“Public schools are prisons!”
“Breastfeeding a 2 year old is sick!”
“I can’t believe they let their 8 year old go biking alone. It’s so dangerous!”
We human beings sometimes criticize each other harshly, particularly when it comes to a subject we can feel very defensive about: parenting decisions.
Most of us are mature enough to not resort to this, but it does happen. The media amplifies this negative behavior to grab attention and get lots of views and comments on their articles about the “mommy wars.”
This is the message the media presents: There are few different kinds of parents. Maybe just two.
- All-natural hippie moms breastfeed, don’t let their kids eat sugar, knit their own mittens out of organic wool they harvested themselves, and probably leave their son’s penis all-natural as well.
- Mainstream moms give their child antibiotics when they are sick, serve chicken nuggets and juice boxes for lunch, move baby to their own room after a few weeks, and probably have their sons circumcised if Dad is.
Maybe you have heard other stereotypes about moms of a certain income level, age, or part of the country. Of course, people don't really fall into neat boxes like this. There isn’t one perfect way to raise a child, and if there was, no one would attain to it because we are all human beings who fall short daily.
If you were to put me in a box, I’d probably fall towards the all-natural hippie moms stereotype.
Made elderberry syrup for a sick child? Check. Nursed a preschooler and a newborn at the same time? Yep. Fermented my own probiotic-rich sauerkraut? Uh-huh. Own a house with solar panels? That’s me. I'll leave the rest to your imagination. But I also really like donuts and drive most places … so much for the box.
Anyway, making a few “natural” choices early on in my parenting career did get the ball rolling. Research led me to believe that my body was well-designed for giving birth, and fussing with the process when nothing is wrong can just introduce more risks.
So it made sense to believe the same thing about my sons’ bodies: they are well-designed, and altering them when nothing is wrong just introduces more risks. And indeed my research showed that there is no medical or hygiene advantage to circumcision, as most medical professionals in the world know.
Here’s the thing: I don’t advocate “one way” for most parenting choices. For example:
- Giving birth without interventions isn’t everyone’s goal, and for some people it isn’t an option or wouldn’t be a wise choice.
- Some families may be able to maintain an overall stewardship of their health and include a few less-healthy treats, and some find they need to be more strict in what they allow in their diet.
- Families choose public school, private school, homeschooling or a mix of those based on a multitude of factors including what’s available, schedule, finances, and educational needs of the child.
I wouldn’t advocate “one way” in birth, diet, or education, and Scripture gives guidance but not a prescribed way, either. All of those decisions are important and deserve research, discussion, and prayer, but there are a variety of paths that are honoring to God in those areas of life.
So why don’t I accept circumcising or not circumcising as both legitimate options for parents to choose? Isn’t every family different? Isn’t it extreme, judgmental and divisive to say that Christians ought not to have their sons’ or daughters’ genitals cut?
My goal, and the goal of Little Images, isn’t to judge people’s standing before God for past actions. Thankfully, Jesus’ death and resurrection covers the hurtful things we have done in the past, whether we meant them to be hurtful or just acted in ignorance. But we do want to get this message out there loud and clear:
- there is no medical advantage to circumcision,
- there is no Biblical or spiritual obligation to do it,
- the losses and short- and long-term harms caused by circumcision are simply not worth it, and
- cutting a healthy child's body for purely cultural reasons conflicts with the teaching of Scripture and the church throughout history.
That’s why it doesn’t fall into the realm of parental choice, parental rights, or parenting style.