What Does God Say About Cheating?
According to an Ignite Your Faith survey, 80 percent of our readers say they've cheated in school. Most of those say they've cheated "seldom" or "only once," but one reader actually admitted to cheating every day! Only six percent of you say you've never cheated.
And almost three-fourths of you (73 percent) say cheating is a problem at your school.
When we asked why people cheat, the most common answers were: "they didn't study" (87 percent), "to get a passing grade" (80 percent), and "to get better grades" (77 percent).
All right, enough statistics. It's clear that cheating is a big issue.
An issue, yes. But is it a problem? After all, it's so common, almost everybody's "doing it"—even the nation's very best students. According to the latest survey of Who's Who Among American High School Students, 80 percent of them admit to cheating.
Many students find cheating easy to justify. "Cheating never hurts anybody," one guy told the Chicago Tribune in a story about cheating in school. "Ten years from now, who's going to care?"
"Why should I know the parts of a squid's stomach?" said a girl, citing her reason for cheating on a test.
When that girl's mother heard her daughter had cheated, she hardly flinched: "It's cheating, after all," the mom told the Tribune. "She didn't pull a knife on somebody."
Indeed, when compared to some of the other things that have happened in high schools recently, cheating doesn't seem like such a big deal, does it?
Maybe not if you're the cheater. But what if you're a non-cheater? One high school sophomore who said he never cheats told the Tribune why cheaters tick him off.
"It's unfair to me and everyone else who doesn't cheat," he said. "Cheating is stealing. It's not yours. You didn't earn it."
What does God say?
In the Ignite Your Faith survey, 92 percent of you said that one reason people shouldn't cheat is because "God says it's wrong"; 65 percent of you said that's the main reason not to cheat.
So what does God say about cheating? In the Ten Commandments he said, "You shall not steal" (Deuteronomy 5:19). And cheating is stealing—usually, it's stealing someone else's work.
In the New Testament, we're told to "put off falsehood" (Ephesians 4:25). Simply put: Don't lie. And cheating is lying; you're turning in work you're falsely claiming as your own. (On the Campus Life survey, 81 percent of you said "there's no difference" between cheating and lying.)
But one of the Bible's strongest warnings against cheating can be found in Malachi, the last book in the Old Testament. The first chapter of Malachi says God was disappointed in the priests because they were cheating on the job.
How did they cheat? God had made it clear that all sacrifices to him had to be made with perfect animals. But these priests were cheating by sacrificing imperfect animals. (It's one thing to think you can get away with pulling a fast one on your teacher. But on God? What were these guys thinking?!?)