The Unkindest Cut

D Christian Harrison - November 12, 2007

It’s not exactly like being stabbed by your best friend — but male circumcision isn’t far off.

Practiced for millennia among the children of Abraham as a religious rite, male circumcision is, today, wide-spread in the US as a pseudo-medical procedure. But it’s coming under renewed scrutiny as a rising generation begin to wonder what they’ve been missing (I, II, III). And while the issue is certainly divisive among lay-people, it’s also a point of contention among medical professionals.

For a recent take on the debate, check-out this Desperate Housewives clip.

The controversy isn’t new, of course… the apostle Paul had a run-in on the matter.

So. Here’s the question: if you had a son today, would you circumcise him? Is there a religious component to your decision — or is it merely medical or cosmetic? I’d especially like to hear from our non-US readers, who (if they circumcise), are likely a minority in their countries.

104 Comments »

  1. I have a 4 year old son. He was circumcised. As I reflect on our decision to circumcise him, I don’t think there was really any reason why we had it done. My husband is circumcised and it was just what we thought you did.

    However, I am now pregnant with our 2nd son. After much research and pondering our reasons for circumcising our 1st son, we have decided to NOT circumcise our 2nd son. We realize that it is an unnecessary “tradition” and poses many risks to the baby. The manner that circumcision is done is also pretty inhumane. We have chosen a pretty hands off approach to the birth of our 2nd son to provide him with the most gentle birth possible. I’d hate to ruin his beautiful transition into this world with the scary experience of being strapped down and having his foreskin cut off without anesthesia!

    Comment by MinUtah — November 12, 2007 @ 1:17 pm

  2. People don’t circumcise where I come from, so I’ve always thought that was unnecessary and barbaric. My husband, being an American, want to circumcise our kids. I let it go of the matter for the time being because we don’t have any kids yet. Although I don’t like the idea, I think i will end up yielding to his wishes.

    Comment by rmarshan — November 12, 2007 @ 1:20 pm

  3. I would not circumcise the child. Here’s an interesting story on this subject involving a custody dispute.

    Comment by Bill — November 12, 2007 @ 1:31 pm

  4. Our first son is not, we didn’t see any reason to and wanted to avoid unnecessary pain. Oddly enough, a few months after his birth we learned that several of his male cousins had to have later-stage circumcision because of medical reasons (possibly genetic). So if we had to do it all over, we’d probably circumcise him. So far he hasn’t had any problems, though…

    Our second we had circumcised, for the above reason and because with spina bifida, he is likely to have bladder problems his whole life, and possibly have to use a catheter.

    Comment by Keryn — November 12, 2007 @ 1:35 pm

  5. My boys (age 17 and 13) aren’t circumsized. I just couldn’t stand the thought of it, and there didn’t seem to be any reason to have it done other than tradition. I asked them recently if it bothers them that they’re not, and if they wish we had had it done, and they said sort of. Which is teenspeak for YES, I’m guessing.

    Comment by Susan M — November 12, 2007 @ 1:51 pm

  6. My niece has decided not to circumcise her first son. I have four boys (teens and 20′s and yes they are) and when I asked them what they thought about it, they were unanimous in thinking my niece is making a mistake. Another family member (female, 21) said everyone in her high school knew which (non-Hispanic) boy was not circumcised and it was almost his defining characteristic for 12 years in that unkind way that school unfortunately has.
    I think this is mostly a reflection on our small town culture, and not a religious question at all. Perhaps by the time my niece’s son is old enough for it to matter to his peers, things will be different.

    Comment by C Jones — November 12, 2007 @ 2:10 pm

  7. After all of the false starts in AIDS research, they have finally found something that is making a dent…circumcision.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8473838

    “Doesn’t affect me,” you say. Well frankly, it won’t do for westerners to tell Africans that they should be circumcized and then turn around and label it genital mutilation when it comes to their own children.

    This is important, people. Let’s be leaders on this.

    Comment by Last Lemming — November 12, 2007 @ 2:37 pm

  8. Best question on the subject shows up about 150 pages into Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon:

    “Anteater or mushroom?”

    Comment by Mark B. — November 12, 2007 @ 2:43 pm

  9. We had our boy nipped, I will admit that I hardly thought about it and we did it mostly because of tradition.

    I have several friends that passionately denounce the nip for a variety of reasons. One underlying (and unmentioned reason) I have noticed is that they have poor insurance didn’t want to pay for it out of pocket. I think they find other reasons to denounce the nip to hide the fact they don’t want to pay for it. I’m not saying that economics is the only reason for foregoing the nip, I’m just sayin’ (and I really don’t care either way).

    Comment by tiredmormon — November 12, 2007 @ 2:45 pm

  10. Last Lemming,

    Good point. I’ve read elsewhere the same possibility regarding cervical problems for women being lower when their partner is circumcised.

    Comment by Bret — November 12, 2007 @ 3:13 pm

  11. We had it done on our son but the doc didn’t do a very good job (this in a jewish hospital no less!) so it is kind of in-between. Keeping it clean has been a chore.

    Comment by a random John — November 12, 2007 @ 3:23 pm

  12. Every male member of my family has been circumcised, including my husband and two sons. Would I do it again? Yes.

    I don’t know what crap hospitals and doctors are doing in this country that would do it without anesthesia. My pediatrician had anesthesia for our sons, and my husband was present for both circumcisions. Our boys barely felt anything and healed quickly and without problems.

    This whole debate makes me think about other things that divide people. Breast versus bottle. SAHM veruse working mothers. Coke or Pepsi. Okay, I’m not that cruel that I would honestly compare circumcision to soda choice. But at the same time, no matter how much this is debated, it’s nearly impossible to change people’s minds.

    With that said, though, I don’t ever hear of people saying, “Oh, man. I was circumcised, and now my life sucks.” But I do hear of many men having to get circumcised later in life, when the pain IS a memory. Come on, honestly? What is more cruel? Circumcising an infant who won’t remember the pain (does anyone remember anything from being an infant?) or might not have pain (if you have a good doctor) OR having to circumsise an older boy or adult? Seriously, to me it’s a no-brainer. Okay, note what I wrote: a no-brainer for me. I’m not implying everyone is stupid, because everyone is entitled to their opinions, and we shouldn’t judge, and blah, blah…etc…

    Comment by Cheryl — November 12, 2007 @ 3:53 pm

  13. I have a friend who was circumcised as an adult. I actually figured if my kids want it done, they can choose it for themselves, when they’re old enough to.

    I didn’t see any reason to cause my babies pain. Period.

    Comment by Susan M — November 12, 2007 @ 4:25 pm

  14. Susan, I’m curious. Did the friend like having the choice? Or did he wish it had already been done as an infant? (Which, as you commented earlier, your boys seem to be implying…?)

    Comment by Cheryl — November 12, 2007 @ 4:33 pm

  15. I had it done as an adult. It saved my behind during the war (Iraq, people went as long as 3 weeks without a shower). Do your kids a favor and get it done.

    Plus reduces chances of Aids and uterine cancer.

    Comment by CU — November 12, 2007 @ 4:44 pm

  16. We decided not to circumcise our first son (5 yrs) because a graduate student I knew at the time who was doing research on the topic introduced me to the possibility of not doing it. I was somewhat ambivalent, but was a bit more persuaded by the anti-circ arguments. I think my wife would have rather made the cut, but deferred to me at the time.

    Since my son’s birth, my wife has received a number of strongly worded disapprovals from her church friends and even some relatives on her side of the family (generally people who have babysat him or changed his diaper). This issue is coming to the forefront again as we are expecting our second son.

    I remain unpersuaded by some of the pro-circ arguments, but am still somewhat ambivalent:

    Medical necessity: The argument here is that not circumcising increases the chances of infection and cancer. This is obvious because cutting away tissue will always decrease the risk of that tissue becoming infected, etc. Also, the statistics cited show an extremely miniscule decrease in risk when circumcising. Other countries with advanced medical knowledge (Germany, the UK, Japan) do not routinely recommend circumcision. Also, why does this argument stop with circumcision – should we routinely cut out the appendix(ces?) of infants because leaving them in leads to an “increased chance” of later infection?

