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ABA & the Golden Rule

There are some who disagree that the golden rule found in Matthew 7:12 is not relevant across cultures and should be upgraded to the platinum rule because the golden rule falls short of equity (Furlong, 2017; Shulz, 2015) yet their explanations of the platinum rule is a deeper meaning of the golden rule. The popular explanation of the golden rule is not a rule that a loving, forgiving God would express, as it falls short of unconditional love and forgiveness. The golden rule is not so shallow as to say ONLY treat others as you yourself want to be treated in the minutiae of everyday life but rather as a guiding principle. When we approach others with the attributes of love as in 1 Corinthians 13:4- 8, we are practicing the golden rule.

The definition of Love

What love IS -

Love is the principle upon which life and health are built to operate, and when active in intelligent beings, love is patient and kind. Love gives in order to bless others. Love always protects, always heals, always restores, builds up, trusts, hopes and perseveres, and rejoices with with truth. Love Originates in God and therefore will never stop and never fail.

What love is NOT -

Love does not envy, boast, or promote self. Love is not intrusive, rude, selfish, irritable, or hot tempered. And love does not hold grudges or keep a record of wrongs. Love takes no pleasure in evil (Jennings, 2016/2017).

If we think about how the golden rule may pertain to a child living on the autism spectrum, we are not thinking about how the child treats us, but rather how we will approach and treat the child -- with love, patience, and kindness.

ABA or applied behavior analysis is interpreted by each ABA practitioner based on their own interpretations of the behavioral principles. These principles are founded on scientific experimentation and the collection of results we fondly refer to as data. ABA practitioners believe data because it is a measurement of behavior that can be tracked over time to show results. It is hard to argue with data. Data does not necessarily reflect if a child was approached and treated with a loving mindset. Where the loving mindset is revealed is in the hope, trust, and preference reflected between the practitioner and child being treated.

What does that mean and how can it be measured? If a child is not given a choice during most of a session then the supervising behavior analyst needs to be asked about it. Choice, no matter how small, needs to be given to a child as soon as possible after the beginning of treatment sessions.


Furlong, J. (2017, November 13). THE golden rule not so Much; platinum rule Rocks: JENNIFER FURLONG: TEDXEVANSSTREET. Retrieved March 07, 2021, from

Jennings, T. M. (2016/2017) The Remedy, the new testament, expanded paraphrase in everyday english. M. Huber, (Ed.) (2nd ed.). Chattanooga, TN. Lennox Publishing

Shulz, B. (2015, April 22). The trouble with the golden RULE: BRENDAN SCHULZ: TEDxYorkU. Retrieved March 07, 2021, from

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