Do unto other as you would have them do unto you.
The first thing to understand about the Golden Rule is that God invented it. Which god? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, The Almighty, The Father in the Trinity which also includes the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ. The God whom Jews and Christians worship.
So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12
I know I have some potential readers who will take issue with this specific God’s authorship, citing holy writings from other faiths which predate the Tanakh and certainly the New Testament. No matter. That is moot.
The One True God wove His perfect ethic into the fabric of the universe. The true moral law is in every facet of creation. Many seekers the world over from many faiths or none have discovered it. But terminally self-oriented human beings will always twist and bend this perfect treasure, and their moral eurekas will be handed down agendized and neutered to fit their cultural uniforms.
The One God poured His own perfect nature into the universe He created ex nihilo. It cannot but reflect His perfect goodness. There is one God, and one moral ethic.
Detractors like to assign other authorships to righteous morality but no one has found an alternative rubric, or a better one. All other ethical systems are remarkably similar to this one, and always <_.
This moral meme is found the world over because it is fundamental to any ethical system. It can be found everywhere. Indeed the fact that this law is ubiquitous lends validity to its being the genesis of ethical formation.
“That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another.”
“Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.” — Confucius
If people regarded other people’s families in the same way that they regard their own, who then would incite their own family to attack that of another? For one would do for others as one would do for oneself.” — Mozi
“Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.”
The true moral ethic is found in us.
For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)
There is no one who does not know that there is right and wrong. That’s easy to demonstrate. We may not all agree on the details, and we may rationalize our own preferences and favorite sins into the good category, but we all run up against items that we’re indignant about when we see them. Even an existentialist, even a nihilist, declares objectively wrong or unjust his possession taken from him. Even a morally relativist atheist is quick to condemn evil when he ascribes it to the Judaeo-Christian God.
The second thing we all know is that there is some non-subjective moral mean. If right and wrong were truly relative, that would mean that nothing was truly wrong, and that nothing was truly right. Everyone still recognizes some acts as morally atrocious and has an expectation that everyone should agree.
You may argue endlessly without agreement with an atheist about the origin of an objective moral standard. He will one moment deny that fixed morals exist, and the next moment proudly declare his objective repugnance at some perceived injustice of which religion is guilty. In asserting a subjective origin such as cultural consensus, yet asserting that there are objective morals which derive from a subjective source, the only thing he proves with certainty is that his own personal morals are totally subjective, and that he believes in spite of himself in an objective morality.
The Golden Rule is the right reason for all righteous behavior. The implications of the Golden Rule are endless and everywhere.
If I am to treat every person with the treatment I desire for myself, it must mean that there is an objective measure which applies to all human beings (me and others= all). The Golden Rule implies that there is an overarching code that all should recognize and obey. That leaves no room at all for relativism.
It must mean that it is objectively right that everyone else ought to receive the best treatment which I want for myself. But what imposes those objective “oughts‘?
A Code Originator, a Golden Rule Author, is inescapable. No impersonal process is capable of requiring accountability.
It follows that each person, according to that measure, is of equal value, and that each and every person is entitled to equal and just treatment. When we acknowledge that every single person is equal in value, and equally entitled to rights which God has given, all lawful and kind and just behavior is then is the only response.
As soon as you allow that some persons may have more value than others, or that some persons must have greater rights than others, tragedy and injustice follow as night follows day.
As soon as you allow, for instance, that a tiny human in a womb may be negated and erased, because her mother’s perceived rights may be diminished; as soon as you pit one person’s rights against the other’s, which in itself is anathema to the honoring of a Golden Rule; you have opened the door and invited inside injustice, lawlessness, brutality, elitism, and oppression. The right of some to kill, the necessity of others to die.
You are entirely right that the Golden Rule is God’s Law written on our hearts, and for that reason found in nearly every human religion and philosophy. In fact, morally, most religions teach the same rules and regulations. The Gospel promises, not the commandments, make Christianity unique among religions. We have an atonement, a redemption, a ransom that is not found in any other religion. J.
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Preach it! Part 2 will be about the difference between the “other” golden rules and this one; I contend they are not at all the same in spirit or in reality much because of what you’ve cited here.
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What a wonderful post madblog, I really like how you tied together God’s moral laws in to the overall “do unto others…” that is encoded in al of us, whether we realize it or not. And so true that all humans have equal value in the eyes of God. Much of man’s history has been brutal and bloody because people have strayed so far away from this concept, rationalizing the most outrageous behavior because their guiding posts come from selfish needs and pride.
It’s true as you say that many religious belief systems incorporate the Golden Rule but only Christianity preaches it in the active form of actually doing good for others. The others are passive, there is no call to action. This a big difference I believe.
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Thank you Tricia!
Many other codes are pretty darn good, nothing to be dismissed. They are the best that humans can attain and very noble. But I think they have a fundamentally different goal.
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The Golden Rule is an example of a natural law.
That is, man can understand its existence through reason.
That would indeed indicate that the Golden Rule is written into the mind of man.
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Connecting the Golden Rule with that passage from Romans is a splendid insight. Thank you.
It is an irony few realize. If not for Christianity, the ethics of America’s atheists would be very different. As it is, because so many have discarded Christian ethics, the ethics of the people in this nation is deteriorating.
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