Circumcision being performed
Health Benefits of Circumcision
The Bible speaks of male circumcision. Is it of any benefit now? What does the Bible teach about circumcision? What have many modern scientists concluded?
Let's start off by looking at the Bible. Thousands of years ago, God told Abraham to implement circumcision:
9 And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. 13 He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.” (Genesis 17:9-14)
Later, the Old Testament also provided instruction to the children of Israel to circumcise their male babies:
1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of her customary impurity she shall be unclean. 3 And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. (Leviticus 12:1-3)
(Note: Male circumcision is nothing like so-called female circumcision, which is NOT enjoined in the Bible and should not be done.)
So, the Old Testament enjoined male circumcision on the followers of God.
Does 21st Century Science Back Male Circumcision?
But is male circumcision a good thing?
Notice the following study back benefits for males who have been circumcised:
by Michael Smith, 22 July 2011
Male circumcision is having a direct effect on HIV prevalence and incidence in South Africa, a researcher said here.In the region of Orange Farm, near Johannesburg, the prevalence of HIV among circumcised men is 55% lower than among their uncircumcised counterparts, according to Bertran Auvert, MD, PhD, of the University of Versailles.
And incidence among them is 76% lower than among the uncircumcised…
Samantha Schaefer, 22 July 2011 Los Angeles Times
A successful circumcision campaign in South Africa worked to help decrease HIV infections in men by 76%, The Times reported. The results of the campaign could be a game-changer for countries with high HIV transmission rates…The procedure has been ramped up in sub-Saharan Africa since the World Health Organization’s announcement four years ago that circumcision reduces a man’s HIV contraction by 60%, according to NPR.
The US Center(s) for Disease Control, after many years, finally decided to endorse male circumcision:
December 2, 2014
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. health officials on Tuesday released a draft of long-awaited federal guidelines on circumcision, saying medical evidence supports having the procedure done and health insurers should pay for it.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines stop short of telling parent to get their newborn sons circumcised. That is a personal decision that may involve religious or cultural preferences, said the CDC’s Dr. Jonathan Mermin.
But “the scientific evidence is clear that the benefits outweigh the risks,” added Mermin, who oversees the agency’s programs on HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
These are the first federal guidelines on circumcision, a brief medical procedure that involves cutting away the foreskin around the tip of the penis. Germs can grow underneath the foreskin, and CDC officials say the procedure can lower a male’s risk of sexually-transmitted diseases, penile cancer and even urinary tract infections.
The CDC started working on the guidelines about seven years ago, when a cluster of influential studies in Africa indicated circumcision might help stop spread of the AIDS virus.
“The benefits of male circumcision have become more and more clear over the last 10 years,” said Dr. Aaron Tobian, a Johns Hopkins University researcher involved in one of the African studies. …
In the new guidelines, the CDC says there is now strong evidence that male circumcision can:
-Cut a man’s risk of getting HIV from an infected female partner by 50 to 60 percent.
-Reduce their risk of genital herpes and certain strains of human papillomavirus by 30 percent or more.
-Lower the odds of urinary tract infections during infancy, and cancer of the penis in adulthood.
Studies have not shown that circumcision will reduce an HIV-infected man’s chances of spreading the AIDS virus to women. And research has not found circumcision to be a help in stopping spread of HIV during gay sex.
The guidelines say circumcision is safer for newborns and infants than for older males, noting the complication rate rises from 0.5 percent in newborns to 9 percent in children ages 1 to 9, according to the CDC. Minor bleeding and pain are the most common problems, experts say. http://www.aol.com/article/2014/12/02/cdc-says-circumcision-benefits-outweigh-the-risks/21001823/?icid=maing-grid7%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl2%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D574260
The Bible has advocated male circumcision for thousands of years, and it suggests it specifically for newborn infants. Finally, the CDC is catching up.
There have been numerous studies that support male circumcision. Notice the following:
The protective effect of circumcision was confirmed through clinical trials about 10 years ago, prompting the World Health Organization and local governments to launch massive circumcision programs in 14 priority countries in Africa, which represent 50 percent of all AIDS cases.
After counseling at the clinic, men are offered an HIV test because UNAIDS estimates more than half the people living with HIV are not aware of their status.
The next step is the surgery, which lasts 5 to 7 minutes and is pain free, said general practitioner Dumisani Mhlambi.
“All they are scared of, all they are thinking of, is pain: Is there gonna be pain inflicted more than anything else,” Mhlambi said, adding that most surgeries are pain free.
The Bophelo Pele clinic in Orange Farm was the first circumcision center to open in South Africa in 2007.
Awareness campaigns seem to be working in this neighborhood, where more than 80 percent of men are circumcised, compared with less than 20 percent seven years ago. Dozens of other centers have since opened across the country.