    Fitting in with others: I could be wrong, but I think that boys spend less time naked together in institutional settings (i.e. the locker room) than they did 2 generations ago. I played sports all the way through high school and found that nobody took advantage of the group showers in the early 90s (and was spared from this experience all the way until the MTC). Also, the obsession with penile conformity bothers me. Why does this one stop there, too – if I had a red-headed kid, should I die his hair black to fit in better? Should we also chop-off overly formed parts of noses or ears at birth?

    Also, in my neck of the woods the reported circumcision rate is actually less than 50%, but this is largely due to the Latino and other ethnic populations.

    Comment by lief — November 12, 2007 @ 4:54 pm

  17. I don’t have strong feelings about circumcision as a philosophical issue. Both our boys are circ’d, and I’m perfectly at peace with my decision. Should they decide later that we cheated them out of some essential aspect of manhood, I’m willing to accept their ire. As far as I was concerned, the pros outweighed the cons. And given that both of my boys were in diapers far longer than the average child, I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with foreskin care on a four-year-old.

    I was able to witness my second son’s circumcision. Right before the doctor was about to do the procedure, the nurse asked me if I was sure I wanted to be there for it, and suddenly I wasn’t so sure. She said that most parents don’t stay to watch, and at that point I knew that I had to stay. I’m glad I did because then it was no longer this horrible mystery, like I’d sent my baby off to be tortured for the sake of an aesthetically pleasing penis. The worst part was when they restrained him, in order to administer the anesthesia. Once the anesthesia kicked in, he was calm as the proverbial summer morning.

    I respect the decision not to circumcise, but just because I don’t think it’s anything to make a big deal about one way or the other. Both sides have their horror stories, but most men do just fine in life regardless of whether or not they’re circumcised. I’m okay with making that decision for my sons. If it turns out to be the worst decision I ever made for them, I’ll consider myself lucky.

    Comment by madhousewife — November 12, 2007 @ 5:28 pm

  18. So what about the religious angle? Have any of you run into that side of the debate? Or do you think it’s pretty much settled?

    Comment by Silus Grok — November 12, 2007 @ 5:42 pm

  19. I live on the east coast of Canada. Here, circumcision is almost unheard of. We have some university students from Utah in our ward who just had a boy, and couldn’t believe what they had to go through to request a circumcision. They actually had to travel over 3 hours out of province to get it done by some jewish doctor. Those who get it done are a minority here forsure. I don’t think I would bother getting it done for our boy. I guess some hold to the fact that it’s dirty, but in reality it’s not like it’s hard to clean. I think it’s unnecessary these days where we bathe just about everyday. It seems that it’s still done by some because of tradition.

    Comment by Gunner — November 12, 2007 @ 5:44 pm

  20. People (especially women) spend millions on cosmetic surgery every year to make various parts of their body more aesthetically appealing. With that in mind, here’s a fact: uncircumcised penises look disgusting.

    Get a good doctor, use anesthetic, stay with your baby during the procedure, but please get it done. He’ll thank you later, and so will his wife/girlfriend/partner.

    Comment by MCQ — November 12, 2007 @ 6:55 pm

  21. Curious / stupid question – since it was given to Abraham as a token of God’s covenant with Abraham and his children then isn’t there still some religious conotation there – not maybe as a requirement but maybe as a inner or personal commitment?

    Comment by Don — November 12, 2007 @ 6:58 pm

  22. All four of our sons were circumcized. Hygiene!

    Comment by lamonte — November 12, 2007 @ 7:24 pm

  23. please get it done. He’ll thank you later, and so will his wife/girlfriend/partner.

    You sure about that? Really?

    From what I know, it’s about half-half these days. Do boys really sit around comparing their stuff in the locker room? I’ve known men who claimed far greater sensitivity because they were intact. As a woman it doesn’t seem to make any differece to us. The p#nis is not the prettiest part, no matter how you dress it. ;)

    My boys are intact- and if they want to be cut later, that’s up to them.

    Religious tradition played no part in our choice.

    Comment by tracy m — November 12, 2007 @ 7:24 pm

  24. Circumcision reduces the chances of AIDS, Herpes, HPV, and in the elderly or mentally ill, it helps reduce the risk all kinds of urological problems (e.g. glans penis strangulation by improperly placed foreskin, Squamous cell carcinoma, etc).

    Risk of urinary tract infection is much greater in the uncircumcised baby boy and elderly man with increased risk of kidney failure due to upper urinary tract infection.

    There is no question that circumcision is medically helpful and perferred epidemiologically in all areas of the world (e.g. I saw one study which showed evidence that routine circumcision to be more effective in preventing AIDS in sub-saharan Africa than routine AIDS testing and identification of at-risk people–which actually increased AIDS infection).

    Perhaps it isn’t quite as necessary for an LDS male who only has one sexual partner in his entire life, and who cleans himself meticulously, but it is simply better to just remove the risks, generally.

    Comment by Joseph D. Walch — November 12, 2007 @ 7:26 pm

  25. 16:

    *The argument here is that not circumcising increases the chances of infection and cancer. This is obvious because cutting away tissue will always decrease the risk of that tissue becoming infected, etc.*

    Believe me, if you saw the kind of people who come into the ER who are homeless, or mentally ill, etc. you would wish that they had been circumcised.

    Parents shouldn’t be performing homoerotic plastic surgery on their children, and Medicare/Medicaid is not there so that little boys can feel good about their penises or because of the pervasive Jewish influence in medicine.

    The question is purely medical–will circumcision help my child live a more healthy life? The medical literature has shown unmistakenly that for the general public, circumcision has indeed increased the health and wellfare of the public.

    Comment by Joseph D. Walch — November 12, 2007 @ 7:37 pm

  26. Re: #20 -

    Then again, he and his wife/girlfriend/partner may NOT thank you later. The foreskin is an amazingly designed body part whose many functions during intercourse combine to intensify pleasure for both the man and his partner, as detailed in the book “Sex As Nature Intended It” by Kristen O’Hara. The foreskin’s sexual functions are also described here.

    In the absence of severe, compelling medical indication, the man who owns the foreskin is the only one who has the right to decide whether or not to eliminate those functions from his body.

    From the religious angle, I call that agency.

    Comment by Kat — November 12, 2007 @ 7:41 pm

  27. By the way, it only takes one inexperienced nurse who forgets to replace the foreskin after bladder catheterization in surgery for a man to loose the foreskin and everything distal to it. It has happened in the hospital where I am being trained.

    Comment by Joseph D. Walch — November 12, 2007 @ 7:42 pm

  28. Yeah, well don’t get me started on doctors.

    Cheryl, I don’t remember the situation with my friend, it was years and years ago.

    Comment by Susan M — November 12, 2007 @ 7:54 pm

  29. I let my husband make the call. He is African and was not circumcised but felt very strongly that our son ought to be, largely, I think, due to his perception of reduced risk for future diseases.

    Comment by a spectator — November 12, 2007 @ 8:24 pm

  30. I’m very against it. Let them mutilate themselves when they grow up, if they want. I’m not going to make that choice for them. I see this as being ritual genital mutilation. The only reason we don’t get upset about it is that it seems normal to us because it’s part of our culture. If we started cutting off every part of ourselves that was only marginally useful, and might get hurt or infected someday, where would we stop? I can think of lots of pieces like that. It seems that treating our bodies as tabernacles requires not hacking away at them for reasons that have honestly nothing to do with health and everything to do with tradition.

    And who says circumcised penises look better? That’s wack.

    Comment by Tatiana — November 12, 2007 @ 8:29 pm

  31. Susan M.:

    Yeah, well don’t get me started on doctors.

