Gender Neutral Bathrooms and Circumcision

My wife and I never saw eye to eye with regard to the circumcision of our three boys. But she was a nurse from Britain, where this operation is a “minority” procedure; whereas at the time, most North Americans allowed the members of their boys to be given a slice.

The medical arguments which I floated, and which might have substance in ancient Israel or modern undeveloped countries, seemed feeble even to me. There is absolutely no Christian warrant for circumcision (Gal 5:6, 6:15). The best argument that I mustered was so that our sons would not feel alienated from their father and later their siblings if by chance, such members were sighted; the rawest form of traditionalism. I am loathe to admit that she was right.

So, when I see Mark Joseph Stern argue himself rouge that circumcision has significant medical benefits in the antiseptic West, it becomes obvious that other motivations are driving his drivel. Having lived in Israel for eight months, it is likewise obvious that circumcision serves as a fundamental distinctive ethnic, cultural, and religious marker. Mr. Stern’s arguments seems to be “pseudoscientific argle-bargle—it’s about religion and very little else.”

♦                    ♦                    ♦

In the last election in my country (Canada, 2015), the Conservative Party, in the late and desperate stages of the campaign, decided to play the niqab card. Stephen Harper proposed to circumscribe the wearing of the niqab in government sites. This went well beyond concerns about border security and judicial witness. The greatest justification was “that the full veil is antithetical to the Canadian way of life, and that most Canadians oppose it.” Barbara Kay, a Jewess out of Montreal, gave ten reasons for trumping this cultural practice, and insisted that there existed a social right to see each other’s faces, which trumped individual rights and preferences.

I, who had been a reluctant Conservative all my life, decided to never vote Conservative again because of this attack on religious liberty. For while Islamic holy writ may not specifically decree the wearing of such garb, the strict modesty code within Islam can legitimately lend to such praxis.

The words of Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) came to mind; albeit updated to fit the new circumstances.

  • First they trumped the wearing of the niqab and burka on the basis “Western” values,
  • but I did not speak out—because I was not a Muslim
  • Then they trumped circumcision on the basis of “genital mutilation” and needless pain,
  • but I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew
  • Then they trumped my acts of conscience and faith—but none was willing to speak for me.

It seems that the gay Mr. Stern, wishes to trump the ethical and psychological sensitivities of those who do not wish share bathrooms and showers with people with the opposite genital apparatus; this in the name of a supreme and unmitigated transgender Existentialist right. A gay male, particularly if he is one who frequents the bathhouses or spreads himself thin to all comers, may not feel the same about privacy and modesty as say a young female, who as Eva Ensler resonates with The Vagina Monologues, has all kinds of anxieties about her innie plumbing. Such persons as Mr. Stern may dismiss concerns for safety and security of persons, citing sexual molestation which already exists. But that is quite beside the point. Cars already “kill.” But that hardly validates the prudence of laying a nature trail across a freeway.

No. To Mr. Stern, these arguments are “pseudoscientific argle-bargle—it’s about religion and very little else.” Even so, I should think that if the ethical and psychological sensitivities of Christians can be so readily dismissed, the barbaric religio-cultural practice of circumcision should be even more so. Those self-identifying as Christians just might join the “intactivist” movement, calling for the criminalization of circumcision of boys under the age of consent.

 

Then they trumped circumcision—but none was willing to speak for me.

 

© Copyright John Hutchinson 2016

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