by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© February 2015, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Circumcision is an ancient practice of removing the foreskin of male babies or children. It is described and discussed in some detail in the Old Testament of the Hebrew Bible. Some, but not all Muslims also practice circumcision, and it is also done in a few other cultures around the world such as among some Australian aborigines, some Native Americans, and some African tribes. It was also done routinely in America in hospitals, although this is somewhat less today.
Today, some people frown upon circumcision, thinking it is just another cruel, old practice that is not appropriate for today’s modern world. I hope to show in this article that this perspective on circumcision is completely incorrect.
WHAT IS THE FORESKIN AND WHY REMOVE IT?
The foreskin of the penis is a small piece of tissue that normally covers the head of the penis, which is the most distant and most sensitive part of the penis. The foreskin has been described as being like a sheath, or cap, or hood.
It is open at the end to allow urine to flow through it, but it protects the head of the penis from damage and from contact with the outside. The foreskin also secretes a fluid called smegma. This is a lubricant of some kind.
The foreskin can be pulled back mechanically with the hand, to clean the head of the penis that is underneath it. In fact, this is the only way to clean this part of the body. Many men fail to do this when they shower or bathe. This is not good, as the fluid builds up and bacteria can grow on the smegma fluid causing infection, in some cases. This is less of a problem today, but it was one reason for circumcision in the past.
During sex, the foreskin is supposed to pull back by itself, or it can be pulled back by hand. This exposes the head of the penis, which is quite sensitive to touch and makes the man more interested in sexual intercourse. It also makes the man more jumpy, in a way, that does not occur if the foreskin is removed when the man is just a baby or young child.
THE FIRST SIGN OF THE COVENANT WITH GOD
The Hebrew Bible states that circumcision is a critical mark of the covenant between God and the Jewish people. That is how important it is in the Hebrew Bible. The baby Jesus experienced it, as did all of his Jewish apostles and disciples.
On the eighth day after birth, all Jewish male babies are required to have the foreskin of the penis removed surgically. The baby is usually carried in on a special pillow so he is comfortable during the procedure. Special prayers are recited during a circumcision ceremony. It is considered a very special day for the family and for the community.
Among religious Jewish people, the circumcision must be performed by a mohel. This is always a man, and he receives special training in how to do it correctly so that it does not inflict too much pain on the child, and it is done quickly in a clean and professional manner. I am told that the use of the religious method is, in fact, much better in some ways than having a regular doctor do the procedure in the hospital or in a medical office.
The Mohel uses a special tool to do the procedure. Part of the tool is a shield that covers the head of the penis to protect it against any possible slips of the knife. The other part of the tool gathers the tissue together so that when it is cut off, it is done very quickly and very safely. The tool must be washed several times before doing the procedure to make sure it is clean.
There is some bleeding with circumcision, but not a lot. If it is done properly, on the eighth day of life, there is very little blood, for some unknown reason. This is important because babies are delicate and a lot of bleeding would be harmful.
Bleeding usually ceases in a few minutes, and no stitches are required. If there is more bleeding, the Mohel is instructed to grasp the head of the penis and squeeze a little to stop the bleeding. Then a sterile gauze pad or cloth is placed over the area to protect it. Within three days or so, the area is usually healed.
WHAT ABOUT WOMEN’S COVENANT WITH GOD?
According to Jewish law and tradition, the menstrual blood that flows each 28 days or so for 20-30 years is a reminder to women that they, too, have a covenant with God to uphold. Women’s bleeding occurs for years, whereas that of men is limited to 10-15 minutes as a baby. This is an important concept, I am told. While bleeding may seem like just a physical phenomenon, I am told that it is not so. Bleeding and blood represent life, and loss of blood has certain deeper meanings. Women’s needs are somewhat different, according to Jewish law, and so circumcision is not for women.
OTHER MARKS OF THE COVENANT WITH GOD
The Hebrew covenant with God not only involves circumcision of the male babies, though this is one of the most important signs of the covenant. It also includes the bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah ceremony for girls, marriage to a suitable partner, bearing and raising of healthy children, and observing certain other rules and procedures that make for a healthy individual and a sane society.
