15 Comments

The God You Don’t Believe in, I Don’t Believe in, Either: An Open Response to a Spiritually Abused Atheist

It stopped me cold.

"Fog" by Katy Drake, via Pinterest

“Fog” by Katy Drake, via Pinterest

Sometimes a reader makes a comment that turns into a blog post, because he or she raises such a compelling or broadly applicable topic.

A reader named John left just such a comment on one of my posts on religious brainwashing. You can read the original post here.

In a nutshell, John shared about his own Christian Fundamentalist background in a spiritually abusive family. The hypocrisy and violent finger-waving caused him to walk away from his parents’ hurtful faith.

John wrote:

Eventually by 16 or 17 I had a gut instinct that I wanted nothing to do with my parents’ values or churches. But it was a gut instinct that I was not willing to face for many years because of the brainwashing. Plus I loved my family and didn’t want to become the outsider – the “heathen,” the “world,” the “them” that needed to be “saved.” But their spiritual, emotional and physical abuse finally gave me the push to estrange myself.

The biggest problem with such people, really, is an unwillingness to take responsibility for their actions. To use the words “please forgive,” instead of “sorry but…,” “didn’t mean it like that,” etc.

And so it is that while I admire your website greatly as a source to understand my sad family and upbringing better, the greatest “get out jail free card” of any Christian is the idea that the other
kind of Christian is not a real Christian – that such people misinterpreted or misunderstood the Bible and that God meant “it” differently.

The supposed contradictions of the Bible [are] actually Christianity’s strength – no one will ever take responsibility for acts in its name—cherry-picking is the name of the game.

So even though you write “Christians should strive to follow Christ and not compare themselves with other believers,” Bible cults/Fundamentalists could say the same of you. It’s a never-ending cycle and it keeps the Bible myths alive.The only sane route for me out of that mad entanglement was that of atheism. I do feel far “safer” on a page written by a (calmer) theologian than a (crazed) Fundamentalist, yet I find it interesting that Christopher Hitchens always had a kind of respect for the latter in at least being honest that their beliefs are all about faith and not reason, whereas his theologian counterparts never could, yet could also not “reason” without the Bible.

From all those YouTube debates, one doesn’t know who to feel sorry for the most: the Bible cult preacher or the supposed “rational” theologian who couldn’t admit that he didn’t actually have facts – only faith.

John raises some really good points, don’t you agree? Maybe you feel the same way. Indeed, I have friends who have walked away from Christianity because they were spiritually abused. Readers often write to me expressing their disillusionment with the faith. How would you respond to John’s questions?

Here’s how I would:

Dear John,

Welcome to the discussion. I value your thoughts. Thanks for taking the time to write about your own background and your reasons for doubt.

Tree and MistI am so sorry that you were raised in a spiritually abusive home. As a Christian–and as a former member of a legalistic Bible cult–I can only offer my deepest sympathy and apologies. No child or young person should have to endure such a twisted and harmful belief system.

If I understand your comments correctly, you have decided that a humanistic, atheistic belief system offers you a safer, more solid place to stand. That way you can rely on reason rather than faith. You believe that calm theologians (such as me, thanks for that hat tip) are not much different than fundamentalists, since we all judge each other and decry each other as false. But to the fundamentalists’ credit (according to Christopher Hitchens), they at least admit their faith rather than mislabeling their belief as based on reason. Christians shouldn’t point fingers, since they are all equally misguided.

Have I more or less caught the gist of your position?

You raise important questions. Here are my thoughts:

We don't burn dollar bills just because counterfeits exist. Nor should we judge a belief system by its abuse.

We don’t burn dollar bills just because counterfeits exist. Nor should we judge a belief system by its abuse.

1.) We should avoid judging a belief system by its abuse. Every system has its confused practitioners, twisted interpretations, and abusive applications. Yet we don’t burn dollar bills just because counterfeits exist. Any belief system—atheism included—should be judged on its purest form, as it was intended to be interpreted and practiced. If we are to judge God, we must judge him as the Bible portrays him, not as we misperceive him.

2.) The God you don’t believe in, I don’t believe in, either. He is a distorted, misrepresented, sadistic tyrant. In this belief we have much in common. Both of us have suffered abuse from people who misperceived God and misinterpreted his word. Such a God certainly does not exist.

