A ruling by a German court in Cologne recently made headlines worldwide. According to the ruling, circumcising young boys is against the law. A hospital in Berlin has already stopped performing circumcisions as a result.
As cited in the Jewish Press, “Even when done properly by a doctor with the permission of the parents, [circumcision] should be considered as bodily harm if it is carried out on a boy unable to give his own consent.” According to the court, it is “against the interests of a child to decide for himself [sic] later on to what religion he wishes to belong.”
As a parent of 4 going on 5 children, I must consider the ramifications of this decision. As an ex-pat American who moved to Israel, my wife and I brought children into the world who are now Israeli citizens. They will be required by law to serve in the army (unless, of course peace breaks out in the Middle East,) and perhaps will be put in danger as a result. Is that in my children’s interest? Would a court require me to raise my children in the US and allow them to decide where they want to live when they are able to give consent?
My wife and I try to raise our kids to be happy and healthy. Their diets consist of plenty of fruits and vegetables, but occasionally they receive a snack high in sugars and fats like candy or potato chips. Perhaps our children will develop poor eating habits as a result? Maybe this will cause bodily harm, as my child may develop heart disease or Type II Diabetes as a result of the diet? Is this against the interests of my children? Perhaps I should limit their food intake to only whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meat and dairy products.
But feeding my chidren meat and dairy may be a problem. How can I make that decision for them without their consent? Perhaps they will opt to be vegetarians when they reach the age of consent. How could I violate my child’s future interest by feeding the child a food which he would later regret. After all, I must give the child the ability to “decide for himself later on to what religion he wishes to belong.”
Any day, countless times a day, my wife and I, as most parents do, make decisions which will impact our chidren’s spiritual, physical and emotional wellbeing. Which friends to play with, which books to read, which games to play and which foods to eat are just a small sampling of those decisions. Yet the state gave me freedom to bring children into the world and to make these decisions for my children. The state gave me freedom of religion and allowed me to hold a knife and circumcize my first born son on the eighth day of his life, continuing a tradition followed by all males in my family for the last 3000 years.
If the state wants to ensure that the child’s best interests and freedoms are preserved, perhaps the state should allow for certification of parents. Potential parents should have to take exams before being allowed to conceive. Parents should know exactly what is best for their children, only then they can become certified as parents. The parents must be in a high enough socio-economic status as to make sure their children will be happy and healthy. The parents must be able to educate their children to have freedom, and not teach the children any religion that may sway their ability to make a rational decision about religion before they are old enough to decide. The parents must be democratic and allow their children freedom to decide whenever possible.
This enlightened system would make sure no drug-abusing parents or parents with hereditary diseases would become certified to give birth to any drug addicted or sick babies who are simiply a burden on society. No primitive Jews or other religious fanatics would be able to bring unfortunate babies, indoctrinated from a young age with primitive beliefs, into the world. The world would be a much more happier and healthier place, where children and adults alike would enjoy the freedom to choose that they deserve.