April 5, 2006

weakened morals (or) weekend morals

Last week I was discussing with some of my students the topic of cheating. A couple of them had been accused of cheating on a quiz and they were not happy about this kind of accusation. I wasn't exactly sure if they weren't happy about being accused falsely of the cheating or if it was just that they had been accused. Their responses didn't exactly clear this up.

But the accusation did lead into an interesting conversation about cheating. I started off as a passive listener, but then I overheard one of the students in the room state plainly, "...oh, it's just the quizzes, it isn't that bad. I mean, I would never cheat on a test. But cheating on a daily quiz, that isn't wrong."

When I heard those words, everything else in the room kind of zoned out, except for this one student. Then the phrase, "...isn't wrong..." which was still bouncing around in my mind, finally came to rest right on top of my sense of reason.

I snapped out of passive listening mode and said, "I'm... I'm sorry, what did you say? Um... Did you say that it isn't wrong to cheat on a quiz?"

Now, I knew that there were numerous reasons why I should get to the bottom of this philosophy that was being presented by these students of mine. And one of those reasons was because I occasionally give these students quizzes, and if they don't think that it is wrong to cheat I was going to have to keep a better eye on them.

"Well, yeah." The Student replied, very matter-of-factly. "Everybody does it, it isn't wrong." And though not all of them agreed, several of her classmates did, in fact, agree with her!

Being at a Christian School, I thought to myself, "hmm... I don't know. Let's bring the Bible into this discussion." So, I casually replied, "Well, what do you think the Bible says about that?" (Because, frankly, that is the only thing that matters anyway.)

I figured bringing the Bible into the situation would change the course of the conversation a little, but with the mention of the Word of God, they didn't altogether change their tune. They flinched just a little, and then they said, "...Um, well... I know that the Bible says that sin is sin, but... you know... It's just a quiz."

You might be asking why I am bringing this up, and I can tell you that the only reason why I bring this up (on this blog) is because I believe that this is an all too common mentality regarding things like cheating.

Let me share some research to back that up:
Statistics show that academic cheating among high-school and college students has risen dramatically during the past 50 years. The results of the 29th Who's Who Among American High School Students Poll (of 3,123 high-achieving 16- to 18-year olds – that is, students with A or B averages who plan to attend college after graduation) were released in November, 1998. Among the findings:

  • 80% of the country's best students cheated to get to the top of their class.

  • More than half the students surveyed said that they don't think cheating is a big deal.

  • 95% of cheaters say they were not caught.

  • 40% cheated on a quiz or a test

  • 67% copied someone else's homework


According to the results of a 1998 survey of 20,829 middle and high school students nationwide conducted by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, 70% of high school students and 54% of middle school students said they had cheated on an exam in the last 12 months. According to Josephson, the same question asked of high schoolers in 1996 prompted 64% to admit they had cheated. This demonstrates a 6% increase in only two years.
(This information came from this site.)

These statistics are alarming. Mostly because of the rapid increase of cheating, but also because of that second statement, that they do not think that cheating is a big deal.

But the real concern that I have is that this mentality is seeping in amoungst the people of God. That those who would claim the name of Christ, and choose the Bible as their rule of faith and practice, that those people would slide in their morals.

We have known for a long time that Christians sin. (There is absolutely no question about that.) We have hypocrisy flowing through our veins. But when we begin to actually justify the wrong things that we are doing and begin calling those things right, that is a whole different story.

Isaiah 5:20 says,
Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter.


Cheating is wrong. It is a form of lying and a form of stealing. The world has forgotten that.

As Christians, may our morality remain as firm and as strong as the Bible that it is built upon, and may it remain in our lives and in our thoughts, affecting our decisions, not only on Sunday, but through the rest of the week as well. I hope that we can me as much of a Monday morning Christian as we are a Sunday morning Christian.