I heard his statement on the news shortly after voting for Amendment One in North Carolina which clarified that marriage is meant to be between one man and one woman. Thankfully this law passed in NC but protests and rebuttals are sure to follow, especially in light of the President’s national statement claiming that he now supports same sex marriage.
However, what bothered me more than his actual statement was that he justified his decision by referring to not only his faith in Christ, but because that faith compelled him to follow the “golden rule”.
As his words spun in my mind, I tried to comprehend the confusing logic that he was using to justify his new stance on this subject. My thoughts wrestled with one another as I tried to make sense of his comment and decipher if the golden rule, although extremely important, really trumps God’s Word. Should God’s definition of marriage get tossed around the window, under the guise of the “golden rule”?
So my fingers got to typing as I did a little research about the golden rule, and my findings confirmed my suspicions.
Although the golden rule is usually associated with Christianity, many other religions have their own versions of it including Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and more. In fact, one website listed the “golden rules” for 21 world religions, all of which were founded on a verse or statement in their bible or religious resource implying that people should treat others as they wish to be treated.
There are also people who live by this philosophy of the “golden rule”, without ever associating themselves with any specific faith at all. Everyone, whether they are atheists, agnostics, or members of an organized religion, live by some sort of “golden rule”, or moral code.
For Christians, we base our “golden rule” on Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets”. But the stark difference between other religious versions, and the Christian version, is that it states that a Christian’s actions should be a sum of The Law. Not an exception to the Law if the circumstances seem to warrant it, but the sum of it.
A Christian’s actions, decisions and behaviors are meant to be guided by God’s biblical truths alone, not by feelings or popular consensus. To be guided by the rules set forth by the One who created us, not merely by a conscience molded by the world’s ever-changing view of right and wrong.
You see, the purpose of one’s conscience is to help us establish between good and evil, but it doesn’t determine what is good and evil, or right from wrong. Only God can do that.
We hear the golden rule reiterated again in the Bible in Mark 12:31a, which says “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “ I totally one hundred percent agree! We are all called to love our ‘neighbors’ as ourselves, fueled by the love of Christ. We are also commanded in Matthew 7 to not judge others, lest we be judged ourselves; to not look at the plank in another person’s eye when we have a log in our own; and to remember that anyone who seeks the Kingdom of God will receive it, despite their sin, or the type of relationships they choose.
We are all sinners, in need of forgiveness and redemption. And although our sins may vary greatly, we should always offer grace and acceptance to all people, while hoping to receive it in return.
However, the commandment in Mark 12:30 has to be obeyed first, before we can obey Mark 12:31. Mark 12:30 says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
Our first commandment is to love God above all else…. above our feelings, above our conscience, above what is politically correct, above what other people think or want, and above the influences of a society based on self, not God. To love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, so that our every thought and action will be captive to His opinion of right and wrong, and good and evil – instead of our own.
We are first called to love God, and then called to love our neighbors. The first commandment equips us spiritually to carry out the second commandment. God put them in that order on purpose, and for a purpose.
The golden rule is usually considered a matter of conscience, regardless of faith. But as devoted Christians, who believe that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16), we are to be guided not merely by our conscience of a golden rule, but by The Law. God’s Law.
All people should be treated equally and fairly, with love, kindness, respect, dignity, acceptance and understanding. But our conscience is not the trump card that can override God’s truth. Instead, His truth is the standard to which all of our consciences should be aligned – regardless of the matter at hand.
It is not enough to claim to believe the gospel – we also must actually apply it in our lives – even in the hardest of decisions when the “golden rule” is pushing us to support the world’s ways, instead of God’s.
Truth is, God’s Word, The Law, is sovereign, and nothing has ever, or will ever, trump it.