Is God’s Command to Circumcise At Odds with Principles of Bodily Integrity?

Valentine Wiggin
6 min readOct 1, 2019
Half-peeled banana
Obligatory vaguely phallic image

As a staunch believer in bodily integrity, I have always struggled with God’s initial command to circumcise men and boys. This command made me wonder why God would command genital mutilation. Even though this practice was mostly limited to the Old Testament, it still troubled me that God would command this of all things. Though many sources say that circumcision is a reminder of God’s covenant with Abraham, I still find myself asking “Why circumcision?”, especially when taking into account the other rules the ancient Israelites had to follow.

Why I Think Circumcision, Especially Infant Circumcision is Harmful

In order to understand my perspective on male circumcision, it helps to explain the importance of the foreskin. It is a long tube of skin that covers the glans (head) and shaft of the penis. Its functionality is debated, but it contains mucosal glands similar to those in the eyes and mouth. The foreskin protects the glans, has specialized immunological functions, and aids in pleasuring both the penis-bearer and any sexual partners they may have. It contains a multitude of nerve endings that allow erotic and other sensation to occur.

Circumcision was found to affect the penilo-cavernosus reflex impossible or delayed in one study. This is due to the fact that the foreskin, but not the shaft, has fine-touch receptors. The reflex was clinically non-elicitable in 8% of a control group of non-circumcised men, 64% of men with foreskin retraction, and 73% of circumcised men. The penilo-cavernosus reflex is used by urologists to assess cases of sacral nerve dysfunction among other factors. Since circumcision can make diagnosing sacral neurologic lesions more difficult, it is clear that the foreskin is not a mere extra piece of skin.

Babies who were circumcised were significantly more likely to have skin adhesions, inflammation of the glans, and an irritated urethral opening than those who were intact. This suggests that circumcision does not have a hygienic benefit. Moreover, circumcision is linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, abnormal psychological development in boys, and difficulty in articulating feelings (alexithymia) in men. On top of that, many infant circumcisions in…

Valentine Wiggin

Death-positive, sex-positive, and LGBTQ-affirming Christian. Gen Z. I hate onions. She/her