We’re going to talk about a sensitive subject. Don’t worry, I blush a little too when I say the word “penis,” but for the sake of our children, I think we both need to get over it so we can talk about the bigger issue here … circumcision.
[ It is sad I have to state this disclaimer but for the sake of those who will launch charges against the words in my post, I feel this is necessary: I’m not here to tell you what to do with your son, nor will I shame you for the decision you did or did not make. If you think I’m going to lead some sort of war against the foreskin or the scalpel, I’m not. Foreskin, no foreskin, we can still be friends. I think it wise, for the sake of dialogue, to put our weapons away and let down our defenses. ]
In case you weren’t aware, the CDC for the first time ever, is issuing federal guidelines on circumcision. You see, Christians are realizing that you don’t need to chop off a part of the penis to be saved; parents in general are questioning a long-held practice that serves no useful purpose and leaves many boys who undergo the procedure disfigured (if you assume circumcision in and of itself doesn’t disfigure); and the rate of circumcision is down to 58% in the United States. While we’re being honest, they’re running out of foreskins to use in high-end cosmetics, face creams, medical products, and cosmetic testing.
Whoa, you didn’t know that baby foreskin is big business?
It’s true. One baby foreskin can produce $100,000 worth of fibroblasts that can be used in all sorts of anti-aging goodies. The bio-medical and pharmaceutical companies rely specifically on the foreskins from infants to create medical products like insulin and interferon, skin grafts, eyelids, and other skin care treatments.
Since circumcision is a billion dollar industry, there’s a lot riding on the CDC’s position, and who do you think sinks big money into the CDC to influence the CDC’s guidelines? The bio-medical and pharmaceutical industries.
I can’t make this stuff up. Seriously, Merck (a pharmaceutical company) financially supports the CDC and was also the U.S subsidiary of EMD Millipore Corporation, which produces human foreskin fibroblasts. The same company (American Type Culture Collection) that sells 1 ml of frozen baby foreskin cells for as little as $587 is also a listed partner of the CDC Foundation. Hello? Anyone?
But maybe it’s not really about the money and the CDC is keeping up with its reputation and cracking down on anything common sense, all in the name of scientific “evidence” of course. The CDC claims to favor circumcision because a few clinical studies conducted in Africa among adult men showed it might help prevent HIV or sexually transmitted diseases…not the kind of HIV transferred between an HIV infected man who has intercourse with a woman, or a man who has intercourse with a man, but the “other type” of HIV transmission…the type that occurs from “looking” at someone else who has HIV.
I might be pointing out the obvious here, but this isn’t Africa. We have much lower HIV numbers and the majority of HIV infections in the United States are attributed to male-male sex, and circumcision does not alleviate this risk. Basing federal guidelines on studies conducted in third-world countries among adult men is about as “evidenced-based” as issuing a weather advisory for Florida based off of the sub-zero temps. in Antarctica. Yes, you should wear a coat and 7-layers today if you’re venturing out to SeaWorld because Antartica is experiencing a snow storm. Makes sense.
And I don’t even want to know what the CDC’s stance would be on female circumcision if it could almost prevent a case of HIV. I’m assuming that’s next in the pipeline if we’re being fair to both genders.
That aside, is it wise make decisions for our children based on who they may or may not become as adults?
I wouldn’t put my child on a liquid diet because there is a chance he might become obese as an adult, or give my daughter a mastectomy because she has a breast cancer gene that may or may not express itself, or vaccinate my child if it could expose her to the very disease it’s designed to prevent or far worse side effects than the disease itself, or subject my child to a procedure only somewhat supported on a good day by “science” in a third-world country. So why would I cut off the tip of my son’s self-cleaning equipment…to prevent a UTI that could occur whether my son is circumcised or not?
Sure, opting out of circumcision may carry risks like…urinary tract infections one can get whether they are circumcised or not, the spread of STDs that occur in men with and without foreskins, and “HIV” (I think we’ve covered that).
However, the risks of circumcision include pain, infection, hemorrhage, scarring, difficulty urinating, buried penis, adhesions, meatal stenosis, injury to the penis, and death. Circumcision removes the protective barrier of the penis, decreases sensation and sexual pleasure, and increases the chance of sexual dysfunction as an adult.
Like most CDC “guidelines,” I’ll be tossing these out the window and will issue a few of my own:
- Base your decision whether or not to circumcise off of scientific evidence (or the fact that there is none to support the practice). There has not been a single randomized clinical trial conducted in the United States that supports male circumcision.
- If you’re leaning towards circumcision because you believe Christians must be circumcised, read the New Testament’s explicit references to circumcision and the Old Testament history of why circumcision was implemented to begin with.
- Research circumcision. It is not just a “flap of skin,” but is 15-square inches of skin by the time your child is fully grown. The procedure does cause long-lasting pain with or without anesthesia and there can be short and long-term complications.
- Do not base your decision on how your son’s penis will “look, fit-in, or measure up to the penis of his father.” That’s just weird and would go over about as well giving your daughter implants so her chest size matches yours. In all other areas of life we embrace our child’s uniqueness and individuality. We should teach our children that they are not judged, nor should they judge others based on their foreskin status.
- Do not make a decision to circumcise based on your preference with your own partner because your son will not marry you. Your son will one day be married to a woman who either has not been with a man or if she has, might prefer a foreskin.
- Don’t opt for circumcision because you like your circumcised penis. Your son isn’t you and it’s hard to miss what you never had.
- Don’t base your decision to circumcise on a trend because trends change and circumcision cannot be reversed. The United States is the only country in the world that circumcises the majority of its males for non-religious reasons. The truth is, 80-85% of the world’s male population is intact. If you’re circumcising because you think it’s what’s popular today, you might consider how things will change tomorrow.
Instead of cutting off a useful part of the penis, here’s an alternative:
Learn how to properly care for an infant’s penis and choose a doctor who is educated on the foreskin (many aren’t). Practice good hygiene whether your son is circumcised or not. Teach your kids about abstinence or safe sex practices and let your son decide when he is older whether he wants to be circumcised. It is his penis after all.