3.) Someone is not no one. You said that “no one will ever take responsibility for acts in [the Bible’s] name.” But real Christians accept responsibility for their misdeeds. While it is true that I cannot accept responsibility for actions I never committed, I strive every day to admit, apologize for, and make right the wrongs I have committed. While I practice this imperfectly, I still try. And there are many others more righteous than I. You may have encountered precious few of these people, but they exist, and so your categorization cannot hold true. Some Christians do accept responsibility. And someone is not no one.

4.) Interpretation is a science, and thus a biblical interpretation may be judged more or less true. I can understand if this makes your skin crawl, since everyone initially believes that his or her own interpretation must be true. But I now find this concept comforting. The Bible doesn’t mean whatever we want it to mean, or whatever our abusive pastor says it means, or whatever our misguided parents perceived it to mean. No, instead it has a meaning which is derived from the clearest sense of a passage when the cultural background is understood and when all of scripture is taken into account.

Bible Interpretation Should Not Be Random or Subjective.

Bible Interpretation Should Not Be Random or Subjective.

The science of interpretation is called “hermeneutics,” and a lot of misguided, archaic, and flat-out wrong interpretations get thrown in a large trashcan when we apply proper hermeneutical principles. I hope that this blog never turns into a bashing contest, but I don’t hesitate to point out false and harmful interpretations of scripture when I see them go against normally accepted hermeneutical principles. Other issues are open to a wide variety of interpretations—you’ll never see me paint them black.

5.) Every worldview stands by faith. Worldview is the cloud of beliefs and perceptions—often unconsciously held—which inform a person’s beliefs about life. Every worldview strives to answer the greatest questions of life (origins, purpose, etc.), and the chief question is: Why is there something rather than nothing? After studying all of the major worldview options (Theism, including Monotheism and Christianity in particular; Pantheism, including reading Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha; and Atheism), I find that Christianity offers me the most satisfying answers to the origin of the universe, the purpose of life, and the reason for moral living.

Courtesy Faci Popouli, via Pinterest.

Courtesy Faci Popouli, via Pinterest.

The atheist must also take his beliefs by faith, rather than by reason, since it is impossible to prove a negative or observe the beginning of time. Since Science deals with the observable or reproducible, atheists enter the realm of faith when they seek to answer life’s ultimate questions.

The theist also stands by faith, yet he has much historical evidence for his beliefs. Both Jewish and Roman historians refer to the person of Jesus Christ, and many biblical accounts are contextualized and supported by archaeology and world history.

John, you ask good questions. I can sympathize with your doubts– The God you don’t believe in, I don’t believe in, either. I invite your discussion either via email or in the comments section below. Thanks for posting your comment and starting such an important discussion.

Best Regards, Steve

15 comments on “The God You Don’t Believe in, I Don’t Believe in, Either: An Open Response to a Spiritually Abused Atheist

  1. You were very gracious in your response Stephen. As always, your blog is a “well of cool and refreshing water” filled with the Spirit of Christ. 🙂

  2. Dear Stephen,

    This is beginning to feel like a correspondence of sorts. From across the pond
    actually, as I am in Europe (being in the same hemisphere as my parents
    was not enough). Not sure how I got onto your blog and what made
    me comment. I usually wouldn’t. Your insights relating to cults were
    compelling though.

    Glad that my argument actually came across coherently, as your
    clarification proves! Certainly an honour to have a blog on your page
    focusing on my comment 😉

    I realised afterwards that I had made one or two errors in my last
    post. The first being the reference to Hermann Hesse. While I still
    consider him a great writer, his mystical and esoteric side repulses
    me now. Didn’t read Siddhartha, but others. I guess boyhood reading
    seems different in adulthood and I hadnt thought much about his work since
    then. Vonnegut on the other hand, well, no regrets there. I could have
    mentioned other writers, but nevermind.

    My other mistake was in the use of the phrase “in the name of”, which
    is often used as a way for narrators to create distance between an act by others,
    and what is supposedly written (according to them) in the Bible – i.e. more or less
    in line with your reasoning – that of misinterpretations.

    I would, boldly if I may, claim instead that fundamentalists usually are following
    Biblical texts. It is not “in the name of”.

    I realise that statement won’t sit well with you, but perhaps I could follow
    that with a one or two examples of what I mean. Look at the cult groups
    with their despicable “God hates fags” placards. It may come across as extreme
    and disgusting, but they are only conveying what they have read.
    “In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” Romans 1:27
    “”If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.” Leviticus 20:13

    This kind of thinking is foreign to me, but I would like to think I have
    emancipated my mind to some extent.

