Every once in a long while, I get a letter like this that re-inspires me to keep going on my heart’s desired goal of equal rights for baby boys. Protection from mutilating surgery. I’m posting this to inspire others to keep on talking and trusting that the parents of today will eventually find the way to setting aside genital cutting. Love Gloria
I decided I needed to write to you to let you know that all of your efforts towards ending circumcision are not in vain. I’m sure you already know that, but perhaps a story of victory will be of encouragement. When we met, I had honestly never heard anyone stand against the concept of male circumcision. I had never considered it anything like female circumcision. I grew up in a Christian home, where we leaned pretty Jewish in our theology and circumcision was considered incredibly important. When my brother was born my parents had a Christian doctor who was terribly against circumcision and they heeded his advice and left my brother intact. My mom especially has always regretted that decision, and felt that she wronged my brother by being persuaded by the doctor. My brother has had many obstacles in his life and somehow these obstacles were all directed back to the “lack of blessing”.
When you explained your stance I began a rigorous examination of what I had always held to be the only way. At first glance my stance was only fortified because the scripture that refers to circumcision is so clear. Through this act you will receive the blessings bestowed upon Abraham and his generations and without it you will be cut off from any blessings and considered outside of the family. It wasn’t until I started to research what circumcision really looked like at that time that I realized the problem. You may already know this, but in antiquity circumcision was a cut at the base of the foreskin with a heated knife and then a partial pulling away, with the fingernails, which left the foreskin attached at the top. When the battles began between the Greeks and the Jews over circumcision (Jewish women and children slaughtered by the Greeks over circumcision, therefore Jews hiding it or not circumcising, and Jewish zealots forcing circumcision on any Jew found in tact) the Jewish zealots began to enforce the full removal of the foreskin in order to prevent Jews from “hiding” by pulling the foreskin down over the tip.
I also learned that this full removal in North America was used as a form of physiological control over the population, doctors suggesting to use no pain relief in order to associate pain with that region and “curb sexual desires”. Pretty messed up.
The part that really got me was that the original concept of circumcision was a blood covenant. I knew it was a covenant but I had missed this crucial point. You see the Rabbis would suck a drop of blood from the site of the wound and spit it out as a sign of now belonging to the same blood covenant as Abraham.
The problem with this today is that currently Jewish culture does no blood rituals. They stopped when the temple was destroyed, and let’s be honest if the temple was rebuilt they would have a big challenge on their hands because culture has changed and this is no longer acceptable. What this blood covenant means to me as a Christian is that I cannot partake in this ritual because I am under the blood covenant of Jesus and what He did on the cross. I would be choosing a lesser covenant, with Abraham, for my child.
Now that all sounds pretty fanatical and religious and obviously there would be other factors in my decision making process but these concepts were still lurking there in my mind. I was over the moon excited to have a baby girl, partly because I REALLY wanted another daughter, and partly because I still didn’t know what to do by the time she was born. I finally feel completely freed from this concept. I actually strongly believe most of what the Jewish culture followed in antiquity was based on the atrocities that already occurred around them in neighboring cultures. I believe the regulations God gave them prevented them from doing terrible things that were considered normal and that over the years as they were drawn away from those cultures and into the culture of Heaven they were released more and more from these old regulations. I believe God is about compassion, love, justice, kindness and protecting the weak; and the darkness of our culture is a remnant from choosing to walk away from God in the garden.
It therefore does not make sense for this tradition to continue, a tradition that seems to tie itself with the darkness of a past age we have thankfully walked away from. However, it is imperative that people really walk out the process of making that decision for themselves so they do not end up, like my mom was for a season, blaming their choice on someone else’s coercion. The reason I wanted to share all of this with you is because the arguments you were using to explain why circumcision needed to stop were not completely shifting my viewpoint. You see growing up a Christian in a non-Christian culture there were a lot of things I had to choose to do that no one else understood, like waiting until I got married to have sex. Friends scoffed at me that I could never “make it” but I did. I have a pretty determined personality and I am capable of holding strong to a conviction without making a lot of noise about it. It is similar to my convictions against vaccines and on limiting medical interference in life, I have wonderful family members who are so passionately against me in this area that it can feel normal to go against someone else’s convictions. I wondered if knowing a tipping point for someone like me, might give you better tools to help someone in the future to rethink their position.
I hope this does not make you think less of me. You made it clear (when we first met) how against it you were, and I took that to heart. I felt that this was not something to be ignored when you so passionately battle to see it eradicated. I can now confidently say I agree with you wholeheartedly. From a Christian perspective I can say I believe it is wrong, and thought I do not know exactly how to work out the details I am pretty confident it is also no longer necessary for those of Jewish decent. I believe this concept of Bris Shalom would more than adequately cover the need for covenant and adhering to the bestowing of generational blessings. But, that is not my path to walk out.
Even before I completely agreed with you I was so impressed by your stance. I am honoured to know someone like you who is willing to protect these little lives no matter what the personal cost might be. I have so much respect for you. Thank you for what you do, -in birth and in protecting little boys. Shifting mind sets is no easy task. You are a true history maker. Love, Lydia
For more information on a naming ceremony that doesn’t involve any cutting or bleeding see: http://www.beyondthebris.com/2011/07/brit-shalom-alternative-naming-ceremony.html