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Dear catholic.com visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, catholic.com would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find catholic.com helpful? Please make a gift today. Thank you. Wishing you a blessed Lenten season.

Why do we need all the rules of organized religion, when the Golden Rule sums up everything about how to live?

Question:

We don’t need all the ethical rules of organized religion. I think all we need to know about how to live is summed up in the Golden Rule.

Answer:

If so, you disagree with the one who gave us that rule. Christ never confined moral truth to this principle, as important as it is. Treating others as you’d like to be treated isn’t enough. If it were, a masochist would be justified in inflicting pain on others simply because he derives pleasure from receiving it himself.

Jesus made it clear that sin can be committed even when no action against another is involved. In his teaching about lust, for example, he said you don’t have to commit adultery with another to be guilty of the sin. Merely to look lustfully on a woman is to commit adultery with her in your heart (Mt 5:27).

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