    Then you write of an “us and them” Bible cult complex. Well, what then to make of:
    Jesus- “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring
    hither, and slay them before me.” – Luke 19:27

    Certainly doesn’t speak to me of a tolerant man.

    Oh, and the ultimate for or against example – love me, or you burn in
    agony in hell – not for a few hours until you die, no, no, for eternity. I think
    that says enough for the New Testament.

    The documentary film “Jesus Camp” portrayed camps in which children
    were by brainwashed by Christian fundamentalists. Well, conventional
    churches also have their “Sunday School”. It may not be as fanatical,
    but it still messes with underage minds using traumatic scare tactics of heaven
    and hell. I know from my Methodist experiences, before we joined the happy clappies.

    Most, if not all, Christian parents do that with kids because they believe it is not only
    their right but their duty to give them a “christian upbringing”. If they think they have
    rights over a child’s trusting, vulnerable mind, then its a small step to also
    assume power of their bodies too. Genital mutilation being an example
    (of which I too am a victim, naturally). How can any of these decisions be
    allowed to be made by parents, without their children’s consent at an age
    able to differentiate? Its a gross violation of mind and body.

    That same charming Moses that commanded the Israelites to commit rape,
    genocide, theft and kidnapping in the case of the (mythical, due to to failed
    Isreali archeological attempts) Amalekites, was also the man who supposedly
    brought forth the 10 Commandments. As though I need to be commanded to
    be a good man – as though this is not something I would actually want for myself.
    That in itself is an insult to any self-respecting person of critical mind. Not one
    mention of the rights of children or of women – but instead we are told not to make
    graven images.

    That is pretty extreme material. That is the same Bible that you carry with you
    as is the one the fundamentalist does. My parents also spoke of others misinterpreting
    the Bible. They would invariably add that religion is wrong, its about one’s personal
    relationship with God. Everyone seems to be saying the same thing, except some
    are more obvious and extreme than others.

    You say atheists have faith because they do not believe. I disagree. The bit that
    I mostly got from my two university degrees was that knowledge should always
    be attained through (healthy) skepticism because only then can one be sure
    of objective results. There is no reason why I should approach the question
    of the supposed existence of an all-knowing God in the same way. An apparently
    loving God that would be able to convict me of thought crime, the ultimate dictator
    who knew my “sins” even before I was born, who created me knowing I would
    go to hell. A distorted love that contains within it a threat.

    I would call all of this superstition.

    My reasons for being atheist are, in the end, due to the fact that I find the
    Bible utterly immoral. I dont really care which church or group says what,
    they all follow the same book – and I dont see the point it following a book
    that contains parts which I will turn a blind eye to, and parts that I find ok.
    The best passage in the whole Bible “Do unto others as you would
    have done to you”, can be found in different variations in all religions
    and actually dates back to Confucius and other philosophers of his time.

    As an artist, I find the idea of Evolution to be the most wondrous concept.
    Nature continually shifting, overlapping, creating unpredictable changes
    that in turn cause new processes. Knowing that we have certain undeniable
    proof of such events in time, yet also counting on the fact that science
    may rethink its conclusions tomorrow. That is not faith! Uncertain random
    experiences and the birth of new ideas is what gives me delight – not a fixed
    Creationist concept put together by a patriarchal all-knowing God, for which all
    we have is the Bible to base this knowledge on.

    Lastly (this is getting long), your write “Both Jewish and Roman historians refer to the person of Jesus Christ, and many biblical accounts are contextualized and supported by archaeology and world history.” Please reference your sources. I would be interested.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this!

    • Ah! I’d love to visit Europe some day. I am a Scots-Irish-English mutt. Never been to the home countries, though. John, I’m glad you stumbled on the blog and took the time to comment. I can see that your questions are broader than just spiritual abuse issues, which is a little bit outside of my lane on this blog, but certainly worthy of a thoughtful response. Give me a day or two to ponder. I have struggled with similar thoughts and still have unresolved questions related to the Old Testament in particular. In other areas I have come to intellectual satisfaction and can share my sources. Who knows? One or two of them might be worth your consideration. In the meantime, by all means pull up a chair and grab a pint. You are welcome at this fireside.

