Thursday, 07 April 2011 14:29

The Intersection; What’s Your Code?

Written by  Bob Crittendon
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The news shocked the world of college basketball, just weeks before that annual tradition known as “March Madness” was set to begin. Brigham Young University was strategically placed in the Top 10, enjoying a high level of success, which was threatened by the suspension of one of its star players, center Brandon Davies. The story is quite familiar now – Davies was kicked off the BYU team not because of theft, public drunkenness, academics, or drug usage – no, Brandon Davies was dismissed because of…


…sex. That’s right, premarital *** **** his girlfriend. Davies admitted this transgression, which is a violation of the BYU “Honor Code”. The code, agreed to by Davies upon his entrance to BYU, the famed Mormon institution, provides for standards of good behavior. “Live a chaste and virtuous life” is one of the key phrases in the Code, which also includes virtues such as honesty, obedience to the law, clean language, respect for others, abstinence (from alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee, and drugs), and proper dress.

What has been interesting and albeit gratifying to me is the response in the dominant media culture, especially sports media. Sure, you have the usual suspects who are making fun of the Code or decrying it as outdated or too rigid. After all, the idea of premarital sex is an accepted practice in our society. (Good news: a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control actually shows a decline in the number of young adults engaging in it).

A number of sports media personalities have actually applauded BYU to their faithful followers. Here’s a sampling from Utah’s Deseret News: Pat Forde, ESPN was “…impressed by the school’s commitment to its rules, even at a potentially tremendous cost to its basketball team.” Jim Rome, ESPN Host and Radio Host gave “…How many programs would’ve let a player skate for violating a rule right before the tourney, especially if you’re looking at your best season ever? … I respect it. I definitely respect that.” And, former BYU football player and journalist Vai Sikahema said, “Nearly every commentator/reporter I’ve seen or read has been overwhelmingly supportive of BYU’s decision.”

There are actually two issues here: 1) the institution’s integrity, holding a player to the standards he pledged he’d uphold, and 2) the act that violated the Code, the act of sex outside of marriage. I think that these and other commentators are applauding BYU more for its integrity rather than denouncing sexual activity outside of marriage. Sure, the university is to be commended for not compromising on its honor code, but I also think that the commitment to chaste activity and sexual abstinence is quite admirable. In an age where moral relativism rules the day and absolutes are not often reinforced, the BYU position is refreshing. Brandon Davies made a pledge, he violated the pledge, and he is now reaping the consequences of that violation.
For those who do not adhere to the Mormon faith, I think there are some lessons to be learned and some challenges to be embraced. What are the implications for evangelical Christians in these times?

In addition to the two issues I have raised – the importance of keeping your word and acting with integrity, plus the commitment to God’s best - sexual purity, there are some other points to ponder.

I think we have to consider the importance of developing standards for our behavior…a personal “Honor Code”, if you will. I was reading recently in the book of Numbers about the Nazirite vow. People who made the Nazirite vow held to certain standards of behavior during the time period for which the vow was made. They demonstrated a strong desire to be “set apart” to God, and in the vow, they made a promise to follow God wholeheartedly. I think that in a way, there are many Christians who are currently practicing a type of vow representing a desire to be “set apart”, as they relinquish some type of behavior during the Lenten season leading up to Easter. This is commendable, in that we are consecrating a particular area, or multiple areas of our lives, so that we can cultivate a greater desire for God.

Generally, in the Christian life, it’s important that we have made up our minds to be set apart – the Bible calls this “sanctification”. A personal “Honor Code” can be developed as we allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate areas of our lives that are not pleasing to Him, and then eliminate behavior that does not bring Him glory. I believe the Scriptures teach a “zero tolerance” policy for sin. As we dedicate ourselves to actions that please God and commit ourselves to triumph by God’s power over areas of disobedience, we become people who demonstrate strong character, testifying to the presence of the indwelling Christ.

Last modified on Thursday, 07 April 2011 15:13
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