Is paedocircumcision a relic of the cruel ancient times as Freud assumed? Undoubtedly, it comes from the past and it is cruel. But whether it is just a remnant or it is yet to develop in the future depends mainly on the understanding of its effects. So what is the sense of circumcising at all?
Is circumcision a hygienic procedure? Certainly it is not. Amputation is neither cleaning nor disinfection. Both the wounding and the drying of mucosa make the skin more penetrable to germs. Not to mention that when religious paedocircumcision was introduced neither the cellular structure of living organisms nor the existence of unicellular microorganisms or their pathogenic role was known.
In ancient times uncleanliness and wickedness were nearly synonyms. Main concern of Hebrew religion that pioneered mass paedocircumcision was the internal cleanliness or moral sanitation and not decontamination. Only if we regard hygiene as moral purity and lack of carnality as ancients did may circumcision be understood as a cleansing procedure.
Is paedocircumcision a method of reducing preputial smell? No, it is not because only unhealthy adults may get into such trouble.
Is circumcision merely a cosmetic procedure? Those who have grown up in closed circumcising groups and mistake habit and acceptance for preference may find circumcised genitalia appealing and nobody can judge them. But surely the original intent for circumcision was not genital beautification. Aesthetic considerations alone cannot become a cornerstone in history. It was not the visual appearance of the genitalia that fomented serious interethnic conflicts through the ages. Not to mention that in circumcising societies the private parts as a rule were kept well covered up due to the anti-sex religious moral. In any case the desire to beautify the genitalia especially at the cost of erogenous sensitivity reveals low self-esteem, sexual frustration and overdependence. Attitudes that circumcision seems to induce.
Circumcising religions have always condemned sexuality and the least they have been worried about is the sexual attractiveness of the believers. Yet, no aesthetic reasons can justify the circumcision of dead people. It was not the love of beauty that picked up foreskins as war trophies.[i] Or if it were so in Biblical times now it is certainly not.
Is circumcision a method of enhancing sexual pleasure? Although some who suffer unwanted side-effect of the practice may attest it is, the original goal of circumcision is the reverse. The sexually suppressive moral of circumcising religions as well as of their descendants gives convincing proof of this. The other way round could only mean that the moral agenda of circumcising religions is inconsistent.
Is paedocircumcision a test of faith? Definitely, it is not. Religious circumcision is neither a religious exam nor is probation of faithfulness because it is performed on infants and children. It could be a forceful introduction to faith though.
Is paedocircumcision a rite of passage into masculinity? No it is not, although it may be used as such when it is performed at the end of childhood. But circumcising for pain is unwise because great pain can be inflicted without disrupting pleasure sensitivity and integrity of the body.
Assuming that circumcision is a ceremonial procedure celebrating the coming of age implies that circumcising groups’ timing of timed sexual maturation was rather inadequate. Then, arriving at an international consensus about the stages of sexual development, should automatically close the circumcision debate. As you may feel, however, such standardization cannot happen because circumcision is simply not a rite of passage.
Clearly, to Jews and to the majority of Muslims traditional circumcision is not an initiation into adulthood because they perform it long before the onset of physical puberty estimated by any standard. Sexual maturation according to Hebrew and Islam religions takes place between 15 and 18 years of age.[iii] Surely, religious circumcision is neither a rite of passage into maturity nor a test of faith. However, it could be an indispensable precondition for indoctrination in beliefs.