A FAMILY MATTER
It is important to note that in the Jewish religion, no one lives in monasteries or convents. All men and women are commanded to marry, live in families and to “be fruitful and multiply.” - Genesis, 1:28.
This is different from the traditions of the Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and the Islamic religions. While there may be various reasons for this, circumcision is one way to prepare men for family life.
INTENTIONAL WOUNDING OF MEN
No anesthesia is used when a baby is circumcised in the Jewish tradition. One could say that in ancient times, this was because anesthesia had not been invented. However, this is not quite true. Physicians of the time period knew about and used herbs such as cloves and others to numb parts of the body when surgery was required.
I am told by rabbis that no anesthesia was allowed for other reasons. First, the safety of anesthesia is not always complete, so avoiding it prevents some possible problems.
Secondly, circumcision is considered a type of wounding of a man. This may sound cruel and barbaric, but it is not. What it does is help prevent the man from raping and harming women in the future. Jewish men are known to rape women much less often than most other groups. They also tend to treat women much better than other ethnic and religious groups on planet earth.
Thus, the concept of wounding of men is not a cruel concept. It is related to women’s health and safety. It is also a type of rite of passage for men. Women bleed every month, so they have a different rite of passage, but men do not experience this. Circumcision, in fact, is only the first of the rites of passage for men that the Hebrew Bible insists upon, and which our current society is sorely lacking.
CIRCUMCISION IN MORE MODERN TIMES
Circumcision was and is done routinely on many male babies in America, ever since and before the founding of the American nation. Many practices in America were taken from the Hebrew Bible, which was the guide for living for most of the colonists and other settlers of America.
Circumcision was common among all groups in America - moreso among all the Jewish groups (orthodox, conservative and reform groups), but it was also commonly done in the hospitals and doctors offices to the Christian people, those who practice Islam, and to those with no religious affiliation at all. It is somewhat less popular today, but still done to many American male babies.
THE BENEFITS OF CIRCUMCISION
The following applies only to circumcision as it is practiced among Jewish people. Circumcision among other groups will not produce the same benefits because the timing and methodology of the procedure (use of anesthetics) changes the effects of circumcision in these groups.
According to statistics, among Jewish people, circumcision has the following effects:
1. It helps young boys mature and grow up to be real men. Specifically, circumcision seems to reduce behaviors such as bullying, fighting and taunting in younger boys. Later on, it reduces rape and other problems of men.
These benefits are based on the research of rabbis, who say they have noticed that it is circumcision that makes the most difference in boys’ lives, and not just the culture, upbringing, or other factors. Some possible reasons why this occurs are discussed below.
2. Cleanliness. This was and is a major reason for circumcision among the Jewish people. The penis stays much cleaner because the foreskin does not have to be retracted each time the baby or an adult male bathes in order to clean underneath it. The secretion that accumulates under the foreskin is somewhat thick and can easily become infected. It can also be a site of sexually transmitted disease. All of this goes away after circumcision.
3. Reduced sexual desire. The smegma or secretion by the foreskin, mainly, may irritate the head of the penis and increase sexual desire. Once it is removed, sexual desire definitely lessens, to some degree. The penis also shrivels up a little, and this reduces sexual desire, as well. This is a benefit, gentlemen, not a problem.
Another possible reason for a lowering of sexual desire is reduced handling of the penis during cleaning, especially when bathing babies. In order to clean a baby’s uncircumcised penis, it must be handled rather roughly to retract the foreskin and clean underneath. This is a trauma to a baby, somewhat similar to a molestation that may condition the baby to more sexual activity. After circumcision, the penis can be handled much less for cleaning. This may also reduce sexual desire and definitely reduces certain trauma to the male baby.
4. Less sexually transmitted disease. The combination of greater cleanliness, easier washing, and lessened sexual desire helps reduce sexually transmitted diseases among circumcised Jewish people. This is a great benefit, especially today when sexually transmitted diseases are rampant, and largely ignored by doctors and public health authorities.
