Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Book of Mormon on Circumcision



In Moroni 8:8 of The Book of Mormon, Christ, following his death and resurrection, speaks to the people of the western hemisphere, the Nephites and Lamanites. He says, "Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them; and the law of circumcision is done away in me

In the Doctrine and Covenants Section 74, a revelation received by the prophet Joseph Smith as an explanation of 1 Corinthians 7:14, explains this further:

1) ʺFor the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; else were your children unclean, but now they are holy.

2) Now, in the days of the apostles, the law of circumcision was had among all the Jews who believed
not the gospel of Christ.

3) And it came to pass that there arose a great contention among the people concerning the law of circumcision, for the unbelieving husband was desirous that his children should be circumcised and become subject to the law of Moses, which law was fulfilled.


4) And it came to pass that the children, being brought up in subjection to the law of Moses, gave heed to the traditions of their fathers and believed
not the gospel of Christ, wherein they became unholy.

5) Wherefore, for this cause the apostle wrote unto the church, giving unto them a commandment, not of the Lord, but of himself, that a believer should not be united to an unbeliever; except the law of Moses [including circumcision] should be done away among them.


6) That their children might remain without circumcision; and that the tradition might be done away, which saith that little children are unholy; for it was had among the Jews;


7) But little children are holy, being sanctified through the atonement of Jesus Christ; and this is what the scriptures mean."


The leaders of the Latter Day Saints church have made it clear that body modifications are not desirable. It is considered disrespectful to mark the body with piercing or tattoos, etc. If an adult piercing or modifying organs on his/her own body is considered disrespectful, how much more so would this apply to amputating and forever altering the body organs of another human child for non-medical reasons?

Occasionally, Mormons are hesitant to keep their sons intact because while they know that circumcision is not required, they believe leaders in the Church would speak out more strongly within a U.S. culture that continues to circumcise almost 50% of boys born nationwide today (18% on the West Coast). If it were, in fact, wrong to surgically amputate of the prepuce organ from their baby boy, many Mormon parents wonder why the Church wouldn't speak up. The Ensign article, "A Crisis, a Council, and Inspired Leadership," contains an excellent section about traditions addressing this:

“There is no doubt that Peter and the other Brethren knew that the law of Moses was fulfilled. Latter‐day revelation also makes it plain that the law of Moses was fulfilled in Christ [see above]...Obedience to the law of Moses was no longer a requirement for salvation since Jesus had completed his atonement.

In like manner today [regarding any conflict between traditional practices like circumcision and doctrine], there may be questions on which the doctrinal foundation is clear but on which tradition or custom are so strong that the Brethren are impressed not to take a firmer stand against them, trusting, as did Church leaders in New Testament times, that if the basic revealed principles are known, the Holy Ghost will eventually lead the adherents to forsake their social tradition, or academic popularity, or peer pressure, in favor of the word of God."

New Testament (Law of Christ)
Acts 15:1-35
Galatians 5:6
1 Corinthians 7:19
Galatians 6:15

Book of Mormon and Doctrine & Covenants
3 Nephi 15:4-5
D&C 74
Moroni 8:8




Additional Christianity and Circumcision Resources (books, websites, articles).


For additional information on the prepuce organ ('foreskin'/'clitoral hood'), intact care, and circumcision see: Are You Fully Informed? 

29 comments:

  1. Excellent post. As an LDS woman I can say that it's all tradition here in Utah. It's now considered "cosmetic surgery" as well. It costs $400. I wish church leaders would voice their opinions on it

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  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this!

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  3. Thank you, thank you a thousand times. I knew in my heart that it was not a requirement of the gospel I live by but this arms me with the information to help other LDS members understand that as well. We MUST keep all our precious children intact, regardless of gender or religion of their parents.

