The Golden Rule of "Do unto others as you would have them do to you," is generally only misunderstood by non-Christians who interpret it out of the context of scripture. The issue is not with the golden rule itself, but with an assumption that the Golden Rule implies that everyone wants to be treated the same.
On the contrary, in context, the Golden Rule makes no premise that everyone wants to be treated the same, but instead is a paraphrased summary of God's commandments.
The Golden Rule was spoken by Jesus in Matthew 7:12, "In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets."
In the context of Matthew 5-7, Jesus has just been instructing an audience on various teachings about God's law, including: Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Love your enemies, Do not be hypocritical, Do not judge, etc. The Golden Rule is a summarizing of these teachings, which is God's law, as Jesus says "for this is the law and the prophets."
Jesus also makes this statement when he gives the two greatest commandments in Matthew 22:37-40, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
God's commandments to not steal, murder, commit adultery, bear false witness, etc., are summarized by loving God above all and loving our neighbor as ourselves. As follows, Jesus summarizes all these commandments with a simple, easy to remember, statement: "Do to others as you would have them do to you."
As stated, when taken out of context, the assumption made about the Golden Rule is that it is implying that the premise is everyone wants to be treated the same; however, in the context of scripture, the Golden Rule is assuming nothing about how people want to be treated, but rather it is more of a guideline for obeying God's commandments. It is essentially a rephrasing of "Love your neighbor as yourself."
These statements made by Jesus are to form a hierarchy of love: God should be our first love, and second place should be a tie between ourselves and others.
The Golden Rule is also just a way of saying, 'Do good to other people and do not do bad.'
The Golden Rule is often contrasted with the Platinum Rule, which is so named because it is viewed by non-Christians as superior to the Golden Rule because it considers how others want to be treated.
The Platinum Rule is "Treat others the way they want to be treated."
There are those who think that this
statement is better, because it is necessary to have a better
understanding of others in order to treat them how they want to be
treated. However, what is failed to be understood is that they are
taking the Golden Rule out of context, thinking that it is
presumptuous and ethnocentric.
The Platinum Rule is a rule designed to consider how others feel about our actions, whereas the Golden Rule is a summarizing of God's commandments to not: steal, murder, commit adultery, be hypocritical, judge, etc.
Neither rule is better or worse than the other; they just serve totally different purposes. The Golden Rule was never meant to be considered as a standalone rule for life.
Those who claim that the Platinum Rule is superior, appear to do so knowing that Jesus Christ is the author of the Golden Rule. It is as if they are saying that they are superior to Christ and his teachings, and that they have developed superior teachings. Certainly not everyone thinks this way, but those that do simply misunderstand that the Golden Rule is a rephrasing of something more: 'Loving our neighbor,' as well as God's entire law, and this new hierarchy of loving God first while we love others just as much as we love ourselves.
One of the problems with the Platinum Rule is that, if taken literally as intended, then it causes problems when the person wants to be treated poorly or badly. Are we then to treat them bad because that is what they want?
Someone might argue that no one wants to be treated poorly, yet this exhibits the same assumptions that the Platinum rule was designed to supposedly overcome. In reality, there are unhealthy people who do want to be treated poorly as a form of self-punishment or personal martyrdom.
As Christians we know that it is best to do good to others, period. ("Good" being an absolute truth, like "do not murder," as opposed to being an abstract concept of "it means what you want it to mean.")
What is love? It's a call to action. Guest post by Ben Byrum.
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