Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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What is the Christian perspective on Female Genital Mutilation?

Female Genital Mutilation is often referred to as "Female Circumcision". In some cultures, female genital mutilation is considered a form of religious practice. It is believed that such mutilation will preserve virginity in unmarried women, and make childbirth safer. Women who undergo such procedures may encounter a wide range of health problems including hemorrhage, chronic infection, and damage to the surrounding organs.

The Coptic Church opposes the practice of female genital mutilation, and finds it contradictory to divine values. The church views are based on the following biblical principles:
  1. Conservation of life, and health. Genesis 1:31 says, "Then God saw every thing that He had made, and indeed it was very good." This verse presents the goodness of God's creation including man whom He created in His image, according to His likeness. Also Genesis 9:5-6 says, "Surely for your lifeblood I will demand reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will I require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man's brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man." Here God makes man accountable for the destruction of human life.

  2. Preserving our bodies. I Corinthians 6:15-19 says that our bodies are members of Christ, and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies do not belong to us, and we do not have any right to disfigure it in any way. Because female genital mutilation is detrimental to health, threatening to life, and harmful to sexual function, it contradicts the will of God.

  3. Violating God's blessing of the marriage. Proverbs 5:18 says, "Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth." Marriage is and has been a universal practice for almost every civilized culture throughout history, yet it is considered a sacrament in the Orthodox Church. The practice of female genital mutilation defiles the Creator's intent for marriage.

  4. Healthy reproduction. For married couples, the gift of†this union may be further blessed by the birth of children.†In Psalms 128:3 it says, "Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around the table."†The fact that†healthy childbirth is threatened by female genital mutilation adds to the opposition†of this practice.
Thus the practice of female genital mutilation is found to be contrary to divinely revealed principles.

Our responsibility:
  1. Showing empathetic care. Love for the neighbor prompts Christians to care with compassion for those who have experienced physical and emotional trauma caused by female genital mutilation.

  2. Sharing the facts.†As Christians we should share our beliefs regarding female genital mutilation.†John 8:31-32 says, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

  3. Following God's principals.†Although we respect cultural differences, God's principals surpass these traditions.†Matthew 15:3 says, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?"†Also Acts 5:29 says, "We ought to obey God rather than man."
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