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  4. Colorado NOCIRC has an excellent tri-fold handout "Mormonism and Circumcision". It is available for download in Adobe PDF and Microsoft Word formats. They also have tri-fold handouts that cover the issue of infant circumcision from the Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Muslim points of view.

    http://www.coloradonocirc.org/pamphlets.php

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  5. Oh my, I can't believe that I opened this on SUNDAY morning!! You have made my week. I live in Utah and am LDS also. It would be very helpful to have our leaders come right out and say that we should not circumcise, but we have all the facts and we should be able to clearly discern what the Lord is telling us in these scriptures. Plus, we are judged by the Lord for our own choices and actions, we can not have our hand held in every choice concerning the gospel, we have to make our own decisions so we can be judged on them. Having said that and concerning the subjects (children/babies), I do wish the Church leaders would make a formal statement saying that we should not do it, simply because so many more would listen directly to them and stop hurting their innocent children.

    Thank you, thank, you, thank you, a thousand times thank you for writing this post as it speaks directly to a specific community where the majority simply do not get it. Well written. I am re-posting on my fb.

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    1. and take away your freedom of choice??

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    2. Our 'freedom of choice' to cut off parts of healthy infant penises without medical necessity?? That is one 'choice' that no one should have the lawful freedom to make.

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    3. I know its 2 years later, but I would like to address the comment about taking away freedom of choice. The LDS church has spoken against many things, such as abortion or same sex marriage, about drinking alcohol, coffee or tea. Do those instructions also take away our freedom of choice? No. We still obviously have the choice to do these things, no one is stopping anyone from having a cup of coffee in the morning! What we are given though is guidelines to help us be able to make the right choice. And since there is so much controversy about this subject (I even had a discussion with a woman in the church who thought it was a commandment still) it would be useful and clarifying if the leadership of the Church would seek revelation on this subject and release a statement about whether or not it is an acceptable practice in the eyes of God.

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  6. Thank you for posting this.

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  7. Why do parents wait for the church leaders to speak out on this? The decision should be made in the home.

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  8. Jen, I think like any other cultural norm, some people just don't question the status quo until they do their research. LDS or not, some people just don't do their research until they think about it. If they did, they would be anti-circumcision.

    I'm LDS and I haven't heard church leaders speak out about it, but I have been very anti-circ ever since I came across Danelle's page about 9 months ago. I don't have children yet, but if I have a boy he will be intact. This decision was definitely made my me, but it's better that my religion enforces it, too.

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  9. Christ said, "...the law of circumcision is done away in me."

    ~Moroni 8:8

    Why do L.D.S. church leaders need to make a STATEMENT about this? Sure it would be nice, but they don't make statements about child support, rape, or many other serious issues. Their "jobs" are to bring Heavenly Father's children unto Christ.

    We have been given the truth regarding circumcision in the Book of Mormon.

    Christ made it very clear. Circumcision ended with him. Period.

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  10. I don't quite understand the need for an article like this. Are you telling me that there are mormons out there that circumcise ONLY because they think it's required by our religion? I have never heard of anyone who thinks that. The people that I talk to about it do it purely because the medical/social community say that it's needed so your son wont get that horrible disease... blah, blah. I don't think this is an issue that the brethren need to address, no where in our religion is anything even hinted to about circumcision being good or needed for salvation. I am very happy that my two boys are all intact and am sad that my husband did not get the same privileged. Thanks for posting about this.

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  11. Martha - yes, this information was requested of us because there are many LDS families who have previously told others circumcision was required of them by the Mormon church. It is the same mis-information many Christians have - believing they are commanded to circumcise sons, when in fact, the Christian church has always spoken up loud and clear against circumcision.

    More information on Christianity and circumcision here:

    http://www.drmomma.org/2009/06/information-on-circumcision-for.html

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  12. I love this moms account of why they chose what they did (one of their sons is circumcised, the next one intact) and her husband was raised Mormon -

    http://meg-isms.blogspot.com/2010/08/knowing-better.html

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  13. I, an LDS mom, was also told by a well-meaning friend that circumcision was a sin. I quickly pointed out some of the scriptures to when you referred to ease her mind, and I continue to be an advocate against circumcision today, ten years later. Thanks so much for posting this article for other LDS women. Question.... are you Mormon by the way? I LOVE your blog and have been devouring it for three days now. Thank you so much. :)

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  14. Thank you for posting this. I have made the argument against circumcision countless times, and often my other LDS friends are the most outraged that I would even bring up the topic, or "try to make other parents feel guilty." Of course, that is not my purpose at all. Yet, the scriptures cannot be more plain on the topic. Since the coming of Christ, the only scriptural references made have been to condemn the practice. Thank you for posting this information where all can see it. I hope it will convince more well-meaning parents that there is no reason to cut our children. After all, God would not create the foreskin without a purpose... And I can't believe that purpose is just so we can cut it off. We are created by Divine design in God's own image. And without His express mandate to do otherwise, we should not be modifying that design, especially on our innocent little ones.

