradition? Maybe the medical industry pushes it more? 

 

I also saw two different research results looking into deaths caused by circumcision, but the results were varied from 120-220 per year, possibly due to the practice being done outside of hospitals so poorly reported. Compared to the total number performed it is a low percentage, but it is worth noting it is a non-zero chance that side effects could include death. 

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The primary push outside of Judaism here is Christianity, but it remains mostly unspoken. I find it similar to the anti-cannabis push from religious people, since they cannot explain why they are against it, just sure that Jesus wants it that way. Hell, even the New Testament is mostly against circumcision, but believers are just sure that somehow God will be more pleased with them if they do. My fundy brother made sure to wait the Judaic 8 days before having his boys cut. He ignored all of Paul's writings against it. 

 

Others say it is so common that it looks weird not to be circumcised, and that they don't want their boys teased for being normal. My dad was born in the boonies of Arkansas, so was not cut. He never had any issues health-wise. I have to say that years of conditioning seeing only cut males do make it appear odd when someone isn't. How backwards. 

 

Then there are the Islamic fundies that insist on females having their clitoris cut off, because they don't want their wives having a penis... I guess god messed up by giving them that. That is just a tribal tradition, and isn't an Islamic command at all. 

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If health/cleanliness is the "reasoning" behind the religious mandate for circumcision, as I have often heard, then that just points out an obvious design flaw.

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3 hours ago, Fuego said:

Others say it is so common that it looks weird not to be circumcised, and that they don't want their boys teased for being normal

I never really found myself in any situation to check out other guys junk.  Going to the gym or changing at school was generally done facing the wall and with whatever privacy you could find.  I can't imagine its common enough to result in people getting hassled by comparison?

 

3 hours ago, Fuego said:

Then there are the Islamic fundies that insist on females having their clitoris cut off

Reminds me about John Kellogg (a Seventh Day Dentist) who suggested dropping carbolic acid on the clitoris was the best way to destroy it.  Screwed up beliefs, all brought on by religious teachings.

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In my corner of the world I haven't found the medical community pushing for it. I work in obstetrics and still 80%+ parents choose circumcision in my region. A lot of it seems to be tradition. Fathers choose it for their sons. My husband would have chosen to circumcise our son had I not been strongly opposed to it because that is what he knows.

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didn’t Mr. Kellogg push really hard for this in the 1800s? I’m not well read in this... but it was my understanding that circumcision was largely out of fashion in the US until Dr Kellogg (the Frosted Flakes guy) Said it would stop school boys from engaging in their favorite sin... he also recommended putting acid on girls genitals to reduce sexual desire. Fortunately the latter never caught on. 

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     It became pretty widespread in the 19th century to believe that circumcision "cured" a number of things including the evil desire to masturbate.  As any guy who has been circumcised will tell you they have never even touched their own penis.  It simply works.

 

     To my knowledge the Egyptians had circumcision before the Jews.  I recall reading about it maybe fifteen years back so my recall is sketchy.  It was not for any sort of cleanliness but instead as a sort of induction into a certain "secret" society (I used quotes on secret because I'm having a loss for words here...it was really more of a "union"...you know...like a guild...so that the knowledge of how to do whatever work they did would only be known to those members...and this was how they showed their dedication to the group as well as membership).  Anyhow, it wasn't quite the same sort of procedure as the Jews but it was a circumcision and it wasn't about cleanliness.  Neither is it about cleanliness or anything in the bible.  It's all about membership in the group.

 

     We just assume it's about cleanliness because we're trying to find a reason for such a ritual but cutting the skin in such a way could actually cause massive infection and death considering the unsanitary conditions of the time.  This would be like taking out a healthy appendix just because it may get infected.  Yes, people do it, but it's not a good idea.  It can be seen the risks of the operation outweigh any benefits and this is in modern medicine.  Cutting off the foreskin in the past would be dangerous.  I can't imagine they could have so many problems with intact foreskins that they should think this the lesser evil.  However, such risks become acceptable for group membership reasons.

 

          mwc

 

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4 hours ago, Christopherhays said:

didn’t Mr. Kellogg push really hard for this in the 1800s? I’m not well read in this... but it was my understanding that circumcision was largely out of fashion in the US until Dr Kellogg (the Frosted Flakes guy) Said it would stop school boys from engaging in their favorite sin... he also recommended putting acid on girls genitals to reduce sexual desire. Fortunately the latter never caught on. 

 

You have to look at SDA founder Ellen G White's 19th century teachings on the issues. That's where Kellog's bat shit crazy ideas find their foundation and launching point. 

 

2 hours ago, mwc said:

To my knowledge the Egyptians had circumcision before the Jews. 

 

I've read the same. 

 

2 hours ago, mwc said:

We just assume it's about cleanliness because we're trying to find a reason for such a ritual but cutting the skin in such a way could actually cause massive infection and death considering the unsanitary conditions of the time.  This would be like taking out a healthy appendix just because it may get infected.  Yes, people do it, but it's not a good idea.  It can be seen the risks of the operation outweigh any benefits and this is in modern medicine.  Cutting off the foreskin in the past would be dangerous.  I can't imagine they could have so many problems with intact foreskins that they should think this the lesser evil.  However, such risks become acceptable for group membership reasons.

