Pronouns Can Break the Golden Rule

At Cross Purposes

What do the following scenarios have in common?

  • Your child wants a phone because everyone else in fourth grade has one, but you don't think it's good for her.

  • Your brother calls to ask for a loan. From past experience you believe it will be wasted in unhealthy ways.

  • Your closest friend just broke-up after a long relationship. He wants to be alone, but he's had a history with depression and you don't think being alone is wise right now.

  • When your friend asks you to call him by new and different pronouns which do not match his biological sex.

How can your kid's iPhone and your friends gender have anything in common? They are all scenarios for the Christian when what a person wants and what you want for them are potentially at odds. How is the Christian to respond?

A Novel Suggestion

Loving another person is tricky business, but the Bible provides guidance that is as simple as it is profound:

Do unto others, as you would have done unto you.

Often called the Golden Rule, it's worth a second look because our society has ditched the Golden Rule in favor of what some have called the Platinum Rule:

Do unto others as they would have done unto them.

Speaking of the importance of pronouns! The Platinum Rule is intended to convey respect for the feelings of others but it asks the person considering a course of action to ignore what they know, what they value, and whatever wisdom they have gained and simply defer to the other person's request. What if the other person is asking for something you believe will be harmful for them? Should you, in good conscience, always defer to their request? Would anyone consider that to be a loving person or a good friend?

The Golden Rule on the other hand, asks you to act in a way that is loving, consistent with your values, your understanding of the truth, and your belief about what will be best for the other person. I often re-formulate the Golden Rule like this: knowing everything I currently know, and believing everything I currently believe, if I were in the other person's shoes, how would I want to be treated?

Back to the Examples

In each of the examples given above you, Christians have a solid case for treating other people according to the Golden Rule. That is, not treating them the way that they want to be treated, but rather treating them the way that you would want to be treated were you in their position.

The great benefit of following the Golden Rule in life and relationships is that it allows true love and respect to grow. When both people in a relationship treat others according to their own convictions then you have the real give-and-take of persons, the complexity upon which relationships can be built. Conversely, expectations that others will conform to your desires destroys the possibility of authentic relationships.

Let me put it plainly, living according to the Golden Rule will make relationships more difficult but ultimately more fulfilling because each person is bringing their true and full self to the table.

Living according to the Platinum Rule diminishes what each person brings to the relationship and holds you hostage to what the least mature, least responsible, and least wise people desire for themselves.

Platinum may be more fashionable than Gold, but there's a reason that Gold never goes out of style. Turns out, this Platinum is really just fools gold after all.

[Thank you for reading! If you are looking for a church in Boston or churches in Boston please consider giving Renewal Church a try!]

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash