Saturday, December 31, 2016

Eighth Day of Christmas: Beware of the Cutters

http://emmock.com/2011/01/01/bible-blog-335/
Welcome to January 1st. In the "Land of the Long Weekend" this is the day to recover from the NYE parties and celebrations. It\s a day at the beach or home with a 'Barby".

In good old Catholic Tradition this day was known as the Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord. Yes, it is the only Catholic feast for a medical procedure. As with all great Biblical accounts there is a picture gallery available on google.

Circumcision gets some pretty good press in the Scriptures as a popular practice and metaphor. By the time you have worked through the Hebrew Scriptures and made your way to some of Paul's letters you get to the most cutting of his statements:  "Beware of the cutters,"  (Ph.3:2).  So, there you have it, time to stop infant circumcision!! If Paul was around today he would probably join one of the Facebook pages against infant circumcision.

Circumcision has made its way into the public forum. SBS Insight had a public forum: The First Cut. Two of my good friends appeared as guests Elwyn Moir and Sharon Orapeleng. By strange coincidence they were seated next to each other for the recording.

Thanks to this feast we also have a great new word for scrabble: prepuce.  The Holy Prepuce or the story of the foreskin relics is another contribution of Catholicism to the religious entertainment industry. It seems that we can also learn a bit from Michelangelo about this practice.

And so a new year is upon us. May it bring you blessings of peace and happiness. May we work together to build a community of hope and justice in our neighbourhoods and on our planet.

1 comment:

Elwyn said...

As an intactivist it had come to my attention that it was the day of Christ's circumcision. Often, Christians (more often, American Christians) believe that male genital mutilation ("circumcision") is part of their religion, whereas as you... discuss Christian theology looks to a "circumcision of the heart".

It's also worth mentioning that the circumcision Jesus received would bare no resemblence to circumcision as we know it today. Judaic circumcision today comprises three ritual acts on the body - the initial incision, the complete excision of the entire prepuce (and usually some shaft skin), and a final blood removal. Christ would only have received the far less radical initial trimming of the tip of the foreskin.

Because in Helenic and other ancient times it was deemed crude for the glans to be showing (i.e. because it signaled arousal in public, e.g. at the Olympic games) many jews who wished to participate in public life would put a clip on their remaining foreskin to keep to pulled forward over the glans. Those who did this regularly basically regrew the length of foreskin required to permanently cover the glans - the first foreskin restorers. The jewish theologists worried that this confused or "hid" the religion of the jewish men who did it, so the more radical form of circumcision was mandated to completely remove the entire prepuce.

While the original, more conservative circumcision would have left the glans better protected and avoided keritonisation and desensitisation, it still would have removed the ridged band of highly sensitive nerve endings that runs from the frenulum around the foreskin's appature/opening, severely decreasing sexual pleasure. Until modern times no secret was made of the fact that one of the main "benefits" of circumcision was the oblation or "taming" or sexual pleasure.

Many jews now perform alternative welcoming ceremonies for their baby boys to allow them to keep their whole penis. You may be interested to google "Beyond The Bris". While circumcision for consenting adults is an interesting and sometimes meaningful body modification, inflicting it on children is, without hyperbole, plainly barbaric and callous, and radically infringes the right to bodily integrity and autonomy of those boys, and the men they become. It IS rightly called male genital mutilation, it is rightly compared to the removal of the clitoral hood in females, and in those who can't give their informed consent, it's morally abhorrent.