Not a Hypocrite or a Hero

I had a choice. I could help the class cheat, or I could kiss a top score and a lot of friends good-bye.

If you’ve ever taken seminary, I’m sure you remember the case studies that are included in the lessons to help us liken the scriptures unto us. And if you remember them, then no doubt you remember the one concerning what you would do if your friends asked you to cheat on an important test or you would be tempted to cheat yourself. If you’re like me, it was all black and white, and you said you would do the noble thing, the right thing.

Probably like many of us, I never really thought of these situations as something that would ever happen. It was too easy. Who wouldn’t do the right thing? Well, just a week ago, I was faced with this problem. It was the week for nine-week exams. Being a senior, I knew these tests were important; not only do they decide who passes and graduates but they are also recorded on our transcripts, the same transcripts that are sent to colleges. The night before the two tests that were going to give me problems—Advanced Chemistry and Economics—a friend called on the phone. She told me that two classmates had stolen copies of both of the tests. She had copies and would give me some early the next morning. Because she was in a hurry, my friend didn’t give me a chance to answer, which was just as well since I didn’t know what to say.

What a dilemma! Even though I was considered the best student in my class, I knew those tests would be tough. Oh, I knew I would pass even if I failed the tests, but I wanted so badly to keep that prestigious 4.0 average. I also knew I was the only LDS student in my school. It had been a worthwhile struggle to let everyone know what Mormons really believe. In fact, whenever a new person questioned me about the Church in front of my friends, it was my friends who hastened to tell my beliefs before I could answer.

All evening I thought about my problem. I tried to concentrate on how important it was for me to do well on these tests, but a thought kept nagging at me. For four years I had taken seminary and answered those case studies of how I would react in a situation exactly like this. Was I going to betray my standards after telling my friends what being a Mormon was all about? Was I now going to be a hypocrite? I decided to resist the temptation. I prayed to my Heavenly Father to make me strong and able to stand by my convictions.

At school the next morning my friend tried to give me a copy of the tests. I refused. She looked at me like I was crazy but said nothing. Later I realized that my friends had expected me to answer the questions on the stolen copies and then let a student who worked in the office run them off on the school copier for the rest of the class. I would like to say that I was looked upon as a hero, but, as it was, some of my classmates were angry with me. My true friends didn’t hold it against me. The students who had stolen the tests had my friend answer the questions and passed copies around to everyone in the class except for me and the local preacher’s son, who had also refused to get involved. I thank him for standing with me. No one ever likes to be alone. I wish I could say that I passed my tests with flying colors, but I only made an 82 on my Advanced Chemistry test. Nevertheless, I am proud of that 82.

The grades are not important when I realize that I passed an even greater test, a test of character, thanks to the gospel and seminary.

[illustration] Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes