Sunday, July 21, 2013

You can't have it both ways: Circumcision as a Biblical sacrifice AND for "cleanliness"

I have heard this many times among those in the Christian community who are pro-circumcision.

The acknowledgement that circumcision is not required for salvation, however it is a sacrifice that is supposed to made.  AND that God MUST have known what He was doing, and required it for health and cleanliness reasons, because foreskin is dirty. Also, maybe He made foreskin, just as an "extra" so that it would be hanging there in order to be cut off, to fulfill His command (that one requires some Biblical gymnastics).

You can't have it both ways.  Arguing this point shows a lack of understanding about the word and meaning of "sacrifice", both in the Old Testament and New.

A sacrifice, in the Bible, was NEVER something meaningless. Never.  Otherwise, it would not be a sacrifice.  The Israelites were to give their BEST in sacrifice.  In Genesis, Abraham was asked to sacrifice his most beloved son, Isaac.  At the beginning of the book, Cain and Abel were asked, respectively, to sacrifice the best of their particular fields of work (animals, and crops).  For sacrifices in the temple, followers of Christ were to bring the best that they had to offer from their flocks. In Genesis 8, we see Noah offering the best of the clean animals and birds (which were those they were permitted to eat), as a sacrifice.  In Exodus 13:2, God requires the firstborn, both human and animal.  Culturally, firstborns were favored, with inheritance, birthright, and blessing.  The concept of "first-fruits" runs throughout Scripture-the idea that we are to give the first and best in sacrifice and thanksgiving to God.

The very fact that God required a cut "in the flesh of the foreskin" (Genesis 17:11) shows that foreskin is NOT just "extra skin", and that it is a valuable and useful part of the body. 

God Himself made the ultimate sacrifice.  John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosover believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting love".  The first.  The best.  The only.  That's sacrifice.

One thing that I know is true about God, and His character is that He is not haphazard, or random.  Throughout Scripture, nature, and many other sources we see God move with purpose and clarity.  He does not make mistakes.

I do not believe that God stepped outside of His character or own order when he used circumcision as a reminder and a sacrifice.  Given the information about the difference between OT circumcision and modern day medical circumcision,  the circumcision that HE required did not cause the severe issues that the circumcisions of our modern culture do. (1)

It is not an affront to God to point out the problems with modern, medical circumcision-they aren't in any way the same thing.

I do not believe that He screwed up when he made male infants, and that He suddenly realized in the Old Testament that part of their anatomy needed to be cut off in order for them to be healthy.  Not only does this not match up with current scientific evidence, it does not match up with a loving and perfect Creator.  Genesis 1:31 says that God looked at His creation, and declared that it was very good.  That included foreskin on a man.

Additionally, it does not match up with the intent of sacrifices to claim that God had people remove the foreskin for hygiene reasons.  It can NOT be BOTH a sacrifice, AND a dirty, nasty, diseased item.  Dirty, nasty, diseased, useless things were not appropriate sacrifices in the Old Testament.  Only the best was to be sacrificed.  You can not have it both ways.  It flies in the face of God's command, and His order to claim that the foreskin was BOTH a sacrifice and a liability. 

The Old Testament, and Hebrew Law was very comprhensive in talking about and making laws regarding "uncleanliness".  This included rules about everything from leprosy, to what they ate, to women's cycles.  (The majority of these are found throughout the book of Leviticus, but also referenced elsewhere throughout the Old Testament) Never in any of these laws is foreskin mentioned as unclean.

So, since it can not be both, which is the reason you are proceeding? Is it due to the fact you believe God requires this blood sacrifice, even post Jesus? Or is it because you believe the removal of the foreskin to be of medical benefit?

If your answer is sacrifice, I ask you to consider these Scripture:

Hosea 6:6 "For I desire steadfast love, not sacrifice. And acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings."

Proverbs 21:3 "Righteousness and justice are more acceptable than sacrifice"

Hebrews 13:16 "Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God."

The best sacrifices we can give are to give of ourselves-to do good, love others, love God, acknowledge Him and His word.  THIS is what is pleasing to God, not a blood offering.

Hebrews 10:11-14 " 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

The New Testament makes it clear that Christ is THE SACRIFICE.  He is THE ONLY sacrifice that we need.  To add to that, or take away from it, is to completely deny the cross.  Praise God that He took the penalty, and erased all need for our own bloodshed (and the bloodshed of animals and babies) in order to be in communion with Him. 

Galatians 5: 1-6
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

The whole book of Galatians is lead up to, and proof of the lack of need for blood sacrifices for the New Testament believer.  Christ's death frees us from the Old Testament law (and I must ask, if you are keeping circumcision out of respect for the Old Law, are you also keeping the rest of the Old Testament law? Sacrifice of animals? Other OT laws?)  God, through Paul, makes it abundantly clear that the attempt to use circumcision as a sacrifice to gain favor with God flies in the face of grace.  

So, if not for sacrificial reasons, are you doing it because you think that God instituted the practice for medical reasons, and that it never was a sacrifice or sign at all? That is not what Scripture says.  In the New Testament, circumcision of the heart is referenced, which has led some to say that THIS is a sign that circumcision is right, because it signifies the cutting away of "bad stuff", so therefore, foreskin must be "bad stuff".  We have established that considering foreskin "bad stuff" opposes the theology that it was a sacrifice, so that is not a possible interpretation.  So what DOES it mean?

It means that God has always had a way of speaking to people in a way that they would understand.  "Circumcision" was a term that the people would understand as a "cutting".  (Literally to cut a circle).  The word circumcision in these passages is simply to indicate the cut. 

Additionally, even if one WERE to somehow deny circumcision as a sacrifice, and instead believe that circumcision of the Old Testament was for health benefits, the fact remains that modern science has proven that currently, it is NOT of any health benefit (2).  I think we all would agree that modern medicine is not equivalent to what was available in the Old Testament, and we have a number of ways to handle things that were not available at the time.  Though intact men and boys actually have less complications with their intactness (God knew exactly what He was doing!) than circumcised boys, if there IS ever a problem, the treatments available now are much different than what was available in the Old Testament.  But as noted, it does not make sense when looking at the character or nature of God, and the fact He considered His to be very good, AND in His image, to believe that He made men, then said "oops-that foreskin is gross-better cut it off". I submit to you that He does not make mistakes, and that the circumcision that HE required never had to do with "dirt".

We can't have it both ways.  We can not use the Bible to justify our culture, yet deny Scripture itself, and the character of God itself, in order to make our point.  These two ideas are a complete clash of theology, and both ideas can not be held in conjunction with one another. Circumcision as BOTH a Biblical sacrifice and a health benefit is literally not possible.

1. Is Cirumcision the Christian thing to do?
The difference in diagram
Differences described
Biblical Circumcision Information

2. Assumed Medical Benefits of Circumcision
Dr. Sears, No Medical Benefits to Circumcision 

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