It’s time to stop mutilating baby boys’ genitals

Every year millions of baby boys around the world have the foreskin of their penis surgically removed in a procedure called circumcision. This is not a lifesaving or even necessary surgery. It’s purely cosmetic, and it’s done at the request of the parents. The baby has no input, no choice and doesn’t even know it’s happening. Every year hundreds of children die from infections following a circumcision or are permanently deformed from failed operations. There have even been cases where boys survived complications but lost their penis and were raised as girls causing them inevitable confusion and suffering growing up.

Why do so many boys have their genitals mutilated during infancy? The main reason this practice ever caught on and became so widespread is because Judaism and Christianity caught on and became widespread. Those two religions assert that the book of Genesis was dictated by the creator of the universe, and Genesis 17:9–14 says:

“9 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner — those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

So according to the book of Genesis, the creator of the universe demanded that all baby boys have their genitals mutilated, otherwise they would be cut off from the creator of the universe’s people for breaking His one-sided arrangement with humanity. It’s also worth drawing attention to the fact that verses 12 and 13 approve of slavery.

The book of Genesis doesn’t command that female children should have to suffer genital mutilation, but according to Deuteronomy 22:13–28, their burden in the covenant the creator of the universe made with humanity is that they have to submit to being sold into slavery by their fathers.

If it sounds odd to you that an all loving, all powerful, all knowing, infinitely intelligent being would request that baby boys have their genitals mutilated and girls be sold into slavery then consider this alternative explanation: The Bible isn’t the word of God. It’s one of thousands of primitive mythologies our ancestors invented to explain why we exist and what we’re supposed to do now that we’re here. Honestly, if you can’t see that Judaism and Christianity are mythologies then you must not have read the entire Bible and seen what it actually says. It wears its banal origins on its sleeve.

Even if you hold firm that the Bible is the word of God, you would still never even consider the idea of selling your daughter into slavery regardless of what it says in Deuteronomy 22:13–28. Social Darwinism killed that cultural practice long ago and for obvious reasons. Every modern suburbanite has moved on from believing in something as barbaric as selling our daughters into slavery… yet we’re still holding onto the practice of mutilating our sons’ penises because a long time ago a tribal leader in Israel said to.

When you put aside supernatural justifications for mutilating baby boys’ penises, there are very few practical justifications left and none that stand the test of logical scrutiny. Some people say that circumcised penises look better. That’s a matter of opinion, and one human being’s opinion does not supersede another human being’s right to their body. It would be unconscionable to dictate that women should have her labia cut off because someone else thought it would be nice; if that’s true then it’s equally unconscionable for a baby boy to have his foreskin cut off at another person’s whim.

It has also been argued that it’s healthier for boys to have their foreskin removed because it prevents the risk of grime getting trapped in the groin area and becoming infected. This argument is weak for two reasons. First, if your lifestyle is so unsanitary that you’re not washing your penis, you were going to get an infection or worse somewhere anyway.

Second, it’s unlikely that the foreskin of the penis was a design flaw that requires human intervention to correct. The more you know about how the human body is designed the more it will amaze you. It’s so well designed that many people cite its miraculous complexity and efficiency as evidence that God exists. Regardless of whether or not God exists, the chances of the foreskin being a design flaw is slim to none.

To this you might say, “God does exist. His name is Yahweh, and He divinely inspired the Bible. I may not understand why the creator of the universe would want us to mutilate our sons’ penises, but it’s not my place to question God. So that’s what I’m going to do.”

To that I would say, then why don’t you demand that your politicians pass a law reflecting what God commanded in Leviticus 19:20–22, which says that whenever a man sleeps with a female slave who is promised to another man, he must sacrifice a ram at the entrance to the local elders’ tent to make amends for his crime?

No sane, rational person would literally expect men who have sex with unwed slaves to have to sacrifice a ram at the entrance to their civic/religious leaders’ tent as penance. Atheists, agnostics and most Christians have already stopped expecting that because we know that God didn’t command that; it’s a barbaric concept that could only have been imagined by primitive tribesmen who believed in mythology. The same is true for male circumcision. It always has been and always will be. That’s why it’s long past time to stop mutilating baby boys’ genitals.

Men’s penises aren’t broken, and fixing what isn’t broken only breaks it.

Originally published at on February 20, 2014.

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