    Forgive me for my bluntness, but thousands more kids have been killed by their own parent’s willful ignorance than by a doctor’s incompetence. Refusal to vaccinate has led to the death of kids, as well as refusal to circumcise, although to a lesser extent.

    Sorry, but those are the facts.

    Comment by Joseph D. Walch — November 12, 2007 @ 8:44 pm

  32. Mr. Walch, please note that the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend routine circumcision. What confuses me about the medical argument for circumcision is that the same arguments seem to apply if we remove other random body parts that could harbor germs. For instance, wouldn’t removing the child’s fingernails also be more hygenic and show a decrease in different kinds of disease and infections? Or always having a shaved head? My concern is that circumcision is much more of a cultural phenomena that can only be marginally justified with medical data, than it is a purely medical issue. That the AMA and the AAP have recently decided that the medical benefits of circumcision do not justify the harm done are facts we should consider, too.

    Comment by lief — November 12, 2007 @ 9:02 pm

  33. if you had a son today, would you circumcise him? Is there a religious component to your decision — or is it merely medical or cosmetic? I’d especially like to hear from our non-US readers, who (if they circumcise), are likely a minority in their countries.

    I would not circumcise my son(s). I think God’s original design works just fine. :)

    Comment by Dan — November 12, 2007 @ 9:21 pm

  34. “Circumcision reduces the chances of AIDS, Herpes, HPV,

    There has been a new medical breakthrough in regard to all STD’s that renders circumcision obsolete.

    By chance it was discovered that among people who don’t engage in extramarital sexual activity, the incidents of STD’s was closer to zero than in any group, except for dead people. This news has rocked the medical world and could lead to all new lack of treatments for a wide variety of sexually transmitted maladies.

    When examining the study groups, doctors were especially surprised to discover that among couples abstained from sexual activity before marriage and remained monogamous during the marriage the HIV infection rate was nil. Dr. Knit Whitt of the Greater Cities Medical College, who oversaw the study was quoted as saying “It appears that all Sexually Transmitted could be wiped out in a generation with no other treatment than behavior modification. We were caught completely by surprise. Imagine, AIDS in Africa, gone in 35 years!”

    The news was not universally well received, however. Immediately upon release of the reports, an unruly mob comprised of MTV veejays, teen magazine publishers and divorce lawyers; and headed by non other than Nancy Pelosi and Orrin Hatch descended upon the Medical College and burned it to the ground. The only quote this reporter was able to pull from the shouts expressed that “This will keep our middle schools safe for condom distribution!”

    It should be noted that Jessie Jackson was not present at or after the event.

    NV

    Comment by Noah Vail — November 12, 2007 @ 11:00 pm

  35. I don’t know about penises, but I’m pretty sure that the church is all for truth being circumscribed.

    Comment by Rusty — November 12, 2007 @ 11:41 pm

  36. Rusty it’s only circumscribed in one, not in everyone.

    Comment by Don — November 13, 2007 @ 12:12 am

  37. And who says circumcised penises look better? That’s wack.

    Put it to a vote, Tatiana.

    Comment by MCQ — November 13, 2007 @ 12:24 am

  38. In a nutshell: two sons, both circ’d, medical necessity.

    Comment by Téa — November 13, 2007 @ 12:27 am

  39. Since the boys were born in the UK, in an NHS hospital, it wasn’t a choice or an issue.

    With that in mind, here’s a fact: uncircumcised penises look disgusting.
    ——-
    Put it to a vote, Tatiana.

    Oh MCQ. Words fail me.

    Comment by Norbert — November 13, 2007 @ 2:09 am

  40. Being uncircumcised and growing up in the 60′s/70′s, growing up I was subjected to a lot of ridicule by my peers. So, I chose to have my son’s circumcised because I didn’t want them to go through what I went through.

    However, it is becoming more common to leave male babies uncircumcised. If I were raising a family today I would not circumcise my sons.

    Comment by JC — November 13, 2007 @ 6:07 am

  41. #20:
    With that in mind, here’s a fact: uncircumcised penises look disgusting.

    I don’t know whether this writer is male or female, and perhaps it doesn’t matter, but how very, very sad. I can’t help but wonder if a person who finds a natural part of the human body “disgusting” has some unresolved issues to work through.

    #25:
    Parents shouldn’t be performing homoerotic plastic surgery on their children….

    What? Okay, it’s not often I’m truly shocked in the bloggernacle, but this one is really something. Circumcision is now “homoerotic?” I can’t conceive how circumcision could be “homoerotic.” If anything, the lack of circumcision might be considered “homoerotic,” since many gay men happen to prefer uncircumcized partners. (Now, please don’t rush out in a panic to have your sons circumcized, out of homophobia, okay?)

    #31
    Refusal to vaccinate has led to the death of kids, as well as refusal to circumcise, although to a lesser extent.

    I would really like to see those statistics for child death due to lack of circumcision. Maybe we could start by researching death certificates. Yeah, that’s it. I’ll bet doctors write “lack of circumcision” on the “cause of death” line every day!

    #34:
    When examining the study groups, doctors were especially surprised to discover that among couples abstained from sexual activity before marriage and remained monogamous during the marriage the HIV infection rate was nil.

    I realize you’re being satirical, but this statement betrays a significant lack of education regarding HIV infection. While sexual transmission may be the most common means of HIV transmission, it is not the only means. Sexual fidelity would not, in fact, create a “nil” rate of HIV infection.

    Comment by Nick Literski — November 13, 2007 @ 8:16 am

  42. here’s a fact: uncircumcised penises look disgusting.

    Speak for yourself, mate.

    Comment by Peter LLC — November 13, 2007 @ 8:33 am

  43. Nick,

    MCQ has boy parts. Though you are right–it ought not to matter.

    Comment by Peter LLC — November 13, 2007 @ 8:34 am

  44. Our first three sons were circumcised, mostly out of tradition, I suppose, part of that being that we didn’t want them to be different than their friends. When our fourth was born, we decided not to. Our pediatrician at the time was reluctant to do it, and statistics at the time showed that there were so many boys not having circumcisions these days that the matter of being like peers was no longer an issue.

    Comment by Eric — November 13, 2007 @ 9:09 am

  45. MCQ has boy parts.

    Thanks for the intro, Peter. I promise not to tell anyone how you know.

    Nick: No unresolved issues, just a well-developed aesthetic sense. Objectively, some things just look better than others. I guess the truth hurts sometimes.

    Comment by MCQ — November 13, 2007 @ 9:35 am

  46. Refusal to vaccinate has led to the death of kids, as well as refusal to circumcise, although to a lesser extent.

    Seriously? Are you kidding? You want me to believe not having my sons circ’d is as dangerous as not vaccinating? Wow.

    Comment by tracy m — November 13, 2007 @ 9:47 am

  47. MCQ- nothing could be more subjective (or less important) than how a p#nis looks. If my nose is prettier than yours, should you cut yours off?

    Comment by tracy m — November 13, 2007 @ 9:48 am

  48. ( Just a friendly reminder to, um, remain friendly… )

    Comment by Silus Grok — November 13, 2007 @ 9:53 am

  49. I wondered how long it would take everyone else on the Bloggernacle to get over here and put their two cents in…not that there’s anything wrong with it, I just find it amusing. Especially since this issue has been debated to death on other blogs already. Kind of funny, strange, and disturbing all at the same time…

    Susan-
    No worries. I was just curious for curiosity’s sake.

    Comment by Cheryl — November 13, 2007 @ 9:54 am

  50. tracy m,

    Seriously? Are you kidding? You want me to believe not having my sons circ’d is as dangerous as not vaccinating? Wow.

    I think that is exactly what he was not saying.

    Also, re#23, yes, junior high boys are pretty much the meanest little shits you’ll ever meet and I can assure you that as recent as 15 years ago you didn’t want to be the kid with the funny looking penis in gym class.

    Comment by a random John — November 13, 2007 @ 10:12 am

  51. No unresolved issues, just a well-developed aesthetic sense. Objectively, some things just look better than others. I guess the truth hurts sometimes.

