See also, may be of interest: About “Aunt Becky”: The fragility of reputation and the devastating consequences of sin
By Elizabeth Prata
The news broke a couple of days ago that 50 people; celebrities, coaches, and wealthy financiers, have partaken in the United States’ largest college admission cheating scandal ever. These people paid up to $6 million funneled through a fake non-profit to assure their children’s acceptance to Ivy League and other distinguished universities like Yale, Georgetown, Stanford, and the University of Southern California. Bribery, lies, and corruption are at the heart of this scandal, the root of which is money. If you want to read more about it here is a link describing how the cheating and bribery worked, plus some other links below. Headlines regarding this recently uncovered corrupt activity include “massive” and “explosive.”
Initially I did not follow this news. I declined to read about it or learn more. I thought to myself, ‘What’s new? The rich always use their money to pressure others, bribe, or introduce corruption, so as to get their way. And what’s so different about the colleges? They’re bastions of secular, worldly philosophy, so of course there’s favoritism and unfairness.’ But as the week continued it became apparent how enormous the cheating scandal was.
I got to thinking about the money involved.
I started thinking about how love of money truly is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10).
In one of his early short stories called ‘The Rich Boy‘, (1929) F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote,
Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.
The book that more claimed my attention in my formative years as a young adult was the 1987 novel by Tom Wolfe called The Bonfire of the Vanities. It’s seen as Wolfe’s magnum opus and is thought to be the quintessential book of the era. The 1980s were all about excess, Wall Street, race, class, money, and greed. Wolfe’s book captured all of that. The main character styled himself as a “Master of the Universe”.
Another phrase that comes to mind besides Master of the Universe is ‘Captain of Industry.’ We know from history there have always been men who were on top, machinators of events, driving industry in the direction they want to go, holding forth in their cities or towns, masterminding and manipulating circumstances and people. All this in regards to self and fulfillment of selfish wants.
You know the adage, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” as explained here. Lord Acton expressed that opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887.
Given the Bible’s warnings about money being the root of all evil, I tend to believe it is less power adn more money that corrupts. Money makes it easier to satisfy self, to get what one wants. Those green bills fan the flames of discontent, and the flesh ever seeks to claim what it thinks it wants, thinks it deserves.
I got to thinking about the Bible’s men who were rich. Job, Abram, Isaac, Jacob, Solomon, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea. Moses had all opportunity to live on Pharaoh’s riches, so did Joseph. Yet these men withstood the temptations that go along with money, and did the right thing. Poverty doesn’t automatically mean a person is virtuous, and riches don’t automatically mean a person is noble. But a noble, well-doing person who is wealthy AND virtuous, is honoring to God.
In the New Testament, there were people who weren’t especially wealthy, but the scriptures make note that they were generous givers. For example,
Dorcas was “full of good works and acts of charity“. (Acts 9:36).
Cornelius was “a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God”. (Acts 10:2)
Even the widow gave her mites out of her poverty. (Luke 21:4).
Money is not evil. The love of money is the evil. When a person loves money to the exclusion of other people’s good, or your own good, it’s loathsome. Substituting money for God as an idol is a soul-killer. When it’s used to bribe, God considers this evil.
Definition of bribe: persuade (someone) to act in one’s favor, typically illegally or dishonestly, by a gift of money or other inducement.
God forbids taking or giving a bribe. “for a bribe blinds the discerning and perverts the words of the righteous” (Exodus 23:8).
Again, we see this command in Deuteronomy 16:19, You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.
The college admissions cheating scandal is a tremendous blot against those institutions, colleges, and universities named. Cheaters have been exposed. Sophocles said,
I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating.
God help them if any of the cheaters were Christians. If they are wordly unsaved people, they have added this sin to their account.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash