Discussing
How honorable are honor codes?

Caryn Rivadeneira

JCarpenter
March 10, 2011

Teaching and coaching at a Christian school for many years, I always had an issue with behavioral codes, in particular those that set athletes apart from the rest of the population as being somehow higher, more noble or regal than the others, or at least in process of becoming so. We seemed to be more impressed with Saul's prowess than with David's heart; athletes in the public eye had somehow to be the school's "ambassadors," therefore had to be schooled in scrutiny as well as in their sport. More often than not, double-standards and inconsistent enforcement of codes occurred, for athlete and non-athletic musician/actor/student alike.<br>Somehow the athlete managed either to receive more loop-holed grace for offenses, especially if a star first-stringer who just might have a career in sports, or conversely would receive the full hammer with no chance for redemption (can't have a soiled ambassador)---all depending on the current climate of the school, the community, the boosters, and the state of the athletic program. Discipline has more to it than just avenues for managing behavior, with punishment the driving force behind it. Discipline also involves teaching and building up; mis-steps need correction but also with encouragement and redemption as a goal.

Real Housewife Of Naperville
March 10, 2011

Hope you don't mind me borrowing the sniffing label. I believe I'll need to use that in the future at some point. Great points.

Caryn R
March 10, 2011

Use away. I stole it myself! : )

Monica Stanley Groothof
March 10, 2011

You put your finger on my feelings – nebulous until now – why I didn't think this was such a great thing. Sin sniffing keeps the focus off of me and my need to repent, keeping me busy with that instead of other Kingdom matters to which I'm called. Thank you for your reflections. ~Stan

Xioc1138
March 10, 2011

I do agree with much of your thoughts on sin sniffing, I think that codes of conduct that prohibit certain activities for certain people exist for a reason: because the Bible endorses such practices.<br><br>Holy Scripture is clear that sin is sin, and all sin is equal. But for people in certain roles, we are expected to give up certain practices and live to certain standards simply because that is the role that we are in.<br><br>At the same time, whether or not you agree with the stance of the college, ALL colleges have standards for their athletic students, they vary somewhat, but they are there - if you take the time to look at those rules, they can be quite mundane. But they exist for a reason, the students know what they are, and agree to them when they sign up to be part of the team. So whether we are taking about sex with the girlfriend, or curfew, he made an agreement when he joined the team. He didn't keep his end of the deal, so the school dolled out consequences according to its rules.<br><br>I'm totally OK with that.

MWorrell
March 10, 2011

I read a book by Dan Ariely (Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University) called "Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions" last year. His experiments suggest that honor codes do significantly impact behavior. It's a really interesting book for Christians to read.

Caryn R
March 11, 2011

That would be interesting to read! Thanks for sharing. I've VERY first-born and rule-abiding so I don't actually doubt that these codes can change conduct. However, I also know that because I'm very rule-abiding, I'm going to avoid places where I have to abide by rules I don't agree with.<br><br>For example, I wouldn't have considered Wheaton College back in the day because it would've made dancing a sin for me. I love dancing. Don't believe it's anywhere near a sin (and Wheaton has, of course, eased up on this). And therefore chose not to be a part of an organization that felt this way.<br><br>All this to say, I'd be curious to hear if that research said that it helped make "bad" people better or if places with tight honor codes just attracted already "good" people. (And please do note my use of the quotes. I'm not judging any hearts here....ha!)

Paulvanderklay
March 11, 2011

"all sin is equal" is a common notion but its too undefined. All sin is equal in that it is sin, but no one assumes that the response to any sin should be that of any other. The Bible universally identifies God as weighing judgment with respect to sin. Some sins are worse than others in terms of how God judges them, and in terms of how a community should respond to it. <br><br>God hates divorce but allows Moses to allow it. Ps 103 says God does not treat us as our sins deserve. Paul in Acts 17 notes that for a time God overlooked sin. Sin can also be forgiven. <br><br>It is one thing to label something as "sin", that frankly is pretty easy in our complex world. Even good deeds can be undermined by dark motives. What is hard is figuring out how a community should respond to sin in general (rules) and specific instances of it. Zero tolerance often makes zero sense.

Paulvanderklay
March 11, 2011

The act of creating a group implies the implicit or explicit behavior of establishing a "code of conduct" together with acceptance of enforcement of that code. With enough Q/A I could probably tease out the implicit or explicit code of conduct for nearly any group. I think the more interesting questions revolve around what the community leaders (formal or informal) hope the code will achieve. The Mosaic law was certainly a formal and extensive code of conduct. Jesus' teachings likewise clearly articulate a code of conduct for his disciples together with ideas of enforcement and exclusion (Matthew 18). It's popular to portray Jesus as so completely tolerant there is no exclusion but such a conclusion must itself exclude texts where there are shut doors, outer darknesses and torturers tasked with exacting from the unforgiving steward his great debt.

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