Image by Megadeth’s Girl via Flickr
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.
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.