    • Dear John,
      Many apologies for my delayed response. How is it that in an age of marvelous technology I seem to have less time than before? Poor time management, I suppose.
      I have spent time pondering your questions and pulling a stack of books from my basement shelves. They are, of course, very good questions, and not uncommon. I have wrestled with similar thoughts, and I think that most intellectually honest Christians would say they have, as well.

      Homosexuality

      I do not wish to get involved in this whole debate. Many people more knowledgeable than I have weighed in on both sides. I would suggest, however, that God may disapprove of certain behavior and still love the person who practices the behavior. I do not see homosexuality as the flagship sin that some other Christians do. Rather, I see hypocrisy, idolatry, and pride as the sins most offensive to the holiness of God. Jesus himself spends an entire chapter of the Bible (Matthew 23) excoriating the religious hypocrites of his day. I find no such lengthy passage in the New Testament regarding homosexuality.

      That said, our personal opinion about what constitutes acceptable behavior is of little value if it is not based on an authority source. And I find the Bible the most satisfying and reputable source for moral standards.

      Hell

      God respects the choice of free people. He will not force us to love him. How this is distorted love, I fail to grasp, since real love does not coerce, threaten, or create robotic love slaves. Hell is a consequence for unrepentant sinners. It is not foreordained for everyone. Rather, God wants everyone to choose life. That some people go to Hell does not mean that God is a monster. Rather, it means that God is just and that humans have the ability to choose to receive either justice or mercy.

      For example, a parent who warns her child away from an 8-lane highway, only to see her child jump the girder and leap into oncoming traffic is not threatening the child, nor is she responsible for the child’s choice. The parent is lovingly warning the child of natural consequences, and the child reaps what he sows.

      Brainwashing Children about the Bible

      Every parent conveys moral judgments to his or her child and also offers a meta-narrative describing the existence of all things. He or she tells the child why there is something rather than nothing, what is good and what is bad, and how to make choices. This is true of Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, New Age practitioners, and atheists. The only difference is the source of authority for such teachings. The atheist may choose the evolutionary meta-narrative and may refer to Charles Darwin, science, reason, or post-modernism as the authority for such stories. A Christian chooses the Bible as the source of authority. Neither parent (Christian or atheist) can claim an objective source of truth. And that’s fine, since objectivity is not the goal of life, Truth is.

      As far as brainwashing is concerned, I’m against it in any context. I hope my blog conveys that. I think that the best that any parent can do is to teach a child what they believe and why, encourage the child to think critically about everything, expose their child to contrary viewpoints and help the child think through the different arguments, and to model their own personal beliefs every day.

      I agree that many churches and Sunday Schools resort to brainwashing techniques. I also believe that many college professors and media personalities use similar techniques. Why are we all so afraid of helping people think? I agree with you on this point.

      Genital Mutilation/Circumcision

      Responsible parents make many health choices for their children before their children can take responsibility for their own lives: immunizations, surgical procedures, doctor’s appointments, etc. While you may feel great repulsion in regard to circumcision, John, even today most parents elect to have this surgical procedure performed on their male children because of certain documented health benefits. My wife and I are contemplating this very choice for our own son, due in summer. While any of us might feel revulsion or anger for choices foisted on us prior to our ability to consent, in reality children are under the care of their parents and would die without parental intervention. This may not be a battle to fight in regard to the Bible, since modern medicine has its own reasons for carrying on the practice.

      Genocide in the Bible/Amalekites

      I would agree with you that this is a difficult area. The best I can do in a short space is to refer you to some other folks who address the various nuances of this issue and come to different conclusions.

      Josh and Sean McDowell, in their book “77 FAQs about God and the Bible”, address this topic.

      “Show Them No Mercy” is a Zondervan Counterpoints Series book I read in seminary. I chose to read the book and write a paper on genocide in the Old Testament, because I, like you, struggle with this idea. It challenged my presuppositions and offered nuances I had never considered. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to see four different evangelical interpretations of genocide in the Old Testament.

      As far as whether the Amalekites existed, I’d err on the side of caution. There are many people and peoples from history who we lack archaeological evidence of their existence. Yet the Bible is continually vindicated by archaeology. We have only unearthed a fraction of Middle Eastern tells. Why do we hold the Bible to a different evidentiary standard than other ancient documents? Must we always hold something in our hand to prove that it existed? If so, perhaps we need to suspend judgment until we have excavated everything there is to excavate in the Mideast.

