September 02, 2015

The Golden Rule vs the Silver Rule, once again

Fears for the immortal souls of people who point out the selective fundamentalism of many a fundamentalist, or quasi-fundamentalist, Christian, as I noted in blogging about Kim Davis, lead to this, especially worries about "mocking god."

First, on that particular issue?

Well, no. Four particular counterpoints address that issue.

First, if God is really omnipotent, then he's philosophically not limited to written words on paper. (In other words, Joe Smith and the Mormon Boys could be right! And, no, I'm not joking. The Book of Mormon bills itself as "another testament of Jesus Christ." Ellen White of Seventh-Day Adventism and other Christian sects (many of them quite fundamentalist themselves) got started with various alleged additional revelations.

Second, if that god, he/she/it, self-limits to written words on paper, you're trying to have your version of god in a personal-sized box/cage/prison if you are selectively fundamentalist about which of those written words you take to be literally true and which you don't. And, that's exactly what you're doing. It's a god of human control and creation no less than Christian fundamentalists claim other gods are.

Third, you're playing god yourself when you try to claim which bits of written text are truly inviolate and which are not. Look in your dogmatics/doctrine textbooks. It's called Montanism and it was a heresy some 1,800 years ago. It's a riff off the first point; it's a claim to have a special revelation. In this case, it's not a revelation of something new; rather, it's a special revelation quite literally, a revelation that some of that written text is more special than other bits.

Fourth, the fact that various wings and denominations of Christianity don't all agree on which books belong in the Tanakh/Old Testament or even the New Testament should rationally give you pause, too. And they don't. Catholics and Orthodox have their deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament. Certain churches that are broadly within the Orthodox tradition reject a few books normally included in the canon of the New Testament.

Finally, this whole issue, whether it's Kim Davis thinking she's saving gays from hell, or family members thinking they're saving me from hell, shows why the Golden Rule is inferior to the incorrectly named Silver Rule.

(I've written about this before, about Christians dealing with non-Christians in small towns, regarding the alleged but largely nonexistent "war on Christmas.")

Let's quote both.

First, the Golden Rule:
Do unto others as you would have them do to you.
Sounds nice, right?

Well, here's the Silver Rule:
Do NOT do unto others as you do NOT want them to do to you.
Sounds worse, with the negatives, does it not?

But, in the best sense of laissez faire, which is exactly what the Silver Rule is, it's much better. It's more libertarian, more toleration-based rather than meddling-based.

The Golden Rule is built on an assumption that we know what's best for other people, and do so by examining ourselves.


Would you give a diabetic a Coke? Or, per this discussion, an Orthodox Jew or a Muslim a rasher of bacon? No.

Per the Silver Rule, you'd think about how the Hippocratic principle of "first, do no harm" applies to daily life interactions with other people and then go from there.

So, politely, recognize that I'm not worried about a place I consider nonexistent, and certainly not as the future dwelling place of an incorporeal entity I consider nonexistent, or a physical body that I do not think will be reassembled.

Rather, think that I am worried about the likes of Kim Davis, and some more powerful and richer supporters of hers, trying to subvert the Constitution of the United States and its interpretation.

Consider that I am a secularist myself, and that I am concerned you support people, and the ideas behind them, that want to subvert MY civil liberties, especially the First Amendment, freedom of religion, and a wall of separation between church and state.

Consider that I am a liberal-minded person, and on the particular Kim Davis issue, I have gay friends and acquaintances, a few of whom might like to get married and whom, even if they don't have Davis-like county clerks, can empathize even more than I can with gay and lesbian couples in Rowan County, Kentucky.

Consider that Kim Davis is an elected public official, not a deaconess at her church trying to prevent gay weddings there.

With all of that in mind, you might understand that, while not wanting to argue with you, I am not worried about your worries, and therefore find it easier not to get into debate or discussion.

And, speaking of that Silver Rule, I don't want to preach directly at you. But, in the public square of civil liberties and civil rights, they have to be defended. And, that's that.

On the personal side, for most my relatives, I recognize that ... sadly and painfully ... this probably is simply beyond your comprehension.

On the other hand, your worries about my putative immortal soul are very much within my comprehension. It's not warfare, but, we are at the equivalent of asymmetrical warfare. Asymmetrical philosophizing, or whatever. And, that's why I don't talk to you about these issues. Right now, from your religious and other beliefs, you cannot understand where I'm coming from, and I recognize that. So, beyond the fact that I don't like to argue a whole lot, I recognize that this wouldn't be an argument with fruitful results, or even a non-argumentative discussion.

Per friends of mine with whom I've discussed things like gay rights, secularism rights and more, I'm not even looking for acceptance. Among other things, I'm realistic enough about that.

I am, though, looking for something lesser, but a step forward: tolerance. As I said earlier, on Facebook, I shouldn't have to feel that I need to mark a group of Facebook friends, including all family members, in a group called "very religious" and then exclude them from seeing many of my posts. Most comments I make on issues like this are hard-hitting, but not personal in an ad hominem way. Unlike some, I haven't attacked Kim Davis' appearance, clothes or anything like that, for example.

Unfortunately, I'm also enough of a realist to not even expect tolerance. So, I lower my psychological expectations. At the same time, as I get older, and a bit more secure in some ways, I work to promote more external and internal congruity, in order to be true to mine own self, not just in internal dialogue, but in presentation to others.

Finally, as for Kim Davis? The likes of her deserve the Romans 13 mocking, to get back to First Amendment issues and selective fundamentalism. They deserve that, at least. Any public official who, as a fundamentalist Christian, believes he or she cannot follow the law needs to resign, if he or she is going to be a consistent fundamentalist. Period and end of story.

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