 

My opinion has been an intuitive one. I think that it must have originated as a way of separating man from the beasts. Animals are clearly not circumcised. It set's man apart from beast by cutting off the foreskin. And the ancients didn't know that we are animals or about evolution. They assumed that man stood above and beyond the animals and that went into a lot of their reasoning. And wanted to stand out from the animals. 

 

Meanwhile, as evolution went, a species of Great Ape started removing it's foreskin in some communities and it appears to have spread around to other communities - between Egyptian, Jews, and then around the world via christianity. It would be interesting if this hunch could be firmed up with research and shone to be a likely scenario for circumcision. 

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11 hours ago, Wertbag said:

I never really found myself in any situation to check out other guys junk.  Going to the gym or changing at school was generally done facing the wall and with whatever privacy you could find.  I can't imagine its common enough to result in people getting hassled by comparison?

 

Hmm, quite different here. We let it all hang out and hit the showers together. I remember being an 8 yr old kid with my same-age cousins at the YMCA and commenting on how huge a man's penis was. He chuckled and said it was average for a grown man, so that was encouraging to us. But even in school with peers, there was very little hiding done unless one had just come in from flirting with the girls... One black boy was not circumcised and besides my dad was the only natural one I'd seen. Looked odd to me, but he wasn't really teased about it. He knew why his was different and was matter-of-fact about it.

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1 hour ago, Joshpantera said:

I've read the same. 

 

 

My opinion has been an intuitive one. I think that it must have originated as a way of separating man from the beasts. Animals are clearly not circumcised. It set's man apart from beast by cutting off the foreskin. And the ancients didn't know that we are animals or about evolution. They assumed that man stood above and beyond the animals and that went into a lot of their reasoning. And wanted to stand out from the animals. 

 

Meanwhile, as evolution went, a species of Great Ape started removing it's foreskin in some communities and it appears to have spread around to other communities - between Egyptian, Jews, and then around the world via christianity. It would be interesting if this hunch could be firmed up with research and shone to be a likely scenario for circumcision. 

     Since posting I have come across a journal article that says that Herodotus says that the Egyptians circumcised for cleanliness (which is probably where people got the idea).  It seems priests were probably responsible.  It then goes on to mention that Ra (Atum) performs what may be considered self-circumcision.  From the blood that results the gods Sia and Hu are produced who are (loosely) "thought" and "word" which are required before the actual creation can begin.

 

     Anyhow, I read it on Jstor but I just found a copy at ResearchGate so you might want to look at it instead of my lousy summary.

 

          mwc

 

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I've heard the idea that a lot of divine commands were merely authority figures wanting to do good things and using god to justify these ideas. Tell guys you want to cut the ends of their bits off and you'll meet resistance, but say "god says..." and no one can argue. 

People get sick from eating pigs or cows, god says don't do that. Shrimp makes you sick? Gods not a fan. Working 7 days a week with no break, well god rested and reckons you should too. 

God has this great ability of waiting till after something is a problem then letting everyone know they shouldn't do it. 

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13 hours ago, Fuego said:

 

Hmm, quite different here. We let it all hang out and hit the showers together. I remember being an 8 yr old kid with my same-age cousins at the YMCA and commenting on how huge a man's penis was. He chuckled and said it was average for a grown man, so that was encouraging to us. But even in school with peers, there was very little hiding done unless one had just come in from flirting with the girls... One black boy was not circumcised and besides my dad was the only natural one I'd seen. Looked odd to me, but he wasn't really teased about it. He knew why his was different and was matter-of-fact about it.

 

 

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17 hours ago, mwc said:

As any guy who has been circumcised will tell you they have never even touched their own penis.  It simply works.

:lmao::rotfl::jerkoff::yelrotflmao::rotfl::lmao:

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13 hours ago, mwc said:

 

     Since posting I have come across a journal article that says that Herodotus says that the Egyptians circumcised for cleanliness (which is probably where people got the idea).  It seems priests were probably responsible.  It then goes on to mention that Ra (Atum) performs what may be considered self-circumcision.  From the blood that results the gods Sia and Hu are produced who are (loosely) "thought" and "word" which are required before the actual creation can begin.

 

     Anyhow, I read it on Jstor but I just found a copy at ResearchGate so you might want to look at it instead of my lousy summary.

 

          mwc

 

 

What I'm wondering is whether the purification had something to do with man and beast. As in the beasts are unclean in the sense that these people were considering being uncircumcised as unclean.

 

Ritual purification depicted in the tomb of Ankhmahor in Saqqara, Sixth Dynasty. After Badawy 1978, Figures 27-28.
 
 

 

Somehow this cleanliness and purification idea spread to their neighbors the jews, as did many, many other Egyptian practices and beliefs. I suppose that would be difficult to try and pin down because it would probably predate the reliefs that we're seeing - as a potential for informing the customs that would then be depicted. I just have a strong hunch that it may have been part of wanting to stand aside from the male beasts. But likely no good way of confirming such a thing. 

