Male circumcision is the removal of some or the entire foreskin (prepuce) from the penis.  Arguments that have been raised in favor of circumcision include that it provides important health advantages which outweigh the risks, has no substantial effects on sexual function, has a low complication rate when carried out by an experienced physician, and is best performed during the neonatal period.  Those raised in opposition to circumcision include that it adversely affects penile function and sexual pleasure, is justified only by medical myths, is extremely painful, and is a violation of human rights.

Within this debate I find myself firmly in opposition to this act of physical injury that degrades the appearance and function of the penis.  It is genital mutilation.

I found myself compelled to put my thoughts into words because the issue has weighed on me since before my son was born.  After explaining my opposition, my wife supported my decision to forgo circumcision and my mother has been opposed to the act since I was born and the doctors persuaded her to have me circumcised.

It is hard not to become passionate about the subject when it directly relates to my son, who is sleeping peacefully beside me at the moment.  Just tonight, at a new years gathering, my sister-in-law questioned if my son had been circumcised and when I asked her why she thought it was important she made reference to men who have come to the clinic she is employed with regarding infections of their penis.  I asked her if I was to assume that because some guys didn’t know how to properly clean themselves I should therefore assume my son would do the same.  She had no reply.  Later I broached the subject again and asked her if she thought that female circumcision was ethical.  She, not surprisingly, said it was not but that male circumcision was “biblical” and that she could think this because we were in her house.  It was at this point that my wife intervened and my sister-in-law, not wanting her flawed logic and opinions challenged, casually walked away.

First, where an argument is made lends no weight to its truth or falsity.  I never argued that she was not entitled to her opinion but being in her home does not entitle her to be correct about a given subject.  As she decided to walk away and deprive me of the ability to address her directly I am writing this as an open letter.

Now, regarding the act being “Biblical”, it is true that according to the Old Testament God commanded Abraham and every male member of his tribe to be circumcised as part of a covenant.  However the Old Testament states God commanded his people to do many things which we would now judge as unethical or immoral but I’ll leave that topic for another discussion.

My refutation to this argument is simple.  Abraham, not I, made that covenant.  Neither my son nor I made, nor could we make, any covenant when we were newborns and cannot be bound by those made by our parents.  I reserve the right to refuse Abraham’s covenant, to not be placed under its government, and to not be bound by the customs of desert nomads from 6000 years ago.  Of those I know, no one follows the laws of Leviticus as commanded but I know plenty of people, like my sister-in-law, who will cherry pick which laws they think are still “good.”

How can it be that your child is born, supposedly designed by God, and then, after admiring such a beautiful newborn, a parent can turn their head and allow a section of his genitals to be painfully cut away?  Any reason given to justify circumcision is invalidated by one fact.  Every individual, no matter how young, has a right to be secure in his or her own body and decide for themselves what they will keep and discard.  I have neither the power nor the right to decide anything regarding the appearance of my son’s penis.  I may only decide those medical treatments needed to preserve his life.  This human right is more sacred to me than any preachment or declaration by Abraham and, if told to choose between logic, reason, and my own moral compass or what is “Biblical”; I choose logic and reason; Abraham and scripture be damned.  Circumcision is immoral!

Quod erat demonstrandum