Critics of the Golden Rule have devised what they deem a new and improved replacement maxim known as the Platinum Rule. The Golden Rule comes directly from the Bible in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12; cp Luke 6:31). By contrast, the Platinum Rule developed from the ideas of human philosophers such as Karl Popper, who wrote, “The golden rule is a good standard which is further improved by doing unto others, wherever reasonable, as they want to be done by” (The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 2, Addenda, 1961, 1965, Princeton University Press, pp. 485–511).
Proponents of the Platinum Rule falsely claim to have improved on God’s Word. Their thinking aligns with critics like George Bernard Shaw, who stated in his Maxims for Revolutionists, “Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same. . . . Do not love your neighbor as yourself. If you are on good terms with yourself it is an impertinence: if on bad, an injury. The golden rule is that there are no golden rules” (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013, p. 1).
The Platinum Rule directs us to treat others as they want to be treated and not as we want to be treated. The concept has gained traction with secular motivational speakers and in the business world as a strategy for keeping customers satisfied. On the surface, the Platinum Rule doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. It seems compatible with Paul’s instruction to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3–4).
Most Platinum Rule advocates misrepresent Christ’s Golden Rule. Tampering with the truth is a common tactic of the devil, who has been twisting God’s Word and bending it out of context since the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 3:1–4, 13). This maneuver is also a frequent strategy of skeptics who claim the Scriptures mean something different or opposite than what they actually mean. Once the skeptic establishes a false interpretation or definition, he can then attack that interpretation as ridiculous and nonsensical. Alas, Platinum Rulers deconstruct the Golden Rule into a defense of selfishness, which it is not, by any stretch of the imagination.
The Golden Rule of Jesus Christ becomes crystal clear when viewed in the proper biblical context. After warning the crowd against the hypocrisy of judging the faults of others while not considering our own shortcomings, Jesus went on to explain how to trust God to meet our needs: “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:9–12, NLT).
Jesus equates the Golden Rule to a summary of the law of Moses and the prophets—in other words, everything taught in the entire Old Testament. Platinum Rule followers who throw out the Golden Rule in favor of their so-called improved rendition are, in essence, disregarding the whole counsel of God in Scripture. Later, comparing the Golden Rule to the greatest commandments, Jesus said, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37–40, NLT).
The whole point of the Golden Rule is to kill selfishness and grow in empathy, which is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another” (OED). Throughout the Bible, self-centeredness is denounced, and the Golden Rule is reinforced (see Leviticus 19:18, 34; Romans 13:8–10; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8). Jesus modeled self-sacrifice and servanthood in everything He did (Matthew 20:28; Philippians 2:6–7). He encouraged His followers to do the same and consider the wants and needs of others before their own (Mark 9:35; 10:45; John 15:12–13). The Golden Rule is fulfilled through the servanthood of Jesus Christ (Matthew 23:11; Philippians 2:1–11).
Jesus isn’t the Divine Customer Service Rep of the Platinum Rule who gives us merely what we want; He is the faithful and Good Shepherd who gives us what we need (2 Corinthians 12:9; Philippians 4:11–19). Like Jesus, we are called to put ourselves in the other person’s place to truly understand what they need and what we should do for them. Christ didn’t teach easy lessons, but difficult ones—some that can only be obeyed with God’s supernatural help (John 15:5) and through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:5–14; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 5:16–17). The Golden Rule is a challenging, selfless teaching, not the easy, selfish lesson of the Platinum Rule.
The Platinum Rule attempts to replace biblical truth with worldly wisdom. It insists on catering to all people in the name of inclusion and tolerance. But it is an attack on God and His eternal, perfect Word by His three main enemies—the world (John 7:7; James 4:4), the flesh (Romans 8:5–9; Colossians 2:13), and the devil (1 John 3:8), who is the “father of lies” (John 8:44). If we listen to Satan’s deceptions, we will be led astray from the truth (Romans 16:18; Revelation 12:9). If live by God’s Word, we will practice the Golden Rule.