I know that Honor Codes are Bloggernacle fodder at its finest, but last week I was reading the BYU-Idaho Scroll and I found this quote about the Honor Code that, quite frankly, disturbed me:
Kevin Miyasaki, vice president of Student Services and Activities, said living a life of personal honor not only protects students, but prepares them to live a covenant-keeping life. Miyasaki said those who choose not to live the Honor Code distract from the unity needed to create Zion…Vice President Miyasaki said that when a person understands the Honor Code as a measure of personal integrity, obeying the Honor Code becomes a privilege rather than an inconvenience.
Here, a representative of the President’s Council of BYU-Idaho equates Zion-like unity with uniformity. Not only that, he then teaches that integrity is measured by Honor Code compliance. I was, of course, upset. I thought the definition of integrity was living with moral character. I suppose I used to see integrity the same way as Vice President Miyasaki.
I’m almost embarrassed to admit that a reality show helped me see honor and integrity in a different way. I’ve watched The Amazing Race for years and in Spring of 2005 Season 7 aired. Back then I was pretty prejudiced against LGBT. I was working my first full-time job out of BYUI in Las Vegas. On my first day when they showed me I’d be working next to the gay legal intern, I was kind of disgusted. One of the interesting dynamics of The Race is that there were several religious teams and one gay couple, Lynn and Alex. During one of the tasks, a team rolled their vehicle, and had injuries. A religious team passed the rolled car and the only team that stopped to help the injured passengers was the gay couple. I remember expressing my confusion and dismay to my husband that they (read: the gays) were the only ones to stop and help??! It sounds so silly, but that one moment of TV had a big impact on me. That began my transition into seeing honor and integrity more as how we see and treat others, to me that is the biggest part of having a moral character. Yes, I believe integrity also includes honesty and keeping your word, but I think it is also much more than that.
I don’t have a problem with having Honor Codes and reminding students that part of having integrity is honoring your word. I wish instead of Pres. Clark’s #anklegate, we’d get this message, “You gave your word and we want you to keep it. Learning how to keep your word is an important part of learning integrity (but it’s not the whole thing).” I strongly believe that teaching honor code obedience as a way to measure integrity is dangerously false. I feel that the President’s Council who defined these terms this way works closely with the Church Board of Education and this reflects directly from the upper echelons, unfortunately. This conflation with requiring conformity is damning to Zion; if Zion only comes with uniformity, I fear we will never have Zion.
Are people who break Honor Codes are the distraction keeping us from Zion? How would you define integrity and honor? How do you define Zion? Will we ever have Zion in this life, and if so how?