Circumcision and Jehovah's Witnesses - a personal account with research

by PrimateDave 18 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • PrimateDave

    I wrote this article to post on this forum because of the pain that I felt at one time. I know that I can never get any acknowledgment from the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society because they could never admit that infant male circumcision is mutilation and abuse. If for some reason some of you believe with all your heart that circumcision is a good thing, I would request that you read this with an open mind. It is the story of how I started to leave the WTBTS in mind, if not yet in body. Thanks.

    One of the first things that I learned about on the internet back in the nineties was about the modern origins of the medical practice of circumcision. To give the reader a little background, I was born in the United States of America back in the sixties. Routine infant circumcision was common then. Few men of my generation escaped the knife. As a young boy my father explained to me that my younger brother and I had been circumcised. I didn’t understand exactly what that implied but was told that it was so that I could preach to Jewish people because they believe in circumcision. My circumcision was a ‘good’ one. That is, I have no problems because of it as far as standard American medical practice is concerned. I figured out how to masturbate on my own at about nine years of age. It wasn’t long before I was taught to feel guilty about this normal and natural practice. From time to time throughout my childhood, I would see my cousins, friends, and other boys my age naked. Everyone was circumcised. I thought it was normal and never gave it a second thought.

    When I was about eighteen, I saw an uncircumcised penis for the first time. Actually, it would be better to use the term ‘intact’ to describe a penis that has not been circumcised. After all, all humans are born intact. At the house of a friend of mine, his four year old nephew came out of the bathroom naked. The little boy was intact. Why, I remember wondering, did this child get to keep his penis whole?

    Of course, I knew that circumcision was not a requirement for ‘true Christians’. That had been decided back in the first century by the ‘Governing Body’ at that time. However, the ‘Governing Body’ in modern times seemed to think that circumcision was a good idea, at least for medical reasons. (See number 1 below) After all, it was reasoned, didn’t God make his laws for our well being and good health? (2) In support of that line of reasoning, the “Watching the World” section of the Awake! would occasionally refer to some ‘scientific’ study that had ‘proved’ the medical value of circumcising infant males. It was claimed that intact males caused cervical cancer in women (3) or that intact infants suffered more urinary tract infections. (4) I guess it was also supposed to be yet more proof that God’s Word was medically and scientifically sound. (5)

    Because of that reasoning, I know of at least a few Witness families that wouldn’t consider leaving their sons intact. Granted, it is not a subject of polite conversation in this day and age. I remember having a conversation back in 1998 with an elder about his newborn baby boy. Apparently, his family has the genetic trait of having all or part of an extra finger. He mentioned that the doctor had surgically removed the appendage so that the child would look normal to other people. Since we were already talking about the child undergoing minor surgery, I ventured to ask whether or not the baby had also been circumcised. The elder replied in the affirmative in a way that told me his decision was influenced by the Watch Tower Society.

    When my sister was pregnant, I almost got into an argument with my brother-in-law over whether or not my nephew should be circumcised. I had no say in the matter, but by then I realized that there was something wrong with routine infant circumcision. He, on the other hand, claimed that even though it was not a Christian requirement, it was an expression of God’s wisdom. He went on to claim that circumcision could once again become a requirement for God’s people, if not now, then in the ‘paradise’. Therefore, ‘why not just get it over with here and now. After all, it’s not like babies can remember the pain.’

    These attitudes, however, are not universal among Jehovah’s Witnesses. I know of at least one cousin who left her boy intact, and there are likely many others who do the same nowadays.

    Back in the nineties I read an article in the Awake! magazine that disturbed me. (6) It described the practice in some countries of female genital mutilation, which is often erroneously referred to as female circumcision. It is a horrible practice that the magazine was right to condemn. That fact does not give Awake! any brownie points, however, because everyone on the planet except the practitioners of this form of sexual abuse roundly condemns female genital mutilation. I was dismayed to learn that such a cruel practice exists in the world. I was even more dismayed when this same article said that male circumcision is still acceptable and is ‘up to the parents to decide’. (7)

    I was dismayed, but I also knew the reason why. Male circumcision is not abusive because ‘God’ told Abraham to do it, and isn’t God love? If we are to believe the Bible, sometime after Abraham had lived in Egypt, God made a covenant with him to give him the land of Canaan if he and his descendants would cut off their foreskins. Now, the Egyptians practiced male circumcision as part of their religion. The Egyptians believed in immortality. They used the symbol of a snake shedding its old skin as representative of that belief. Therefore, as the snake shed its skin, so Egyptian men would shed their foreskins in the pagan rite of circumcision. Consider for a moment all of the things that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not allowed to do because of their ‘pagan origins’. (See - I originally read this from one of Desmond Morris’ books. The web site quotes his book Babywatching.) What effect did this ritual abuse have on Abraham’s descendants? Remember how David went gleefully murdering the neighboring Philistines in order to collect a hundred foreskins at King Saul’s request? The scripture then says: “Jehovah was with David.” So, God hated foreskins, or at least he hated people with foreskins. Foreskins were ‘unclean’. But if we are to believe the Bible, God made man perfect with a foreskin ‘in the beginning’.

    So, the wedge got driven in deeper. There was an obvious double standard in my view that called one form of genital mutilation sexual abuse, whereas the other form of genital mutilation was called ‘a routine medical procedure’ or even God’s Will.

    I had eventually ‘scripturally’ discredited what my father had told me about my own circumcision in my own mind. I am not of Jewish descent.. If one is to believe the Bible, the only reason why Paul circumcised Timothy was due to the fact that according to Jewish tradition, Timothy was considered Jewish. I guess people back then went around checking genitalia quite often. Timothy consented to be circumcised so as not to offend the Jews he would likely be trying to convert to Christianity while taking a soak in a Roman bath. There is a good point to be gained from this. If a man consents to being circumcised, it is fine. It’s no different than a grown man deciding to pierce his ears or get a tattoo. Also, if a man was circumcised early in life and is happy about it, then that is fine as well. There are those of us out there, however, who are not so happy about what someone did to us once at a time in our lives when we couldn’t defend ourselves.