      Skepticism and the Character of God

      You said: “The bit that I mostly got from my two university degrees was that knowledge should always be attained through (healthy) skepticism because only then can one be sure of objective results. There is no reason why I should not approach the question of the supposed existence of an all-knowing God in the same way. An apparently loving God that would be able to convict me of thought crime, the ultimate dictator who knew my ‘sins’ even before I was born, who created me knowing I would go to hell. A distorted love that contains within it a threat.”

      I agree about the healthy skepticism bit. But I disagree that objective results are possible. The best we can hope for is honesty.

      An assessment of God as a dictator who practices distorted love is a value judgment based on a person’s interpretation of the Bible. I, and some others, would disagree with such a value judgment and also question the interpretation. After all, the biblical redemptive narrative from start to finish (Genesis 3 to Revelation 22) describes a God who is intimately involved in his creation, who loves sacrificially via substitutionary death on a cross, and who wants everyone to be saved.

      I wonder why we feel that God is not worthy of respect or obedience as the Creator of everything, yet we acknowledge the role of a president, king, constable, or raj? Perhaps our thinking is distorted, not God’s.

      You said: “The best passage in the whole Bible ‘Do unto others as you would have done to you,’ can be found in different variations in all religions and actually dates back to Confucius and other philosophers of his time.”

      I don’t disagree. The Bible was a book written not in a vacuum but within a historical and cultural context. Moses, presumed author of the Pentateuch, was schooled in all of the knowledge of the Egyptians, and many of his laws are similar to laws found in other Ancient Near Eastern cultures. We would expect this, rather than a completely alien approach to society. Solomon’s book of Proverbs also contains numerous proverbs which are found in other ANE literature. This reminds us that the world is full of truth, and the Bible borrows from other truth statements and organizational principles. Other religions also borrow from the Bible, we should point out.

      Roman and Jewish Historians who refer to Jesus

      Suetonius, Claudius 25.4 (Roman)
      Tacitus, Annals 15.44 (Roman)
      Pliny the Younger, Epistles 10.96-97 (Roman)
      Josephus, Antiquities 18.63-64 (Jewish)

      For an in-depth but readable treatment of the historical Jesus, refer to Darrell Bock’s book, “Studying the Historical Jesus.” As a world-class scholar familiar with both sides of the argument, Dr. Bock makes a nuanced and intelligent argument for the historicity of Jesus. I took a class with Dr. Bock and found him both respectful of other scholars—even scholars opposed to his viewpoints—and skeptical of the skeptics. As he was fond of saying, “No one has access to secret documents about Jesus. We are all working from the same material. Yet we come to different conclusions.” He averred that a scholar’s presuppositions drive his or her interpretation of data, rather than vice versa. While some scholars admit more readily their own bias, no scholar can claim a completely objective interpretation of historical documents. We all start from somewhere and have a lifetime of experience and worldview which colors our interpretation.

      John, I’ve enjoyed engaging with you on these topics. We all need to think hard about what we believe and why we believe it. We all need to admit our own personal biases and how our life experiences have influenced us. If we embrace critical thinking, respect others who disagree with us, seek to understand in order to be understood, and pursue truth based on an authority greater than ourselves, we are moving along a good path.

      I welcome your feedback and continued engagement with this blog.

      Best Regards, Steve

  3. Sorry, errata. Should read: “There is no reason why I shouldn’t approach the question
    of the supposed existence of an all-knowing God in the same way.”

  4. “””real Christians accept responsibility for their misdeeds.”””

    I had four pastors, along with a couple elders and a couple apostles (one pastor says he is a prophet) all group together to lie and deceive me for one of the elders kids after they cheated me out of tens of thousands of dollars. Two of the pastors were ‘taking care of me because I am a widow’… and I found out all alone they knew what they were doing. I had never heard of the NAR but they were/are a NAR church and I found out what evil is in that church.

    • I am so sorry that happened to you, Ang =( Any church leader who uses the people under his/her care to inflate his/her pocketbook, ego, or emotional needs is committing spiritual abuse. I hope you have found support and genuine love from other believers. What happened to you grieve’s God’s heart. He has righteous anger on your behalf. I hope that the leaders involved will be held accountable and will see the error of their ways, repent, and offer restitution.

  5. Dear Steve!

    I dropped in on your site and saw you had replied. Thanks for taking
    the time to consider all my post, especially despite the rather varied
    nature of it.

