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Meditation 978
Abraham's Covenant

by: JT

A discussion has been opened on this Meditation. To contribute your own thoughts to this exchange of views, please use the Contact form.

In Norway, a leading politician has spoken out in favor of banning religious circumcision of infant boys. According to Jenny Klinge of the Centre Party:

In my view, this is a custom that we cannot accept in a modern, civilized society. Our aim is to prioritise the rights of small children. Fortunately, it has become forbidden to circumcise girls, now it’s time for boys to get the same legal protection.

In most democracies, this is an issue which politicians do not dare take on, but a similar debate has been going on in Denmark for the past few years where a recent medical study shows circumcision is associated with sexual difficulties in men and women.*

Of course just to open this discussion raises cries of outrage from religious leaders claiming their freedom of religion is being infringed upon. But, should freedom of religion outweigh the right to mutilate a child? We are generally agreed it does not in the case of girls; the same should apply to boys also.

Ervin Kohn, Chairman and Trustee of the Norway's Jewish community defends the practice saying:

[Circumcision] is the visible covenant between Abraham and God. It goes directly on religious freedom and that Norway is a tolerant society.

So what is this "covenant"? It is covered in Genesis 17, and God requires the Abraham and all his male descendants to be circumcised, and that in for future births. it be done at the age of eight days, and those currently living should do it right away. So, Abraham, aged 99 years, was circumcised, as was his thirteen-year old son Ishmael. And Abraham also had all his male servants and slaves similarly chopped.

These people all knew what was going on. They were capable of entering into a covenant with God. The fact they knew what was going on made it a meaningful sacrifice and indicated an understanding of the seriousness of the covenant. An eight-day old baby does not have a clue, and is incapable of entering into a covenant.

I have no problem with adults freely consenting to their own circumcision. I do have a problem with it being imposed on infants and children.

In my view, a person is capable of entering into a meaningful covenant which his god at the same age society recognizes he is capable of entering into a legally contract with other members of society. Sure, those religions (predominantly Judaism and Islam) would lose a goodly number of individuals unwilling to accept the chop - but those who do will have shown a genuine commitment to the covenant.



* Frisch, M., Lindholm, M., and Grønbæk, M., "Male Circumcision and Sexual Function in Men and Women: A Survey-based, Cross-sectional Study in Denmark," International Journal of Epidemiology (2011).