    That leads me finally to the time when I first found information about circumcision on the internet back in 1998. I finally realized that I was not alone in my feelings. I also found out about the modern history of circumcision. I will try to make a long story short and to the point. If one wants the whole story, there are any number of web sites and books that go into more detail. Back in the 1800's in the United States, boys and girls were severely punished for masturbation. Those that wouldn’t stop were circumcised. At that time it was widely known that the foreskin is a very pleasurable part of the anatomy. It was believed that circumcision removed that intense pleasure, and according to the accounts of many adults who have been circumcised after early childhood, it can. The medical establishment of that time considered masturbation to be a sickness and the cause of illness. Gradually circumcision came to be viewed as healthy and hygienic. It came to be practiced en masse in the industrial medical system of the English speaking world. It was supported by pseudo-science for much of the twentieth century.

    As science and medicine have improved, the old reasoning has been tossed aside. Cases of botched circumcisions and death have proven the surgical procedure to be risky. (8) (9) The net result is that routine male infant circumcision is an unnecessary and potentially dangerous operation that removes a pleasurable part of a boy’s penis for cosmetic reasons. It has been proven that infants do feel the intense pain associated with circumcision. Masturbation has been called ‘self [sexual] abuse’. Even children innocently exploring their bodies with friends (considered quite natural in many non-Christian cultures), are said to be abusing each other. Yet, mutilating a child’s penis, causing him intense pain, and robbing his future pleasure is ‘not abuse’ in America. Sure, one can still experience some sexual pleasure without a foreskin. A man’s reproductive ability is generally not compromised, either. But do any of these rationalizations justify a parent requesting unnecessary cosmetic surgery on a child? After I had absorbed much of this information, I reevaluated what the Watchtower Society had to say on the subject. As I pointed out before, the Society was not concerned about the ethical implications of male circumcision. I did consider writing a letter to them expressing my concerns. I realize, of course, that it wouldn’t have done any good. I also knew that the congregation elders were not going to help me. They were likely to be the most indoctrinated ones of all. I gradually buried my feelings. In time I began to fit other puzzle pieces together. I think, though, that the issue of circumcision is where my doubting and skeptical thinking began to take hold. I still wanted to believe ‘the truth’, but I found it hard to reconcile Watch Tower doctrine and the Bible with what I had learned.

    References: (Note: My comments are presented among the following references like this.)

    * * * w 6 4 1 1 / 1 5 p . 6 9 6 p a r . 2 5 H o w t h e O r g a n i z a t i o n S h o u l d V i e w C h a s t e n e s s * * *

    2 5 Consequently we need to have mental hygiene as well as physical hygiene. (1) Among the ancient Jews under Jehovah’s law through Moses the circumcision of the flesh of the males proved to be very hygienic and helped to safeguard the health of both male and female Jews. Christians who have been relieved of this law of circumcision do, however, have to practice the ‘circumcision of the heart.’ No Christian could be a spiritual Jew in God’s sight unless he had this circumcision “of the heart by spirit.” (Rom. 2:28, 29) God’s spirit is certainly needed to get such circumcision.

    (Note: This same line of reasoning has been applied to Female Genital Mutilation as pointed out in the next excerpt.)

    * * * g 8 5 6 / 2 2 p . 2 6 F e m a l e C i r c u m c i s i o n — W h y ? * * *

    Some insist that female circumcision is necessary for hygiene , while others maintain that it preserves a girl’s chastity. It is also said that a woman’s external genitals are “dirty and ugly,” and circumcision is “an effort to obtain a smooth, and therefore clean, body.” (Note: This article does not support ‘Female Circumcision’. However, I do wonder if there ever was an article by the WTBTS that did in the past.)

    * * * g 7 9 1 1 / 8 p p . 2 1- 2 4 “ S h o u l d O u r B a b y B e C i r c u m c i s e d ? ” * * *

    “ S h o u l d O u r B a b y B e C i r c u m c i s e d ? ”

    —How one couple answered the question

    IF YOU are expecting a baby, you may be considering this question. As the parents of two sons, we too had our season for thinking, reading and talking about it. And as Bible students, we had a special interest in the subject, remembering that circumcision was for many centuries an inviolable law given to the descendants of Abraham by the Great Physician himself, Jehovah.—Gen. 17:10.

    Due to this very special aspect of circumcision, we have viewed with interest a recent trend in some circles to question the wisdom of routine circumcision. Although about 90 percent of all United States males are routinely circumcised at birth, several articles have appeared in recent medical journals advocating a cessation of the practice.

    Upon examination, it seemed to us that some of these articles voiced rather extreme opinions. Others, however, seemed serious enough to merit our parental attention. These refer to the risks involved in circumcision. Some also quote certain child psychiatrists such as the late Dr. Rene Spitz, who said: “This is one of the cruelties the medical profession thoughtlessly inflicts on infants.”

    These suggestions interest Bible students whether they are parents or not. After all, did Jehovah give his chosen people a mandate that, in the light of modern science, involved grave risk and even cruelty? We wanted to know more about it.

    O r i g i n o f t h e P r a c t i c e

    A review of the history of circumcision reveals that it is an ancient practice indeed. Some authorities believe that except for omphalotomy, the severance of the navel cord, circumcision is probably the oldest type of surgery. The word circumcision is formed from the Latin words meaning “around+cut,” and refers to the cutting off of the prepuce or sleevelike foreskin of the penis. This surgery has been practiced by many tribes and peoples other than the Jews.

    (5) But modern science has provided fresh reason for our faith that circumcision was divinely prescribed to the Jews; for their practice of it was unique in one particular aspect: the timing. Commenting on this unique factor, the noted Dr. Alan F. Guttmacher says:

    “It is noteworthy that the early Jews, who made many interesting observations in both medicine and hygiene, fixed the operation for the eighth day. This was probably arrived at by trial and error. Not an inconsiderable number of those done before the eighth day probably bled dangerously, while those done on the eighth day rarely bled excessively. Modern medicine has found a possible explanation in Vitamin K. This vitamin . . . contributes to the process of blood- clotting. . . . At birth the level in the baby’s blood is relatively low, and it drops even lower during the first few days of life, since the child cannot manufacture its own Vitamin K until it swallows a healthy supply of germs. The baby’s intestinal tract then begins to produce its own Vitamin K, and the supply gradually rises until it reaches an adequate level when the baby is a week old.”

