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This isn't a recent thing Dave.

"Being a good BYU student" has been compared with "good discipleship" since at least the 1970s, and probably before then. Any time I tried to bring up the possibility of deficiencies at BYU at home, my dad would immediately cut me off on grounds that it was "speaking evil of the Lord's annointed."

Maybe the president of BYU isn't a general authority. But I happen to know that quite a few Mormons think he is.

This monkey has been on our back for quite some time.

Maybe he means you can't be a jerk in the parking lot and a saint in the rest of your life. Cheating or illegal parking, it all comes down to you putting yourself above what's right. I think they call that pride.

I won't endorse all the silliness at BYU, but I do not think the parallel is entirely unfounded. The basic question is why do we have an obligation to obey the law in the first place? And why should our obligation be less to conform to any private system of order (rules and regulations)?

And given the fact that we willingly obey laws of the land that we disagree with, for the benefit of peace and stability, is it too much to ask that we submit our will to the discipline of other organizations we are a part of, unless there is a moral imperative to rebel against them or to treat their organizational imperatives as a thing of naught?

Whatever strange anomalies might occur at BYU, everything about the place when I visited seemed to be a cut above the disorder and occasional slovenliness that often characterized the U. of Utah in the late 80s (which was admittedly relatively mild, outside the pages of the Daily Chronicle).

Maybe the president of BYU isn't a general authority. But I happen to know that quite a few Mormons think he is.

Actually he is--and so was the last one.

Dave,

I like your analogy to the messy Boy Scouts. I understand that BYU wants to run a clean ship and have its students be good citizens. I would tie things like parking regulations to citizensship and the golden rule--making the community like Zion. Discipleship seems like laying it on a little thick.

It's the same way with Mission Rules. They are arbitrary laws given to keep everybody in check without an explanation of why the rules are what they are. It just breeds self-righteousness.

So BYU policies are likened to "commandments" and being a good BYU student is equivalent to "discipleship." Wow.

Wow indeed. I'm so with you on this on Dave.

"President Samuelson said to live the Honor Code with exactness is equivalent to fearlessly defending the Lord and sacred things."

What the... ??! Please tell me this a misquote from a student journalist...

It's the same way with Mission Rules. They are arbitrary laws given to keep everybody in check without an explanation of why the rules are what they are.

Actually, this isn't so true. There is a long hisotry oof missionary rules. If you thought your mission was rough, you would have left the church over the rules of the handcart missionaries. There is, like it or not, priesthood hierarchy in the mission field.

I thought you had posted some previous mission rules from the first(?) handbook, no? If I recall, there weren't very many and they were fairly vague.

Any history on the Honor Code?

It's difficult to talk about rules. There are good rules but a rule-abiding society can become obsessed with living by rules and with creating new rules.

I do think that BYU becomes a bit rules-obsessed. First because of the Honor Code ... second because of all the returned missionaries who were taught to obey mission rules.

Perhaps this, Tim? The level of control and discipline of the handcart missionaries (1850's) that I have recently been studing was quite militaristic...like, Captains instead of District Leaders.

You've piqued my interest regarding the handcart missionaries.

(Hoping for a post)

Sorry, for a mild threadjack.

I guess I don't understand the problem.

The talk was directed to BYU STUDENTS. They do have to live up to the promises they made. He is NOT saying that they have to keep living those same standards when they leave BYU, nor that other people have to live the BYU honor code in order to be disciple of Jesus Christ.

But when we make promises, we keep them. I've had jobs where I had to take an oath of office, and I promised to do certain things. I felt that living up to that oath was part of my discipleship, because integrity is part of being a disciple of Christ. But I no longer serve in that way, so the oath no longer applies, and those demands are no longer part of being a disciple.

It's not so much the rules themselves, its the mindset that the rules foster among so many people that see them as the Gospel, even after they leave BYU.

I've seen numerous people leave BYU and keep all the 'rules' or commandments without thinking about why they were doing it or just looking beyond the mark most of the time.

I suppose that's part of the reason I went to the U... (though I did spend a summer with some friends in Provo, I LOVE when the spirit stays awake until 1:30 on Fridays!)

Naismith,

My issue is that a contract with BYU is very different in importance than a contract with God. The problem is that it appears many people (including President Samuelson) are trying to tie the two or even go as far as to call them equivalent as the article indicates. Calling them equivalent is rubbish. I will assume that is the mistake of a student journalist for now though.

For instance, when a student parks his motorcycle in the wrong place in a BYU parking lot he might get a ticket. That is breaking the campus rule and there is often a consequence (a fine). So if that student is late for an exam maybe he'll park in the wrong place knowing he might get a ticket and pay a fine. It is a simple cost analysis. He decides that the risk of paying the fine is worth taking in order to not miss an important test. Where's the moral issue there? If he gets a ticket he pays the fine -- big deal. The BYU parking rules are not commandments from God -- far from it. (And I can assure you from personal experiences that the BYU parking police are not nearly as understanding and forgiving as God is either.)

Ah, the good old days of the Honor Code at BYU...

