Post by Mike Miller on Jul 8, 2014 14:58:28 GMT -5
To begin with, I must be clear that circumcision was never necessary for salvation. The receiving of God's grace through faith has always been the only means to salvation. However, circumcision was required of the Jews as an outward sign of the covenant. The book of Galatians is written to confront certain teachers who were teaching that circumcision (along with the keeping of other Jewish laws) was necessary for salvation. Paul reinforced for the Galatian church that salvation is only by grace through faith. Elsewhere (Romans 2), Paul emphasized the teaching of Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6 and Jeremiah 4:4 (as well as all the teaching about the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31 & 32 and Ezekiel 11 & 36) that true circumcision (indicating true conversion) is a circumcision of the heart. He said in Galatians 5:6 (and again in 6:15) that "neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything," which means that neither condition contributes to or endangers one's salvation.
Now to your question. Should Gentiles circumcise our boys to honor God? Had you asked "must" Gentiles circumcise our boys, the answer would be a clear "no." God nowhere in the New Testament requires circumcision. In fact, though Paul required Timothy (a Jew, since his mother was a Jew) to be circumcised in order not to be a stumbling block to the Jews (not for his salvation), he did not require Titus (a Gentile) to be circumcised (see Galatians 2:3). This clearly means that male Christians need not be circumcised to honor God.
However, you asked "should" we circumcise our boys. Really, the answer to that question is "no" as well if you're asking if the Bible says we should do so. However, the answer is "it depends" if it is a matter of conscience. What I mean is that some parents might have a conviction that circumcision does honor God, just as some might have the conviction that keeping certain Sabbaths or abstaining from certain foods honors God. Romans 14 and Colossians 2 tell us those are a matter of the conscience and should not be judged by others.
What this means is that Gentiles are free to circumcise or not to circumcise their sons, and neither are to be judged negatively for their choice. Interestingly, this, as most things nowadays, has become a contentious topic among Christians. I've even heard some Christians use the term "male genital mutilation" to describe circumcision, comparing it to forced female genital mutilation. That kind of language only serves to bring division to the body of Christ, however. For one thing, to call circumcision male genital mutilation is to speak very negatively about something that God initially commanded. For another thing, such language is a clear violation of Romans 14 and Colossians 2, which speak clearly about not passing judgment on other believers who keep certain Old Testament laws, not for salvation, but for the sake of conscience.
Moreover, I've read numerous articles about the health benefits of circumcision and uncircumcision, and like with many things, whichever your position, you can find plenty of physicians and studies to use. What I mean is that some physicians and some research show that circumcision is dangerous and life-threatening, while some show that uncircumcision is dangerous and life-threatening. Both sides, however, reveal that the risks are pretty minimal, whichever way the studies lean. The truth seems to be that the studies are inconclusive and that there can be both health risks and benefits to circumcision and uncircumcision.
The final answer, then, is that Gentile Christians are not commanded to circumcise their sons, nor are they prohibited from doing so. Whichever your position, you will not find ample biblical support, and the contemporary medical data can go either way. Therefore, I encourage parents to consult their own physicians whom they trust and to pray about the matter. Then, they should make whichever decision they see as best, and they should move on, not condemning those who choose to do otherwise.