    Of course, Bible students will dispute one point with Dr. Guttmacher. The “many interesting observations” made by the early Jews, such as the diagnosis and treatment of disease, the importance of clean water, quarantine, the value of frequent washing and bathing, and precautionary measures in the handling of blood, cadavers, wastes, and sexual matters, including circumcision on the eighth day, were not arrived at by “trial and error,” but by divine revelation.

    Nor is Vitamin K the only factor involved in the divinely prescribed timing of circumcision. Another necessary blood- clotting element is prothrombin. Summarizing data that appear in H o l t P e d i a t r i c s , Dr. S. I. McMillen notes that “on the third day of a baby’s life the available prothrombin is only thirty percent of normal. Any surgical operation performed on a baby during that time would predispose to serious hemorrhage . . . the prothrombin skyrockets on the eighth day to a level even better than normal—110 percent. It then levels off . . . It appears that an eight- day- old baby has more available prothrombin than on any other day in its entire life. Thus one observes that . . . the perfect day to perform a circumcision is the eighth day.”

    (2) These medical discoveries made thousands of years after Jehovah’s mandate to Abraham to circumcise precisely on the eighth day are significant. We are once again reminded that Jehovah not only knows what is best for us, but applies his knowledge for our good.

    Today, however, medical circumcisions are almost all performed before the eighth day of life. Why? Well, it is more convenient to do it before the baby leaves the hospital.

    We concluded that circumcision, performed at the time prescribed by the Creator, did not involve any extraordinary risk. Nevertheless, opponents of routine circumcision do refer to “risks.” How great are these risks of modern circumcision?

    W e i g h i n g t h e R i s k s

    (8) Captain E. Noel Preston, MC USAF, lists such possibilities as hemorrhage, infections, the removal of too much skin, accidental lacerations, incomplete circumcision (resulting in the formation of adhesions and secondary penile deformity), and even accidental amputation. (Note: Awake! even admits the risks.)

    As parents, we were frankly overwhelmed by such a list of horrifying possibilities! But after discussing the matter, we began to gain some perspective. We reasoned that, although we live in a country where 90 percent of all boys are circumcised, we personally had never heard of a single complication—not even a little infection, much less a mutilation. What do the statistics say?

    (9)According to one report, an average of 16 children died annually in England and Wales between 1942 and 1947, as a direct result of circumcision. On the other hand, we have the observation of Dr. M. S. Eiger, a pediatrician, who states: “In ten years of practice at two large New York hospitals, I have never seen a complication of circumcision that I would consider of serious proportions.” Several studies made in the U.S. would seem to corroborate this later observation. In one New York hospital there were six complications and no deaths in a series of more than 10,000 circumcisions performed between 1933 and 1951; three cases of bleeding requiring stitches and no deaths among 1,878 cases reported from California in 1951, and only one death in more than half a million circumcisions performed in New York city from 1939 to 1951. (Note: What exactly does the good doctor mean by the above statement?)

    Now, even one death in more than half a million is a terrible loss ; but we wonder if even these rare cases might be eliminated if the operation was performed on a scientifically sound day. After due consideration, we decided that, if performed on the eighth day by an experienced physician, circumcision was probably one of the smallest risks our sons would ever face, and that the possible risks were overshadowed by the probable benefits.

    (See )

    A n t i c i p a t e d B e n e f i t s

    Since mandatory circumcision was divinely abolished during the first century, we realized that our sons could boast no religious merit through circumcision. (Acts 15:1- 29; 1 Cor. 7:19) We also realized that the foreskin is a part of Jehovah’s creation and that he did not require his servants prior to Abraham to have it removed, nor does he require it of his Christian worshipers. We knew that the prospects of our sons as servants of the Most High would depend on the more important ‘circumcision of the heart,’ that is, the removal from the heart of that which is superfluous and would contribute to the growth of uncleanness.—Rom. 2:29; Col. 3:5- 11.

    However, that there is practical value in circumcision was explained in S c i e n c e N e w s L e t t e r , Oct. 31, 1964: “The reason for circumcision is cleanliness, to prevent accumulation of an irritating mixture called smegma in the narrow space between the male glans and the overlying foreskin.” An article in T o d a y ’ sH e a l t h explains that “smegma . . . if it is not removed . . . becomes a malodorous breeding ground for bacteria which cause irritations and infection.”

    Opponents of routine circumcision suggest that “if a child can be taught to tie his shoes or brush his teeth or wash behind his ears, he can also be taught to wash beneath his foreskin.” That is no doubt true of many children. But, I regret to say, our boys have never been diligent or thorough at any of these tasks! And while the worst that one may expect from improperly cleaned teeth is dental decay, a good deal more may be involved in the case of an unclean foreskin.

    Studies made in America, Europe and Asia have disclosed a much higher incidence of cancer of the penis in uncircumcised men than in circumcised. In fact, as M. S. Eiger, M.D., observes, “Cancer of the penis virtually never occurs in a man who was circumcised in infancy.” These studies have been so conclusive that even an outspoken opponent of routine circumcision in the U.S. admits: “Poor sexual hygiene, inadequate hygienic facilities, and venereal diseases tend to i n c r e a s e t h e i n c i d e n c e o fg e n i t o u r i n a r y c a n c e r s i n t h e e t h n i c g r o u p s or populations t h a t d o n o t p r a c t i c e c i r c u m c i s i o n . In these groups, then, circumcision would seem to be indicated.”

    This same doctor, however, does not feel that routine circumcision is necessary in the U.S., where a high degree of personal hygiene is convenient (for most people). An article in W o m a n ’ s D a y states that “adequate hygiene confers nearly as much protection against cancer of the penis as circumcision.”

