Question: "What does the Bible say about circumcision? What is the Christian view of circumcision?"
Answer: There are different issues that are wrapped up in the question of whether males should be circumcised or not. One issue is that of religious teaching: what does the Bible, God’s Word, say? Another issue is, as a matter of health, should males be circumcised? The Christian view of circumcision is probably best described as a combination of the two.
Concerning the first issue, since we are no longer under the Old Testament Law as Christians, circumcision is no longer required. This is brought out in a number of New Testament passages, among which are Acts 15; Galatians 2:1-3; 5:1-11; 6:11-16; 1 Corinthians 7:17-20; Colossians 2:8-12; Philippians 3:1-3. As these passages proclaim, being saved from our sins is a result of faith in Christ to save us from our sins, and it is this act of turning from our sin and self-righteousness and turning instead to reliance upon Christ’s finished work on the cross that makes us “circumcised of heart,” and the works of the flesh accomplish nothing.
In Acts 16:3, Paul had a missionary helper, Timothy, circumcised so that his being uncircumcised would not be a hindrance to them as they sought to reach out to the unsaved Jews on their missionary journeys. Thus, although the Bible gives Gentile (non-Jewish) believers the liberty of not being circumcised, it was a liberty that Timothy was willing to give up for the sake of reaching out to unsaved Jews. However, as the passages in Galatians bring out, Paul refused to compromise the issue with those who said that one must be circumcised in order to be either saved or sanctified in Christ. Of course, this incident does not directly apply today because Christians need not be circumcised in order to reach unbelievers, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. Once again, the principle of the circumcision of the heart is at the heart of the matter.
There are practical issues involved with circumcision as well. Some parents have their sons circumcised so that they will look like all the other males in their culture. Some parents are concerned that their son would someday be in a locker room and find himself different from everyone else. In some cultures, though, males are not commonly circumcised. There is also the issue of health. Doctors debate back and forth in regard to whether there are any health benefits to circumcision. Any couple with such concerns should definitely speak with a doctor in regards to this issue.
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