    I would like to firstly say how happy I am for you and your wife (even
    if this comes from an anonymous stranger) to learn of your coming child!
    I imagine social etiquette says one congratulates when the birth has arrived
    and so I shall save that till later.

    It would be most tempting for me to take on all the topics you have responded
    to.

    However, my conscience in regard to the well-being of your future son,
    you as parents, and your relationship with him, compels me to request
    that I initially only reply to the issue of circumcision. You see, I have not
    only researched it to great degree, I am also a member of forums and have
    been in contact with parents who have circumcised their sons. To withhold
    all that would be somehow wrong.

    I understand the nature of your blog is more of Christian issues in general.
    Nonetheless, it is my intention to show that there are moral questions
    involved, not to mention the seemingly still very contemporary nature
    of it in America in particular. In that respect, it would certainly be relevant.
    Any pro and contra arguments would be helpful to other would-be
    parents reading your blog.

    I have to prepare for a job interview on Tuesday in Germany, plus
    finish other projects. Perhaps it might be possible to reply next
    week?

    Please, please may I ask that you not make a decision until I have
    done so? I realise this is asking a lot, since you don’t know me and
    this relates to a very personal situation. I would really appreciate
    the chance to show you how widely encompassing this issue really
    is.

    Thanks.

    • Dear John,

      You are so kind to us. Thank you for your words of blessing.

      It’s interesting. My wife and I just attended our last baby class, and we received information about circumcision. At this point, we have doubts about that procedure. So be at peace. But I am interested in any literature you have, so I will await your post with eagerness.

      Best Regards, Steve

      PS – Good luck on your job interview! Let me know how it goes =)

  6. Part 1
    ———

    Dear Steve,

    Thanks for holding thumbs for my interview!

    It went alright, though there were moments that I could have handled
    better. Six people asked me questions for an art lecturing post at an
    academy and I only get their decision end of June.

    Afterwards I dropped in at an art museum and found myself before
    a large painting from the late 1800s of a naked couple. The man had
    a foreskin and I felt deeply envious, not just of him, but of their intimacy
    as a couple. No one had stolen that.

    I have a tendency to write long texts (as you know;)), but am going to try my best here to keep
    this down. I shall try to show that the hygiene excuse is just a myth, also I shall write a bit about the physical harm. The psychological and emotional damage too, partly through anecdotal, partly scientific means.

    I must be honest, I have felt a bit daunted about writing this. I can just imagine your teenage son peering over my shoulder, trying to urge me on to think up the very best in reasoning to dissuade you. Nothing I write here seems good enough. I know your son would not want it. I wish there was someone who could have spoken up for me when I was a baby. But I was defenceless – left at the mercy of wilfully ignorant parents (not that you are by any means -looking back, they just really seem like simpletons to me now to think in such ridiculous unthinking terms). As unsafe as I could ever possibly be in my entire life.

    Parents can try to argue later that they only meant well or that they were befuddled by doctors,
    but at the end of the day my parents always claimed their “rights” as parents without thinking twice and never would dreamt of simply walking into a public library to look at the anatomy of a man’s private parts.

    All very nice to be so careless with someone else’s body when one doesnt have to live with it
    for the rest of one’s life. I have seen how plagued by guilt fathers are who have realised what they
    have done to their sons. Some start restoring their foreskins and forum threads occasionally reawaken every so often, asking others how they can mange to get through their anguish as parents. How to look their son in the eye when he gets to 15 and asks them why they did it.

    It never concerned my parents that I would be strapped and that the foreskin, which is normally meant to stay connected to the glans until about 3, would be ripped off and cut off somewhat haphazardly – at an angle – with scars as a way to remember their “loving touch”. I would
    wager they never even considered how much Dr. Butcher would take off.

    Did you know that an anaesthetic is not automatic in America for infants?
    http://www.thewholenetwork.org/14/post/2011/08/infant-circumcision-with-anesthesia-does-it-really-help-the-pain.html

    Regarding hygiene and STDs. There are two very basic answers to both: washing and wearing condoms. The foreskin belongs to the man’s anatomy as much as his ears or fingers do – and has done since mankind existed. It is as nature intended, or, for the Christian – as God intended. Every part of our bodies has a function – as we are all aware, the foreskin is no exception. Though I have never had a foreskin, I have read that all one needs to clean it is lukewarm water. Soap destroys
    the natural (good) bacteria and moisture values specific to that area.