    (3) However, cancer of the cervix, the third most common cancer killer of American women, is virtually unknown among Jewish women. Many authorities feel that the fact that Jewish men are circumcised is a factor contributing to this.

    A study made in Yugoslavia compared circumcised emancipated Moslems and uncircumcised non- Moslems. They found twice as many pre- malignant cervical lesions in the wives of the u n c i r c u m c i s e d non- Moslems as in the c i r c u m c i s e d emancipated Moslems (11 per 1,000 in the former, 5.5 per 1,000 in the latter). Interestingly, they found that in the Orthodox Moslems (who practice adolescent circumcision a l o n gw i t h o t h e r f o r m s o f s e x u a l h y g i e n e ) the occurrence of this malady was n i l .

    (See )

    But is circumcision cruel? Well, to us the protection afforded by circumcision seemed to more than compensate for the momentary pain. We remembered that, in many of life’s better investments, “better is the end afterward of a matter than its beginning.” (Eccl. 7:8) We weren’t afraid of causing scarred personalities in our sons, remembering the many desirable personalities among the ranks of the circumcised.

    I t W a s O U R D e c i s i o n

    (Note: Unless it is YOUR body, it is NOT YOUR DECISION!)

    (See )

    We realize that not all parents agree with our decision. Whether parents opt for circumcision or not, their decision merits the respect of others. Particularly if they are Christians, we may be sure that they have not lightly made any decision involving their children. One Christian father explained their decision in this way: “Gabriel was born prematurely, and we felt that we shouldn’t add to his difficulties the wound of circumcision. Of course, Jehovah’s reminders have made us aware of the importance of genital cleanliness; so we have carefully instructed him in this regard.”

    Other parents may feel that they cannot afford the expense of the operation, or it may not be readily available to them. Finally, some may reason that if Jehovah had thought circumcision to be indispensable, he would not have caused the termination of the ancient mandate.

    This, then, brings our discussion full circle, leaving the decision right where it belongs, with you, the parents.— C o n t r i b u t e d .

    * * * g 8 9 6 / 2 2 p . 2 8 W a t c h i n g t h e W o r l d * * *

    A D V A N T A G E S O F C I R C U M C I S I O N

    The American Academy of Pediatrics has had to reverse its position on the matter of circumcision. In 1971 the group held that there were “no valid medical indications” to warrant circumcising newborn males routinely. (4) However, recent studies have shown that circumcision may help prevent kidney and urinary-tract infections, which can be quite dangerous. In one study, uncircumcised boys were 11 times more likely to suffer urinary-tract infections than circumcised boys. The pediatric academy now says that circumcision “has potential medical benefits and advantages.” While Christians are not bound by the Mosaic law requiring circumcision, the new findings do suggest that the law was of practical benefit to the ancient Israelites who obeyed it.

    (See also:, -recommends treatment with antibiotics, - female UTIs are far more common, but does that make FGM a good idea?)

    * * * g 9 3 6 / 8 p . 2 8 W a t c h i n g t h e W o r l d * * *

    C i r c u m c i s i o n a n d A I D S

    The practice of male circumcision appears to be an advantage in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, such as AIDS, says the French magazine L a R e v u e F r a n ç a i s e d u L a b o r a t o i r e . The magazine cites three independent medical studies that show male circumcision (the removal of the foreskin) to be a factor in curbing the spread of AIDS. Research on laboratory monkeys has shown that the tissues of the male foreskin contain a higher number of cells susceptible to infection by the AIDS virus than other tissues. Furthermore, a Canadian study conducted in 140 different regions of Africa revealed a higher incidence of AIDS among groups not practicing circumcision than among those who do. Another study found fewer cases of the infection among American heterosexual men who were circumcised. (Note: It has also been suggested that FGM may also help stem the tide of AIDS transmission. Does that make FGM a good idea? See )

    (Note: Even when research that intended to provide support for routine infant circumcision has been debunked, the Watch Tower Society has never admitted it. They do have a long track record of using just enough ‘science’ to support biased positions.)

    (6) * * * g 9 3 4 / 8 p . 2 1 M i l l i o n s A r e S u f f e r i n g — C a n T h e y B e H e l p e d ? * * * (article about Female Genital Mutilation)

    W h a t A b o u t M a l e C i r c u m c i s i o n ?

    Some may raise the question, Is not male circumcision a mutilation of the body as well? The Bible states that at one time God made the circumcision of males mandatory. Later, with the establishment of the Christian congregation, circumcision was no longer a requirement, although not prohibited. (7) It is left up to each individual to decide whether he will submit himself or his sons to circumcision or not.

    Today, male circumcision is practiced in many places. True, the operation involves the surgical removal of flesh. But this procedure is in no way a counterpart of FGM. As a rule, men do not experience adverse side effects after circumcision. In contrast, normal female functions, such as menstruation, intercourse, childbirth, and the elimination of urine, are often accompanied by lifelong excruciating agony as a result of FGM. Also, extremely complicated childbirth has caused serious birth defects in and even the death of many newborns.

    How many men would subject themselves or their sons to a procedure that mutilated the penis so as to prevent all sensation during intercourse and that caused persistent pain and health hazards throughout life? Clearly, there is no comparison between male circumcision and FGM .


    (Note: Male genital mutilation may not be as severe in its consequences for most men as Female Genital Mutilation is for women, but the effects on the abusers/perpetrators is the same. Abusers often use minimization to try to justify their actions. Doctors are taught to ‘First Do No Harm’.)

    See the following internet resources:

  • PrimateDave

    By the way, I want to apologize if the formatting on my first major posting is confusing to anyone. I typed it up in Wordperfect and converted it to HTML for the forum. Not everything worked like I had hoped. Oh, well. Next time. ;) I basically wanted to tell my story without cluttering it up too much with references in the main text. Numbers in the main text refer to numbers in the Society's own literature. Links are provided to 'worldly' references. Comments are appreciated. Dave

  • juni

    Welcome Dave to the forum.