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  15. I was recently horrified on another Board "LDS and Visitors".... when I and another person provided ALL the evidence against the practice of circumcision... and we were attacked by LDS moms who said we were taking scriptures and twisting them to fit our agenda! What? It broke my heart to hear these moms saying things like, "it's none of your business what I do with my child"..... "No where in the scriptures does it "forbid" the practice of circumcision"...."besides it looks better and it's cleaner".... "it is our job as parents to protect our kids from the diseases they will get if left intact".... "the Prophets and church leaders have not told members not to circumcise, so it's not against our religion".... and more. It broke my heart to hear this and made me not want to associate with the church. On the contrary, this article is wonderful and the posts from LDS members has somewhat restored my faith in LDS people. Why don't the church leaders make an official statement about this barbaric, unnatural procedure done on male infants? When I was a kid, I was not allowed to even pierce my ears....cutting off a healthy part of a babies sexual anatomy is clearly more serious than that!

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  16. as an LDS mom-- i kept my son intact and will do so if the one that i am currently preg with is a boy--- before my son was born, i ask my stake president (a regional leader of our church) what the church view was on circ... he said it was up to the parents but ultimately was not required--- this made me super happy as by that point i had decided to keep my son whole--- i might add with full support of my cut husband--- it doesnt take hardly any time to explain why they look different...

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  17. Yeah I wish I had researched this more before my firstborn son.
    We are clear enough on how many earrings but not this?
    I'm not sure why circumcision was important in Moses law but I do know that Moroni was dying while still recording scripture for future generations and he felt it important enough to say it was no longer necessary.
    This post had me clapping!!!

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  18. I honestly had NO idea that the Book of Mormon, or the Bible for that matter said that "Circumcision was done way with in me"... I had even decided to keep my son intact and he was probably 5 or 6 before I saw that someone posted the reference of Moroni 8:8. I think it is entirely a cultural issue nowadays and that no one in the Church really talks about it at all. It isn't a scripture that most even cover in class ever, if so it is definitely glossed over, IMHO.

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  19. Thanks so much for posting this for Mormons! I had no idea the scriptures said it was an outdated practice and was replaced by Christ's atonement. What a blessing! I wish I knew about this when my son was born.

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  20. it should also be added that the context of the book of mormon reference is mormon or moroni I cant remeber which is asking The Lord about certain practices amongst the people. The Lord first responds with the quoted scripture in the post. The Lord then goes on a long massive rant about how children are holy and cannot sin and as such do not need baptism and the very thought of it is Solemn Mockery of God. in fact it is stated that these people should be cut off in the thought. so lets be clear God is condemning this idea to an extreme measure.

    section 74 as quoted is also an extreme condemnation of the practice too.

    then there is the fact that ancient Israel practiced a radically different version of circumcision that this site blogs about. it is essentially a mild scratch that leaves the penis in tact. akin to cutting your fingernails or your hand and having it heal.

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  21. This is really interesting. I had never heard of Mormon parents choosing to have their sons circumcised because of religious reasons. I thought it was already clear that it wasn't required. Personally, I plan on circumcising, but that's just because my husband and I feel best about that for our family.

    I think the key here is to be kind and accepting of differences of opinions. There isn't necessarily a one-size-fits-all right or wrong answer to the decisions parents have to make about circumcision, breastfeeding, birthing, discipline, or raising kids in general.

