Behavior code a statement of principle

The BYU Honor Code is a statement of principle concerning honesty, charity, purity, modesty and commitment, President Gordon B. Hinckley declared in an Oct. 18 devotional address at the university.

President Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, noted that it is customary for the president of the Church or, at his request, one of his counselors to speak to the student body at the opening of the school year."I come with that delegation of authority and responsibility," he said. "President Howard W.T Hunter sends his love and blessing to you. I hope that you will hear from him later in the season."

At the outset, President Hinckley referred to the school's weekend football victory over Notre Dame University.

"Our special elation is understandable. BYU beat the team which over all the years of football has been considered most formidable."

But the game is one in a series of many, he reminded the students, and, quoting Ecclesiastes, said the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong but to those who endure to the end.

"This brings me to the message I have this morning. This is Honor Week at BYU and it has been suggested that I say something concerning the Honor Code and the Dress Code."

Codes of behavior are neither new nor out-of-date, he said, noting that young men of ancient Athens, Greece, took an oath to bring honor and a sense of civic duty to the city. Oaths of public office, marriage ceremonies, the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag and the covenant of Abraham are also examples of codes and covenants, he added.

"I remind you that the Honor Code of Brigham Young University was not initiated by the board and the administration. It is an outgrowth of the action of a group of students who felt strongly that the acceptance of a code of honor by those who attended this school would have a salutary effect upon all."

It has continued, with modifications, as a standard of behavior endorsed by the Board of Trustees, he said. "It is not an inflexible law written in tablets of stone. It is a code of conduct. It is a statement of principles. It is a guide and a reminder concerning expected deportment. It is no more than might be expected of any good Christian and no less than might be required of one who comes to this great institution sponsored by the Church."

The code expresses in terms of behavior the 13th Article of Faith, he affirmed.

He spoke about each of five general elements of the Honor Code.

Honesty. President Hinckley noted that five of the Ten Commandments deal essentially with honesty in a broad sense.

It is the worst kind of dishonesty to kill, he said.

Adultery involves rank dishonesty as a betrayal of the marriage covenant, he remarked.

Stealing, he said, covers a broad field of dishonesty including theft, cheating, plagiarism, lying and deceit.

He called the act of bearing false witness to injure another "the most vicious kind of dishonesty" and quoted the Shakespeare play Othello to the effect that he who robs one of his good name does not enrich himself and makes his victim poor indeed.

Coveting partakes of greedy desire to have that which belongs to another and is evil because it leads to evil consequences, President Hinckley declared.

Charity. Quoting Moroni 7:47, President Hinckley said charity is the pure love of Christ and embraces kindness, a reaching out to lift and help, a sharing of one's bread if need be and a spirit of civility in dealing with others.

"I rented a house once to a graduate student from the Midwest who had come to work on a doctorate in physics under Thomas B. Parmley, then at the University of Utah," he recalled. "Dr. Parmley is still alive, in his 90s, a dear friend. This student said to me, `He is the most remarkable teacher I have ever known. He has a sense of charity coupled with an expectation of excellence. He will not let a student fail.

" `When he has a student who is having a difficult time, he assigns an A-grade student to work with him. The result is that the one who was stumbling comes to understanding and proficiency. And the one who serves without fee as tutor gains a better knowledge of the subject and develops a wonderful sense of service and kindness toward others.' "

Purity. "Each of you knows that with the strength which comes from prayer and the self-discipline that comes of practice, you can hold to the standards that you know to be right," President Hinckley admonished.

He quoted historians Will and Ariel Durrant as saying that sex is a "river of fire that must be banked and cooled by hundreds of restraints if it is not to consume in chaos both the individual and the group."

Modesty. "In matters of dress we wish neither silk nor rags," President Hinckley said. "We seek for the clean look, call it a wholesome look, the bright and happy look of young men and women who walk with a sense of who they are, of what is expected of them, and of what they may become."

Commitment. President Hinckley said commitment "involves loyalty. It involves duty. It involves determination of objectives and resolution to meet those objectives. It involves giving of oneself without reservation to the accomplishment of a good and great purpose."

He exclaimed: "What tremendous power there is in commitment. What tremendous strength there is in singleness of purpose. What marvelous results follow commitment made to the glory of God and followed with the promise that that body which is filled with the light of Christ `comprehendeth all things.' "

President Hinckley reminded the students that theirs is a unique opportunity "to come to this great university, here to learn at the feet of a dedicated faculty, that knowledge of a secular nature which will qualify you to fill a place of honor and usefulness in the society of which you will become a part. Further, while in that process to draw nearer to God as you increase your knowledge concerning Him and His eternal purposes. How great is your privilege. How strong must be your commitment."

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