Tag Archives: genital integrity

Changing, Amazing Grace, and Sexual Assault

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Oh, my spider-webbing feminine mind! I am lengthy, always, because of this. I wish I knew how to alter it, but then I always feel like the words and thoughts are lacking. Thank you, if you are willing to bear with me. In my mind, this all links together. 

I originally wrote this during Genital Integrity Awareness Week of 2014 for my old blog, and now that it is Genital Integrity week again, I thought I would share it again on this blog.

When I was pregnant with Leela, not knowing what gender my baby would be, I was a fence-sitter on the issue of circumcision. I remember saying something to a friend on Facebook about “how could it be so bad if God commanded it in the Old Testament?” I also questioned the hygiene of someone intact. Cultural (American) conditioning played a heavy hand in me, whether I wanted to admit it or not (and I didn’t want to admit it – hooray cognitive dissonance).

I asked myself if I could stomach watching a circumcision video (which should have been a big clue for me how I really wasn’t okay with it) and decided that whether I could handle it emotionally or not, I needed to watch what it was like beforehand, if I was even remotely willing to do it to a son I carried for 9 months inside of me and was going to be fiercely protective over, as any mother should be with their children.

It was not a botched circumcision video that I watched. It was “normal.” (I don’t remember the exact video – there are plenty on YouTube, even videos created specifically for drs to learn how to “properly” circumcise. Any I have seen have been absolutely gut-wrenching.Elephant in The Hospital has a brief, “safe” and average – not resulting in death – mutilation video) I couldn’t make it through even half of that video before I burst into tears. I paused it for a long time and sobbed. I made myself finish watching it, but I actually hated myself afterwards (for ever being even mildly willing to do that to a baby or allowing someone else to do it to any of my children).

Thus began a silent and slow research journey until the birth of our second daughter. I knew then that I could not allow any future son’s genitals to be cut. That was the only word I felt was “respectful” to parents who I still believed had a “choice” to do this with no medical reason, and so used it. Cut. {frown}

Being unwilling to call this more than “cut” or “circumcision,” if you stick around, was me still having issues of cognitive dissonance.

Over the last couple of months, within my third longest pregnancy, I have been more tenaciously (as much as I possibly can) researching Scripture and information about circumcision. The more I learn, the more adamant I become against it. There’s no way not to be, for me.

Just as I cannot ignore my heart crying out when children’s genitals are violated through sexual assault, I can no longer ignore it when their genitals and minds are violated for the rest of their lives sexually for “medically preventative” reasons. By “medically preventative,” I mean not currently there, such as amputating breasts when there is a family history of it, even though it is not in the patient (and even then, it’s an adult woman choosing it for herself).

I do mean sexual alterations via circumcision quite seriously. This article was the first one I read, just weeks ago, where I finally understood even a little bit, how circumcision as done today makes sex far less enjoyable for a man than having an intact/full-of-nerves (and natural lubrication) penis: Anatomy of the Penis and Mechanics of Intercourse. Don’t worry, for those of you who are squeemed-out by actual pictures. It’s medical-textbook type drawings.

What seems worse about comparing these two things… is that when a child is sexually assaulted, we at least have understanding and allow them to grieve and mourn through-out their entire lives, off and on, as issues arise from the non-consent of someone messing with their genitals and sexuality.

However, male victims of circumcision are trained and conditioned (even if “unintentionally”) by their parents and American/mutilating society at large to think that what happened to them was necessary (even though there was NO medical emergency/reason at infancy to do this and non-circumcising countries prove there very rarely will be even into elderly adulthood), so they are almost looked down upon if they grieve this assault on their genitals as adults.

There is a reason that genital integrity advocates are so vocal – just as advocates for sexual assault victims became loud and “in-your-face” in the 70’s, 80’s and beyond – they were but a few, screaming against the masses who had whispered to children and women for so very long, that maybe their sexual assault wasn’t so bad, they should feel ashamed to talk about it, it wasn’t appropriate to share, etcetera.

(I know several adult survivors, who as children in the 50’s and 60’s, told a parent about their sexual assault, and were ignored or told they should be ashamed to talk about such things. What the crap??? Praise God for advocates mostly dismantling that garbage.)

