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Actor Russell Crowe

A few days ago, actor Russell Crowe criticised the ritual of circumcision on his Twitter account by branding it “barbaric and stupid”.

The topic of male circumcision– the surgical removal of some or all of the foreskin (prepuce) from the penis- has remained a contentious debate for centuries.

People choose to circumcise their children for cultural and/or religious reasons and is one of the world’s oldest surgical practices.

The religious history of circumcision in Judaism can be found in the Hebrew bible whereby according to the book of Genesis, God told Abraham to circumcise himself, his household and his slaves as an everlasting covenant (agreement between God and His people) in their flesh [Genesis 17:10-14].

In Islam, circumcision is widely practiced and is considered to be sunnah- a practice taught by the Prophet Muhammad that fulfills religious rites and the molding of life according to the will of God.

Circumcision is also customary in most African and West Indian cultures.

During his rant, Crowe, who uses the twitter ID @russellcrowe asked:

“Who are you to correct nature? Is it real that GOD requires a donation of foreskin?” 

Personally, I have nothing against male circumcision as long as it’s carried out when a child is a baby. In fact, I find the thought of an uncircumcised penis a little cringe-worthy.

I remember one of my work colleagues telling me about when he was circumcised at the age of 8. Originally from the Philippines, he triggered his memory back to when he was on holiday there and being against the idea of having a little bit of his pee pee snipped off. His parents had made numerous failed attempts to persuade him to agree to have the procedure and eventually resorted to tricking him to go to the hospital. He described the pain as “excruciating” and told me he wished it had been done when he was a baby so he wouldn’t remember the intensity of the pain. He also talked of the embarrassment he faced having to go out in public only with a cloth wrapped around his lower body for a few days in order to help with the healing. As a common practice in that part of Asia, everyone in the street knew what had happened to him, however, despite going through all of this, he says he’s happy that he was circumcised.

Ancient Egyptian tomb painting of circumcision

One of my husband’s friends had a baby boy late last year. Out of curiosity, I asked the father if he would be getting his son circumcised and his response was “Of course”. ‘Nuff said, I thought and probed no further. Sure enough, within three months the little bubba was foreskin-less. I remember speaking to the mother about it afterward. She, understandably, seemed to have found it quite traumatic herself, let alone the baby. “I couldn’t stay in the room as it was done”, she admitted. “He cried so much. I just wanted to hold him. Luckily he healed within a few days”. She then jokingly remarked: “But now he has a pretty penis”. I couldn’t help but laugh at her latter comment.

The British Medical Journal has published numerous articles concerning the link between male circumcision  and HIV. Medical studies have shown that when carried out by a qualified practitioner and alongside other precautionary measures (such as using condoms etc) circumcision reduces the risk of contracting the HIV virus.

Other independent medical studies conclude that the procedure may decrease the risk of infections, penile irritation as well as cancer of the penis.

Self-studies by circumcised men indicate less sexual dysfunction and an easier ability to maintain penile hygiene, making it cleaner and far more attractive.

In response to a suggestion about circumcision from one of his Twitter followers, Crowe later facetiously wrote: “Hygienic? Why don’t you sew up your ass then?”

Those who are vehemently opposed to circumcision believe that it is a violation of human rights and regard it as a form of mutilation.

Some medics say that circumcised men have a reduced sexual sensation compared to those who haven’t had the procedure because the thousands of fine touch receptors and other highly erogenous nerve endings in the area that is cut off are lost. I think many circumcised men would beg to differ on this.

Other arguments against male circumcision include:

  • If you thoroughly wash daily no hygiene issues should arise;
  • If you’re born with it, it’s meant to be there;
  • Babies can die from the procedure (18 out of 100,000);
  • It’s a traumatic event for your baby that can affect breastfeeding, sleep, and even maternal bonding;
  • It’s outdated and on a steady decline.

After realising that his comments had not only caused offence to thousands of his followers but had also been reported by the media, Crowe issued an apology.

It’s safe to surmise that he hasn’t been circumcised and that has largely shaped his opinion on it but what’s your take on the whole matter? Do you agree with Russell’s comments? Do you prefer your partner to be circumcised or does it make no difference to you?

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temple-of-reason.jpg

“I don’t necessarily believe in religion”, I told a co- worker of mine recently only to be given a look of absolute shock. “But why not?” they replied as if I owed it to them to justify my philosophical view.
Well I quite simply regard myself as a deist. For those of you wondering what that is here is a short breakdown:

Deism is belief in God based on the application of our reason on the designs/laws found throughout Nature. Deism is therefore a natural religion and is not a “revealed” religion (Revealed religions are called so because they all make claim to having received a special revelation from God which they pretend, and many of their sincere followers actually believe, their various and conflicting holy books are based on.)

Deism.com definition:

Deism is the recognition of a universal creative force greater than that demonstrated by mankind, supported by personal observation of laws and designs in nature and the universe, perpetuated and validated by the innate ability of human reason coupled with the rejection of claims made by individuals and organized religions of having received special divine revelation.

Deism is therefore based on reason and nature.

Famous deists: Thomas Hardy (Writer and Poet); Thomas Paine (American revolutionary and writer); Aristotle (Ancient Greek philosopher); Albert Einstein (Theoretical Physicist); Stephen Hawking (Physicist)

I was brought up a Christian: baptised and confirmed into the Anglican faith yet never really found myself whole- heartedly dedicated to it. A close family friend recently tried to convince me to join a born again church, thinking that the reason for me claiming to be a deist was because the church I belonged to lacked solidarity and a sense of community. I politely rejected her suggestion.
I am a very spiritual person and believe deeply in the forces of attraction in determining life events and yes I agree with many messages behind religious teachings that guide us how to live our lives but become very cynical when faced with the specifics of religion.

While at sixth form I was told by a Muslim acquaintance that I wasn’t “human” if I didn’t follow a religion, particularly Islam, because this meant I “lack guidance” as I “don’t believe in Allah.” While they irately continued their passionate explanation as to why I was a “lost child” I calmly looked at them in the eye occasionally blinking and thinking to myself “Who the hell are you to tell me what my relationship with God should be like and what makes you think that you are a better human being than me just because you believe in a religion?!”

I look around me daily and see many people who call themselves Christians, Muslims, Jewish, Sikh etc sin and be outright hypocritical. They take the parts of religion that suit them and disregard the rest, yet call themselves devout followers.

If religion suits you then good luck to you but I’m sober minded enough to make my own sound decisions as to what or who I believe in, thanks. So save your breath and both our time and just accept that what may be right for you just isn’t so for someone else.