Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Great Circumcision Debate

Reading over a past post on Splendid Sun, I'm reminded of the controversy surrounding my own son's birth. There was a bit of conversation between my wife and me about how to handle the delicate decision of lopping off a bit of our child, if it was born a boy. At that point, we did not know what we would have. The ultrasound told us little, because he (as it turned out) was shy and actively hid himself. So, our conversations were along the lines of:

"If it's a girl, we can name her Allison. But if it's a boy, I don't like the names you've chosen."
"I don't want the names you want either."
"Well, if it's a boy, I think we should circumcise him, because you are."
"I don't want my son to be cut up. My son won't have any spare parts."

That became my mantra. My son has no spare parts.

My wife and I attended a parenting/birthing class, which was a good preparation for us. The teacher had an approach I appreciated. She didn't tell us one way of doing things was good or bad. She just informed us and let us make up our own minds. One night, we watched a video of a newborn boy getting clipped, and I tell you what. My decision was confirmed, and Kari's mind was changed. No circumcision. I think it cruel and unnecessary.

So, out comes a boy and we do nothing to his little member, but resolve to keep it clean to avoid any infections. End of story.

Except we found that everyone had an opinion about my son's penis. People were excited to hear I was a father, to hear I had a boy. And nine out of ten times, they felt it was their business to ask if he was circumcised. "No," I would tell them.

"Are you crazy? He could get infected (get cancer, lose his sex drive, whatever) if you don't."

I got pretty good at avoiding debates. But the fact of the matter is, with all the research I put into it, there was no good reason to clip the little guy. All the health reasons cited were all maybe's. Sure, he might get infected. So keep it clean. Duh! Or he might get cancer. Well *cue the sarcasm* cut it all off, then! I mean, maybe I'll get appendicitis, so let's go ahead and do an appendectomy on me. Or let's push this to the extreme. Maybe, I'll get lung cancer, so let's just remove my left lung. But what if we removed the wrong one? *end the sarcasm* Uh, yeah. People! You keep it clean and things will be OK. If there is a medical reason to remove it later, do it later. It will be OK.

Social reasons . . . what a horrible reason to mutilate one's genitalia. I don't plan on raising my son in Utah for much longer, especially not in Utah valley, where everyone damages their sons. But even if we stayed here (God forbid), my son would just have to deal with the fact that his penis was different from the mutilated boys around him. And what is up with Mormons doing this to their baby boys? Mormons do believe the law of Moses was done away, right? I mean, there was a big debate about this very topic in the period of the apostles, some time after Christ's resurrection (see the Acts 15:1-31). As I recall, the decision was to not continue the barbaric practice. The law was and is fulfilled in Christ. It's over, through! We are now to be circumcised of heart. Why, oh why do Mormons keep hurting their sons in this cruel manner?

Making him match his father? Why do I want him to match me? That's a dumb reason if I've ever heard one. If he asks, I will have a discussion with him about it.

Newborns don't have developed pain sensors. What kind of idiotic statement is that? At the very least, they don't like being strapped down. At the very least, they just came out of a nice, warm, safe womb, to be subjected to legalized torture. But maybe, just maybe, their sensors are different from an older baby. He still doesn't deserve that kind of treatment. It used to be done without anesthetic. How cruel is that?

Reasons to not do it. As already stated, it is mean. They don't like having it done. It diminishes sexual feeling. It is unnecessary. God doesn't even expect us to do it. People, let us stop hurting our little boys!

Thankfully, I don't get the questions about my son's penis any more. People I didn't know made it their business. But what gave these perfect strangers the right to ask (and force their opinions upon me) in the first place? This is a rather personal matter. And now I am a hypocrite for blogging about it. But at least it's my son I'm talking about.


Eh? Nony Mouse said...

For some people, the "it reduces sexual feeling" WOULD be a good reason. It would be kind to your future daughter-in-law. Men have it easy enough as it is.

Eh? Nony Mouse said...

I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said anything. Keyboard-in-mouth disease.

Anonymous said...

I think it's important that parents do their own research and consider the social, cultural, and physical factors in this decision as well. The research seems to indicate that there are potential health benefits to circumcision, but they are not guaranteed. I really don't think most people are very educated on this topic. My brother chose not to circumcise his son and my parents were appalled. I think it was just such an assumed thing with the past generation, but today it is becoming less and less popular. There is really great debate about whether to circumcise or not at Experts from both sides debate the issue and make some interesting points. Really good read!

Vesper said...

Seriously? for pete's sake they should have butted right out of that one.. nosey, way too nosey. The LDS church does not have any religious standpoint on it and the doctrine in the scriptures is pretty clear especially in the BoM and D&C. Not religiously required, and it's a medical preference alone, so it's really NONE of their business. I'm sorry that you went through that!