Local News: This Tuesday morning’s Mission Mississippi Prayer Breakfast will be held at Mississippi Baptist Medical Center (1225 North State Street; Jackson, MS). For more information, contact Chaplain Al Carden at 601-968-5146. The purpose of Mission Mississippi’s prayer breakfasts is to foster greater unity across denominational and racial lines among believers in Jackson. To learn more about this metro-Jackson area non-profit organization, visit the web site.
A proposal in San Francisco to ban infant circumcision has been gaining more and more attention nation wide lately. If passed, the ban, which will come before voters on November 8, would make it illegal to circumcise anyone under 18.
It is Jackson Presbyterian Examiner’s conviction that this legislation is blatantly anti-Semitic and attempts to whitewash it as something else are thoroughly unconvincing. According to the Hebrew Scriptures, God gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision and commanded that all his descendants be marked with this sign. God placed such importance on this that men who didn’t comply were to be banished from Israel. In Luke 2, we see Mary and Joseph bringing the 8-day-old Jesus to be circumcised at the Temple.
Jewish Christians, using the New Testament (particularly the book of Acts and Galatians) as a frame of reference, may come to see circumcision as no longer obligatory. As the Body of Christ became increasingly diverse, comprised of both Jews and Gentiles, the apostles, led by the Spirit, determined circumcision couldn’t be mandated any longer. However, if the Old Testament remains one’s only frame of reference, it’s impossible to discard circumcision if one takes the Scriptures seriously.
According to Presbyterian News Service, 80 percent of American men are circumcised, and the number is even higher among Jewish men. Considering the long history of Jewish persecution, it’s understandable that many in the Jewish community feel threatened by the legislation. Of course, the proposal doesn’t explicitly target Jews, but it’s obvious that this is precisely what it does nonetheless. Though there are a number of Jewish medical doctors who believe circumcision should be discontinued—usually because the health benefits are considered inconclusive—the consensus within the Jewish community is that outlawing circumcision is a form of religious discrimination.
Further adding to the controversy is Matthew Hess, a San Diego activist who has recently published a series of cartoons called, “Foreskin Man”, about a hero who saves infants who are about to undergo the “cruel” practice of circumcision. Hess told Religion News Service that his cartoons aren’t anti-Semitic, but rather are “anti-genital mutilation.” However, calling the sacred practice of infant circumcision “genital mutilation” is itself anti-Semitic, as it portrays the God of the Hebrew Scriptures as capricious or mean.
Though one might say the controversy doesn’t necessarily directly affect the Christian community, indirectly it very much does. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The Christian should oppose—and fear—religious discrimination, whatever form it takes, as it’s indicative of a misguided society.
This controversy gives Christians a good opportunity to speak up for their Jewish brothers and sisters, and God knows that’s something the Church hasn’t adequately done in times past. If Jews come to the theological conclusion that circumcision is no longer required by God, that is—from the Christian viewpoint—well and good; however, to force Jews to give this up, criminalizing something so dear to Judaism, under the guise of medical safety, is indefensible and un-American, as it tramples underfoot their religious liberty.
May God give San Francisco voters—especially believers—the courage to do what is right, to ensure that Jewish consciences are protected as they, under God, deserve to be.