    We just had quite a long discussion on this practice. Upon research the latest is that there are very few cases of urinary tract infections in the uncircumcised male. If the foreskin is kept clean then there should be no problem. Quite a few doctors are getting away from the practice.

    From experience, my one son was uncircumcised until the age of 12 . I had shown him as a little guy how to clean himself properly, but he didn't follow through as he got older. Of course, as he got older I couldn't check to see how he was doing with this. By age 12 he was crying in the bathroom w/a massive infection. He then allowed me to look and admitted he wasn't cleaning properly. He had to go in and be circumcised because the foreskin and underlying tissue was so bad. This caused him of course a lot of embarassment and pain - they put him under for the procedure and gave him antibiotics.

    So, after that incident our last son was circumcised.

    Just giving you some insight.


  • Crumpet

    Interesting reading. A friend of mine in his 30's recently got circumcised to improve the look of his um appendage - i didnt see the before shots but he's very happy with it.

  • juni

    Dave -

    The earlier Topic was on 5/23/06 by Spectrum. You can go to his Profile and hit his topic history to bring up the information.

    Hopefully this helps you.


  • PrimateDave

    Thanks, all, for the welcome.

    Yes, I did read the other topic.

    Juni, I am sorry that your son had suffered so. I think, though, that American doctors are far more likely to resort to 'the knife' than their Japanese and European counterparts.

    There is also evidence to the effect that ignorance with regards to the function and nature of the foreskin in America has resulted in foreskin mistreatment. By this I mean that, in the typical American preoccupation with 'cleanliness', many parents (not necessarily you Juni) and even some doctors and nurses will prematurely attempt to retract their sons' foreskins before they are ready. Perhaps it should just be left alone.

    Infections, when they do occur, can often be treated successfully with antibiotics. However, performing an operation to cure an illness is justified while performing an operation on healthy tissue is in my opinion not.

  • rebel8

    Thank you for posting this. It was very interesting.

    How hilarious that they think “Jehovah not only knows what is best for us, but applies his knowledge for our good,” and give the circumcision/8 th day thing as an example. Yes, it makes so much sense that the all-powerful deity put so much emphasis on helping infants avoid excess bleeding upon circumcision that he didn’t have time to focus on preventing them from getting birth defects, dying during childbirth, etc.

    An article in Woman’s Day states that “adequate hygiene confers nearly as much protection against cancer of the penis as circumcision.

    Woman’s Day? Unless the article (which is not cited by Awake) was written by a healthcare professional, they really shouldn’t be quoting it as a source for reliable medical info. That magazine is primarily for recipes, cleaning tips, and child-rearing tips—fluff.

    However, cancer of the cervix, the third most common cancer killer of American women, is virtually unknown among Jewish women. Many authorities feel that the fact that Jewish men are circumcised is a factor contributing to this.

    I am going to add this to my misquotes page.

  • kid-A

    Since I am presently a Professor working within a medical faculty, and I know several Paediatricians that would refer to this post as complete bullshit, I will present the OTHER side to this propaganda, since I am well aware of the empty arguments against circumcision this poster is trying to present. First of all, the foreskin is a vestigial left-over from our evolutionary past which is completely unnecessary for normal human sexual behaviour or reproduction. In terms of its biological usefullness, it can be properly compared to the tonsils or appendix, two equally useless vestigial organs that are no longer required for human well-being. As for the scientific evidence, there is a plethora of replicated, peer-reviewed studies published in countless high-ranking medical journals that clearly advocate the medical utility of male circumcision. To name only several advantages: circumcised males have lower rates of penile cancer, obviously lower rates of urinary and bladder infections. The sexual partners of uncircumcised men have higher rates of cervical cancer and perhaps most importantly, circumcision dramatically reduces the spread of several venereal diseases for both the circumcised males and their female partners. This is a MEDICAL issue and not a religious one, and it is entirely irrelevant what the Watchtowers stand is on this subject. THus, for parents to be, I urge you to take this sort of propaganda from the "Foreskin Lobby" with a huge grain of salt, and carefully weigh the pros and cons of male circumcision. Finally, to correct yet another piece of gross misinformation in the original post, virtually ALL male circumcisions are performed with local anesthetic which completely numbs the sensory endings around the male genital area, thus precluding the possibility of pain during the actual procedure. Consider the scientific, medical evidence before putting your child or their future sexual partners at risk. I will cite a small sample of recently published material:

    Prevalence and determinants of human papillomavirus infection in men attending vasectomy clinics in Mexico. Int J Cancer. 2006 May 17 Vaccarella S , Lazcano-Ponce E , Castro-Garduno JA , Cruz-Valdez A , Diaz V , Schiavon R , Hernandez P , Kornegay JR , Hernandez-Avila M , Franceschi S .

    International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France.

    Large studies of genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in men are few and mainly include high-risk groups. We interviewed 779 men who requested a vasectomy in 27 public clinics in 14 states of Mexico. Exfoliated cells were obtained from the scrotum, the shaft of the penis, the top of the penis including the coronal sulcus, the glans and the opening of the meatus. HPV testing was performed using biotinylated L1 consensus primers and reverse line blot. Unconditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) of being HPV-positive and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs). The prevalence of any type of HPV was 8.7%. HPV positivity was highest among men below age 25 (13.6%), and lowest among men aged 40 years or older (6.0%). The most commonly found HPV types were, in decreasing order, HPV59, 51, 6, 16 and 58. Lifetime number of sexual partners was associated with HPV positivity (OR for >/=4 vs. 1 partner = 3.7, 95% CI: 2.0-6.8), mainly on account of the strong association with number of occasional and sex-worker partners. Condom use with both regular (OR = 0.4, 95% CI: 0.1-1.0) and sex-worker (OR = 0.1, 95% CI: 0.0-0.3) partners and circumcision (OR = 0.2, 95% CI: 0.1-0.4) were inversely associated with HPV positivity. HPV prevalence in Mexican men was similar to the prevalence found in Mexican women of the same age groups. The association between HPV positivity and lifetime number of sexual partners in the present low-risk male population is one of the strongest ever reported in studies in men. Condom use and circumcision were associated with a strong reduction in HPV prevalence. (c) 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

    Int Fam Plan Perspect. 2005 Mar;31(1):42.
    Odds of penile HPV are reduced for circumcised men and condom users.

