circumcision & Catholic teaching ?


#1

**1. On another board there is heated debate the Catholic Church says it should not be done to Catholic boys. **


**2. There’s also debate about the whether the hygene factor is really an issue. **


3. Then there’s the basic issue of dad’s just wanting their sons to be like them.


So what’s everyone’s perspective on these 3 issues here in Catholic Answers??


I’ll be honest from the go and say all 6 of my sons have been and if the next is a boy - he’ll get it too. (For those interested, I recommend the plasti-bell method vs the clamp method. The clamp method looks like a botched operation, imo.) I prefer the ease of care, but mostly it’s a “be like dad” thing in our house - my dh would insist on this.


So… let the friendly debate begin!


#2

Ah, this is such a wonderful debate, lol. Really it’s up to parents to decide (which is ironic, since it directly affects the boy for the rest of his life), but anyway. According to the Church it’s not needed for your salvation so it’s not a moral issue, again up to the parents. Jesus was circ’d so it’s obviously not a sin. Medically, it’s not necessary. Personally, my only son is NOT circ’d and any future sons won’t be. I couldn’t see inflicting this on my newborn son. I’ve seen it done and it horrified me. Now I know that they use meds now and it’s all peachy keen, but it still has to HURT! I recommend researching thoroughly and making your decision based upon research (and not on if he’ll look like dad or not, for heaven’s sake he’s a little boy and DOESN’T look like dad!!–that would be my pet peeve about this issue, if you couldn’t tell). God bless and keep it nice people! :smiley:
Jennifer


#3

Well, Catholics don’t have to be circumcised (I think it talks about this somewhere in the book of Acts).

But I don’t think this means that Catholics can’t or shouldn’t be circumcised. In Acts, or one of the letters of Paul, or something, the people he speaks against are ‘those who insist on cutting the skin’, I think this means only the people who are saying that you must be Catholic. If they really had a problem with every circumcision then he would have said ‘those who cut the skin’ or something like that, made it more clear that circumcision was right out, rather than just not necessary any more.

So yea, I think it’s totally up to you whether your sons are circumcised or not.

As for the hygene factor. As far as I recall, the foreskin is a piece of lymphoid tisse. You have lymphoid tissue everywhere where you have an opening into the body, to stop germs and etc. from getting in - eg, tonsils in the mouth. The foreskin is there to protect the body, so I reckon that it’s actually probably more hygenic to leave the foreskin on.

As for dads wanting their sons to be like them, well, that sounds like neither a bad nor a good motive. If that’s what they want, it doesn’t really bother me.


#4

For my personal choice, any sons I have will be circumcised. My husband is and he wants his sons to be as well. Not for religious reasons, but for the sake of the sone being like him and for cleanliness.

Honestly, I think it will be easier to teach a young boy better hygiene without that extra tissue to work around. Myself being a female and my husband being circumcised - neither of us would probably be educated enough on how to fully maintain and clean an uncircumcised child.

I think in my Midwest area of the States it is a common practice from what I understand. So there is the factor of down the road not having my son teased in a locker room situation by unkind boys.

I see no problem with people choosing to not do that to their sons either. It is entirely a family/parent choice and does not seem to be “wrong” one way or another.


#5

When we were about to have our son, we researched the issue with a completely open mind, wanting to do what is best for our son. And we decided that there was no good reason to circumcise him and many good reasons to leave him “in tact.” As far as “looking like dad” goes, is a son really going to be looking at his dad naked all that much? And my husband happens to have a beard… so will my son look at his father’s facial hair and think “Gee, I don’t look like Dad!”?

But we do believe it is a personal choice, and before researching it, we both thought we would be circumcising our son :slight_smile:


#6

My five year old son is not circumcised. Here are the reasons why:

#1. We didn’t need to for religious reasons. We aren’t Jewish or Muslim so we didn’t need to do it to fulfill a religous requirement or covenant with God. For the Christian, Baptism replaced circumcision. I can understand and respect parents who choose to do it as a religious requirement. Christians are not required to circumcise their sons, in fact, New Testament scripture specifically tackles this issue.

#2. Cultural norms: I am not going to have a knife taken to my son’s genitals simply because it is “in fashion.” To do it simply because my husband is circumcised, is a matter of cosmetic preference. My husband and I refused to put our son under the knife for an unnecessary,and painful, procedure, which has a risk of complications, sometimes serious and permanant, simply for appearances. Circumcision became popular in America for a few reasons. Early on, It was thought that it would help prevent masturbation. It was done *routinely *to military men during WWII to help prevent VD and for other proposed hygeine purposes. So the procedure “took hold” of American culture and it became more routine in America after the men returned home. What’s good for the father is good for the son…

If parents are concerned about their kid looking different in the locker room, fear not. A sizable number of fellow parents from your child’s generation are figuring out how barbaric and unnecessary circumcision is, and are choosing not to do that to their sons. An uncircumcised penis among my son’s peers won’t be so very unusual. I know most of my friend’s babies born during the same year as my son didn’t do it, including his pediatrician’s sons.

