Professional Dissertations DMin

Date of Award


Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Jon Dybdahl

Second Advisor

Gorden R. Doss

Third Advisor

Jerry Moon



The Lorn we and Yao tribes in Malawi practice traditional male circumcision rituals which are damaging the Malawian society. While these rituals have value and fill key functions in society, they are at the same time troublesome. The lack of proper medical equipment and training in performing actual circumcision, as well as accompanying teachings which encourage sexual promiscuity, makes these ceremonies physically, spiritually, and morally dangerous. The AIDS epidemic in Malawi can also be partly traced to these rituals. This study seeks to find a Christian answer which preserves the value of these practices while avoiding the problems connected with them.


The circumcision rituals and beliefs of the Lomwe and Yao tribes are described. Based on personal interviews of people who have been directly involved with the circumcisions, this dissertation details the activities which take place before, during, and after the circumcision, along with the teachings which are passed on to the circumcision initiates during the ceremony. In order to provide a comparative basis, the Old Testament and New Testament circumcision practices and teachings are also described. The relationship of biblical circumcision to the Old and New Covenants between God and His people is especially emphasized. Through a contrast of the Malawian and Jewish circumcision rituals, this study highlights the dangers which traditional Lomwe and Yao circumcisions pose to the social and spiritual structures in Malawi. The current Malawian trends in AIDS, physiological injuries, and moral decline indicate that, unless the circumcision issues are addressed, the social and cultural conditions in Malawi will only continue to worsen.


The SDA church must allow and encourage the Lomwe and Yao people to address the dangers of circumcision in an culturally sensitive manner which preserves their heritage while avoiding physical dangers and moral decline. This study presents a six-step process of change which will enable the SDA church and the Malawian people to cooperatively explore options and make plans for dealing with the dangerous aspects of the circumcision rituals and teachings. This study concludes with a series of recommendations through which the SDA church could encourage its leaders and members, the Lomwe and Yao communities, and the Malawian government to cooperatively equip the Malawian people with the information and skills they need to improve and preserve their society. Possible substitution practices are also suggested.

Subject Area

Circumcision--Malawi; Medical care--Malawi; Malawi--Church history

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


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