Cheating in sports makes the headlines regularly. Getting ahead by any means is a common theme, and once again a cheater’s mindset permeates the academic world.
Eleven students at Corona del Mar High School in Los Angeles, California were caught tampering with grades and accessing exams ahead of time by hacking into the school’s computer system. They had outside help and their accomplice is still being sought by police.
In response, district officials delivered a punishment centering on expulsion from the high school, but not banishment from other schools in the same district (Ryan Arciero, “Los Angeles School Cheating Scandal: 11 Students Hacked System, Changed Grades,” Examiner.com, January 29, 2014).
Who really gets hurt by cheating?
Cheating is everywhere and seems to be philosophically connected with self-preservation, yet, logically, cheaters are only harming and not benefiting themselves.
If a person cheats on academics, the teacher isn’t going to suffer, aside from disappointment. But, the cheater suffers. He or she will bear the brunt of ignorance, of the missing information in their minds that they didn’t study, and the lack of personal accomplishment.
In athletics, cheating robs the cheater (and of course the other participants) of an honest contest. They will never know if they could have achieved their win or feat of strength or speed on their own, and clearly, because they cheated they didn’t believe in their own abilities in the first place.
Money, power, politics, laziness, coercion and many other issues are in the mix, but the basic frailties of human nature are at the heart of cheating (Jeremiah 17:9 Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
American King James Version×).
Where does cheating fit in the system of God’s Ten Commandments (Exodus 20: 1-17)? Most prominently, it falls under the last three commandments:
- “You shall not steal.” - Cheating steals information, potential, achievement, and honesty from others and from the cheater.
- “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (lie).” - A cheater lies about his or her mental abilities, about how he or she came by their knowledge, and about his or her athletic ability.
- “You shall not covet.” - Cheaters covet what they are incapable or unwilling to achieve under their own steam through studying, learning, or training.
You could also argue convincingly that the 5th commandment is also broken. When students cheat they dishonor their parents.
Be smart, do the work, don’t cheat!