5. Wounding to the head of the penis in a young baby reduces the desire and tendency to rape. The crime of rape is extremely rare among circumcised Jewish men. Circumcision may be the reason, according to some who have researched the issue. For much more about rape, please read Rape and Healing Rape on this website
6. Circumcised men treat women much better in all ways. On average, Jewish men are known to treat all women, not just their wives, better than the average of men of other ethnic origins. If you do not believe this, check the statistics for the number of men who rape women, for example, and their religion. For an interesting perspective on this topic, please read Men As Poles And Shields on this site.
7. By decreasing interest in sex, circumcision may help boys and men to succeed in other areas of life. Circumcision helps keep a man’s attention and energy away from the lower energy centers of the body. These have more to do with sexual desire. Energy remains more in the upper centers that have to do with thinking and acting in the world.
For example, Jewish men outperform other ethnic and religious groups in many area such as business, the arts, science, engineering, and others. Circumcision may help account for the miracle that is the modern State Of Israel, which is an advanced nation among about 30 underdeveloped and backward nations in the Middle East. Some of this is due to other factors such as religion and immigration, but some may be due to circumcision.
8. Jewish men are less likely to become homosexuals. Some believe this is not important. I do not agree. However, even if unimportant, it is interesting. Homosexuality is very rare among orthodox Jewish men, while it is more common among Catholic men, for example. It is also more common among Jewish women, for example, who, of course, do not experience circumcision.
Sexual addictions can include addiction to pornography and pedophilia, and circumcision probably helps reduce these.
10. Jewish men commit fewer crimes, in general. This may be due to their religion or their upbringing, perhaps. However, circumcision may play a role here, as well. I have not seen research regarding the hormone levels or other changes in the body caused by circumcision, but it could help account for the differences in the crime rate of Jewish men.
11. Circumcision appears to slow the oxidation rate somewhat. This is generally a benefit for babies, whose oxidation rate is usually too fast. For more about this topic, read Fast, Slow And Mixed Oxidation on this site.
Circumcision does not appear to affect the sodium/potassium ratio or the calcium/magnesium ratio in the hair tissue, based on limited research with a number of babies.
12. Circumcised men are more difficult to arouse sexually. This is actually a benefit for them, and for society. It makes them more difficult to manipulate by some women, for example. It does not seem to cause circumcised men to want to go longer or harder during sex, however. It just makes them somewhat less sexually oriented.
13. Fewer affairs and stronger marriages and families. All of the reasons above may also help account for the fact that Jewish people, in general, experience less divorce and stronger family ties than most other ethnic or religious groups.
14. Circumcision helps all women. Men who are less sexually oriented has a calming effect upon all women.
15. Circumcision helps the development of the merkaba. The merkaba, mentioned a number of times in the Old Testament of the Bible, is a sign of advanced development of a human being. Seen from the front by sensitive individuals, it looks like a Jewish six-pointed star. For more about this important indicator, please read The Merkaba on this site.
DAMAGE DUE TO CIRCUMCISION
1. Some pain and trauma to the penis area.
2. Interference, to a degree, with the central acupuncture channel, also called the Conception Vessel. This damage is not major.
3. Trauma to the area of the penis, to some degree. However, I have never heard of a man who was troubled by his ‘circumcision trauma’ and needed psychotherapy to clear it out.
4. It may reduce physical strength a little. Also, as mentioned elsewhere in this article, it may reduce the oxidation rate somewhat.
Comparison with other traumas. In contrast with circumcision, many people are affected by their birth trauma, which takes place about the same time. However, the birth trauma lasts for hours, and is much more intense, in general.
Male circumcision has also been compared to the mutilation of the genital organs of girls and young women that is a common practice in parts of the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Female genital mutilation occurs usually at age 5-10, and not in babies. It is far more brutal, and the girls are often scarred for life or must attempt to relive and retrace the trauma to release it. For more on this topic, please read Female Genital Mutilation on this site.
CAN CIRCUMCISION BE DONE LATER?
It can, and it is among many of the Islamic faith, for example. However, it is much more involved when done after infancy. In these cases, some anesthesia is always used, and some stitches may be required. Doing the procedure in infancy appears to be much easier.
For all the reasons given above, I suggest that all male children be circumcised near the time of birth. The harm to the child appears to be minimal. Meanwhile, the benefits to women, in particular, and to all of society when the babies grow up appears to be enormous.