    Due to no natural oils and skin, circumcised men need lubricants for sex and women get chaffed. This is not just about men – women often do not have pleasurable sex (though they may think it alright – it is nothing like sex with an intact man). They either often aren’t able to orgasm properly or it hurts. Here forum links of “real” women asking how to get their husbands to restore:
    http://foreskin-restoration.net/forum/showthread.php?t=9119&page=7
    http://foreskin-restoration.net/forum/showthread.php?t=12590&page=2

    There is a whole website dealing with the issue from a woman’s point of view –
    I will only name it so one can do a search – not sure about your policy on nudity.
    sexasnatureintendedit – (dot com)

    Funny though that my father – supposedly – believed the hygiene hysteria that much that
    he kept himself intact. He knew exactly what he would be losing in sensitivity and how painful
    that amputation would be too. People seem to think babies don’t feel pain. Just to make that
    pill I was later to have to swallow, even more bitterer, I had to grow up occasionally catching a glance of his mysterious and perfect member, and then look down at mine with the scars, the skin tags and the missing part. I have never really enjoyed looking at mine.

    As for STD (sexually transmitted diseases), I think it important to ask who funded
    the studies and were they conducted according to standardised procedures. Well-funded lies. There are many sources that question the validity of these so-called “studies”. The faulty HPV study only tested the glans area for example.

    Here is a link for HIV
    http://in2eastafrica.net/flawed-african-studies-into-male-circumcision-and-hiv-sexual-transmission/
    And one for HPV (there are many more)
    http://intactnews.org/node/119/1314979135/circumcision-does-not-prevent-hpv-infection-rct-data-039inflated039-study-finds
    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201109/more-circumcision-myths-you-may-believe-hygiene-and-stds

    The last link is part of a series of six:
    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201109/myths-about-circumcision-you-likely-believe

    Dr. Robert Van Howe, a Michigan medical school professor and 
pediatrician, and J. Steven Svoboda, head of the Berkeley-based 
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, states: “Rather than objectively 
evaluating all available evidence, the AAP selectively quotes and 
references highly-contested and controversial studies to attempt to 
justify an entrenched, yet outmoded, cultural—not medical— practice.”
    http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2013/03/18/medethics-2013-101346.abstract
http://www.intactamerica.org/p

    This is genital mutilation. How can I say that? Well, if the penis is born with a foreskin, then any alteration is unnatural. Further, according to wiki, and any anatomical source one cares to check – the foreskin contains 20,000 highly sensitive and erogenous nerves. The clitoris “only” 8,000. I was “mercifully” at least left with my frenulum and most of the frenula delta. No circumcising parent even knows what those names refer to. I didnt know about the fact that the frenulum is likewise highly sensitive for sexual sensation. I had to read about the “banjo string” on the web. Mine is not sensitive at all, due to peripheral nerve damage. I am hoping that foreskin restoration will help. Hoping too that the part of my brain that was connected to my foreskin nerve area for sensation, can be somehow revived in 3 or 4 years.

    There are two kinds of circumcised men. Those who live in denial and those who don’t. Of the former, there is the man who says he is happy to be circumcised and then there is the kind, as I was for my most of my life, who resents it but manages to forget about it for the sake of feeling normal. A defence mechanism. I recently went to a German urologist for a check up who, after he heard that I was restoring, said he thought it good and that he was aware that circumcision causes a state of conflict towards the victim’s parents. After all, how are they supposed to deal with the fact that the very people who are meant to love them and protect them, violated them and robbed them of sensation?

    I remember reading “The Wind Spirit” – an autobiography by Michel Tournier, as a 17 year old.
    I came across a part where he bitterly resented his circumcision by his parents. I quickly pushed
    it back into my subconscious mind. The problem is that the little sensitivity that is left to us genitally mutilated men, dissipates over the course of our 30s. By our 40s we feel almost nothing. We are forced to recognise what has been done to us. If that is not enough, the media reminds us. I remember how a Southpark episode about bris, sent me into my first and worst depression, during my studies in London in 2004. It was a dark hole for someone who hardly ever gets depressed – certainly not for long. This popped up again at the start of 2013. Recent quiz show jokes got me fast-forwarding on youtube.

