OK, let's face it, the discussion of circumcision in church has always been a bit awkward. It's awkward elsewhere, too, I suppose, but not nearly like it is in church. Sure, we understand that God set apart his chosen people by having the males get circumcised, but you can't tell me that you haven't scratched your head and thought, Wouldn't a tattoo have been a little easier? And a little more noticeable?
There are many things that God set out in the Law of the Old Testament that make little earthly sense. Have you ever noticed, though, that there are tons of laws that didn't make sense for centuries but completely square with modern medicine? Many of the rules about cleanliness make very good guidelines as "universal precautions" for biohazards. And the prohibition against eating piggies is good advice because of a little fellow called the trichina worm.
So what does this have to do with circumcision? Well, recent studies have suggested that circumcision lowers the risk of getting HIV by more than half. Now, I wouldn't say that God was creating safeguards for folks wanting to engage in sexual sin, but I think it's pretty neat that something that's a sign of covenant to some and a peculiar cosmetic surgery to others may also hold very real health benefits.
Oh, and Happy New Year!