For most of us, the world of academics seems miles away. Even irrelevant. So you may not be aware that in the last few months, academic professionals have been batting around a subject that directly impacts you and me.
In November of 2010, The Chronicle of Higher Education, a widely read academic journal, published an article written by “Ed Dante.” The article generated a torrent of discussion. Due to its relative fame, it was republished in Reader’s Digest this month.
“Ed Dante” is the pseudonym for a writer who, the Chronicle says, lives on the East Coast. “The Shadow Scholar” is Dante’s story of his experience using his exceptional writing skills to earn a living by producing every conceivable assignment for other students, even doctoral research papers. His unnerving narrative portrays a world of cheaters. People either too lazy or incompetent to write their own papers hire him to do the work for them.
Embedded in his narrative is a rolling description of his clients. Future doctors, lawyers, psychologists, accountants. And pastors. “I do a lot of work for seminary students,” he writes. “I like seminary students. They seem so blissfully unaware of the inherent contradiction in paying somebody to help them cheat in courses that are largely about walking in the light of God and providing an ethical model for others to follow.” Ouch.
Somewhere, someday, these students will treat your sicknesses, do your taxes, argue your case in court. And they will preach from your pulpits. Clearly, the problem is not isolated to the unchurched. So where does a complete disregard for basic ethics begin?
At home. These students have watched their parents fudge on everything from tax forms and tithing envelopes to resumes and Bible studies. We are producing generations of Christians with no idea how to apply their biblical worldview to something as simple as honesty in academics because no one models that for them through life. Sure, they will make their own decisions. But what have they learned before they are launched from the nest?
To instill simple biblical and ethical propriety in our children, we should follow this guideline: “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27). Do that, and the story will be different.