Criticizing the Golden Rule Pledge

Day of Silence

Image by Megadeth’s Girl via Flickr

Fictional story:

The other morning, there was a knock on my door.  A couple in their late twenties stood there with a clipboard, and asked to talk to me about domestic violence.  They showed me some frightening statistics about the number of men and women who are abused and beaten by their spouses.  They had both statistics for the nation and our own county.  They then asked me to help put an end to domestic violence, showing me a petition in support of new legislation that would call for stricter sentencing for those convicted of domestic violence, budget for the creation of programs to better train police officers to respond to and investigate claims of domestic violence, and other measures.

I decided not to sign the petition.  Instead, I decided to hand them a card, that says the following:

I pledge to treat others the way I want to be treated.

I strongly believe that domestic violence is wrong and I would never hurt another person, even my own spouse.  So I’m offering my pledge to the golden rule in response to the issue of domestic violence.

The point:

I suspect that many of my readers are having a rather predictable reaction to the above story.  I can just hear people like Eileen (assuming she still reads me) getting ready to type a lengthy comment about how serious domestic violence and simply promising to treat others well in accordance with the Golden Rule isn’t nearly enough.  And I’m in total agreement with her.

I’ve had the exact same reaction the last two years when Dr. Warren Throckmorton began to propose the Golden Rule Pledge as an appropriate response to The Day Of Silence, an annual event meant to raise awareness of anti-gay bullying and other mistreatment of gay people (or people who are merely perceived as gay) that takes place all over this country and to advocate for such bullying to stop.

Now, in Dr. Throckmorton’s defense, I will note that his response to The Day of Silence is far superior to other responses proposed by other conservative Christian groups.  The Golden Rule Pledge is far better than The Day of Truth or merely proposing that all Christians avoid school during The Day of Silence.  And I give him credit for not trying to paint a day dedicated to the idea that it’s wrong to bully and mistreat gay people as some horrible, immoral idea.

But in the end, I find it a weak response at best.  It’s great that Dr. Throckmorton and those with him are willing to promise to treat others well.  However, I also want to know what they’re going to do about the bullying and mistreatment being propagated by others who don’t share their commitment to the Golden Rule.  Saying you won’t mistreat gay people while still standing by while others do so just doesn’t cut it in my book.  In my mind, justice demands that right-minded people stand up to the bullies and say, “What you are doing is wrong and you must stop.”  Confronting the injustice head-on is absolutely essential.  And in that respect, I feel the Golden Rule Pledge fails miserably, just as such a pledge in response to domestic violence fails miserably.

9 thoughts on “Criticizing the Golden Rule Pledge”

  1. Thanks for the mention; one thing that might help address your concerns is that we advocate passing out the Golden Rule pledge on the Day of Truth as well.

    The event is more a reaction to the boycott and the DOT than it is to the DOS.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Warren. While it’s good to know that the event is more a reaction to the boycott and the DOS, I still stand by my statement. Any response that does not involve a strong and clear condemnation of anti-gay bullying is weak at best, in my opinion.

  3. Good post – and I agree with you that “sins of omission” aren’t any better than “sins of commission”. I’ve been finding a lot of occasions to throw out “silence is tacit consent” lately.

    And going over my quotation marks quota . . . ;0)

  4. Well .. I think I sent you the link to the Golden Rule this year on facebook. The GOlden Rule Pledge is quite refreshing compared to the attitude of the Day of Truth. It is a rare public step out from the typical visible response of certain conservative groups. Is it everything you want? Apparently not. But it is coming from a Professor at a Christian college. It carries some weight. And it is a clear sign the thoughts and attitudes of people are changing. Attitudes rarely change overnight.. they usually take baby steps. Though these steps are not as grand as you may want they are certainly in the right direction and are in strong contrast to groups such as the AFA or FRC.



  5. Thanks, Dave. I suspect on this matter we will have to agree to disagree. While I certainly agree that the GRP in an improvement over other responses, I’m not inclined to be overly generous about that fact. Besides, I’m just having a hard time thinking of calling on Christians to prove they take the whole idea of justice and standing up for the downtrodden — something that is commanded several times in Scriptures — very seriously as all that grand of an expectation. 😉

  6. Hey Jarred – I totally get your point, and I agree. The sin of omission is a big sin.

    The problem with folks who have been intimidated, like the victims of domestic abused and ANY hate crime (I’ve been one of them), is that for some, even signing a petition is a HUGE thing to do – perhaps the first form of a public statement or stand that they might make. And for those changing their stance, it is also a HUGE thing to do.

    Is it enough? No. It’s not. Is it a start? Yes. Things have to start somewhere. People have to start looking around and seeing that they are not alone in their stance, especially those who have been abused and marginalized, who psychologically need the support of others.

    My two pennies, for what they are worth…

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