#3 There is a** higher risk of complications from the surgical procedure than the slight risk of an infection related to an uncircumcised penis. Honestly, I was guessing the percentage of infection would be much higher in uncircumcised boys, but after doing research and reading the studies, I was shocked to see how low the numbers are. Most of the world is uncircumcised. It would seem that if remaining uncircumcised is such a problem, that Europe would “catch on” and begin routine circumcision. Most men of the world seem to function just fine with their foreskin intact.

#4 It is not a problem to clean. We began teaching our son how to clean his own penis from the time he could hold a washcloth. It isn’t difficult. He takes his own showers and we occasionally remind him to do it just like we remind him to wash his ears. I must add that he forgets to wash his ears from time to time, but he never forgets his penis. :slight_smile: The important thing for American parents to remembers is not to force the foreskin back when changing diapers, just gently push the skin back and wipe with a baby wipe, just like you would changing a girl’s diaper. I have heard of parents who think they have to force the skin back and use Q-tips to clean etc. These poor parents end up causing irritation or even infection. Girls have a higher risk of bladder infection or UTI than uncircumcised boys. All it takes is to gently push the skin back, gentlywipe with a wash cloth and rinse. Nothing more. The foreskin is not completely retractible until later into childhood. By then the boy is washing himself (unless there are developmental problems or something)

The first feeling a boy has in his penis should not be extreme pain. Why do that for cosmetic purposes?
Anyone who is considering doing it for hygeine or medical purposes, to prevent UTI, an extremely rare form of penile cancer or to have a slightly lower risk of V.D. should actually look at the studies and results themselves. The risk is much lower than the risk of problems resulting from the circumcision! Putting our boys through this pain and risk for such minor reasons is unnecessary. I honestly feel we are in need of cultural change in America regarding routine circumcision.

I know parents who think it horrible when people pierce their baby girl’s ears, yet they have skin from their newborn son’s genitals cut.

I don’t judge other parents, they make their choices, but if I can help one parent to do some research and question whether it is necessary, then I served the purpose of this post.


#7

Okay so far the main line seems to be along “whatever you as parents want to do” (which I happen to agree with), but for the sake of debate I’d like to elaborate. So I’m going to respond to my own post.

[quote=Rob’s Wife]**1. On another board there is heated debate the Catholic Church says it should not be done to Catholic boys. **


Is there any Church teaching that says it is wrong to circumcise a Catholic child? I don’t know… I would also be curious to know it was/is considered wrong only if done as part of a pagan culture? In America it is done fairly regularly, but in Christian families - not done to conform to a pagan society, kwim?


**2. There’s also debate about the whether the hygene factor is really an issue. **


**Personally, I have looked into the science on this and the hygene factor seems to come out even on both sides. There’s a some benefit to leaving things the way they arrive and some benefit to not. I haven’t seen anything over-whelming on either side of that question to lead me pro or against it for that reason alone. **


I will say we don’t get it done right after birth at the hospital to allow time to evaluate the general health of the baby first. Usually we take them to a urologist to get it done sometime the 2nd week after birth.


3. Then there’s the basic issue of dad’s just wanting their sons to be like them.


I see nothing wrong with this, but think many should rephrase it. Maybe it would be better to say parents (or dads) are just more comfortable doing what is familiar to them and has worked for them. Obviously if a father had negative feelings about his or about not having had it - this would influence his opinion for his son. Likewise if a father is comfortable with having been circumcised, he would be comfortable and may even insist on having his son circumcised.

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#8

thankfully, (so far) I only have girls so I’ve not had to research this area or worry about it because reading some of the previous posts… I can see how much you really do have to think about it.

  1. I don’t believe there to be any teaching about circumcision the Church holds to. The OT teaching of circumcision is revealed and redeemed through the NT’s Baptism (I’m no theologian so please refrain from flaming me if I’m not correct… this is my basic understanding). Thus the reason Jews did circumcision on the 8th day and the Church likes to see babies Baptised just as early.

2)Hygiene… I have to laugh… anyone ever have to clean breastfed poo from a baby girl and clean her enough to ensure she doesn’t get a yeast infection? I personally believe that hygiene is as contingent on the person’s ability to maintain a good level of it, not whether you have a piece of skin or not.

  1. looking like dad… I personally don’t feel a young boy will care if his penis looks like dads… do young girls wonder about their mothers’ breasts and compare? (I personally didn’t as I recognized that my mother was her own being and I’m not her) I don’t know… to each their own…

It’s more of a social issue now. I think it’s up to the parents to decide.


