cheating ethics honesty Uncategorized

The Bible And The College Cheating Scandal

Neal Pollard

One of the nation’s biggest news stories last week involved a college admissions scam that included several high-profile people, including at least two Hollywood actresses. A California man, Rick Singer, spearheaded a scheme to bribe coaches and administrators at such colleges as Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, USC, and other prestigious universities. The bribes bought these privileged High School students extra time to take the SAT and ACT, make fake athletic profiles, and substitutes to take their entrance exams for them. This has proven embarrassing for both the colleges and those breaching this most basic of ethical codes (via, Madeline Farber). 

Someone observed that there is a bit of irony and hypocrisy in all of this. We feel outraged at this glaring lack of honesty and ethics, but students who attend these (and other) universities have been taught for decades that there is no such thing as absolute truth and an objective standard of right and wrong. Are we surprised when people live out the consequences of such world views? Remove a measurable, immutable standard, and anything goes! It disgusts us to see such values in action, but people of influence in our society have been pushing such values for a long time. 

In addition to its answers to all of life’s crucial questions, the Bible lays down an ethical code that is universal and logical. Its rules are blind to nationality, economic status, gender, age, or any other category one falls into he or she might appeal to as an exception. In fact, those who have more have greater expectations made of them (see Luke 12:48).  The Judgment Day will be eminently impartial. No one will manipulate the results. No one can sidestep heaven’s requirements for salvation without an eternal consequence. Just because one is religious leader does not mean that they are above the law of Christ. Again, there are higher standards for those who are in positions of leadership (Jas. 3:1; Heb. 13:17; 1 Tim. 4:16; etc.). 

It’s not at all surprising that a society which rejects God’s guidelines finds itself sinking into a moral and ethical abyss (cf. Prov. 14:34). But, it does go to show that no one wants to reap the harvest from sowing the seeds of sin. However, there is no way to avoid it (Hos. 8:7; Gal. 6:7-8). Our challenge is to live lives of consistency, exemplifying the benefits of respecting and adhering to God’s standards. Jesus calls such modeling “salt” and “light”which highlights God’s existence and relevance in our world (Mat. 5:13-16). 

We cannot keep others from being cheaters and liars, but we can show them a powerful alternative!




Neal Pollard

Lance Armstrong went on Oprah Winfrey to confess his doping, but he has refused to testify under oath about the cheating.  The World Anti-Doping Agency director, David Howman, said of the TV interview, “What he is doing is for his own personal gratification. He’s welcome to do that, no one is going to criticize that component, but if anyone thinks that in his wildest dreams that it is going to have any effect on his life ban then they are in the same fairyland” (Steve Keating, Reuters, 1/18/13).   It is reminiscent of baseball power-hitter Mark McGuire’s famous, tearful confession to MLB Network of using steroids.  He said it was wrong, but maintained he only did it (cheated) to help mend or prevent his injuries, not enhance his power.  But, as journalist Larry Stone wrote, “He confessed because he had to confess” (Seattle Times, 1/11/10).  I remember being at a congregation which supported a missionary in Africa. The missionary was repeatedly asked by the elders if he taught polygamists that they could keep their wives when becoming a Christian so long as he did not accumulate more.  Other missionaries in the region reported that he did, that they confronted him, but that he refused to change his teaching.  But, the missionary vehemently, repeatedly denied teaching that.  Several years later upon retiring from that mission work, he saw one of the men who had served as an elder. The now former elder asked him if he had told polygamists they could keep their wives.  He answered, “Of course, but ‘everybody’ did it.”  His confession was convenient at that time because telling the truth would not cost him financial support.

Christians are told in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  James adds, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (5:16).  This is a confession driven by a conviction to please and obey God and make things right with those we have offended.

“Convenient confession” is not convicted confession.  Confessing if and only if we are caught is convenient rather than convicted confession.  Confession meant to conceal or control the discovery of other and even greater sins is not convicted confession.  Pharaoh confessed to get relief from God’s punishment (Ex. 9:27; 10:16). Balaam went from cursing to confessing only when he could see the angel of the Lord (Num. 22:34). Achan only confessed when God picked him out of the crowd (Josh. 7:20). Saul confessed when his back, spiritually, was against the wall (1 Sam. 15:24, 30; 26:21).  Time and testing proved the insincerity of these confessions.

Everyone will confess Jesus at the Judgment, when doubt will have died (Ph. 2:11).  Each of us are confronted with a sin problem, and at best we will wrestle with it (Rom. 7:14ff).  For confession to be effective, the Bible urges honesty and sacrifice.  Self-serving, self-preserving confession is convenient confession.  “Convenient confession” is not convicted confession.