    Your “aesthetic sense,” however developed it may be, is purely subjective. There’s nothing objective about one thing “looking better” than another. Furthermore, you didn’t just say that you prefer circumcized penises (OH, the comments I could make). You said that uncircumcized penises looked “disgusting.”

    Here’s the best part—-if everything Mormonism teaches about the resurrection is true, you’re going to have one of those “disgusting looking” appendages! :-)

    Comment by Nick Literski — November 13, 2007 @ 10:54 am

  52. re:31
    >Sorry, but those are the facts.
    >Comment by Joseph D. Walch

    No, those are not the facts. See the American Academy of Pediatrics website for starters. From their 1999 policy statement:

    Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision.

    In 1989, because of new research on circumcision status and urinary tract infection (UTI) and sexually transmitted disease (STD)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, the Academy concluded that newborn male circumcision has potential medical benefits and advantages as well as disadvantages and risks. This statement also recommended that when circumcision is considered, the benefits and risks should be explained to the parents and informed consent obtained. Subsequently, a number of medical societies in the developed world have published statements that do not recommend routine circumcision of male newborns. In its position statement, the Australian College of Paediatrics emphasized that in all cases, the medical attendant should avoid exaggeration of either risks or benefits of this procedure.

    Comment by dan — November 13, 2007 @ 11:20 am

  53. My son who is now 16 was not circumcised. We live in the heart of Mormon Utah and it has not been an issue for him. He is fine with it, and knows that he has an option of being circumcised if he wants. When one of my daughters was born I happened to pass by as a circumcision was being routinely done in the newborn area of the hospital. The baby was obviously traumatized, the doctor was indifferent (and apparently didn’t use adequate anesthetic). No way was I going to welcome my son into the world by subjecting him to unnecessary pain for no medical reason.

    As for all the comments about what looks “right” or good, it’s completely subjective. I do know a couple who chose to circumcise because the wife thought her future daughter-in-law would be squeamish about giving oral pleasure to the boy in question if he were uncircumcised. That’s about as weird a reason as I’ve heard, but judging by many posts in this thread, most opinions are very subjective and based on similarly quirky assumptions.

    Comment by dan — November 13, 2007 @ 11:32 am

  54. Dan: thanks for your rational response.

    Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision.

    I totally agree. My post may have seemed strongly pro-circumcision because I was dealing with trivial or irrational reasons to

    1) circumcise (e.g. he won’t be afraid to show it off in gym class), or
    2) not circumcise (God put it there, we shouldn’t remove it, i.e. the ‘natural’ anti-medical philosophy, or he’ll be a better sex-macine with that little piece of skin).

    My fear is that some people with these trivial or irrational ideas will then say “I won’t circumcise my Down’s Syndrome boy because he’ll be one foreskin more of a man and that’s the way God intends it to be” thus significantly increasing the risk of kidney failure or squamous cell carcinoma (the #1 cancer of the penis which is highly correlated to uncircumcision even in non-Papilloma tumors).

    We’ll I just hope people will look rationally at the facts and not dismiss the benefits because of some ideology. I normally don’t post, but my post have been more of a defense of reason than of circumcision.

    Comment by Joseph D. Walch — November 13, 2007 @ 12:06 pm

  55. #53

    The baby was obviously traumatized, the doctor was indifferent (and apparently didn’t use adequate anesthetic). No way was I going to welcome my son into the world by subjecting him to unnecessary pain for no medical reason.

    Yes, that’s a typical emotional over-reaction–and it is understandable. I thought you said, however, that “[e]xisting scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision.”

    If your child was born vaginally, then that process was much more stressful for the child than any circumcision. Perhaps you should consider getting a C-Section.

    Of course you would have to worry about your child dying of pulmonary edema because the stress of birth actually activates certain vital physiologic processes–that’s what we call a ‘risk-benefit’ analysis.

    It is just part of a larger problem that I see of parents not judging by potential risks and benefits of Natural vs. medically assisted birth, C-section vs. Vaginal, Vaccination or not. I just hope people look at the facts and not blindly adhere to some ideology; be it trendy or traditional.

    Comment by Joseph D. Walch — November 13, 2007 @ 12:21 pm

  56. Nick: Comment away!

    As to whether it’s subjective or not, well, it’s far from settled that there is no objective standard of beauty, but that’s a whole different debate. I’ll just counter with Keats:

    “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

    Also:

    Here’s the best part—-if everything Mormonism teaches about the resurrection is true, you’re going to have one of those “disgusting looking” appendages!

    Obviously, that applies only to the uncircumcised of heart. So, speak for yourself.

    Comment by MCQ — November 13, 2007 @ 12:50 pm

  57. I wouldn’t have my son circimcised. I’ll never forgive myself for allowing them to circumcise my two boys. I could hear them crying and it sounded like it hurt.

    My first husband wasn’t circumcised and my second and third were and they aren’t any cleaner than he was. Although I constantly have to tell #2 to pick up his dirty socks. It’s not fair that #3 has to do all the work around here.

    Comment by annegb — November 13, 2007 @ 12:56 pm

  58. Tracy:

    MCQ- nothing could be more subjective (or less important) than how a p#nis looks.

    To you, maybe, but some people place more importance on aesthetics than you apparently do. Again, it’s possible that beauty is a completely subjective quality, but it’s not a foregone conclusion. Would the Chrysler building look better in a turtleneck? Most people would say no.

    If my nose is prettier than yours, should you cut yours off?

    Since rhinoplasty is one of the most common medical procedures in the world (perhaps even more common than circumcision), I think the majority would probably answer a resounding “yes” to that question. Since I already have a beautiful nose (my mother’s actually), the question is inapplicable to me.

    Comment by MCQ — November 13, 2007 @ 1:05 pm

  59. Anne:

    The correlation between circumcision and sock neatness has never been definitively established in the medical literature. Sorry.

    Comment by MCQ — November 13, 2007 @ 1:07 pm

  60. I noted:
    Here’s the best part—-if everything Mormonism teaches about the resurrection is true, you’re going to have one of those “disgusting looking” appendages!

    To which MCQ replied:
    Obviously, that applies only to the uncircumcised of heart. So, speak for yourself.

    Huh?? I’m sorry, but your reply makes no sense to me. Mormonism teaches that the physical body will be resurrected in its perfect state, without so much as a hair of the head missing. Ergo, according to Mormonism, circumcized men are going to find themselves with a foreskin in the resurrection. I’m not sure how that very basic idea “applies only to the uncircumscribed of heart,” let alone on what basis you judge my particular heart.

    Comment by Nick Literski — November 13, 2007 @ 1:18 pm

  61. Nick, but what if a perfect state is circumcized? With embarrassing body hair in inappropriate places removed as well.

    Admittedly I’m somewhat tongue in cheek. But if we take seriously the line of argument you make then any kind of disformity has to be had in the resurrection. So if I was born a hunchback I’ll be resurrected a hunchback. Which seems odd.

    I think the point isn’t that everything will be identical but rather we’ll be a perfected version of a human being. With perfection being left intentionally vague since we can’t tell what changes that entails. (Although some have been speculated about, such as blood)

    Comment by Clark — November 13, 2007 @ 1:24 pm

  62. Clark, I understand your point, but I would counter that a foreskin is not a “deformity.” As I noted, Mormonism teaches that “the physical body will be resurrected in its perfect state, without so much as a hair of the head missing.” MCQ can choose to argue that foreskin was some sort of error on the part of deity, which just happens to “deform” the entire male portion of the human race, but I don’t think too many would take that argument seriously.

    Comment by Nick Literski — November 13, 2007 @ 1:27 pm

  63. Nick,
    I think MCQ was making a joke. But I still think it’s fair to assume that your heart has a large piece of it missing, having been cut off when you were a cub. Oh, and I think we should also start assuming that if you’re circumcised you’ll end up gay.