    Here are some links for now. Will be back with more – it is just that it hurts even thinking about this.
    http://9davids.blogspot.de/2010/11/50-reasons-to-leave-it-alone.html?spref=fb

    The following link may have links to atheism, but that is just by chance. I can tell you that there are many Christian men restoring their foreskins (more about that later) and who are against
    circumcision (though the Bible is sadly not clear on this, as far as I have been able to tell).
    http://viewsfromamommy.tumblr.com/circumcisedmendocomplain
    For example, this man happens to also be a pastor.
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Joy-Uncircumcising-Circumcision-Restoration/dp/093406122X

    Parent-Child relationship
    http://www.circumcision.org/harmswomen.htm
    http://www.drmomma.org/2011/08/intact-or-circumcised-significant.html
    http://circumcision-amothersstory.blogspot.de/?m=0

    Psychology
    http://intactnews.org/node/131/1316710012/study-links-circumcision-personality-trait-disorder
    More resources
    http://viewsfromamommy.tumblr.com/post/35586079519/circumcisionresources

    ———–
    Part 2 coming…

  7. Dear Steve,

    Just wondering if my post was too long for you,
    or perhaps if it was too “frank” sexually for a Christian blog?
    Doesn’t seem to have been published.

    I won’t post much of a Part 2 for those concerns (though
    I think any parent considering this should also know of the many
    consequences in terms of lack of self-esteem, depression,
    functional loss, not feeling whole, physiological changes,
    sense of betrayal, loss of respect in parents, and so much more).

    I would encourage those circumcised men reading this and feeling
    depressed, to find out about restoring by joining a forum like
    restoringforeskin (.org). There is hope at least in lessening this nightmare.

    The bottom line is, regardless of whether anyone believes what I (or my links)
    have written or not, they are gambling with their relationship with their sons. It could
    go wrong at any time – denial creates a false sense of well-being. If you
    dont handle their anger in the correct way (validating and apologising),
    the bond will be gone. Irreparably damaged it is though either way.

    • Dear John,

      So sorry about my omission! I have been “off” my blog for a week or two. I did, however, read through your comment and just posted it. While it is a rabbit trail from the normal subject matter of this particular blog, it fits in with our earlier conversations and deserves publishing. I know this particular area brings up many painful feelings for you — thanks for sharing all of your resources and much of your personal journey. While I know that there is much disagreement about this whole matter in society and in the church, you offer a compelling perspective and lots of resources for folks to seriously consider.

      You may be heartened to learn that my wife and I have opted for no surgical procedures on our son. We saw a video in a childbirth class and walked out stunned and rather appalled. Your comments have now reinforced our decision. So all-natural it is!

      I am glad for your contributions and again, many apologies for my delay in publishing your earlier comment.

      Any word back regarding your job interview? Best wishes with that!

      Best regards, Steve

  8. Dear Steve, this is wonderful news!!!

    I am so happy … though to be honest I had an inkling you would not let them do it.
    Maybe it was your doubt in your previous post, but somehow I also cannot imagine you
    doing it anyway. You are too much of a thinker to not look at this one from different angles 😉

    I think you and your wife can look forward to not having to deal with “that conversation”
    one day when your son gets to the right age. If anything you can lean back with a smile
    and let him thank you. And let his future wife do so too, no doubt.

    In my post I mentioned the foreskin and glans naturally coming apart at 3, but
    found afterwards that it only happens years later. Anyway, I did read blog entries by
    two mothers who insisted that a parent should always accompany their son when he sees
    a doctor, in order to ensure the practitioner doesn’t prematurely pull up the skin. Apparently
    standard textbooks for medical students in America often still (?) have a circumcised illustration
    for a “normal” (!!) member. So there may still be ignorance or disinterest there for some.

    Just wondering – which film did you see? Was it of a circumcision? I still haven’t
    been able to watch one of those.

    No news of the job yet.

    Wishing you both a great week!

    warm greetings
    John

  9. Oh, and phimosis can be be treated through stretching exercises
    too (similar techniques as the manual ones in restoration) – so don’t
    let them come up with circumcision ideas later on. Countless such
    teenage and adult stories around.

    Anyway, just in case!

    • Dear John,

      Indeed, it was a circumcision film in our childcare class. It was shocking. At the break the first thing we did was get outside the room, look at each other, and say, ‘Not for our son.’ Yikes. I wouldn’t be surprised if more parents start moving in this direction.

      Thanks for all the input, John. Let me know if you get that job!

      Best regards, Steve

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