When I was a freshman at BYU, Dallin Oaks was the President. I thought he went a little overboard in one Forum when he complained that female students wearing Levis looked like males. I seriously considered offering to introduce him to several of my classmates who left no doubt that they were female when they wore Levis.

Did some apostate park in Samuelson's space last week?

The underlying issue might be the importance of keeping one's word. If one has signed the honor code, then one should obey it with exactness, since that is what one has given his or her word to do. Perhaps that is where the analogy to discipleship comes in.

"I've seen numerous people leave BYU and keep all the 'rules' or commandments without thinking about why they were doing it or just looking beyond the mark most of the time."

This is a common complaint, and fair enough. But in the big picture, it's better than not keeping the rules or commandments much at all. And I see many, many LDS students at other schools doing that all the time.

Dallin used to spout off nonsense like this when I was at BYU a generation ago. BYU just sucks the intellectual horsepower out of their admin. Samuelson is now doomed to life of fretting about white shirts and ties, the evils of praying or reading scriptures in your own language, porn obsession and gay/lesbian bashing. Sad.

john f.,
I have given my word to obey the commandments when I went to the temple. I don't always do it though. But when I exert effort to improve my obedience, some things take precedence over others.

"My issue is that a contract with BYU is very different in importance than a contract with God."

And my oath of office when serving for the government was also different in importance than a contract with God. So can I just do cost analyses when it is not convenient to fulfill those oath-sworn obligations?

Isn't this actually the problem with a lot of our government officials and corporate leaders in recent years:) ? And where did they learn that such behavior was acceptable?

I think the principle being taught is to live up to your word. Attendance at BYU is not required to be a good member of the church. It's a choice. But if you make that particular choice, you live up to what you agreed to do.

Naismith: So can I just do cost analyses when it is not convenient to fulfill those oath-sworn obligations?

So someone who parks in the wrong parking space at BYU is a reprehensible oath breaker? Not all contracts are equal in weight and importance -- surely we agree on that. The problem arises when one tries to pin a not-important agreement like the minutae (parking violations etc.) of the BYU student contract to the coat tail of the most important agreement (our personal covenants with God). In wrongly trying to inflate the importance of the former I think they instead degrade the perceived importance of the latter.

I think Geoff is right - not all rules and regulations are created equal, and on occasion ones obligation to a higher law may override a lesser. I have to confess that I hardly feel a shade of guilt when I drive less than ten miles per hour over any currently posted speed limit (except in a school zone).

The main think I really dislike about a hyper-legalistic rules culture, is often the principle is not taught along with the rule. I tend to have just a little contempt for earthly rules that do not have or come with principled justifications. No one can be saved through obedience to the letter of the law alone, but rather the Spirit. Otherwise heaven would be a life time employment program for lawyers that would end up saving no one.

"So someone who parks in the wrong parking space at BYU is a reprehensible oath breaker?"

I certainly didn't use that adjective. I was asking a question. You haven't really answered it. How is actively choosing to park in the wrong parking space so very different from actively choosing to not follow the detailed rules associated with my government job? And where is that line?

If you want to argue that some transgressions are worse than others (which risks getting us back into the all-sins-are-equal debates that regularly crop up on the 'nacle) then explain what the criteria is for deciding between lesser and more important. Maybe that is what we should be teaching BYU students.

"The problem arises when one tries to pin a not-important agreement like the minutae (parking violations etc.) of the BYU student contract"

Okay, this is where we are NOT going to agree. Parking violations are a bit of a sore spot with me and I do not consider them minutae. My older children attended the same university where I am employed. They mostly didn't own cars, and borrowed mine for dates, moving, errands, etc. If they got parking tickets, they paid them discreetly. However, our campus policy is that the fifth offense is towing, at a hefty price. So I never dared consider the most measly parking violation because due to their decisions, my consequences might be much worse.

And really a lot of things in life are not unlike that. Our state's employee retirement system was hurt when executives at Enron made cost-benefit analyses that ultimately affected the value of the company stock.

Students sign a statement that they will obey the Honor Code. Honesty is a commandment. What part of this do you find complicated? This point has been made repeatedly not only by the General Authority presidents of BYU but by President Kimball and President Hinckley.

As even the Daily Universe article got right, President Samuelson's discussion of lesser and greater infractions was placed in the context of Matthew 23, where Jesus says we shouldn't omit the weightier matters but should also not leave the less weighty things undone. Thus, your puzzlement as to his point in comparing dress standards to academic honesty is, well, puzzling.

How ever did the Church leaders get by before the Bloggernacle was around to correct them?

Chris, thanks for your comment. Most people would agree that an agreement with a university (and every university has a student code of some sort, although not as lengthy as BYU's) is different from a law of the land, and that both are different from a commandment or other moral imperative. So it really isn't the case that just by labeling a bunch of rules an "Honor Code" that it thereby becomes a moral code. Labels don't control substance. And it's obvious that every rule isn't a moral rule simply by virtue of being a rule ... isn't it? What status would you ascribe to a stupid rule? Or a corrupt law?

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