What is the Golden Rule?

By S. Michael Houdmann, Got Questions Ministries

As the theological basis for his gay marriage "evolution," President Obama invoked the Golden Rule. He said, "...when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it's also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated." His thinking is essentially this: "I would not want people telling me who I can or cannot marry, therefore I should not be telling other people who they can or cannot marry." According to President Obama's reasoning, banning gay marriage is a violation of the Golden Rule.

The Golden Rule comes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in 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." In relation to President Obama's reasoning, it is entirely true that we do not like being told what we can or cannot do. But, that is not the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule is not "keep your beliefs to yourself because you do not want others pushing their beliefs on you."

The Bible instructs us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). The Word of God commands us to always be ready to give a gentle and respectful defense for what we believe (1 Peter 3:15). We are to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2). Jesus Himself taught people to "go and sin no more" (John 5:14; 8:11). So, clearly, the Golden Rule is not properly understood as "keep out of other peoples' business."

According to the Bible, homosexuality is an immoral and unnatural sin (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9). According to the Bible, marriage is between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-5; Ephesians 5:22-33). Biblically speaking, gay marriage is wrong. It is a perversion of what God created marriage to be. It is taking the marriage relationship that God has sanctified and joining it with a relationship that is unsanctionable.

The concept of the Golden Rule is simple. We are to do to others what we would want them to do to us. Treat other people with love, dignity, and respect because you would want them to treat you with love, dignity, and respect. The Golden Rule is not a muzzle. The Golden Rule is not supposed to lead us to ignore sin. The Golden Rule is not something that can be used to drastically revise or cancel other teachings in the Word of God.

No, the Golden Rule is doing to others what you would want them to do to you. If you were living a life controlled by a depraved and destructive sin, that, according to the Bible, leads to eternal separation from God would you want people to tell you everything is okay, or tell you the truth? While the sins I was enslaved to did not include homosexuality, I was still on the path of eternal separation from God. At the time, I didn't want to hear it. But now, I am imminently and eternally grateful for those who declared the truth to me — the truth about my sin and its consequences, and the forgiveness, deliverance, and salvation that is available through Jesus Christ.

Image Source: Jacopo Bassano (1510-1592); "The Good Samaritan"; Public Domain

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Published 5-16-12