The joy of uncircumcisingBMJ 1994; 309 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.309.6955.676a (Published 10 September 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:676
“Now therefore why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?” With these words St Peter, himself a circumcised Jew, won the argument against compulsory circumcision of Gentile converts to Christianity nearly 2000 years ago. Clearly he knew that that there was a penalty to be paid for being circumcised. This fact seems to have been forgotten by the medical profession during the past 100 years, when circumcision has been widely practised on children as treatment and sometimes as prophylaxis for phimosis. It has even been used as a treatment for masturbation, once considered a dangerous disease. When you look up circumcision in modern surgical textbooks you find the anatomy of the foreskin well described but no mention of its function. You find the indications for circumcision and how to carry it out, but no mention of the consequences.
Like many boys of my generation in Britain, I was circumcised in infancy by a doctor. I grew up knowing that something had been removed from my penis as my older brother was intact, but I was told that this did not matter. The glans was always uncomfortable when rubbed by clothing throughout childhood and on into adult life, so that I always looked for tight …