    Folks,
    Is the reason that it traumatizes the baby a serious reason for not doing it? Seriously? I mean, if you’re already anti-circ then I can see that being used as a pile-on reason not to do it, but that can’t be a primary reason, can it?

    Comment by Rusty — November 13, 2007 @ 1:41 pm

  64. Rusty, you are so right!

    My son had the trauma of birth (the worst by far), an IV, a spinal tap, reflux, being forced to wear those stupid hats they put on babies in the hospital, and circumcision, all in the first week of his life. Of those, he cried the least during the circumcision. He still hasn’t recovered from the hat.

    Comment by MCQ — November 13, 2007 @ 1:59 pm

  65. Rusty, no, absolutely the pain was not the primary reason- but it was a pile-on. For us, and our sons- we read everything we could find, and decided there was no good reason TO do it. Cetainly others read the same stuff and come away with another p.o.v.

    My husband didn’t care at all that he would look different from his sons, they’re only 6 and 4, so there haven’t been any social things come up yet- and honestly, half the boys I know are NOT circ’d (including all boy cousins), so I can’t see it being a big deal later, either.

    It’s so personal- and maybe there isn’t a right or wrong answer.

    Anyone have an opinion on Moroni 8:8?

    Comment by tracy m — November 13, 2007 @ 2:13 pm

  66. Nick:

    I’m not sure how that very basic idea “applies only to the uncircumscribed of heart,” let alone on what basis you judge my particular heart

    .

    Come on Nick, do I really have to spell it out for ya?

    MCQ can choose to argue that foreskin was some sort of error on the part of deity, which just happens to “deform” the entire male portion of the human race, but I don’t think too many would take that argument seriously.

    Not an error, just an unnecessary ugliness that we remove as part of the process of sanctification (you know, like pettiness and envy).

    And remember, Jesus was circumcised, so are you going to follow his example or not?

    Comment by MCQ — November 13, 2007 @ 2:27 pm

  67. 24:There is no question that circumcision is medically helpful and perferred epidemiologically in all areas of the world

    What about those backward Europeans–I mean, not only do they not shower, they don’t circumcise! And yet, how many centuries (and counting) since the Plague?

    Anyway, there clearly are quesetions that circumcision is medically helpful, it is certainly not preferred as a tool to combat epidemics and infectious disease in all areas of the world. Your insistence to the contrary doesn’t make it so.

    25:Believe me, if you saw the kind of people who come into the ER who are homeless, or mentally ill, etc. you would wish that they had been circumcised.

    Yeah, but circumcision would only “cure” half of the ER population–the homeless women would continue to stink as it is well known that there isn’t much you can do about the dark, moist region surrounding the vagina without feminists causing problems.

    I can see journal articles now: “20 years after Dr. Walch started advocating circumcision as the rational response to a broad array of ailments, the incidence of crotch rot among the homeless seeking treatment in the ER has reached an all-time high. In this paper, we demonstrate that all but forgotten principles of basic personal hygiene produce better smelling bums in our sample than the removal of a flap of skin at birth.”

    54:my post have been more of a defense of reason than of circumcision.

    That can’t be true, given what you have posted.

    Comment by Peter LLC — November 13, 2007 @ 2:28 pm

  68. Tracy: Moroni 8:8 just means we aren’t required to circumcise anymore. But of course we can still choose to live the higher law.

    Comment by MCQ — November 13, 2007 @ 2:34 pm

  69. …the Law is done away with…

    (emphasis mine)

    Hmmm. So, when a law is done away with, we can still follow it, and claim superiority for following a higher law?

    Cool! I’m gettin’ out the lamb and we’re having a burnt offering for FHE next week. We’ll be the coolest Mo’s on the block!

    Comment by tracy m — November 13, 2007 @ 2:41 pm

  70. #63:
    I think MCQ was making a joke.

    Thanks for pointing that out, Rusty. It’s all the more obvious, of course, after MCQ posted #66 and #68.

    My apologies to MCQ for confronting him, when he clearly was not being serious.

    Comment by Nick Literski — November 13, 2007 @ 2:46 pm

  71. Tracy:

    We’ll be the coolest Mo’s on the block!

    Isn’t that like being the best dancer in the coma ward?

    Nick: Just happy to hang out with ya.

    Comment by MCQ — November 13, 2007 @ 3:10 pm

  72. Peter ‘LLC’

    What about those backward Europeans–I mean, not only do they not shower, they don’t circumcise! And yet, how many centuries (and counting) since the Plague?

    Let’s see. . .shower helped eradicate the plague so circumcision isn’t necessary for the prevention of AIDS, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, phimosis, urinary tract infections, etc.

    Is this rational to anybody else? That, sir, is what is called a “non-sequiter” which means “does not follow.”

    “20 years after Dr. Walch started advocating circumcision as the rational response to a broad array of ailments, the incidence of crotch rot among the homeless seeking treatment in the ER has reached an all-time high. In this paper, we demonstrate that all but forgotten principles of basic personal hygiene produce better smelling bums in our sample than the removal of a flap of skin at birth.”

    Cute. . . just how does circumcision lead to ‘crotch rot?’ Will uncircumcision lead to decreased levels of atherosclerosis too? I think you may be onto something here. . .the great Jewish conspiracy to have us get ‘crotch rot’ and die of heart attacts, and all we really needed to do was shower–but those darn Europeans don’t shower; oh the cunning of it all!!!! Those Gentile Europeans must be behind it!!!

    We should not shower, and not circumcise, because there is no longer any black plague–that was started by circumcised gentile europeans, you know, trying to get us to shower–or was that the uncircumcised Jews?

    Bottom line: cows make milk so i’m going to live in an adobe hut. . .just in case.

    Comment by Joseph D Walch — November 13, 2007 @ 5:59 pm

  73. Object circumcision.

    I understand circumcision for certain cultures. Usually, cultures where the fathers fail to teach their sons how to take proper care of their bodies; cultures where it is still a taboo to talk about genitalia; cultures where parents are lazy and decide not to worry about this type of communication. Also, there are cultures where regular bathing is not practiced, where they don’t have abundant water resources, etc.

    Fortunately, there are other cultures where well educated families bathe everyday and that have no taboos or immature shyness when it comes to fathers speaking frankly and openly to their sons about this type of matter. I believe this level of civilization makes circumcision outdated, irrelevant, unnecessary and to an extent barbaric.

    My opinion is based on the following aspects:

    Commons sense: circumcision will permanently change how a man looks and feels and it should only be the decision of that man (not his parents, nor a religious leader) whether he wants this permanent change to his body or not.

    Medical: Nerve ends that provide for touch stimuli for the glans penis are desensitized by circumcision due to the exposure of a tissue that was meant to be a mucous membrane, not outer skin. This is a proven fact. If you remove protective coverage of other organs with mucous membranes, the same thing would happen (such as removing the eyelids, the eyeballs would keratinize and become dry; or removing the lips, the gums will keratinize and dry).
    There is evidence that circumcision lowers the incident of AIDS in circumcised males; therefore, if you or your children will practice lifestyles or live in conditions where it is necessary to reduce the probability of getting AIDS (promiscuity, unprotected sex, etc), then I believe it is justified. Like I mentioned, living uncircumcised does require certain level of civilization.

    I object the many comments on publications that state uncircumcised men are more prone to infections. I think it is a cultural rumor based on ignorance. I grew up in an uncircumcised society with uncircumcised friends and never heard that a foreskin caused an infection. It would be like saying that women who don’t have their labia minora and clitoral hood removed are more prone to infection than women who do (as in some Muslim sub groups).

    Religious: I believe circumcision was a physical representation of something spiritual, the same way other rites pertaining to the Mosaic Law were. I believe just like having sacrificial rites with animals were a representation of the Atonement of Jesus Christ; circumcision is a representation of becoming more sensitive and open, for the lack of better words. Spiritually, it is the heart that symbolizes the most sensitive part of man, but physically, it is the glans (tip of the penis) where the most intense sensations are felt due to the amount of nerve ends of that organ. And thus, comparing the ability of the two to feel, I like to mention some scriptures that allude to this comparison.
    Deut. 10: 16
    Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.
    Deut. 30: 6
    And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
    Jer. 4: 4
    Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.

