Simple Steps to Understanding the College Admissions Scandal

Simple Steps to Understanding the College Admissions Scandal

Original Post Date: April 1, 2019

I don’t know about you, but when certain stories hit the news, they hit a little deeper than others. Sometimes it’s because they seem to seep with evil, like the murder of a child. Others make me feel outraged because they steal time or money from me — like taxes I didn’t vote for or regulations that will make daily living more difficult.

It’s been interesting to watch people react to the college admissions scandal. It seems that people can’t make sense of it. “How could these parents do this?” is asked over and over. But it’s not just the wrongness of it all, there’s more.

Mixed in is a little bit of class envy because despite the acknowledgment that the cheating was wrong, these parents once again have proved that money can indeed buy everything…. and the have-nots are once again left in the dust. Sprinkled in that, is the reality that our culture idolizes victims, so every person who played by the rules is now a victim, which brings on lawsuits and feelings of entitlement. In addition, unlike most other countries, we Americans are not accustomed to class victimization — only race and religious victimization.

The confusion is understandable. The struggle with our own hearts is normal. Without a biblical worldview, it doesn’t make sense. Think through these Simple Steps, and it will all make sense to you, too!

Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law strive against them. Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it completely.

Proverbs 28:4-5

1. Correct your theology of mankind

When we have an accurate understanding of people as sinners and the world as a fallen place of misplaced priorities, stories like the college application scandal MAKE SENSE. We no longer experience confusion (cognitive dissonance) when this expectation…

Worldview A: People are good, people think of others first, people obey rules

… is met with the biblical reality of…

Worldview B: People are evil (Jer. 17:9), people are selfish (Phil. 2:21), people break rules (Rom. 8:7, Rom. 13:1-2).

Why is it that we keep defaulting to surprise at sin? Read on…

2. Acknowledge your longing for the New Earth

In Genesis, we learn that when God created Earth and everything in it, it was perfect and good. (Gen. 1:31) Every human perfectly obeyed God and loved one another. Even the earth with all the plants and animals lived in perfect harmony with each other. But by Genesis 3, this was ruined. Not only was mankind no longer holy, and therefore unable to remain in God’s presence, but strife between every person on Earth, and all that is in it, had begun. (Gen. 3:14-19)

So here’s the problem. We were created for perfection. In our hearts, we know how things are supposed to be (Rom. 2:14-15). Therefore, any time the reality of Genesis 3 ruins our Genesis 1 expectation, we get confused.

When we say to ourselves, “I can’t believe he did that!” we are actually saying, “I know it’s not supposed to be like this.” God agrees. That’s why, when the time is right, He will destroy this Genesis 3 world and make a New Earth (Rev. 21:1-5).

But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

2 Peter 3:13

3. Understand the priorities (idols) of American culture

American culture idolizes money and health. From the time we are young, we are urged to get the right education at the right place so that we can make the most money. From the time we are young, we are schlepped from doctor to doctor to make sure every cell in our body is receiving everything it needs to “stay young and alive.”

So, if the best thing that you can have is health and wealth, according to the American worldview, and we are sinners who are evil, selfish rule-breakers (see #1), then it follows that we will selfishly break rules to obtain health (the best money can buy) and wealth for ourselves or our children. Thus… the college admission scandal.

4. Correct your theology of God

Those who do not love the God of the Bible, are not saved by Jesus, and not inhabited by the Holy Spirit, cannot be expected to see anything wrong with lying, cheating, bribing, etc., in order to obtain the “highest happiness” in America — health and wealth (Gal. 5:19-21, 1 Cor. 6:9-10). Their theology of God is that they themselves are gods who must direct their own destinies by whatever means necessary.

But even Christians can get caught in sin while pursuing health and wealth. So, where do Christians go wrong when they do this?

Believers who are willing to engage in the behaviors seen in the college admissions scandal are saying the same thing as the unbeliever. They are saying, “God, you do not have enough power to get my child into the college he or she should go to. God, you are not good enough to do what is best for my child. God, you are not all-knowing; I know what’s best for my child.” They un-God God, just like the unbeliever.

I’m sure, like me, you have areas in your own life where you un-God God. We believe that somehow we know what’s best and have the power to make it happen. It shouldn’t take much of a leap to understand how these parents ended up doing what they did. Are we not just like them?

5. Embrace the gospel opportunity

At last, we can meet the college admissions scandal with calm understanding. Instead of victims of a class war, we can stand beside fellow human beings, accepting God’s sovereignty over our lives. As fellow sinners who also struggle with our evil, sinful, rule-breaking hearts, we can view the situation as a gospel opportunity. Wouldn’t it be amazing if God uses this revelation of the depth of the evil in their hearts (and our own!) to wake them up to the reality of their need for a savior? (Rom. 3:20, Rom. 5:20, Rom. 7:7-8, Deut. 30:2, Eze. 36:26 ).

Instead of standing in judgment of those who were caught, use the conversations you have with others to remind yourself and them of how we are all sinners in need of a savior. Their sins are not greater, nor more surprising, than our own. Are you thankful for Jesus? I am!!!


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