This marks the last blog for chapter 1 of my book. “Thank goodness,” you say.
This blog is my conviction about the usage of the Golden Rule. This again, like Matthew 7.1, is one of the most quoted verses of the entire NT, without any exception. If you take it literally as an ethical command, the world would be a better place, but life just doesn’t work like the rule. Let me give some examples that may tickle you.
Let’s say I’m in a situation where my kid is getting bullied. I teach him, “Do to others as you would have them to do to you.” He acts kind towards the bully, creating even a bigger problem. The bully bullies him even worse. What do I do? Do I quote the verse to him? Well, I actually teach him how to box, kick, grapple and deal with weapons (I’m only half kidding).
What about when I try to be nice to those people who wrong me at work, the same people who are after my promotion? Guess what? No matter how I treat them, they continue to be mean. Yes, I’m speaking about the real world rather than the spiritual world where some of my spiritual giants friends dwell.
Many will say, “Well, God’s word said to do this.” What if God’s word isn’t really saying that? Would that rule apply to the Israelites? I’m sure they would want the Canaanites not to fight back? How about being nice to the Canaanites (at one point in Judges 1-2, they were nice to the Canaanites and paid dearly for their niceness)? Obviously, the Israelites were not doing to others as they would have them reciprocate. Has the Golden Rule lost its shine to you yet? It’s lost its shine a long time ago in my Christian life.
This is where we need to ask a wider question, what does this Golden Rule to do with the surrounding ideas about prayer? OR are the surrounding ideas not really about prayer? What about the relationship between the Golden Rule and the main issue? What is the main issue? The fact is, there are many ways we can go with answering these questions, but the real solution does not lie in the literal application of the Golden Rule. The obvious is never that obvious. That’s my “golden rule” of biblical interpretation. If you want the real answer, (other than buying my book) you had better think about what the big idea is starting in Matthew 7.1 or you will never get the golden rule.
As I always say, the texts are not at fault. The interpreter is!