    Comment by Manuel — November 13, 2007 @ 8:30 pm

  74. Manuel,

    I understand circumcision for certain cultures. Usually, cultures where the fathers fail to teach their sons how to take proper care of their bodies; cultures where it is still a taboo to talk about genitalia; cultures where parents are lazy and decide not to worry about this type of communication. Also, there are cultures where regular bathing is not practiced, where they don’t have abundant water resources, etc.

    Fortunately, there are other cultures where well educated families bathe everyday and that have no taboos or immature shyness when it comes to fathers speaking frankly and openly to their sons about this type of matter. I believe this level of civilization makes circumcision outdated, irrelevant, unnecessary and to an extent barbaric.

    Well none of that is inflammatory.

    Comment by a random John — November 13, 2007 @ 9:31 pm

  75. Sorry, it is inflammatory. I rushed into those statements. And Although I could have expressed them much more diplomatically, I strongly feel they need to be said and people need to be aware of them. Since circumcising has been painted as a “superior” practice, I think my view balances that out.

    My father is a surgeon and my mother a nurse, and they raised me in secular environment. Speaking our minds or talking about sex issues was never an issue. I have experienced a huge cultural shock with the American-LDS society with regards to that.

    Nevertheless, it is my opinion and it is based in my experience. And just as it happens with most opinions, it is limited and can be flawed, so don’t take it that personal.

    Comment by Manuel — November 13, 2007 @ 10:22 pm

  76. Wow! Lots of comments – can’t read them all – sorry if this has already been stated…
    I am a pediatric registered nurse. I did not circumcise my son and will not circumcise future sons although my husband is circumcised. It is not medically recommended as a routine procedure and the surgery, like any surgery, carries risks (infection, hemorrhage, pain). I remember how horrible those babies reacted during circumcisions I witnessed in nursing school. There is no way I could put an innocent child through that without medical need. Sure, removing a foreskin will guarantee that the person will never get cancer of the foreskin but that is such a small risk anyway that I wouldn’t recommend subjecting a child to surgical mishap for the small chance of avoiding foreskin cancer.
    For those who say do it while he’s a baby so he won’t remember it, are you kidding? Your child won’t remember anything on a conscience level from the first 3 or so years of life but that doesn’t mean you skip the precious lullaby time or cuddle/bonding time for periods of neglect or worse. You still spend hours bonding with that baby, loving him, building trust.
    That’s what it all boils down to – trust.
    A child is born trusting his mother will love and protect him, no matter what. It seems that bond of trust is broken the moment the mother trusts a human doctor will design her son’s penis better than trusting the way her heavenly father has designed her infants perfect body.
    I choose to trust God’s design over that of a doctor. I also trust that if God had not wanted me to have a child with a penile foreskin that He would have given me a daughter instead.
    So I guess my answer has both medical and religious components but mostly, I just believe my son was born perfect, all of him.
    I’m not from a non-US country though. I am from the SW US.

    Comment by Sara — November 13, 2007 @ 10:51 pm

  77. Yeah, I haven’t trusted my mom since the day I was circumcised.

    Comment by Rusty — November 13, 2007 @ 11:36 pm

  78. I also trust that if God had not wanted me to have a child with a penile foreskin that He would have given me a daughter instead. So I guess my answer has both medical and religious components but mostly, I just believe my son was born perfect, all of him.

    Flawless logic. You’re right, your son was born perfect. He needs nothing. Keep him exactly the same as the day he was born. He wasn’t born with anything. He came naked and innocent into the world. So don’t give him clothes or diapers or teach him or change him in any way. Otherwise, you’re not trusting God! You will ruin his perfection!

    BTW, you weren’t born with a computer, so keep away from those infernal machines!

    Comment by MCQ — November 14, 2007 @ 12:09 am

  79. It seems that many people are certain about the physiological and anatomical features of the resurrected body. Do you think we will have stomachs or a heart to pump blood? I for one don’t know, and since the church says nothing about the topic, I’ll trust what modern science has said.

    I remember how horrible those babies reacted during circumcisions I witnessed in nursing school. There is no way I could put an innocent child through that without medical need.

    I remember how horribly those women reacted to episiotomies. That is why I am going to advise my wife not to get an episiotomy. That’s the way God designed her, so she should just let those perineal muscles tear–the natural way. She will surely trust me more after that!

    Comment by Joseph D Walch — November 14, 2007 @ 5:26 am

  80. I also remember the way teenagers react when forced to go to church every week. There is no way I could put my poor teenager through something like that.

    Seriously, pain to the baby as a reason not to do it? If you’re anti-circ that’s totally cool, I don’t really care, but to use the reason that it hurts seems extremely weak to me. We ALWAYS make decisions that hurt in order for the greater good (if you otherwise believe circ is a good thing).

    Comment by Rusty — November 14, 2007 @ 6:50 am

  81. Rusty, I have to agree with the pain thing –honestly? Babies are forced to go through pain just by being born.

    Comment by Cheryl — November 14, 2007 @ 7:15 am

  82. Um, Joseph Walch? Almost no one perform routine episiotomies anymore. I’ve had three babies the old fashioned way, without episiotomies, and small tears are no big deal and heal easily without much pain. Aside from my own body, data and studies that back that up.

    Episiotomies are the exception these days, rather than the rule.

    Comment by tracy m — November 14, 2007 @ 7:29 am

  83. Oh boy, people are busting out the credentials! Or even the credentials of their relatives! My daddy can beat up your daddy!

    Comment by a random John — November 14, 2007 @ 8:11 am

  84. Hee hee.

    We didn’t have our boy circumcised because it seemed definitely unnecessary for religious purposes (the law was fulfilled), and it seemed unecessary for cultural purposes (in the US it’s pretty much 50/50 now, and overseas, where we live most of time, most kids aren’t).

    But mainly, that little baby was so beautiful and perfect and lovely, I couldn’t imagine taking a knife to him and cutting off part of his body. It just didn’t seem like something my husband or I wanted to do.

    Another way to put it, “I love my kid so much, I even love his foreskin!” Woo-hoo!

    Comment by meems — November 14, 2007 @ 9:43 am

  85. Tracy m.

    Um, Joseph Walch? Almost no one perform routine episiotomies anymore. I’ve had three babies the old fashioned way, without episiotomies, and small tears are no big deal and heal easily without much pain. Aside from my own body, data and studies that back that up.

    You should re-read my post. Your comment shows that my point was lost on you.

    Comment by Joseph D. Walch — November 14, 2007 @ 10:05 am

  86. Again, I’m not advocating routine brainless circumcision. I am arguing against thoughtless anti-circumcision and that people think about the risks and benifits without reverting to “I don’t want to hurt my baby” or “The human body is perfect” illogic.

    The fact is that there are very few aguments against circumcision except religious, cultural, or personal. People might like pre-cancerous moles on their bodies, but if your going to argue aganst removal of pre-cancerous moles then I am going to have to challenge your medical accuracy. I am not out to evangelize circumcision, but people who evangelize not circumcising should understand that they may be putting people in harm (as I have mentioned before).

    Comment by Joseph D. Walch — November 14, 2007 @ 10:15 am

  87. Joseph D. Walsh,

    There are more than a “few” arguments against circumcision and a lot of them based on scientific facts. I don’t want to come across as disrespectful but I am afraid you haven’t approached your research objectively by truly considering the two sides of the story.

    This is a highly debatable subject and you are wrongfully minimizing the side that objects circumcision. Do some research, you will find more than religious, cultural or personal “illogic.”

    And… the “I don’t want to hurt my baby” is not that illogical. Human rights are not illogical, believe it or not. You also need to view this a bit more objectively.

