The relative Golden Rule?

Posted: 28th October 2008 by ElShaddai Edwards in Uncategorized

I just completed three hours (!) of all-employee mandatory harassment training at work… there was one phrase that they kept repeating at the end of each session:

Remember, everyone has different comfort levels. Therefore, always treat people the way they want to be treated.

As Christians, we always like to quote “the Golden Rule” of ethical reciprocity as it’s stated in the Sermon on the Mount:

Always treat others as you would like them to treat you: that is the law and the prophets (Matthew 7.12)

which is derived from the Levitical commands to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19.18, cf. Lev 19.34).

My employer’s policy states that the ruler of expected conduct lies with my neighbor’s expectations, while the Bible states that the yardstick of expected conduct lies with my principles, which presumably are the same as the Bible’s moral code.

Is there a difference between the two maxims? Has the employer (intentionally or unintentionally) twisted the Golden Rule to be a relativistic statement, whereby any neighbor’s moral principles are the norm for expected actions rather than mine (the Bible’s)?

  1. LH says:

    I think the general rule for business’ is “don’t hurt anyone’s feelings”.
    Period. So yes, with that mindset employee’s would have to treat everyone
    else the way they wanted to be treated instead of the moral code of the
    bible we live by.
    The world has become so sensitive to “protected classes” that it has spilled
    over into everyday life and “normal” people want some of that special
    treatment. And I think that is because the “normal” people are now the
    minority. I know I have faced this same feeling in my job recently. I had
    to repent for those feelings and stay in prayer for my company.
    It is really unfortunate that our world had become this “fleshy”. But I must
    say, it has made me turn more to my bible and fellowship with God.

  2. Doug Chaplin says:

    And now you’ve had your harassment training, do you feel your ability to harass people has gone up?

  3. My ability to harass them, or my ability to not get caught harassing them?

  4. @LH – part of me agrees with your comment that “‘normal’ people are now the minority”. I came out of a college environment that willfully marginalized the majority and elevated minority voices regardless of what they were saying. They called it a celebration of diversity…

  5. LH says:

    Yes. The “celebration of diversity” at my job allows cross-dressing men
    to use the ladies room. As a woman, that scares the daylights out of me.

  6. Kevin Sam says:

    Relativism just doesn’t cut it in my opinion. One’s expectation is different from another’s and this can be so confusing and might even get me in trouble. I find it easier just to stick with one clear rule.