As believers, we have to ask ourselves the question: should we circumcise or children on the eighth day, according to the command?
Of course we should because it is a command. But I have to believe there is more here. An old friend just had his infant baptized. My heart sank. Of course we shouldn’t baptize infants who cannot confess the faith. Well, then, what about these little boys? They cannot confess faith either; they don’t get a choice. Why do I object to infant baptism but not to circumcision?
Is the only difference is what God hath said in Genesis 17?
The strangest thought came to me as I read this covenant again: circumcision marks Abraham’s household. It’s a tracking device. How can Abraham be sure the uncountable descendents are his when, as I believe, he meets them? They’re all circumcised. It’s evidence that God fulfilled his end of the deal, evidence that is dependent upon Abraham and his descendents to fulfill their end of the deal in doing the cutting.
Shouldn’t it be the one who refuses to circumcise his child that is cut out of the covenant rather than the eight-day-old child who has no power over whether or not he’s circumcised? Theoretically, sure, it would make sense to punish the disobedient parent, but if this identifying theory is correct, not having the mark sets the child outside of the covenant, so being cut off from the household of Abraham is simply a fact of the uncircumcised state, not a punishment God inflicts on the child.
Even though there are ways baptism and circumcision are related in the Torah, perhaps this can help me make sense of why I reject infant baptism but accept infant circumcision: baptism is a choice and a cleansing and a status change. It’s something that comes from faith and obedience and love for God. A wet baby isn’t being born again, so it’s saying something’s being done that’s not. A cut baby isn’t being born again either, but that’s not the goal of the mark; the mark is distinguishing him as Abraham’s descendent: good or bad, godly or not, of Isaac, of Ishmael, or of his many other children.
I feel silly for saying this, but maybe–despite all the wonderful teachings I’ve heard to the contrary–circumcision is physical, not spiritual. (Duh.)And every new circumcised 8-day-old boy is one more grain of sand, one more star in the sky, one more promise to Abraham fulfilled.
Wow, he’s so utterly and inconceivably faithful–God, I mean. But also Abraham.