Barbaric Torture


The Old Testament practice of circumcision of infants (and of coerced adults) is barbaric torture. It is excruciatingly painful and causes post-traumatic stress disorder as well as other side-effects. Certainly God would not command such a thing?


From the Bible

In the book of Genesis God commands Abraham to circumcise all who were to be members of God's covenant people...

And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. (Genesis 17:9,10)

Lest there be any question about it; it is confirmed that this was a command of God...

And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. (Genesis 21:4)

God threatened judgment upon Moses for not following this command of God...

And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision. (Exodus 4:24-26)

Note that Zipporah didn't think too highly of the practice. Her comment suggests that the source of this practice was Abraham, not God.

Jesus (or perhaps it was the gospel writer John) acknowledges that Moses didn't institute the practice of circumcision but that Abraham did...

Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. (John 7:22)

Jesus himself was circumcised...

And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. (Luke 2:21)

When Abraham circumcised the males in his tribe, God left first. We should expect God to be fully present during a ritual such as this which is an essential of the covenant...

And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham. And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him. (Genesis 17:22,23)

God was present during the covenant rite with Abraham and in fact passed between the pieces of the sacrificed animals...

And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. (Genesis 15:17)

As it turns out, it is not the outward act of circumcision that makes a person a member of God's covenant people, but their actions...

For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. (Romans 2:28,29)

So it appears that Abraham got it wrong; circumcision was not an essential of the covenant with God after all.


Conclusions

I propose that just as God did not command the Old Testament Israelites to perform genocide and other atrocities,so also God did not command circumcision.

Moses allowed for divorce as a statute from the Lord in violation of God's will...

These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the LORD God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth. When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. (Deuteronomy 12:1;24:1)

Yet Jesus says Moses was mistaken...

And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. (Mark 10:5,6)

God gave multiple wives to king David; and he could have more if he wanted them...

And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things. (2 Samuel 12:7,8)

God chose to establish his covenant nation from a man with multiple wives and concubines...

And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him. And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel. And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land. (Genesis 35:9-12)

In the context of establishing a covenant with Abraham, God modifies his program based on Abraham's requests. This is from the same covenantal passage as at the beginning of this article...

And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. (Genesis 17:20)

Earlier, Abraham engaged God in a two-way dialog in which God adapted his provisions based on Abraham's questions and statements. Abraham asked for a sign and God granted one; a covenantal ceremony familiar to the people of the day...

And he said, LORD God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? (Genesis 15:8)

Presumably the rite of circumcision was Abraham's idea and God allowed it just as he allowed all kinds of other things such as polygamy, slavery, gruesome wars, etc. If God had judged everyone based on his perfect standards of holiness he would have had to destroy the human race (and the animal kingdom as well.)