Copyright 1998 H.L. Davis, M.J. Ecker & Voices Intact

The Origin of Non-Religious Circumcision
by Mary G. Ray ©1997, All Rights Reserved

Circumcision itself began as a religious ritual or puberty rite as long as 6000 years ago.

"It started as an ancient Egyptian custom and there are wall carvings to prove it. It seems to have its origin in snake worship. The Egyptians believed that when the snake shed its skin, and emerged shiny and new again, it was undergoing rebirth. They reasoned that if, by shedding skin, the snake could become apparently immortal, then humans should follow suit. They made the simple equation: snakeskin = foreskin, and the operation began. From there it spread to many Semetic peoples, both Arabs and Jews adopting it and converting it into an act of religious faith. As the centuries passed, it became popular in other regions of the world for moral, medical, or hygenic reasons. " From the book, Babywatching by Desmond Morris.

       Non-religious circumcision began in England inthe late 1800s and it became extremely popular in English-speaking countriesbetween 1920 and 1950.  England introduced the practice to the U.S. At the time, it was believed that masturbation caused a host of differentillnesses. Masturbation was considered extremely immoral and many children,both male and female, have been circumcised throught the years because parentsdiscovered them "in the act."  To this day, who doesn't remember thethreat associated with masturbation that "you'll go blind?"

       It was known even in the late 1800s that the removalof the foreskin (the only moveable part of the penis) would reduce sexualsensitivity and restrict movement of the penile shaft.

       A noted Jewish sage, Rabbi Moses Maimonides inhis Guide to the Perplexed, expressed the following:

       "...people believe that circumcision is to removea defect in man's formation... How can products of nature be deficient soas to require external completion, especially as the use of the foreskinto that organ is evident. This commandment has not been enjoined as a complementto a deficient physical creation, but as a means for perfecting man's moralshortcomings. ...Circumcision simply counteracts excessive lust; for thereis no doubt that circumcision weakens the power ofsexual excitement,and sometimes lessens the natural enjoyment..."

       It was believed that masturbation caused blindness,mental illness, alcoholism, epilepsy and a host of other ills. It thereforemade sense to some physicians that genital surgery would stop masturbationand prevent the onset of these illnesses.

       "A remedy [for masturbation] which is almost alwayssuccessful in small boys is circumcision..." The operation should be performedby a surgeon without administering an anesthetic, as the pain attending theoperation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it beconnected with the idea of punishment..." John Harvey Kellog, M.D., Treatmentfor Self-Abuse and Its Effects, Plain Facts for Old and Young, Burlington,Iowa; F. Segner & Co., 1888.

       When it was finally realized that masturbationdid not cause illnesses, the foreskin became the blame for penile and cervicalcancers, urinary tract infections andsexuallytransmitted diseases.  

     Allof the medical reasons for circumcision have been eliminated by experts.Circumcised men are not immune to suffering from these diseases. The surgeryoffers no warranty.

Circumcision for Religious Reasons
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Last Modification:  8/19/98