Male nurse Mandisi Mfazwe said social norms have shifted over the years.
“It has now become a norm in Orange Farm. Now if you’re not circumcised, some guys will laugh at you. So people come also because of peer pressure. Not only because of the HIV/AIDS reason, but it is beneficial for them at the end of the day,” Mfazwe said.
Impact of circumcisions studied
CHAPS, the Center for HIV and AIDS Prevention Studies, which manages the clinics, continues to study the impact of circumcisions.
CEO Dirk Taljaard said new data suggests circumcision benefits women, too.
“We saw a protective effect for women. If you had women in the community that have only had circumcised partners, the risk was reduced already by 20 percent for 15- to 25-years-old women,” Taljaard said.
Some studies estimate that, in South Africa, for every four circumcisions, one HIV infection is avoided. Since 2007, more than 1.5 million circumcisions have been performed in the country, suggesting close to 400,000 new infections may have been avoided. http://www.voanews.com/content/south-africa-sees-male-circumcision-as-way-to-reduce-hiv-infections/2538279.html
A few years back, in the local newspaper, I read an article by San Luis Obispo medical doctor Steven Sainsbury who also advocated various benefits for males being circumcised (Debunking Circumcision Myths The Tribune, July 21, 2011, page B5). Some of the facts he presented were:
- Male circumcision lowers human papilloma virus (HPV) in female partners.
- Male circumcision confers an element of protection from HIV (and he cited a USA study)
- Uncircumcised males can get their foreskins swollen, sometimes in a dangerous fashion called paraphimosis.
- Uncircumcised males are more likely to get a urinary obstruction called phimosis.
- Uncircumcised males are more likely to have hygiene problems.
He also mentioned that the procedure for infants has little, if any pain, especially since a local anesthesia is now being used.
Notice another benefit from male circumcision:
Times of India – 12 March 2012
Circumcision before a male’s first sexual intercourse may help protect against prostate cancer, a new study has found. The study, conducted by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, suggests that circumcision can hinder infection and suggests that circumcision can hinder infection and inflammation that may lead to this malignancy.
Infections are known to cause cancer, and research suggests that sexually transmitted infections may contribute to the development of prostate cancer.
Additionally, certain sexually transmitted infections can be prevented by circumcision.
There are health benefits associated with male circumcision.
The New Testament and Early Christians
The New Testament neither requires nor prohibits male circumcision.
Related to it, Jesus once stated:
22 Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. (John 7:22)
Now, although the New Testament teaches that Gentile adult males do not have to be circumcised in order to be Christians (Acts 15:24-29), the Apostle Paul had Timothy circumcised anyway (Acts 16:3).
Even though the apostles ruled that adult Gentiles did not have to be circumcised in Acts 15 (as well as Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:18), my own reading into early church history suggests that many Christians continued to circumcise their male babies after this declaration.
The early 20th century theologian J.J.L. Ratton reported:
The early Church at Jerusalem, retained most of the distinctive customs of the Jews, such as circumcision, kosher meats, the Jewish Sabbath, the Jewish rites, and worship of the Temple. Our Lord, Himself, lived the exterior life of a Jew, even so far as the observance of Jewish religious customs was concerned. The early Church of Jerusalem followed His example. The Jews looked upon the Hebrew Christians in Jerusalem simply as a Jewish sect, which they called the sect of the Nazarenes. (Ratton JJL The Apocalypse of St. John: a commentary on the Greek text, 2nd edition. R. & T. Washbourne, ltd., 1915. Original fromt he University of Michigan. Digitized Jun 12, 2007, p. 4)
The historian E. Gibbon wrote:
The first fifteen bishops of Jerusalem were all circumcised Jews; and the congregation over which they presided united the law of Moses with the doctrine of Christ. (Gibbon, Edward ; Eckler, Peter. History of Christianity: Comprising All that Relates to the Progress of the Christian Religion in “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” and A Vindication of Some Passages in the 15th and 16th Chapters. Published by P. Eckler, 1916. Original from the New York Public Library. Digitized Jun 19, 2006, p. 117)
Now, it should be mentioned that in the second century, non-Nazarene professors of Christ, like the heretic Justin, did not practice circumcision.
