We the Church stand against cultural practices that harm our children.
We stand against slavery.
At least for the recent past. We once accepted this cultural practice – in fact, some of us defended slavery from the Bible and held it was a good thing to do. This took centuries to change.
We stand against abortion.
We've been less emphatic in the past, but still against it. Many earlier Christians held that abortion was not murder, as in their view "the intellectual soul is created by God at the end of human generation" (e.g. Article 2, Reply to Objection 2 here), not at conception. Nevertheless, they still condemned abortion.
We stand against the sexual exploitation of children.
Well... we're getting better at it. Many branches of the Church once relocated offenders and silenced the victims. Most refused to believe abuse could be perpetrated by clergy. One of the Church's greatest crimes, this has finally come to light, and the Church mindset is changing.
We stand against violent sexual mutilation.
Throughout all time. In nearly every place.
...except for modern day America.
Here, as with slavery in the past, we attempt to use the Bible to defend it.
Here, as with abortion in the public sphere, we use new terms to reframe the issue and ignore what it really is.
Here, as with sexual exploitation, we must work hard to convince the victim they are not really a victim. And, as with sexual abuse, our failure to deal with the issue has been driving people away from the faith.
“[God’s creation] has made nothing imperfect in man, nor bade it be removed as necessary.” ~Ambrose
And yet, as much as possible, we don’t talk about this problem in the American Church.
We joke about the myths, and thus perpetuate them. We continue this ungodly modern practice – destroying functions God himself designed, “without and against the command of God” (Luther), in a way God never authorized.
“...incredible pain to the child… without and against the command of God.” ~Martin Luther
Church of Jesus Christ, stop the abuse.
Stop calling a non-Christian practice “Christian.”
Around the world, Christians don't practice this. In most places, it's a mark of Islam.
“Jesus desired that it should not be practiced.” ~Origen
“A Christian is not circumcised.” ~Augustine
“Among the Jews, circumcision was only permitted for a time.” ~John Calvin
“Circumcision is not morally permissible unless it treats a disease that cannot be treated another way.” ~Pope Pius XII, Discorsi e messaggi radiodiffusi, Rome 1952, s. 328-329
“A clean sweep has been made of all the ancient rites, from circumcision up to the garment with its fringe of blue. These were for the childhood of the Church... we are no longer minors.” ~Charles Spurgeon
Stop reframing mutilation with polite, misleading terms for it.
Like the term “abortion,” “circumcision” hides what this practice really is. And it’s terribly incorrect to use the same word for Old Testament milah and the extensive modern practice.
Stop supporting cultural practices that are harming us and our children.
Groups interested in profiting from medical procedures are notorious for understating the serious complications that occur – and some functions are lost every single time this part of God’s creation is removed.
Stop driving doubters away from the faith by failing to protect the most helpless.
A man named Ken recently told me, “I would return to the Church if they would actually stand up for little kids.” He and others are victims of our nonsensical commitment to this bizarre practice. Whatever you personally think of their motivations, no small number of men have confirmed that their move to atheism, agnosticism, or just apathy was driven by the Church’s failure to protect its own children from mutilation – just as many have been driven away by other kinds of abuse.
But when we protect the helpless, we reflect Christ's love. We're being his body. God uses that to draw people (back) to Himself and His Church.
So what should we do?
Stop body shaming the normal, functional, healthy body designed by God.
There is nothing more attractive about a scarred, dried out organ.
There is nothing more clean about circumcision in an era when showers are available.
There is nothing more pleasurable about removing ~15 square inches of erogenous tissue designed by God.
There is nothing more holy about practicing what is around the world primarily a Muslim practice, cutting pieces off of screaming, bloodied newborns. Newborns who should be treated with the dignity befitting little ones made in the image of God.
Sometimes we the Church have gone along with – or even promoted – abusive practices throughout history.