    MacLean R

    Int J Cancer. 2005 Sep 10;116(4):606-16.

    Penile cancer: importance of circumcision, human papillomavirus and smoking in in situ and invasive disease.

    Daling JR , Madeleine MM , Johnson LG , Schwartz SM , Shera KA , Wurscher MA , Carter JJ , Porter PL , Galloway DA , McDougall JK , Krieger JN .

    Program in Epidemiology, Division of Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109-1024, USA.

    Few population-based case-control studies have assessed etiologic factors for penile cancer. Past infection with high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) is a known risk factor for penile cancer; however, few previous studies have related the HPV DNA status of the tumor to potential demographic and behavioral risk factors for the disease or evaluated whether in situ and invasive penile cancer share risk factors. Little information is available on the role and timing of circumcision in the etiology of penile cancer. We conducted a population-based case-control study in western Washington state that included 137 men diagnosed with in situ (n = 75) or invasive (n = 62) penile cancer between January 1, 1979, and December 31, 1998, and 671 control men identified through random digit dialing. Cases and controls were interviewed in person and provided peripheral blood samples. Case and control blood samples were tested for antibodies to HPV16 and HSV-2, and tumor specimens from cases were tested for HPV DNA. Men not circumcised during childhood were at increased risk of invasive (OR = 2.3, 95% CI 1.3-4.1) but not in situ (OR = 1.1, 95% CI 0.6-1.8) penile cancer. Approximately 35% of men with penile cancer who had not been circumcised in childhood reported a history of phimosis compared to 7.6% of controls (OR = 7.4, 95% CI 3.7-15.0). Penile conditions such as tear, rash and injury were associated with increased risk of disease. Among men not circumcised in childhood, phimosis was strongly associated with development of invasive penile cancer (OR = 11.4, 95% CI 5.0-25.9). When we restricted our analysis to men who did not have phimosis, the risk of invasive penile cancer associated with not having been circumcised in childhood was not elevated (OR = 0.5, 95% CI 0.1-2.5). Cigarette smoking was associated with a 4.5-fold risk (95% CI 2.0-10.1) of invasive penile cancer. HPV DNA was detected in 79.8% of tumor specimens, and 69.1% of tumors were HPV16-positive. The proportion of HPV DNA-positive tumors did not vary by any risk factors evaluated. Many risk factors were common for both in situ and invasive disease. However, 3 factors that did not increase the risk for in situ cancer proved significant risk factors for invasive penile cancer: lack of circumcision during childhood, phimosis and cigarette smoking. The high percentage of HPV DNA-positive tumors in our study is consistent with a strong association between HPV infection and the development of penile cancer regardless of circumcision status. Circumcision in early childhood may help prevent penile cancer by eliminating phimosis, a significant risk factor for the disease. (c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

    Sex Transm Dis. 2004 Oct;31(10):601-7.

    Condom use and other factors affecting penile human papillomavirus detection in men attending a sexually transmitted disease clinic.

    Baldwin SB , Wallace DR , Papenfuss MR , Abrahamsen M , Vaught LC , Giuliano AR .

    Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, Arizona, USA.

    BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the primary cause of cervical, anal, and other anogenital cancers, but risk factors for penile HPV detection in men have not been well-characterized. GOAL: The goal of this study was to identify correlates of penile HPV detection in ethnically diverse men attending a sexually transmitted disease clinic. STUDY: A cross-sectional investigation was conducted among 393 men. Participants completed a risk-factor questionnaire and underwent testing for penile HPV DNA. Presence of HPV DNA was assessed using polymerase chain reaction with PGMY primers and reverse line blot genotyping. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to identify variables associated with any-type, oncogenic, and nononcogenic HPV. RESULTS: Circumcision was associated with reduced risk for oncogenic, nononcogenic, and overall HPV. Regular condom use was associated with reduced risk for oncogenic and overall HPV. CONCLUSION: These findings, if confirmed by other studies, could impact public health practices and messages regarding HPV.

    Salud Publica Mex. 2003;45 Suppl 3:S345-53.
    The male role in cervical cancer.

    Castellsague X , Bosch FX , Munoz N .

    Institut Catala d'Oncologia, Servel d'Epidemiologia I Registre del Cancer, Gran Via s/n, Km 2.7, 08907 L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain.

    Experimental, clinical, and epidemiological evidence strongly suggests that genital Human Papillomaviruses (HPVs) are predominantly sexually transmitted. Epidemiological studies in virginal and HPV-negative women clearly indicate that sexual intercourse is virtually a necessary step for acquiring HPV.As with any other sexually transmitted disease (STD) men are implicated in the epidemiological chain of the infection. Penile HPVs are predominantly acquired through sexual contacts. Sexual contacts with women who are prostitutes play an important role in HPV transmission and in some populations sex workers may become an important reservoir of high-risk HPVs. Acting both as "carriers" and "vectors" of oncogenic HPVs male partners may markedly contribute to the risk of developing cervical cancer in their female partners. Thus, in the absence of screening programs, a woman's risk of cervical cancer may depend less on her own sexual behavior than on that of her husband or other male partners. Although more rarely than women, men may also become the "victims" of their own HPV infections as a fraction of infected men are at an increased risk of developing penile and anal cancers. Male circumcision status has been shown to reduce the risk not only of acquiring and transmitting genital HPVs but also of cervical cancer in their female partners. More research is needed to better understand the natural history and epidemiology of HPV infections in men. This paper is available too at:

    Cancer Causes Control. 2001 Apr;12(3):267-77.
    Risk factors for penile cancer: results of a population-based case-control study in Los Angeles County (United States).

    Tsen HF , Morgenstern H , Mack T , Peters RK .

    Department of Healthcare Administration, Fooyin Institute of Technology, Daliao, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, ROC.