#9

I think that most people, including myself, don’t want to insult or hurt other parents’ feelings. I am respectful of parents, but I will go one step further and say I think our culture needs some change on the routine circumcision issue. I don’t blame parents who are simply following the cultural norm, but I hope that parents will begin to explore the issue further and save their sons from it.

There is nothing specifically in Cathololic doctrine which says it should or should not be done. All that I am aware of is Scripture and Tradition which says it is not necessary for salvation, and is replaced by Baptism. I have heard theological explanations for both sides.

I will say I think it is wrong to put a little boy through an unnecessary, painful procedure of cutting the skin on his penis. There is absolutely no good reason to do it, if one looks at the studies and statistics. If this were being done to girls there would be all kinds of women’s rights organizations protesting it, but because they are boys it’s just accepted, like they should be a man and take it because that is how American boys are supposed to look. It used to be that mostly the educated and wealthy gentiles were circumcised and the immigrants, racial minorities or poor were not. This is one reason why, uncircumcised boys were looked down upon. Now the culture is shifting and the more educated are a higher percentage of parents choosing not to circumcise their boys

Baby boys can’t speak for themselves. They depend on us to protect them and make the best decisions for them. All I could do as a parent was study the issue and do what was right for him rather than what is culturally acceptable in America. There are plenty of parents doing the same thing. My son wont’ be the only boy in school who has an anteater peter.

The foreskin protects the penis, supposedly making it more sensitive, leading to a more intense feeling during sex. My husband always says he will explain this to our son if he ever questions our decision.

I am more accepting of circumcision for religious reasons for Muslims and Jews, but there truly is no good reason for parents who are Christian, non religious etc. to do it.

Wake up America! Read the medical studies!


#10

I’ve already done it to the boys I have and was contemplating whether or not to do it to my most recent boy. (all I have is boys) I felt that if I had known 7 years ago, what I know now, I would not have circumcised my boys at all, but how do I not circumcise my youngest and any future boys, when the ones I do have are circumcised. I feel that because I already did it, now I will continue to, but if I could go back and do it all over again, I would have chosen not to.


#11

[quote=luvmykids]I’ve already done it to the boys I have and was contemplating whether or not to do it to my most recent boy. (all I have is boys) I felt that if I had known 7 years ago, what I know now, I would not have circumcised my boys at all, but how do I not circumcise my youngest and any future boys, when the ones I do have are circumcised. I feel that because I already did it, now I will continue to, but if I could go back and do it all over again, I would have chosen not to.
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I remember reading over a website back when I was researching the issue that had some good ways to explain this issue to young children (the issue being why they don’t look like other members of the family). Unfortunately I don’t remember the website, but I’m sure you could do a search and see if any of the suggested conversations would work for you. If you believe that it is not the best thing for your son, rather be creative and come up with a great way of explaining it.


#12

[quote=luvmykids]I’ve already done it to the boys I have and was contemplating whether or not to do it to my most recent boy. (all I have is boys) I felt that if I had known 7 years ago, what I know now, I would not have circumcised my boys at all, but how do I not circumcise my youngest and any future boys, when the ones I do have are circumcised. I feel that because I already did it, now I will continue to, but if I could go back and do it all over again, I would have chosen not to.
[/quote]

I gotta ask, do you think your boys will really care? By the time they “might” care, don’t you think you could explain it to them–“Mommy found out that it wasn’t as good to circ as I was told. I did research and learned and didn’t circ your brothers.” I gotta say I don’t think little boys think that concretely about their penises, maybe I’m wrong. :stuck_out_tongue: I would say make the best decision you can with the info you have now and don’t worry about the past decision you made with the info you had then. Did that make any sense?


#13

[quote=Rob’s Wife]Is there any Church teaching that says it is wrong to circumcise a Catholic child?
[/quote]

From the Council of Florence, Session 11:

“Therefore [the Church] strictly orders all who glory in the name of Christian, not to practise circumcision either before or after baptism, since whether or not they place their hope in it, it cannot possibly be observed without loss of eternal salvation.”

It’s not exactly a de Fide teaching, but it’s something to think about.


#14

[quote=Peace-bwu]I
The foreskin protects the penis, supposedly making it more sensitive, leading to a more intense feeling during sex. My husband always says he will explain this to our son if he ever questions our decision.

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My DH is kinda “caught” on this point too…lol. his logic is the loss of the millions of nerve endings (“if it feels that good without it, can you even imagine how good it would feel WITH it!!!” – Men…lol).

We have a son who is circ’d simply b/c ‘that’s whatcha do’ – but I’m on the fence if we ever have another boy (on one hand, I pray for another boy, b/c my dd is such a ahem handful, on the other, I don’t want to have to deal with the circ issues…tho all in all, between no wedding to pay for, no NRA memberships for DH and all the uncles, etc…boys are looking easier here…)


#15

[quote=Peace-bwu] painful procedure of cutting the skin on his penis.

