So, my friends and I talk a lot more about circumcision these days. Probably talked about it more in the past 3 years than in the previous 29 of my life. It came up at a party the other day and how parents are having to fight grandparents over not circumcising their boys, on religious grounds. These are Christian grand parents. Growing up in “bible believing” churches I was very aware of this schism. Circumcision is viewed as being done for religious reasons. Which is fine if you’re Muslim or Jewish, but there is a lot of space spent talking about Circumcision in the New Testament. A lot more than any of your hot button topics like homosexuality, abortion, or pre-marital sex. So much time is spent talking about it, that you might get the idea that Paul is obsessed with penises (just saying).
Ok, so first let’s start with Genesis 17:11:
You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.
This is where most Christians are going to begin and end their discussion of Circumcision. Of course they’ve felt free to reject a host of other “barbaric” traditions that occur in the first few books of the bible, so it’s odd they’ve kept this one. God obviously didn’t want much intermarrying and this was a great way to ensure that you were serious before you got to marry some hot jewish chick. Old testament God was pretty anti-gentile.
So in Romans 2, Paul starts talking about this. He starts off just discussing what he feels circumcision means. If one is used to born-again analogies he’s basically saying you don’t need to be crawl back inside mom and literally be born again. Just believing and changing your life will do:
25Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the<sup class="footnote" value="[c]”>[c] written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.
28A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.
Then in First Corinthians:
Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts.
Then in Galatians 2 we have fear of circumcised Christians:
12Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.
And here’s one that requires a lot of um… creativity to read “literally” and still advocate circumcision. Well I guess you can advocate it in Paul’s eyes as long as you go back to stoning adulterers:
2Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Here again in Collossians:
11In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature,<sup class="footnote" value="[a]”>[a] not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ,
Here in Titus, pointing out again that the circumcision group were actually the Christians who didn’t really believe and were trying to destroy the church:
For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group.
And that’s not even all of the mentions. It’s incessant. So please, next time you’re talking to a Christian who’s planning on getting their kid circumcised for relgious reasons, point them towards the Bible. Let them come up with a more valid reason, like germaphobia, or making it more unpleasant to masturbate.
And I know some people are going to come up with the extremely creative answer that they want to show their fealty to God in the bodies of their Children, and Paul was just referring to adult males not needing to get circumcised to be Christians, but please – you’re just making stuff up to justify your beliefs.
Oh and don’t try the “it prevents AIDS” defense, unless you already have an appointment to get your daughter the HPV vaccine. Remember abstinence is the answer.