    The etiology of penile cancer is poorly understood, with neonatal circumcision being one of the few recognized nondemographic risk factors. Multiple logistic regression was used to analyze interview data from 100 matched case-control pairs; cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) and invasive carcinoma of the penis were analyzed separately as well as together. Phimosis was strongly associated with invasive carcinoma (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 16; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 4.5-57) but not CIS (OR = 1.7; 95% CI = 0.32-7.8), and these associations persisted when the analyses were restricted to uncircumcised subjects. Neonatal circumcision was inversely associated with invasive carcinoma (OR = 0.41; 95% CI = 0.13-1.1) but not CIS, and the observed association with invasive carcinoma was weakened appreciably when the analysis was restricted to subjects with no history of phimosis (OR = 0.79; 95% CI = 0.29-2.6). Other factors positively associated with invasive carcinoma or CIS or both were injury to the penis, cigarette smoking, physical inactivity and, to a lesser extent, genital warts and other infections or inflammation of the penis. Conclusions: Although many effects were imprecisely estimated in this study, the protective effect of circumcision on invasive penile cancer appears to be mediated in large part by phimosis; furthermore, the effects of certain factors such as phimosis and circumcision appear to differ for CIS and invasive carcinoma.

    Pediatrics. 2000 Mar;105(3):E36.
    The highly protective effect of newborn circumcision against invasive penile cancer.

    Schoen EJ , Oehrli M , Colby C , Machin G .

    Department of Genetics, Pediatrics, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Oakland, California 94611-5693, USA.

    OBJECTIVE: We determined the relation between newborn circumcision and both invasive penile cancer (IPC) and carcinoma in situ (CIS) among adult male members of a large health maintenance organization. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Circumcision status was ascertained by a combination of pathology reports, medical record review, and questionnaires for 213 adult male members of a large prepaid health plan who were diagnosed with IPC or CIS. RESULTS: Of 89 men with IPC whose circumcision status was known, 2 (2.3%) had been circumcised as newborns, and 87 were not circumcised. Of 118 men with CIS whose circumcision status was known, 16 (15.7%) had been circumcised as newborns. CONCLUSIONS: Our results confirm the highly protective effect of newborn circumcision against IPC and the less protective effect against CIS

    Cancer. 1993 Sep 1;72(5):1666-9.

    Role of male behavior in cervical carcinogenesis among women with one lifetime sexual partner.

    Agarwal SS , Sehgal A , Sardana S , Kumar A , Luthra UK .

    Institute of Cytology and Preventive Oncology, (ICMR), Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India.

    BACKGROUND. The role of male behavior in the genesis of cervical cancer was examined. In India, where the incidence of cervical cancer is among the highest in the world, promiscuity among women is virtually unknown. In this study, the authors investigated the role of male behavior in cervical carcinogenesis among Indian women who had one lifetime sexual partner. METHODS. A case-control study was used. RESULTS. Premarital sexual relationships (relative risk [RR], 1.9; confidence interval, 1.2-3.2) and extramarital sexual relationships (RR, 2.7; confidence interval, 1.5-4.9) of husbands were risk factors. When husbands had sexual relationships both before and during the marriage, their wives' risk of getting cervical cancer increased by 6.9 (CI, 2.3-20.7). Risk also increased with husbands having three or more extramarital sexual partners (RR, 3.05; CI, 1.25-12.6). Sexual contact with prostitutes before or after marriage, however, did not increase the risk. History of sexually transmitted disease before marriage (RR, 2.9) or after marriage (RR, 5.9) was an important risk factor, which persisted after controlling for other factors. Sexual abstinence for 40 or more days after a wife's giving birth or having an abortion provided protection. Sex with uncircumcised men or men circumcised after age 1 year increased the risk of cervical cancer (RR, 4.1). Bidi smoking (bidi is a cheap smoking stick of 4-8 cm, consisting of a rolled piece of dried temburni leaf [Diospyres melanoxylon] containing 0.15-0.25 g of coarsely ground tobacco) for more than 20 years was a significant risk factor (RR = 2.4), whereas cigarette smoking was not a risk factor. CONCLUSIONS. Male sexual partners play a role in cervical carcinogenesis

    Br J Cancer. 1996 Aug;74(4):661-6.

    A case-control study of cancer of the prostate in Somerset and east Devon.

    Ewings P , Bowie C .

    Somerset Health Authority, Taunton, UK.

    A case-control study in Somerset and east Devon was undertaken to investigate possible risk factors for prostatic cancer. A total of 159 cases, diagnosed at Taunton. Yeovil and Exeter hospitals between May 1989 and May 1991, were identified prospectively and interviewed with a structured questionnaire. A total of 161 men diagnosed with benign prostatic hypertrophy and 164 non-urological hospital controls were given identical questionnaires. The questionnaire covered a wide range of factors identified from previous studies, but the central hypotheses for this study related to diet (fat and green vegetables), sexual activity and farming as an occupation. This study found no association between farming and risk of prostatic cancer (odds ratio = 0.74, 95% confidence interval 0.46-1.18), nor with sexual activity as measured by number of sexual partners (chi-squared test for trend P = 0.52). A history of sexually transmitted disease was not significantly associated with prostatic cancer, but the numbers involved were very small and the odds ratio of 2.06 (0.38-11.2) is consistent with the hypothesis. A range of questions aimed at eliciting dietary fat intake produced no significant associations, although meat consumption showed increasing risk with increasing consumption (test for trend P = 0.005). Increased consumption of leafy green vegetables was associated with lower risk, but not significantly so (test for trend P = 0.16). As expected with so many factors investigated, some statistically significant associations were found, although these can only be viewed as hypothesis generating in this context. These included apparent protective effects of circumcision and high fish consumption.

  • PrimateDave

    Not only would I like to have my foreskin back, but I would appreciate having some of my other vestigial organs in working condition as well. A fully functioning appendix with the ability to breakdown cellulose would be nice as well as the ability to make my own ascorbic acid.

    Frankly, Kid-A, there is no point in arguing with you.