Where victims are made to feel as though they should not question what happened to them, I pray there are “crazy,” loud, non-stop people out there, who tirelessly work until victims are allowed freely to speak, without shame, if they need or want to. God help me if I am not one of them.

For me, this issue has become as important as helping secondary survivors of sexual assault. Why should it not be? Both are about adults asserting authority and control over children’s genitals. Both issues are justified in the minds of the people who assaulted (or asked a dr to commit the assault on) the child’s genitals, regardless of what they know to be respectful to any human being’s body.

When I could recognize this – that this all comes down to adults asserting authority over a child’s sexuality/body against their protests or without informed consent – that those are intricately, inseparably linked in both medically unnecessary circumcision and in the sexual assault I advocate against… I could address the cognitive dissonance I had been feeling, deeply, about this issue. I was able to call this a mutilation, an amputation, and a sinful, hateful act against children. Because asserting power over a child’s body, justifying it, in both of these “situations” is evil.

This morning, thinking deeply about a circumcision conversation I had yesterday in which some said that circumcision is not a salvation issue, I was thinking about grace. I opened the Word and the focus became God’s grace given to us. His blood offering extending grace, hope, freedom, and radical change to anyone who wants it. The same grace and love we are to extend to everyone.

Then, after reading this Scripture (all of Galatians 5), I went online to research it a bit more in depth and found an amazing article (What the Bible Really Says About Routine Infant Circumcision), that I want to share bits from later. I had not taken notice before, of the wording in several Scripture verses, of New Testament Followers of Christ’s view on circumcision. I am highlighting things here that I took note of when reading through this article:

“Paul did not believe in freedom to choose; he believed in freedom to obey God. 

~Gal. 5:11 ‘But if I still proclaim circumcision. . . then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished.’  

First there was circumcision and animal sacrifice; then there was the cross. If you hold on to the former, you render the latter worthless.

~Gal. 5:12 ‘I wish that those who are pushing you to do so would mutilate themselves!’ 

Have you ever heard Paul so intense about anything? Mutilation is his word. And it will come up again.” 

~Phil. 3:2 “Beware of the dogs! Beware of the evil workers! Beware of the mutilation! For WE are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God, and glory in Christ Jesus, and put NO confidence in the flesh!” 

Paul has three things to say about those who would still practice routine circumcision after the ushering in of the New Covenant and the final sacrifice made by Christ. First, he calls them dogs, the lowest of insulting terms in those days. (Dogs were not yet domesticated as household pets and they ran around wild in packs eating garbage and annoying the livestock.) Second, he calls them evil workers. Scripture is clear: maiming an individual, outside of a direct order from God, is evil and morally unacceptable. Third, Paul minces no words; he calls unordained circumcision what it really is – mutilation. This is the second time Paul uses this term. Ironically, those who speak up for children today are often labeled ‘extremists’ for using this same word.”

It was kind of wild to me, because the words used by Paul are harsh – one of them being an exact word I was just “chastised” over using a few weeks ago, by a Believer (the word they said I was mocking God and/or His people with was mutilation)! Had I taken note of it before, I would have promptly shared those verses that use the words I’ve been using already so the person may be less likely to “guide” any other Followers in this area, incorrectly.

This wording, which could be called inflammatory, mocking, and insulting by many, is then followed by how we should be loving one another! Clearly, speaking the Truth of circumcision is not inflammatory, mocking, or insulting, nor is it unloving. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. It is LOVE to speak the truth about circumcision, even if it is needed to be said harshly.

All of this led me to thinking about the movie, Amazing Grace.

William Wilberforce accepted Christ and could no longer stomach the excuses being made about the enslavement of other human beings and acted,  tirelessly. So tireless was he, that he made himself sick, to prevent the atrocities happening to fellow human being’s bodies and spirits.

Many others, even those who called themselves Christians, called him crazy, extreme, disruptive to their British way of life, they certainly called him “against his country” (whatever the heck that’s supposed to mean/hold sway for a Christian who holds a different Citizenship altogether), and even that the belief that slaves should be freed was “dividing the Church.” Frankly, many people who said they were fellow Christians were downright hostile and hateful to his proposal that we treat black people as equal to whites, and no longer take ownership of their bodies and violating their spirits – the ones that Christ freed. (This same garbage “Christian” protection/defense of slavery happened in America, as well.)

