Gentile Wife

Friday, December 14, 2007

Question

I am pregnant and expecting a little boy. My husband is Jewish. I am not. We had initially agreed not to circumcise our child. But now he is under a lot of pressure from his family, and he wants me to reconsider. He says circumcised men are less likely to get STDs, which I have never heard before. Do you know of a good reason to do this, other than the fact that his father and his uncles are freaking out about my son's penis not looking exactly like theirs?

Answer

Some research indicates that uncircumcised men who have unprotected sex are more likely to be infected with HIV and some other sexually-transmitted diseases. But I want to point out that this is easy to remedy. Good hygiene can prevent lesions from developing between the foreskin and shaft of the penis. And wearing a condom will keep disease-causing organisms from coming into contact with vulnerable mucous membranes.

The foreskin is a sensitive sex organ in its own right. By all accounts, having a foreskin completely changes and enhances the experience of getting an erection and penetrating your partner. It protects the head of the penis and keeps the whole organ more sensitive. Would you let your husband cut off your daughter's clitoris just because it was a religious tradition? Or even just her labia? Of course not. I personally believe all forms of genital mutilation are wrong. Surgery on an infant is painful and traumatic. Hurting a little boy in his genitals sends him an ugly message about adults violating the integrity of his body.

I also understand that people are very rigid when it comes to religious traditions. "Do it because God says so" is a statement that you can't argue with rationally. I believe your husband and his male relatives are secretly very angry about being circumcised—so angry, in fact, that they can't allow your baby to escape from the same damage. It happened to them, they hated it and were terrorized by it, and the only way they can pretend it's normal is to make sure it keeps on happening to new generations of boys.

Stand your ground. You aren't Jewish, and so your son, by all customs and traditions, isn't necessarily Jewish either. He'll have to make that choice when he attains the age of reason. Refusing to circumcise him now doesn't mean it will never happen. Let it be a choice he makes when he's capable of weighing the medical evidence and his own spiritual convictions. Would you let somebody tattoo your baby or pierce him? I vote no, no, no.