Question:

I read your explanation on the subject of "circumcision." It was very good. However I believe that having your son circumcised is a good thing. Not for any religious reason but health issues which there are many. Maybe you could add that in your presentation that though circumcision is no longer required as a religious requirement it certainly has many health benefits.


Answer:

I have read extensively on the issue of circumcision. In 1999, the medical community stated that there is no health benefit to circumcision (which corresponds with what the Scriptures state). For example, the American College of Pediatrics in AAP News Vol. 15 No. 3 March 1999, p. 10 stated, "Circumcision is not essential to a child’s well-being at birth, even though it does have some potential medical benefits. These benefits are not compelling enough to warrant the AAP to recommend routine newborn circumcision." There is a slight decrease in penile cancer and a recent study indicates a lower chance of catching HIV. Penile cancer is connected to HPV (genital warts). Both HPV and HIV do decrease with a decrease in the amount of surface contact, which is why condoms are being advocated for the promiscuous. The problem is that the decrease is far lower than the risk of complications from circumcision surgery. In addition, the risk areas are in realms of improper sexual behavior. Therefore, I see no need to advocate circumcision, nor do I state that it is wrong. It is simply a cosmetic choice these days.

Since this was originally written, the AAP has modified their recommendation. "After a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence, the American Academy of Pediatrics found the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks, but the benefits are not great enough to recommend universal newborn circumcision." ["Newborn Male Circumcision"] The conclusion is based on the fact that circumcision surgeries don't carry many risks in today's environment and complications are very rare. The one new item is a decrease in the risk of bladder infections in the first year of life. About 1% of all infants get a bladder infection during their first year. Uncircumcised boys have a 0.7 to 1.4% chance of getting a bladder infection but circumcised boys have a 0.1 to 0.2% chance of getting a bladder infection. ["Male Circumcision"] The reason given is simple cleanliness of the penis. What isn't known is how well parents of uncircumcised infants were keeping their penises clean (unsheathing the penis once it detaches from the glans when washing the body). It is possible that bladder infections could also be reduced by training parents of uncircumcised boys the proper way to wash their son's penis. By the way, the AAP notes that STD rates in uncircumcised adults are also proportional to how well the penis is kept clean, though cleaning alone cannot prevent infections. Still, the AAP states the "health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns." ["Circumcision Policy Statement," 2012]

I'll stick to what the Scriptures teach. "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters" (I Corinthians 7:19). Whether a male is circumcised or not is basically the same.


[Note: When this note was first written, the AAP had the full article online at no charge. They now charge for access to the article. I found a free copy of their 1999 policy statement at AAP Circumcision Policy Statement.]