On the brink of March Madness, college basketball’s high season, we learn that Brigham Young University’s star forward, Brandon Davies, has been removed from the team for an “Honor Code” violation. According to last night’s Salt Lake City Tribune, Davies admitted to engaging in premarital sex.
BYU is currently ranked #3 in the nation, and the Davies suspension deals a severe blow to the Cougar’s chance at competing for a national championship.
Across the sports spectrum, from ESPN to talk radio to the blogosphere, the debate has begun:
Is it fair to kick a guy off a winning team for a violation of this nature? Are BYU officials being too harsh, especially since Davies is reportedly remorseful and repentant?
Chris Broussard and Skip Bayless of ESPN pondered whether or not the code was “unrealistic.”
ESPN is currently taking the following poll:
Could you live up to BYU’s Honor Code?
· Be honest
· Live a chaste and virtuous life
· Obey the law and all campus policies
· Use clean language
· Respect others
· Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee and substance abuse
· Participate regularly in church services
· Observe the Dress and Grooming Standards
· Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code
To date, 56% have said yes and 44% have said no.
BYU’s “Honor Code” is by no means entirely unique; many colleges and universities, including the Air Force Academy right across the street from my office, require students to sign similar pledges. Liberty University likewise requires students to sign a pledge agreeing to, among other things, abstain from pornography and sex outside of marriage.
Candidly, I find these codes – and their enforcement – to be refreshing. Standards within an institution can be a very good thing. But the fact that a debate has ensued reflects the state of sliding cultural affairs. That many are shocked a ballplayer is suspended for premarital sex is sad – because it shows how quickly we’ve accepted what was once culturally unacceptable.
BYU lost badly last night, and even their star phenom, Jimmer Fredette and his 33 points, couldn’t help stave off the stunning defeat to unranked New Mexico. According to ESPN, the crowd in Provo was “church quiet.”
In the end, this “debate” has little to do with basketball. Oh, it’ll continue to be bandied about in the context of the NCAA Tournament, but it’s about far more than basketball. It’s really about honesty, character, ethics and a person keeping their word.
Regardless of what institution (if any) you or your son or daughter attend – or where you or they work – by what standards do you and they live?
In our pursuit to raise young men and women who reflect the heart of Christ, we’d be wise to heed the words of the apostle Paul:
“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
Honor codes are good guardrails, but it is to Jesus to whom we look and long and love. The Bible is the ultimate Honor Code; but it’s not just a book about how to live. It’s also the ultimate guide about how not to live, too. All throughout the Old and New Testaments we read of a broken world. And within those pages we’re reminded time and again that on our own we’re incapable of measuring up. Perfection is an impossibility. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Yet, we don’t despair. The very next verse of Paul’s letter reminds us that we “are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” And that is good news, indeed.
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