Circumcision is a topic that attracts mixed views from people of various cultures and religions. The advent of HIV has, however, changed attitudes with the western world encouraging it to reduce the spread of the disease. Most people now take the practice to be a transmission reduction mechanism and nothing else.
sundayword BY PROSPER TINGINI
Facts on the ground indicate that this practice is prevalent in most parts of the Moslem world, the Jewish communities and also in almost half of the African continent, especially those in the northern hemisphere. It has been in existence for thousands of years. Its original meaning and purpose seems to have been lost through the passage of time. It is a proven fact that communities that heavily depend on transmission of information by word of mouth suffer from a progressive distortion of information with time. Communities that have managed to keep a recorded history of things or events tended to retain more accurate information than others.
Whatever the case, the subject of circumcision still remains a controversial issue with conflicting reasons advanced by those who practice it. Those who oppose it remain steadfastly against it. The world will always remain polarised on this subject. Our scriptures, as contained in our Bible, can assist us to come to an understanding of its origin. Biblical records indicate that circumcision was firstly centred around an iconic religious figure by the name Abraham. Coincidentally most people of African origin, Moslems and the Jews all agree that they share a common ancestry with Abraham. It is then no wonder why this practice is common around the people with the Abrahamic link, geographically. Genesis 12 and 13 tells us of how God instructed Abraham to settle in the land of Canaan, close to the African continent, in the land of modern-day Israel, surrounded by the current Arabic/Moslem world. At one time Abraham actually lived in Africa, Egypt, to escape hunger and famine which had struck Canaan for a while (Genesis 12:10-20). Jacob also spent 17 years in Egypt and died there (Genesis 47:28). The demography of people who practice circumcision is seen to be spread around the areas where Abraham and his descendants once lived in terms of both migration and habitations.
The Bible tells the story of how the Lord our God introduced circumcision into this world. The first book of Moses, which we call Genesis (17:1-14) and written under the inspiration and instructions of our Lord, reads: When Abram was 99 years old the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, “Behold, my covenant is with you and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram (exalted father), but your name shall be Abraham (father of multitude); for I have made you a father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. And I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojourning, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
It is clear from the above paragraph that the first part of the covenant was to do with God’s blessings to Abraham. The first thing was to “baptise”Abram by giving him a new name, Abraham. Thereafter the Lord committed Himself to be the God of all of Abraham’s descendants. God knows that humanity has a propensity to worship other things as gods, as was the case then and still the case now. God proceeded to say to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. He that is eight days old among you shall be circumcised; every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house, or bought with your money, shall be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people, he has broken my covenant.”
The second part of the covenant is the “document” part, which has to have some visible marks to it to represent the signatures to the agreement. God had already committed himself in words to be God of Abraham and all his descendants, including man-servants and maidservants. His spoken words are contained in our Holy Bible today and cannot be disputed. His “voice” became part to the signature to the covenant. In return, in case mankind deny later that there was never such an agreement with God, Abraham, his descendants and all other people round him had to have a visible mark on them as a reminder to their participation to the covenant. The Lord thus directed that the signature had to be on the flesh of all men. This was to represent mankind’s signature to the covenant.
In conclusion to this pact between God, Abraham and all his descendants and all else around, verses 22-27 read: When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham.
Then Abraham took Ishmael his son and all the slaves born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him. Abraham was 99 years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised; and all the men of his house, those born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.”
Ishmael is recognised as the link between Abraham and most of descendants of Arabic origin, who constitute the majority population of the Moslem world. Their current version on circumcision seems to deviate from this original version.
Jesus Christ was circumcised on the eighth day after his birth (Luke 2:21-24) in fulfillment of the same religious practice instituted by God. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, or believe yourself to be a descendant of Abraham, are you following this religious tradition implanted by the Lord our God? If not, food for thought.
Prosper Tingini is the assembly president of the newly-established and registered Children of God Missionary Assembly. As an interdenominational body, I invite all who wish to undertake Bible studies with a view to be certified as ministers of religion to contact me on 0771 260 195 either by voice, SMS or whatsapp. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org)