Perfect Chaos

The Blog of Author Steven Colborne

The Golden Rule

There is a beautiful saying that can be found in many religions. You will no doubt have heard the saying, which is often referred to as the Golden Rule.

We find the Golden Rule in the New Testament in two places:

And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

Luke 6:31

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12

An Old Testament passage which expresses the same sentiment is as follows:

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Leviticus 19:18

Although as far as I’m aware the Golden Rule is not stated explicitly in the Qur’an, it appears that the Prophet Muhammad stated it on a number of occasions according to the hadith literature (the sayings of the Prophet). Here’s one example:

A Bedouin came to the prophet, grabbed the stirrup of his camel and said: O the messenger of God! Teach me something to go to heaven with it. Prophet said: “As you would have people do to you, do to them; and what you dislike to be done to you, don’t do to them. Now let the stirrup go!” [This maxim is enough for you; go and act in accordance with it!]”

Kitab al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 146

The saying can also be found in its negative form in Confucianism:

Zi Gong (a disciple of Confucius) asked: “Is there any one word that could guide a person throughout life?” 
The Master replied: “How about ‘shu’ [reciprocity]: never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself?”

Confucius, Analects XV.24, tr. David Hinton

There are further examples in other religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and other Eastern religions.

When I was feeling spiritually lost a few weeks ago, God brought to mind the Golden Rule and I found it so comforting in its simplicity and truth that I felt it is a rule that I must strive to live by. As I am interested in interfaith dialogue, it brought me great joy to know that so many religions have this teaching in common.

And I have a surprise for you. I was so moved by the experience of God reminding me of this saying that I felt I never wanted to forget it. So a few weeks ago I got the saying tattooed on my left forearm.

I am pleased to have this reminder to look at whenever I am feeling spiritually unsettled or facing interpersonal issues. I am so far from perfect in my moral conduct, but I hope having this continual reminder of the Golden Rule on my arm will be a great help.

And now, because I have a tattoo, I can put it on my CV for job applications to be a worship leader! I jest, of course. It is my first tattoo and I think it may be my last, but I’m delighted with how it turned out. I opted for the ESV translation of the words of Jesus from the New Testament for the wording as I’m a big fan of the ESV Bible and the saying found in the Gospel according to Luke captures the idea succinctly and perfectly.

Steven Colborne

About Me

Hello, I’m Steven and I’m a philosopher and author based in London. My main purpose as a writer is to encourage discussion about God. I write about a wide variety of subjects related to philosophical theology, including divine sovereignty, the nature of God, suffering, interfaith dialogue and more. My mantra: Truth heals.

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