  • Big Tex
    Big Tex

    Male circumsion is hardly abusive. There are some decisions parents must make for their children as consultation is impossible.

    As for health benefits, I'm not sure either way. it seems to this ignorant brain that if there is one, it is relatively negligble.

    Female circumsion on the other hand is abusive, cruel and barbaric.


  • Pistoff

    Given the trouble they cause, maybe the whole damn thing should be cut off after a guy has his family.

  • under_believer

    I can't believe anybody would argue for the cutting off of part of someone else's penis. It completely boggles my mind. I mean, if I cut off both of my arms, I'll never have to deal with broken arms, either...

  • looking_glass

    I work for a medical malpractice firm and of late there are tons of young adult men coming forward claiming that they have smaller pieces because of circumcision or that they cannot function sexually because of circumcision. Based on what I read, there is little likelihood that a man would suffer excessive problems based on an appropriate medical circumcision procedure. To date, our firm has rejected every circumcision case that has come in for review as the medical community does not support their allegations.

    BTW - Thanks Kid-A. I made a note of the cites you reference for further review, should the legal/medical issue have to be addressed in the future.

  • mP

    why didnt god makemmennuncircumsized to begin with. and why is he so infatuated with pensises. scan your bible amd you will fins lots of penis worries from jehovah.

    - the story of moses uncircumsized son who nearly got killed by god, until he was quickly dixed. hasnt god got bigger things to worry about.

    - look at the 613 mitzvot'or laws, there are lots of weird ones, like a women getting her hand cut off if she helps'her husband in afight and touches the other mans thing.

    - the story where abraham has his man servant make a testament before going to get a wife from back home for isaac, by touching hismdick. thats right the test in testament is from testicle. thanks tomthe abraham story you know why or how testaments where done back then, the peoper way. shaking hands ismpagan.

  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    Medical malprqcice firms are concerned with their greatest intake of money, not with justice. If liability is clear, lawyers will not take the case without a pretty clear, large benefit to them. The medical science seems to be in a state of flux. So many disease theories swing back and forth on a pendulum. Which foods are truly good for humans? As I listen to NPR, it seems to change weekly. When the pendulum swings to juries being prone to believe circumcision is bad, lawyers will line up for these casess. Lawyer typically charge about 1/3 of a potential award as a contingency fee. Their costs are huge so the reward must be worth it.

    You can hire a medical expert to say what you want to hear.

    I am confused. Both posts describing the medical issues were excellent. My interest is why circumcision started in ancient civilizations. They had no medical statistics. I wonder if it was some sacrifice of male potency.

  • finally awake
    finally awake

    We didn't circ our boys. I figure they can get cut when they are grown if it suits them. Not my penis = not my decision.

  • juandefiero
  • fulltimestudent

    Divergence on this issue is interesting.

    As I understand it, circumcision is not a standard practise in most European countries.

    It is now, not a standard practise in Australia.

    Why is there such a strong support for it in the USA? Is it a consequence resulting from the strength of the American Jewish lobby?

    Here's a few comments concerning circumcision from an Australian source:

    Link to the page:

    Circumcision “not worth it” for Aussie boys

    Circumcision is not appropriate for 21st Century Aussie boys. A definitive article in Australia’s leading child health journal confirms the judgement of Australian paediatricians since 1971 that boys should not be routinely circumcised as a health precaution. In a rebuff to the American Academy of Pediatrics (and by extension the Centers for Disease Control, which repeats its errors) the article endorses the conclusion of the circumcision policy statement issued by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 2010, namely, that there is no medical warrant for routine circumcision in the Australian and New Zealand context. As the authors conclude, “There is insufficient scientific evidence to support routine newborn circumcision in Australia …. From medical point of view, the ‘price’ is still too high.”

    Further details on the medical authorities statements page


    Circumcision risks and harms outweigh benefits

    Yet another hard-hitting critique of the American Centers for Disease Control draft circumcision guidelines finds its conclusions unsupported by the evidence and its recommendations invalid: Brian Earp. Do the benefits of male circumcision outweigh the risks? A critique of the proposed CDC guidelines. Fronters in Pediatrics 3 (18), 21 February 2015


    Circumcision always painful for babies

    Circumcision is “one of the most painful procedures a baby can undergo”, and no fully effective anaesthetic method has yet been devised. This is the disturbing conclusion of a paper in the Italian Journal of Pediatrics, which examines the various circumcision and anaesthetic techniques in use and finds none of them satisfactory. The authors note that although “relief of human suffering is one of the most important goals for health care providers”, there have been only half-hearted efforts to eliminate the pain of circumcision, partly because the operation originated as a cultural ritual in which endurance of intense pain was part of the rationale. “Unfortunately, even during clinical trials, babies still undergo circumcision without analgesia, and the continuous production of studies for a better analgesia is the sign that a gold standard has not yet been found”, they write. The authors found that the Mogen clamp was less painful than both the Gomco clamp and the Plastibell, though seem to be unaware that the Mogen caused such a high incidence of additional injuries that a series of lawsuits drove the company out of business. It is increasingly common these days for boys to be given a local anaesthetic with a needle, but if the evidence of many Youtube videos is to be believed, the needle is itself extremely painful and often causes bleeding. EMLA cream, much vaunted by Australian circumcision salesmen, is neither effective nor recommended for use on young babies. As the authors of the present study conclude, “more research is required to find a better analgesic approach, in order to make circumcision a totally painless procedure without stress or discomfort. Present methods do not yet guarantee a total analgesia during this procedure.”

    Source: Bellieni CV et al. Analgesia for infants’ circumcision. Italian Journal of Pediatrics 2013 39:38.

  • Crazyguy
    As a practicing jw I did not circumcise my boys because from what I read in the Bible it would be like me saying I'd rather live by the law then under Jesus sacrifice. Can't remember the Scriptures. As a non practicing jw I stand by my choice because it's their body and they can choose for themselves what they want to do. Also I have read where the uncircumcised can have a better feeling during sex once they learn to get past the feeling to launch early.

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