My sons’ procedures weren’t painfull and no knife was used. I watched. They put a topical pain blocker around the foreskin, slipped the foreskin through the plasti-bell, tied it off, and 5 - 7 days later the plastibell (it’s like a plastic ring with thread) and dead foreskin fell off. None of them cried during the procedure or during diapers afterwards. This procedure also prevents almost all chances of damage to the penis during the procedure. (cutting down too far for example) None of mine have ever had any problems.


The foreskin protects the penis, supposedly making it more sensitive, leading to a more intense feeling during sex.

Supposedly being the major word in that sentence. At best what we do know for fact is that circumcised or not, men seem to have no sexual problems related to either condition.


There is absolutely no good reason to do it, if one looks at the studies and statistics.
Wake up America! Read the medical studies!

You know, I wouldn’t presume to think just because you didn’t circumcise your son, you must just be ignorant to the facts. I have looked at the studies and statistics on both sides and feel no qualms what so ever with having my boys circumcised. I made sure we had good urologists with experience do it, rather than whatever Dr. ready to make a quick $150 was roaming the maternity floor the day he was born.


Let’s keep this friendly please…

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#16

If we are made in God’s image…why alter without a REALLY good reason?

If you are only doing it so it will “look like dad’s” that amounts to cosmetic surgery…on the genitals…hmmm.

What other part of the body is it OK to cut off for convenience sake?

People stop “seeing” that which they are surrounded by. Somehow it has become accepted and normal to alter the genatalia of most boys in America, with no real medical reason, but people think that folks with nose piercings are freaks and not respecting the temple of the Holy Spirit.

I am glad that people are asking these questions. It shows that we are starting to “see” again.

cheddar


#17

Any decision I make regarding the rearing or care of my children, I try to take into account the realm of human history and God’s plan.

My husband isn’t circumcised. Our two sons are not. But in deciding, I also considered that for thousands and thousands of years, baby boys were born with foreskins and survived their childhoods and manhoods in tact.

In the Jewish law, according to Christopher West of “Theology of the Body,” circumcision came about by God to remind Jewish men of the marriage covenant and God’s promises to his people, that they and their decendants would be as numerous as the stars.

There is not much worry about infection with an uncircumsised boy as long as you bathe him regularly and teach him hygiene. The foreskin is attached to the penis cell-to-cell, until natural erections gently and gradually pull the foreskin away from the penis, allowing for retraction. Most boys do this by age 2 or 3, but our 4yo son’s foreskin still doesn’t retract. No worry. It will when it’s good and ready.


#18

Well… I don’t really think it makes a difference one way or another. But my husband is dead set on it for hygiene purposes. (he and his brother were circumcised) And he ain’t backin down. So looks like we’ll go the circ route right now, for any future sons.


#19

[quote=Benedictus]From the Council of Florence, Session 11:

“Therefore [the Church] strictly orders all who glory in the name of Christian, not to practise circumcision either before or after baptism, since whether or not they place their hope in it, it cannot possibly be observed without loss of eternal salvation.”

It’s not exactly a de Fide teaching, but it’s something to think about.
[/quote]

I would regard this as like the former absolute prohibition on cremation, because it was felt to be a denial of Catholic teaching by its nature, even if the person had no such intention. (i.e. that cremation denied the Catholic belief in the resurrection, and that circumcision denied the Catholic belief that baptism makes one Christian and that circumcision is not necessary.) Nowadays it is acknowledged that this is not necessarily so.

I am but my sons are not, and it has never been a problem. We and my parents both followed the medical consensus at the time. I am amused by the parents who want to circumcise their sons “so they will look like their Dad”. Do the menfolk of these families stand around comparing their privates?? Maybe we should shave a bald patch in the heads of boys whose father is going bald?


#20

[quote=Celia]Well… I don’t really think it makes a difference one way or another. But my husband is dead set on it for hygiene purposes. (he and his brother were circumcised) And he ain’t backin down. So looks like we’ll go the circ route right now, for any future sons.
[/quote]

Besides the hygiene issue–which is not trivial in older men with a diminished capacity to take care of themselves–I have heard another reason from emergency department personnel who treat the poor fellows (mostly children who don’t know better and the intoxicated) who retract their foreskins and then neglect to put them back. Because the blood circulation is cut off, the organ gets swollen and very painful, kind of like when you wind string around your finger too tightly. It is not apparently not complicated to correct, but the procedure is not any picnic for the patient. At any rate, fixing enough of these and seeing enough nasty fungal infections in old guys puts a check-mark in the “pro-circ” column, especially for males who have lost their own foreskins early and never missed them.

PS I knew of one doctor who said that he and his brother, circumcised, saw their dad, uncircumcised, and assumed he had been in some sort of horrible accident, like a fire or something. Still, being different than dad is hardly the worst thing in the world.


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