 

I guess at the minimum we do find a situation where some people were taking up an unnatural practice under the banner of cleanliness and purification, which, involved separating themselves from the animal kingdom by one degree of cutting off their natural born fore skin. How conscious they were of this act separating them from the other male mammals remains unclear. What does seem pretty clear is that they thought that they ought to be presented this way to the gods. To be like the gods - what ever that means. Shaving all of their hair off was of the same practice. But all of these things involve unnaturally changing our natural bodies towards the aim of the purification ideal. Somehow purified amounts to less natural, and less animal. 

 

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1 hour ago, Joshpantera said:

 

What I'm wondering is whether the purification had something to do with man and beast. As in the beasts are unclean in the sense that these people were considering being uncircumcised as unclean.

 

Ritual purification depicted in the tomb of Ankhmahor in Saqqara, Sixth Dynasty. After Badawy 1978, Figures 27-28.
 
 

 

Somehow this cleanliness and purification idea spread to their neighbors the jews, as did many, many other Egyptian practices and beliefs. I suppose that would be difficult to try and pin down because it would probably predate the reliefs that we're seeing - as a potential for informing the customs that would then be depicted. I just have a strong hunch that it may have been part of wanting to stand aside from the male beasts. But likely no good way of confirming such a thing. 

 

I guess at the minimum we do find a situation where some people were taking up an unnatural practice under the banner of cleanliness and purification, which, involved separating themselves from the animal kingdom by one degree of cutting off their natural born fore skin. How conscious they were of this act separating them from the other male mammals remains unclear. What does seem pretty clear is that they thought that they ought to be presented this way to the gods. To be like the gods - what ever that means. Shaving all of their hair off was of the same practice. But all of these things involve unnaturally changing our natural bodies towards the aim of the purification ideal. Somehow purified amounts to less natural, and less animal. 

 

     Well, the Egyptians controlled the Levant on up through Canaan so it wouldn't need to spread to the Jews.  The Jews would have been there.  It would seem like it was a practice they adopted for their own use as opposed to one they decided to discard like some dietary laws.

 

     I'm not altogether sold on this animal theory.  The reason being is that a lot of people seem to want to emulate animals for various reasons (ie. strength, stamina, virility, etc.) and various tattoos and other body markings appear to be indications of this.  It seems odd that there's now this body modification that goes against this grain.  I'm not saying it's not possible I'm just saying it's not what comes to mind in cases of body modification.  Usually it was used to mark people of a group whether of an "in" or "out" group.  Perhaps a person of status.  Like maybe a high achieving hunter, chief or priest.  Maybe even just a member of a tribe or group in general.  It could be someone like a criminal, prisoner or slave.

 

          mwc

 

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Another odd thing is the question of how often these people pranced around naked anyways? Concerning the jews and christians more specifically. Maybe they sat around in greco-roman style bath houses people watching, observing the who's who? 😂

 

For the record, at the adventist academy each level of the boys dorm had a pole with shower heads surrounding it. Prison like showers. Where the circumcised and uncircumcised had to pack in together. 

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1 hour ago, Joshpantera said:

Another odd thing is the question of how often these people pranced around naked anyways? Concerning the jews and christians more specifically. Maybe they sat around in greco-roman style bath houses people watching, observing the who's who? 😂

 

     In the Greek world the gymnasia was entirely nude.  It could be a daily event depending on the person.  The Romans were similar.  When I was in Rome there were gymnasia outside (some of) the baths (they'd do this before the baths), so it would have been entirely nude (for males only...no women in the gymnasia), and then the baths would have been segregated by sex and that would have also been all nude as well.  This would have been rather important in society so not to participate could have impacted you.

 

     Hadrian also made circumcision illegal so I imagine if they suspected that you were circumcised you would have just had to submit to a look.  I'm not sure what the penalty was.  A lot of Jews just stopped getting circumcised in the first centuries and the fall of the temple has been attributed to this (as well as the other traditions they would have neglected).

 

     Everyone who had issues with their foreskins, not just those who had circumcisions, were outsiders at this time.  There were restorations that people did that would stretch the skin back.  I understand that it was fairly painful and took a long time (and didn't always work or look proper).  And the Jews took on a form of circumcision that didn't expose the head of the penis (I'm not sure exactly what this is or what it looked like) but no one does this as far as I know.

 

     It's not entirely unrealistic to imagine men to see other men fully nude back then.  Or women seeing other women.  There are even indications that hint at coed facilities but those are less clear.  Hiding a circumcised penis could be difficult especially over time or once it became illegal and people were on the "look out" so to speak.

 

          mwc

 

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12 hours ago, mwc said:

 It's not entirely unrealistic to imagine men to see other men fully nude back then.  Or women seeing other women.  There are even indications that hint at coed facilities but those are less clear.  Hiding a circumcised penis could be difficult especially over time or once it became illegal and people were on the "look out" so to speak.

 

So it turns out that the answer is quite often. 

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9 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

 

So it turns out that the answer is quite often. 

     Potentially.  Depends on some factors but I would think it more likely than we'd like to imagine.  At least in some time periods and places.

 

          mwc

 

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