According to the fourth century Catholic historian Eusebius, starting in the first century:
James, the first that had obtained the episcopal seat in Jerusalem after the ascension of our Saviour…The first, then, was James, the so-called brother of the Lord; the second, Symeon; the third, Justus; the fourth, Zacchæus; the fifth, Tobias; the sixth, Benjamin; the seventh, John; the eighth, Matthias; the ninth, Philip; the tenth, Seneca; the eleventh, Justus; the twelfth, Levi; the thirteenth, Ephres; the fourteenth, Joseph; and finally, the fifteenth, Judas. These are the bishops of Jerusalem that lived between the age of the apostles and the time referred to, all of them belonging to the circumcision. (Eusebius. The History of the Church, 2005 Book III, Chapter V, Verses 2,3.& Book IV, Chapter 5, Verses 2-4 . Translated by A. Cushman McGiffert. Digireads.com Publishing, Stilwell (KS), pp. 45, 71)
But circumcision was not just the practice with the first and second century bishops of Jerusalem. Epiphanius wrote of this group from the time of 69/70 A.D. until his day, that he called the Nazarenes:
All Christians were called Nazarenes once…They were so-called followers of the apostles…they dedicate themselves to the law…However, everyone called the Christians Nazarenes as I said before. This appears from the accusation against Paul…[Acts 24:5]…For they use not only the New Testament but also the Old…For they also accept the resurrection of the dead and that everything has origin in God…Only in this respect they differ from the Jews and Christians: with the Jews they do not agree because of their belief in Christ, with the Christians because they are trained in the Law, in circumcision, the Sabbath and the other things…(Epiphanius. Panarion 29 as cited in Pritz R. Nazarene Jewish Christianity. Magnas, Jerusalem, 1988, pp. 30-34)
Notice the following, by the scholar B. Pixner:
…after Jerusalem was rebuilt as a Roman city named Aelia Capitolina — to obliterate any associations with the Jews — and Hadrian was succeeded by a much milder emperor named Antoninus Pius (138-161 A.D.), the Judeo-Christians drifted back to Mt. Zion. (Pixner B. Church of the Apostles Found on Mt. Zion. Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 1990)
Their adherence to Jewish customs, especially circumcision and observance of Jewish holy days, naturally alienated the “Nazarene” Christians from the church that distanced itself away from many practices it considered to be Jewish.
Here is some of what the Catholic scholar Bagatti wrote about some of the gentile Nazarenes in the fourth and probably fifth centuries, that were sometimes derisively referred to as Minim by some Jews:
In fact some Minim of gentile stock, following St. Paul, taught that the Law had been abolished with the exception of the Decalogue…Some Jews…intensified the observance of the Law…especially regarding circumcision and the Sabbath. The Judaeo-Christians in this were in accord with the Jews…(Bagatti, Bellarmino. Translated by Eugene Hoade. The Church from the Circumcision. Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi, 13 Maii 1970. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari, 14 Junii 1970. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970. Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1971, p. 108)
While it was not a required practice, throughout history, many “Nazarene” Christians have practiced circumcision, not as a commandment, but as a biblically-based concept, knowing that God’s statutes were good (cf. Nehemiah 9:13).
One of the inquisitors in the Middle Ages found that a certain type of “heretic” (in his mind) uniformly observed the Sabbath and sometimes (though apparently not always) observed circumcision (Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, p. 88).
Thus, it seems that circumcision was (and still is) often practiced by many trying to be faithful Christians. And because of “Judeo-Christian influence” (like from the Bible), this may be why there have always been a relatively high proportion of circumcised males in the USA (though this may be changing).
While the Bible does not list health benefits that come from circumcision, it would make sense that the Creator of the universe would only recommend physical practices that were beneficial for His human creation. And this practice seems to have many health benefits.
We in the Continuing Church of God, recommend, but do not require, that male infants be circumcised when they are eight days old (Leviticus 12:3). The Church of Rome has tended to be more negative towards male circumcision. Science supports the CCOG view.
Several items of possibly related interest may include:
Read the Bible Christians should read and study the Bible. This article gives some rationale for regular bible reading. Here is a link in Mandarin Chinese: 读圣经 Here is a link in the Spanish language: Lea la Biblia.
Which Laws were Superceded? Which Remain? What about the Ten Commandments? What about the 613 regulations (called 613 Mitzvot) in the Old Testament? Which were ‘done away’? Here is a link to a sermon: Messianic Jewish Beliefs.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what doctrines the early Christians actually had? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil Some feel that the ten commandments are a burden. Is that what Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John taught? For a more detailed discussion of the first four commandments, please see the video The Ten Commandments: Loving God. For a more detailed discussion of the last six commandments, please see: The Ten Commandments: Loving Your Neighbor. Here is a link to a related article in Mandarin Chinese 十条诫命显示爱，违反诫命的就是邪恶的
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Who were the Nazarene Christians? What did they believe? Should 21st century Christians be modern Nazarenes? Is there a group that exists now that traces its history through the Nazarenes and holds the same beliefs today? Here is a link to a related video sermon Nazarene Christians: Were the early Christians “Nazarenes”?
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. A related sermon link would be Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.