Friday, April 09, 2010

Phoebe Prince and the Golden Rule

I have been heart-broken at the tragic suicide of Phoebe Prince from South Hadley High School. Seeing a vibrant young girl so overcome with despair because of the wanton cruelty of others made me weep.

This tragedy coincides with our study of the Golden Rule as a church as we are learning about Kingdom Living from the Sermon on the Mount. If only Phoebe's classmates, her friends and her teachers and perhaps even her family had applied this simple and profound teaching everything might have been different.

And, if only I had done better at following this beautiful command when I was young. I am no better than any of the bullies and probably worse. I regret the many times I bullied others. God was merciful to keep me from participating in such a tragedy though I certainly have done things of equal wickedness.  And I continue to fall short myself in living the Golden Rule.

But there is hope and redemption. Christ himself fulfilled his own command in his beautiful life and his tragic death. His perfect life was offered as a sacrifice to pay the just penalty for those who willingly and knowingly spurn the justice and beauty of the golden rule and treat others cruelly. He died for bullies and young girls alike. He died that we might be forgiven for our horrible crimes and know perfect love.  And in knowing this forgiveness and perfect love, we might learn to love like Him - doing to others what we would want for ourselves. Would you look to Him to rescue you from your sins and lead you in His ways?

May God grant us wisdom and grace to live the Golden Rule as we look to the King and Savior who gave it to us, who shed his blood to cleanse us from disobeying it and who recreates us in Him to live it truly.

May God give us a someone like Pheobe to love and perhaps keep from such a tragedy.

As a side note: I was perplexed to see a post from Ethics Alarms focusing on how the Golden Rule is creating an unethical reaction to the situation. I would submit it would be better to say it is an incomplete application of the Golden Rule that might be functioning here.  Such an application of the Golden Rule is a violation of the Golden Rule in my opinion. I believe such a discussion is unhelpful.


Jack Marshall said...

I wrote the article at "Ethics Alarms," and I agree that the application of The Golden Rule being used is incomplete. But such applications are common, used, for example, to justify not "snitching" when one is aware of the criminal activity of others. I don't see how pointing this out is "unhelpful." A close friend of mine remained in denial about her daughter's clinical depression, and didn't take action, leaving her alone when she was nearing a crisis. My friend could argue that her daughter's suicide was the school's fault, or her boy friend's, or her employer's, but she knows that she had access to more information than any of them, and failed. Every parent would be eager to join her in blaming others, because we wouldn't want to be held responsible for our own child's death in any circumstances. But this instinct keeps us from an honest, unbiased analysis, and makes solutions harder to find. said...

Jack - I appreciate your thoughtfulness in thinking through how we use the golden rule in a limited way. The way I think your discussion is unhelpful is in not making it very clear that such a limited application is actually a violation of the golden rule, because in its biblical context it is assumed that it is not selectively applied.

I think folks need to know that such an application is unethical and falls short of the golden rule.

Does that make sense?