    Comment by Manuel — November 14, 2007 @ 11:12 am

  88. Manuel,

    I don’t want to come across as disrespectful

    Is this the same Manuel that said:

    I believe this level of civilization makes circumcision outdated, irrelevant, unnecessary and to an extent barbaric.

    ???

    Seems you don’t want to play by your own rules.

    Comment by a random John — November 14, 2007 @ 12:06 pm

  89. Random John,

    Yes it is, and I don’t consider the above statement disrespectful. It is not aimed at anyone in particular. It is a pattern that I have seen in American LDS culture but that is not all inclusive. It is a culture, sometimes within one family, sometimes within one community. It does exist, it is very real and it does have the effects that I mentioned above.

    If you feel it is disrespectful I am sorry. I have seen it and it is what it is.

    Comment by Manuel — November 14, 2007 @ 12:13 pm

  90. There are more than a “few” arguments against circumcision and a lot of them based on scientific facts.

    89 comments and I’m still waiting.

    If your referring to the ‘research’ that shows how much greater an uncircumcized man’s sex-life can be then that’s great. It’s a valid logical reason to not circumcise. There are plenty of people who perfer not to treat prostate cancer because they value their sex-life more than their non-sex life.

    “I don’t want to hurt my baby” is not that illogical. Human rights are not illogical, believe it or not.

    Once again one of my comments goes misunderstood and has morphed into purile demogoguery. I don’t have the time to explain your error here, nor do I believe it merits more of a response.

    I believe this level of civilization makes circumcision outdated, irrelevant, unnecessary and to an extent barbaric.

    I wasn’t going to comment on this, but necessity has forced me to address this topic. It’s all well and good for us WASP/LDS highly civilized rich Americans to say “Circumcision is so. . . yesterday, and sooooooooo barbaric.” while we ignore the fact that the lack of circumcision puts many minority groups at more risk.

    I have addressed the fact that the UN and the WHO have advocated circumcision of men to help stop the spread of AIDS. it has shown a 60% to even 75% efficacy in preventing AIDS transmission (not quite as good as using a condom, but much easier to implement).

    Circumcision helps the elderly, mentally disabled, high-risk populations (who, regretably are young, minorities).

    Now, what IS barbaric, sir, is for you to stand there and say that circumcision is a relec of past barbarism and anti-human rights when the evidence is INCONTROVERTIBLE that these at-risk minority populations gain significant benefits.

    Will you next advocate that these high-risk populations not practice preventative medicine like condom use because for the ‘morally incorrupt WASLDS’ such a practice really a form of medical ‘barbarism.’

    And yes I do look at this issue from a more subjective position: I’ve had a couple of family members die of AIDS, and others who have contracted STDs.

    For the American LDS culture (a low risk population) it is fine to not circumcise, but ideological evangelism of the idea that people DON’T NEED CIRCUMCISION will result in the DEATH AND MORTALITY OF HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS both in American and in the world–especially Africa.

    Can you understand that????

    This is my last post.

    Comment by Joseph D. Walch — November 14, 2007 @ 12:47 pm

  91. Mr Walsh,

    Despite your highly emotional tone, I will respond to your “last post.”

    In my original post (number 73), I did mention CLEARLY that being uncircumcised DOES REQUIRE A LEVEL OF CIVILIZATION and that in certain lifestyles and conditions IT IS JUSTIFIED.

    I did agree with you that there is evidence that circumcision does decrease the incidence of AIDS infection in males. My above statement that some lifestyles and conditions do justify the use of cicrumsicion pretty much covers this issue. Therefore your huge emotional/ego-maniacal tirade is a bit out of place.

    To correct you: No, I was NOT referring to research that shows uncircumcised men have greater sex, this shows your lack of research. But lets don’t throw that out, now that you brought it in. Geater sex is greater sex. So one point for me.

    I was referring to reports of post circumsicion infection, hemorrage, gangrene, methaemglobinaemia (caused by anesthetics), keloid scarring deformities, urinary fistulas, chordee, cysts, lymphedema, ulceration of the glans, necrosis of all or part of the penis, hypospadias, epispadias, impotence and removal of too much tissue, sometimes causing secondary phimosis… and a miriad of other outcomes. And GUESS WHAT! They occur with about the same frequency than actual “infections” caused by poor care of an uncircumcised penis. And guess what!!! They ocurr even more frequently in the so called cultures or populations you are trying to save!

    If you bothered to read the original inquiry of this thread it reads as follows:

    Here’s the question: if you had a son today, would you circumcise him? Is there a religious component to your decision — or is it merely medical or cosmetic? I’d especially like to hear from our non-US readers, who (if they circumcise), are likely a minority in their countries.

    It seems to me that the question is aimed to readers of this blog, who in my assumption are related to the LDS school of thought and at the very least understand English and have access to a computer and to the Internet.

    And it seems to me that you are a little extreme by implying people who chose not to circumcise their sons are going to have such an effect with their comments that it translates to “evangelization” and that the result is going to be “the DEATH AND MORTALITY OF HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS both in American and in the world–especially Africa.” Don’t be ridiculous.

    If you want to avoid the following:
    “Once again one of my comments goes misunderstood and has morphed into purile demogoguery. I don’t have the time to explain your error here, nor do I believe it merits more of a response”
    You may then want to exercise better composition skills, especially if you are going to take so seriously other people’s comments on your vague textual ramblings.

    And here are some pictures and articles you may want to look at:

    Keloid deformity:
    http://www.cirp.org/library/complications/eldin/

    Other complications:
    http://www.cirp.org/library/complications/

    Summary: I was just pointing out you need a BALANCE.

    Comment by Manuel — November 14, 2007 @ 1:31 pm

  92. Comment by . — November 14, 2007 @ 2:27 pm

  93. Since Joseph Walsh is dropping out, I will pick up the gauntlet.

    It’s not just about people who read this blog. If circumcision is barbaric (comments #2 & 73) and a violation of human rights (#87), then it is barbaric and a violation of human rights and Africans (and other “uncivilized” people) should not engage in it.

    But if they don’t, hundreds of thousands will die of AIDs–far more than will die of infected penises. The rhetoric is worthy of 19th century English colonialists. It is dangerous (but only to them, not to us) and inexcusably self-centered.

    Comment by Last Lemming — November 14, 2007 @ 3:21 pm

  94. Last Lemming,

    Your statement makes much more sense. I can only comment about my post (#73) and please note that I included the words “to an extent.” AND I was referring to a level of civilization where education, hygiene, and communication are present.

    I never used the term “uncivilized.” YOU used that term. Let’s be VERY clear on that.

    I do aknowledge there are different levels of civilization in the world. I believe we all are aware of this demographic phenomenon and that this is no news for anyone. Some cultures do have unprotected sex with several partners and poor hygiene. Other cultures do otherwise. Some live in the Hamptons and wear designer clothes, some live in grassland huts and wear loin cloths. I really don’t think you can argue against the existance of different levels of civilization.

    I do believe that circumcision just to keep a tradition where it is not necessary is barbaric. But I am not oblivious to the fact there are instances when measures have to be taken. For example, if parents of a teenage girl decide to remove her breasts to avoid breast cancer later in life, I would consider that barbaric. But if a cancerous growth already developed, then I think removing the breasts is a viable measure.

    The human rights issue is similar to the “barbarie” issue. Many times you have to weight things in terms of the lesser evil or in terms of short term damage vs long term damage, or in terms of individual benefits vs mass benefits, etc etc etc. This doesn’t mean putting a human through unnecessary pain and trauma is not a matter of human rights. You can even argue that the pain and trauma are negligible for whatever reason, but I think it is a mistake to call it “illogic.”

    Again referring to MY post, I just thought it is an extremely normal response for a Mother to have the natural protective reaction to try to spare her child of unnecessary pain. I think it is unfair that this natural reaction was vilified by other posts.

    Like Mr Walsh said, he is “still standing” I just wanted him to be standing in TWO feet instead of ONE.

