The bible tells Christians not to circumcise. I regularly hear Christians defending circumcision because the bible says to do it. It’s obvious they haven’t actually researched what the bible says on circumcision *in the New Testament*. The thing is it flat out tells us not to circumcise. If religion plays a role in your circumcision decision, read all the verses on circumcision before concluding your Christian stance on the issue. In the Old Testament, God’s people were instructed to circumcise in Genesis chapter 17. In the New Testament, Christians were repeatedly told not to circumcise. There are a lot of verses on this. I will write them out below. Read Luke 2:21 where Jesus was circumcised and read John 7:22-23 and Acts 7:8 referencing history. Make sure you read Romans 2:25-29, Romans 3:1, Romans 3:30, Romans 4:7-16, 1 Corinthians 7:17-19, Galatians chapter 2, Galatians 5:1-12, Galatians 6:12-15, Ephesians 2:11-22, Philippians 3:2-3, Colossians 2:9-14, and Titus 1:9-11.
BIBLE VERSES ON CIRCUMCISION
It was Genesis chapter 17 where Abraham was told to circumcise as the sign of the covenant.
Genesis 17:9-14 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”
There are a couple places in the Old Testament where they talk about God’s people being circumcised: Genesis 34:14-25, Exodus 4:25-26, Exodus 12:43-49, Leviticus 12:1-5, Leviticus 26:4-42, Deuteronomy 10:16, Deuteronomy 30:6, Joshua 5:2-8, Judges 14:3, Judges 15:18, 1 Samuel 14:6,1 Samuel 17:26 and 36, 1 Samuel 18:25-27, 1 Samuel 31:4, 2 Samuel 1:20, 2 Samuel 3:14, 1 Chronicles 10:4, Isaiah 52:1, Jeremiah 4:4, Jeremiah 9:25-26, Ezekiel 28:10, Ezekiel 31:18, and Ezekiel 32:19-32.
In Luke 2:21 we read of Jesus being circumcised on the 8th day.
However, in the New Testament Christians are told not to circumcise.
Romans 2:25-29 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker. A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.
Romans 3:1 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision?
Romans 3:29-30 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.
Romans 4:7-16 “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.
1 Corinthians 7:17-19 Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts.
Galatians chapter 2 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message. On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along. When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.
“But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.
“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
Galatians 5:1-12 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
Galatians 6:12-15 Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.
Ephesians 2:11-22 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands) — remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Philippians 3:2-3 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh--
Colossians 2:9-14 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
Titus 1:9-11 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.
As it is plain to see, circumcision was a sign of the covenant in the Old Testament. Now that we are in the new covenant with Jesus not under the law but under grace circumcision is not for us. If you are Christian, you cannot biblically say you want to circumcise for religious reasons. Even if you somehow missed all that above, the circumcision procedure done today is not the same as what was done in Old Testament days. Here is a good article on that http://www.drmomma.org/2010/07/biblical-circumcision-information.html
Even if you do interpret these verses that Christians are supposed to circumcise, what if your son grows up and chooses a different religion? I sincerely hope all your children grow to know and love Jesus, but what if they grow up and look at these same verses only to conclude they shouldn’t have been circumcised? Let them choose their own religious beliefs when it comes to surgically altering their body. Some other reasons people choose to circumcise are actual medical necessity which is very rare, perceived health benefits of routine infant circumcision, cultural norm, matching parents or family tradition, and personal sexual preference. Let’s take a quick look at those reasons.
I’ve heard it said by women that men should be circumcised because that’s how they like it sexually. Some women want their men circumcised. Some want them uncircumcised. We are talking about surgically altering your child’s genitals based on your own sexual preference. That is so unethical. You’re not going to be having sex with them so your sexual preferences don’t matter. You don’t know what their future sexual partners are going to like or what they are going to like with their own body. Maybe when they grow up they will like having their foreskin. If they don’t like it, they can choose to be circumcised as an adult.
Do you really need to match? If you have a scar on your arm, would you scar your son’s arm so you can match? Of course not. When they get older if they ask questions about why Daddy or their older brothers were circumcised and they are not you can tell them you learned more about it and decided not to do it. It’s that simple. The more you know the better you do.
Culture. The majority of the world does not circumcise. In America, circumcision began in the 1900s to prevent masturbation in children. They used to circumcise boys and girls. Female circumcision was outlawed in America in 1996. I look forward to the day that non-medically necessary male circumcision is also outlawed. Fewer and fewer people are circumcising. It is becoming the cultural norm to be uncircumcised or intact as some prefer to call it.
Health benefits? Is it healthier to be circumcised? They used to say so. They now say differently. Routine infant circumcision is not necessary. There are guaranteed downsides to amputating the foreskin such as loss of sexual pleasure every day for the rest of his life. There are also a lot of side effects and risks. Every year over 100 baby boys die from circumcision. Many more hemorrhage, get infections, and have permanent damage that may not be recognized until puberty. They have also found circumcised men are more likely to get STDs. If you research circumcision for health reasons, it is clearly not beneficial to their health to be done routinely.
This blog was really just an introduction. The purpose of this blog was to speak on the religious side of circumcision as a Christian. I will write another blog in the future on the medical side of circumcision. I didn’t get into detail on the procedure or the risk. Do your research before making the circumcision decision. Research details on the function of the foreskin, the circumcision procedures, videos, pictures, side effects and risks, parental regret, and the growing number of men who are upset they had cosmetic surgery on their penis as a minor without consent and now have permanent decrease in sexual pleasure. Ultimately, it is not your decision to make. You don’t own your son’s penis. It doesn’t belong to you. You don’t have the right to surgically alter it for cosmetic or religious reasons. This is a human rights issue. If a man wants circumcised, that should be his decision as a fully consenting adult. Genital surgery should never be done on a minor unless it is medically necessary. End routine infant circumcision!
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