An online journal, the World-science.net has reported a bizarre trend of body mutilations being inflicted by some people upon themselves, in order to make the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ as instructed in the Gospel of Mathew.
Quoting medical researchers at the St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Centre in Phoenix, Arizona, in the United States, world-science.net reported overall 23 cases of people who have cut off their penises or hands or removed their eyes, because they felt they had caused them some sins. Three of these lot who self-severed their penises believed their action would make them live a sinless life and as transformed eunuchs, make them live in line with the injunction in Mathew 19:12. Four others also cut off their testicles, believing same sentiments.
The Biblical verse reads as follows:
“For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb; and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men; and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it let him receive it.”
Worldscience.net reported that these incidents of self-mutilation and penis cutting happen on average of one every three years, ‘’judging by published medical reports—but that makes it no less disturbing each time for hospital staff faced with the situation.’’
One of such rare penis cutting happened last month when a 62-year-old man whom physicians dubbed Mr. P to protect his privacy, showed up at the emergency room of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, complaining of a case of “Matthew 19:12.” Asked to clarify, he just kept repeating the same thing: Matthew 19:12.
The nurse on duty searched the Internet for Matthew 19:12. What she read was worrisome, worldscience.net reported.
“As it quickly became clear, Mr. P had made this hospital visit unaccompanied by his penis. That, he explained, he had flushed down the toilet three days ago after severing it with a pocketknife. His testicles were also absent—removed four years earlier at Mr. P’s request by a doctor in Mexico.
“Although his speech and thoughts appeared muddled, Mr. P did state that he had “done this because his penis had caused him to sin and as an eunuch he could be closer to God as described in Matthew 19:12,” three researchers affiliated with St. Joseph’s wrote in a report describing the incident. Mr. P also claimed to have pondered the decision for months before acting.
“Mr. P. received urgent medical treatment at St. Joseph’s, including a skin graft onto the stump. He was then confined to a local psychiatric hospital by court order, leaving little but questions behind.
“The three investigators proceeded to search an online medical literature database, PubMed, for other cases of this nature. They discovered that the Bible—indeed, the Gospel of Matthew specifically— has left a trail of self- mutilations inspired largely by four of its verses.
The bloody toll listed in case reports dating back to 1967—PubMed doesn’t go back much further—included three partially or fully amputated penises; four pairs of castrated testicles; three amputated hands and 11 severely damaged eyeballs. Saws, circular saws, screwdrivers and pencils were among the tools used for the horrifying procedures, although several patients put out their eyes with their fingers alone.
“Our literature review revealed 16 patients in addition to [Mr. P] who had injured themselves in connection with specific religious text,” the researchers wrote.
Their review of the cases is published in the May 29 online issue of the research journal Psychosomatics, worldscience .net reported.
‘’All but one of the patients were diagnosed with psychiatric disorders or psychotic disorders or had substance abuse issues, they wrote; Mr. P., for example, “had a long history of severe bipolar illness marked by hyper-religious delusions.”
“And every case was connected with at least one of four verses in Matthew’s Gospel: 19:12, 18:8, 5:29 and 5:30.
“The three latter verses are more cryptic than the first, referenced by Mr. P. What they have in common is that they appear to suggest that if a hand, foot or right eye are somehow offensive, cutting them off is the way to go, because at least, that much less of the body will end up in Hell.
“Several biblical verses reference self-mutilation as metaphoric acts of sacrifice or contrition,” wrote the researchers, who included psychiatrist Jason P. Caplan of St. Joseph’s and the Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska. “Some individuals may interpret these passages literally and act on them, causing significant injury and even inadvertent death.”
“Psychiatrists should be aware of the content of these four verses to aid in timely diagnosis and intervention if they were to arise in discussion with a patient,” they added. “It is interesting to note that no cases cite the Gospel of Mark despite very similar content (i.e., Mark 9:43, which reads ‘And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched’).”
“Individuals who rationalize their actions through biblical verses appear to have a series of features that make them a unique cohort with specific challenges regarding prognosis and treatment,” Caplan and colleagues wrote.
Many of them have no regrets about their actions; deliberately destroy the body part to prevent its reattachment; resist efforts to successfully reattach it when that is possible; and are uncooperative with other aspects of treatment, they added.
A 37-year-old man was quoted in the 1967 report saying: “Even if I do get certified [insane] and in the eyes of the world I am mad it is far better for me to have cleansed myself.”
“Ideas of reference (specifically, that the Bible directly refers to them) is a repeated theme in this group, underscoring a common thread of psychotic disorders,” Caplan and colleagues wrote.
“Guilt over sexual acts or desires is another recurrent theme… Recent homosexual experiences occurred in three of the cases of genital self- mutilation.” Four of the 17 self-mutilators were females; they had poked out their eyes or, in one case, amputated a hand.
Many patients had self-amputated after failed attempts to persuade doctors to do the deed, the researchers wrote, indicating a need for doctors presented with such requests to refer cases to a psychiatrist immediately.
Caplan disclosed in the paper that he is affiliated with Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Avanir Pharmaceuticals. The report did not recommend any specific drug treatments, however. As for how Mr. P is doing currently, Caplan said he doesn’t know. “Once they leave the acute care hospital, we get no further update,” he wrote in an email.
The contentious worrisome verses in the Gospel of Mathew
For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their moth!er’s womb; and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men; and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
But if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.