    Comment by Manuel — November 14, 2007 @ 3:44 pm

  95. Wow. Don’t check your aggregator in a week and this happens…

    Haven’t read a word of the discussion.

    But I can tell you that the procedure sure ain’t pleasant when you’re older. I had to have it done age 17 for medical reasons. The doctor recommended cold packs, lots of Neosporin and recommended that I avoid watching TV or doing anything that ran a risk of getting me “in the mood” because I might “rip out the stitches.”

    Changing bandages was a quite the hour-long ordeal too.

    Man! It hurts just thinking about it.

    So I was actually seriously considering having it done to my baby boy (he’s one year old this month). But you look down at that cute little face, and you know what? I wussed out. Couldn’t do it.

    Now the doctor tells us he has the same physical condition I had.

    Fabulous.

    Sorry kid. Your dad dropped the ball.

    Comment by Seth R. — November 14, 2007 @ 3:55 pm

  96. Seth: Thanks. That’s by far the best argument for circumcision I have ever heard. Those of you who say, “he can get get it done when he’s an adult if he wants to” should think twice.

    Comment by MCQ — November 14, 2007 @ 4:08 pm

  97. In the studies I have read about the circumcision/decreased AIDS correlation, the difference is barely significant. From what I understand, you’re not saving “hundreds of thousands” of lives through circumcision – not even in Africa.

    Comment by SilverRain — November 14, 2007 @ 5:15 pm

  98. Hmm, you never know who you will be advocating for, SilverRain I will have to strongly disagree with you.

    New studies show circumcision DOES decrease the rate of AIDS infection by a VERY significant number… some studies suggest up to 70% decrease.

    You can read about it here, under Randomized Control Trials:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_analysis_of_circumcision#Circumcision_and_HIV.2FAIDS

    From which I copied the following:
    A recent analysis of the potential impact of circumcision on HIV in Africa, based upon the results of the South African RCT, suggested that male circumcision could substantially reduce the burden of HIV in Africa, particularly in southern Africa where the existing prevalence of male circumcision is low and the existing prevalence of HIV is high. More specifically it predicted that if full coverage with MC was achieved in sub-Saharan Africa over the next ten years, MC could prevent approximately 2.0 (1.1 to 3.8) million new HIV infections over that ten year period and a further 3.7 million in the ten years after that.

    Literally, millions of lives can be saved by Circumcision!

    Comment by Manuel — November 14, 2007 @ 5:26 pm

  99. I had episiotomies and it was no big deal. I think my babies came faster and it saved me a lot in the long run. But I’ve heard some horror stories as well.

    Also one memorable story of a woman who ripped clear up to her belly button.

    Joking, it wasn’t that far, it was actually clear to her rectum. And girls, you know that takes a lot of healing. I’d go for the episiotomy any day.

    Like I said, two husbands circumcised, one not, no difference.

    Comment by annegb — November 15, 2007 @ 10:50 am

  100. Hi there,
    This is coming from a young man who did not have a choice in the matter. Now that I am old enough to make a decision the only choice I have is to restore what was taken. Compare the years of somewhat painful stretching what foreskin I have left to restore my foreskin to a quite painful procedure that takes probably less than an hour and definitely does not take years to heal. Of course I could opt for the surgery to restore my foreskin. It’s horribly expensive and probably not as effective as stretching. All I am saying is that it is there for a reason. Don’t assume that it’s going to be a problem. Yes if there are genetic reasons like the father having to have his removed at a later time in life then maybe it is best. As you may have guessed I come from Danish background. My father was definitely not circumsised. It would have been nice to actually feel like I had the same anatomy as my dad. So there ya have it. I am not mad or bitter but I would have rather had the reverse option. It’s painful either way but in reality would you rather have the out patient surgery later in life or 2 or three years of tugging/pulling down there. I also want to mention that it is still important to clean the genitals even if you are circumsised. What’s the problem with a couple more seconds of washing the foreskin? I personally wouldn’t mind.

    Comment by Danishboy — November 15, 2007 @ 11:30 am

  101. Like. I. said. No difference either way. why put yourself through that again? You’re good the way you are, for heaven’s sake.

    My uncle who died at the age of 78 was circumcised at the age of 25 when he was on his way to fight the Japanese in WWII. He said a whole bunch of them were because the climate on the islands gave the men some fungus or something.

    He said that was the most miserable ship ride in his life and he told me over and over, “get your babies circumcised when they’re little.”

    Now, that being said, I still wouldn’t do it to my boys had I to do it over. But it’s ridiculous to assume it matters either way. It’s not the same as female circumcision, for heaven’s sake. And think of labor and delivery.

    Oh, compared to what we women go through, you guys are lucky.

    Comment by annegb — November 16, 2007 @ 6:58 pm

  102. Circumcision of males represents a surgical “vaccine” against a wide variety of infections, adverse medical conditions and potentially fatal diseases over their lifetime, and also protects their sexual partners. In experienced hands, this common, inexpensive procedure is very safe, can be pain-free and can be performed at any age. The benefits vastly outweigh risks. The enormous public health benefits include protection from urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted HIV, HPV, syphilis and chancroid, penile and prostate cancer, phimosis, thrush, and inflammatory dermatoses. In women circumcision of the male partner provides substantial protection from cervical cancer and chlamydia. Circumcision has socio-sexual benefits and reduces sexual problems with age. It has no adverse effect on penile sensitivity, function, or sensation during sexual arousal. Most women prefer the circumcised penis for appearance, hygiene and sex. Given the convincing epidemiological evidence and biological support, routine circumcision should be highly recommended by all health professionals.

    Comment by Ryan — November 18, 2007 @ 3:09 pm

  103. This may be a long post, but I thought that an abstract from a peer-reviewed journal would add to the discussion

    Circumcision of males represents a surgical “vaccine” against a wide variety of infections, adverse medical conditions and potentially fatal diseases over their lifetime, and also protects their sexual partners. In experienced hands, this common, inexpensive procedure is very safe, can be pain-free and can be performed at any age. The benefits vastly outweigh risks. The enormous public health benefits include protection from urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted HIV, HPV, syphilis and chancroid, penile and prostate cancer, phimosis, thrush, and inflammatory dermatoses. In women circumcision of the male partner provides substantial protection from cervical cancer and chlamydia. Circumcision has socio-sexual benefits and reduces sexual problems with age. It has no adverse effect on penile sensitivity, function, or sensation during sexual arousal. Most women prefer the circumcised penis for appearance, hygiene and sex. Given the convincing epidemiological evidence and biological support, routine circumcision should be highly recommended by all health professionals.

    Morris, BJ. Why circumcision is a biomedical imperative for the 21(st) century. BioEssays 29:1147-1158, 2007.

    Comment by Chill — November 18, 2007 @ 3:15 pm

  104. The excerpt of this essay is full of statements that have been disproved, or are currently in debate.

    “The benefits vastly outweigh risks.” – I would consider this true only for the HIV pandemic… and still, not as good as true protected sex. Still a terrible gamble if an individual plans on having unprotected sexual activity.

    The following list is flawed:

    -urinary tract infections: are extremely rare in uncircumcided males and there is no statistical significance between circumcised and uncircumcised.

    HPV: This is not true and irresponsible to state. Human Papiloma Virus has a high incidence in both circumcised and uncircumcised males and they both can cause Cervical cancer. Some of these claims may give people a FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY and therefore contribute to increase the spread of these infections.

    For information about flawed studies on HPV and cervical cancer relationship to Circumcision visit:
    http://www.circumstitions.com/Cancer-cervNEJM.html

    Syphilis and chancroid, penile and prostate cancer: none of these have been shown any statistical significance in any conclusive study to have decreased with circumcision. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, Syphilis continues to be very common and have high incidences in circumcised populations.

    Again, some of these claims may be giving people a FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY and therefore contribute to increase the spread of these infections.

    Comment by Manuel — November 18, 2007 @ 4:51 pm

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