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    1. There are many decisions that we can make that are best for the family. Like what kind of car to get... Whether we should choose to do cloth or disposable diapers.. What we should have for dinner... You get the picture. ;)

      But I hope you can appreciate a different perspective.... My son's penis has nothing to do with my family as a whole. Deciding what his future sex life will be like, has nothing to do with me as a mother. For instance, my husband is circumcised. But does his mom and dad's opinion about his penis really matter anymore now that he's 26 years old? My husband and I both wish that his penis would have been left the way it was made. Our sex life is our business only. Not his parents.

      In conclusion to that thought... When you circumcise a baby.. You are circumcising the man he's going to become. It's not something that can possibly be "best for our family." As parents, we will not be using our son's penises. He will be. It is SUCH a personal decision, that it should be left up to the person that owns the penis.

      Being accepting of different opinions is really important, I agree. But there is a difference between opinions.. And facts.

      Did you know - over 80% of the world's men are intact? Men love their foreskins! So much, that they keep them. :)

      - Circumcision is very dangerous. Over 117 babies are estimated to die from circumcision related causes every year in the U.S alone. That's a baby every 3 days. A baby monitor was actually recalled not too long ago because 2 babies were strangled by it. Why isn't circumcision being "recalled?" 8 children die from the flu and it's called an epidemic... What does that make circumcision? :(

      - The foreskin is actually very useful! The penis is meant to stay moist, pink and warm much like the vagina. But remove the foreskin... You remove this natural moist, pink and warm environment all together. You lose the Ph balance, the soft skin that is supposed to stay soft like a female genitals.. Turns calloused rough and discolored, destroying veins, nerve endings, the frenulum and the natural sensitivity of the glans. You can actually see the differences with the naked eye here: http://www.drmomma.org/2011/08/intact-or-circumcised-significant.html

      - Infant circumcision is performed without medical indication, without consent. This is considered a human rights violation for females, adults, or even the family pet. When will we choose to protect our boys too?

      - No medical organization in the world recommends routine infant circumcision

      Remember choosing to protect your babies human rights to a whole and complete body is not a "parenting decision." like trying to decide if you're going to use glass bottles or plastic... It's an informed decision that effects the rest of his life. All cosmetic surgeries should be left up to the owner of the body.. Just like a nose job would be.

      I hope this has been helpful for you. <3

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    2. Sorry, but, it's not just not required, it's Forbidden by our religion! Our own Prophet, and Jesus Himself, taught against it. Open your eyes, please. It's not the Family Penis. The ONLY one who should be deciding what to do with your son's penis, is Your Son, the one to whom the penis is attached, and the one who will have to live with the consequences his whole life.

      I am one of the Thousands of men who complain, I am in pain on a daily basis, sometimes in AGONY, because of what my parents allowed those butchers to do shortly after I was born. Please, Please read Your Scriptures! Christ did away with Circumcision, it has been declared an Abomination! Do NOT Do It!

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    3. Can I ask why you believe that amputating a healthy functional piece of your children sounds like a good idea to you?

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    4. I understand why people use the phrase "we made a decision that's best for our family". Because everyone has advice and probably feel attacked for some choices they have or will make. It's a great response to outspoken people with strong opinions!

      The difference is routine circumcision is 100% unnecessary. Breastfeeding, formula, vaccinations, homeschooling, working parents, stay at home mom, co-sleeping; Those are parenting choices, things that will vary between families and children. Those are decisions that have to be made and will come up while raising a child. The facts are there that there is no benefit medically to routinely circumcise, making this completely cosmetic and entirely WRONG. The only person who should be making permanent cosmetic changes is the owner of the body (your son or sons).

      I urge you to look up the functions of the foreskin and circumcision risks & complications. It is also beneficial to look up proper intact care because IT IS SO EASY! God and our Savior created the penis so that it would not need any care other than gently wiping the outside until the boy was old enough to do it himself. Our bodies were perfectly created. Our sons are born perfect and need to stay that way. My (circumcised) husband and I are the very proud parents of a perfect intact son. We broke the cycle of tradition!

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  22. I like this information, but you should be aware that the Church of Jesus Christ website link you provided is not an actual church website. The official website for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is www.lds.org. Thanks!

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