What the Golden Rule Is and Is Not

What is the Golden Rule and how it should and should not be used. (From my own limited life and experience.)What the Golden Rule is NOT:

It is not using “love” to disempower those who have concerns, speak out, protest, enforce civility and stop confrontation and conflict.

Ex: “Can’t we all just love one another?” This basically means “Can’t all the people speaking, confronting, in conflict, in disagreement SHUT UP.” This silences your neighbor’s voice and disempowers them.

It is not showing respect, nor does it honor your neighbor if love is used to overlook, minimize, condone unloving acts by either neighbor or self.

Ex: “You need to stay with your spouse out of love. Your love can redeem them from abusing you!” Failure to put yourself in their place, to have empathy, to recognize that “love” does mean forgiveness, but doesn’t mean validating unloving acts from that person. With God we can forgive our neighbor and ourselves, but the Golden Rule also means boundaries and consequences for crossing them are part of that love of others and love of self.

It is not “Love your neighbor to the exclusion of loving yourself”

Oftentimes people feel the need to love others more than self. They make themselves smaller, to serve those they see are larger.

What the Golden Rule Is!!

To see your neighbor as God sees you both. As valuable, worthy of honor, respect, Child of God, Image of God, connected, beloved by God, and as as an important part of God’s plan as yourself.

What this means is that any act which takes away from their status as God’s children is an act of idolatry, and invalidates God’s creation, God’s promises, and God’s divine love for all.

What this means is that I personally can hate what you are saying, what you are doing (as long as it isn’t bringing harm to others) and my love for you and myself means I defend your right to say it. I defend your right to protest against injustices. I defend you. Not agree with you. But uphold your rights as I uphold mine.

What this means is that when I fail to follow the Golden Rule, and I will, I have to turn to the Cross; both to reflect on why I am failing, and asking for help, discerning through God’s word how I might love and honor my neighbor.

What this means is that when another is trying to use the Golden Rule to silence, to oppress, to minimize, to curtail, to prevent, to dehumanize, to force them back to a state of non-confrontation, then I must speak up. Because I would want my neighbor to do the same for me. To defend me and my right to speak even though they may not agree, and may not even like me.

The Golden Rule is a great moral yardstick for our thoughts and behaviors.

Just don’t use it as a yardstick to beat another into silence.
Or to do the same to yourself.




Dreamer, geek, music lover, story-teller. Student of theology. Liver of life. Wise but foolish.

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Steven Lee

Steven Lee

Dreamer, geek, music lover, story-teller. Student of theology. Liver of life. Wise but foolish.

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