It’s clear in watching the “cozy afternoon” ship scene, where William has people of high influence stop in front of a stenching slave ship, that these people are experiencing extreme levels of what therapists/psychologists today call cognitive dissonance. They are horrified, tears in their eyes, close to vomiting, and some of them are shaking. They are all at a breaking point in their belief systems and they must choose to either match their actions to the knowledge/belief that slaves were treated horribly, or they must turn away completely and deny the humanity of the slaves so they could go on living comfortably – living in denial. (Here’s an interesting video on watching cognitive dissonance played out in a “small” way.)

Yet, this is what many would do. Turn away and live in denial, because it’s too uncomfortable to face the truth of slavery.


This led me to thinking of the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures. They often did extreme things, said extreme things in order to snap God’s people to attention. I mean it, I am pretty sure had I been around them, I would have thought they were insane. Cooking food over feces, ripping clothing and wailing, and “worse.” The people who claimed they were God’s people and loved Him – they called these prophets things like nuts, heathens, and more. Admonishing the prophets who were being commanded by God to shine light on the disturbing things God’s people were doing, using far less disturbing analogies… telling them to be silent, or just a little more “discreet” about what they were doing. This post, linking to direct Scripture about these prophets, is pretty great: The Crazy Prophets of the Old Testament

Yet, even still, when God’s people shout out, sometimes in extreme ways against most certainly more extreme actions/sin, the bulk of the people who call themselves His, say, “It’s too much! Chill out! You are trying to change and destroy a way of life for us that we are used to! That makes us uncomfortable!”

When will we learn?

Whether it is empowering ourselves over black people’s bodies and spirits (or any shade of melanin) for slavery, over women’s and children’s bodies for sexual gratification or dominance, asserting power over a child’s body for medically-non-existent issues while pretending we’re somehow sparing them from an unknown, or any other issue involving someone else’s temple – these are clearly salvation issues.

Christ came to do away with violence and bloodshed by offering us salvation – yet many of those who claim to be His, still want it. And they want the people who can no longer ignore these atrocities to be ashamed of speaking about it, to be more discreet, to never be extreme in response to the more extreme sin of ignoring His salvation and freedom. Our bodies are His – we are to care for them as the Temple, and treat other’s bodies the same way.

For this, my heart has been broken for weeks on end. I can’t ignore the hypocrisy any longer, and I have been desperate in prayer, words, and action, to work against this tide of cultural conditioning within the Church.

I pray I can find more to do, just as I have continued praying about doing more to help sexual assault victims and their families.

Family Birth and Circumcision

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A couple of months ago, someone who celebrates and supports family birth casually mentioned the circumcision of their unborn child, if they were to be a boy. It caused a lot of confusion and heartache, as frankly, these two issues do not blend together, at all. They are the antithesis of one another. This was my attempt at lovingly sharing why they are not compatible with one another:

You know all of us free-birthers would fight tooth and nail for a momma and her body to be respected, to not be cut open or parts cut off if she had no say or knowledge of what it meant short and long term. We extend that respect to adults of either gender AND to infants, who cannot say, “I want my vagina probed to see if it looks normal” or “no!! Please don’t slice 1/3 of my penis off! I’m not ready! What will this do to me.”

Most family birthers are seeking protection from doctors and midwives who want to take authority over our bodies and tell us it was their belief that it was “necessary,” and from a culture that tells us we should shut up and be grateful to the people who want to do that to us.

When you were asked to further expand on your comment, you have refused to answer, trying to shut down on this topic, and have made it about your beliefs (which you brought up, but refuse to expand on? I don’t know why you brought it up if you didn’t want to inform those who have built a relationship with you on informing, protecting, and encouraging bodily autonomy) instead of your baby being touched in a way that assaults the very core of our beliefs.

Were you to hold this belief and accept that I will not stop fighting for adults AND infants to be protected, your different belief doesn’t matter. But you’re basically requiring me to stand up for your bodily autonomy and ignore your son’s, because you believe/support something you refuse to enlighten about. I don’t get it.

I’ve loved your sharing. I think you can be invaluable and encouraging. But we all have to be willing to be called out on our crap, because this relationship-building is based on not candy-coating the crap we’ve been fed all our lives regarding bodily autonomy.