It was announced today that the solution to the moral mess in the Secret Service is to hire Johns Hopkins University to give them ethics training. I am trying to imagine what that must look like. I always thought that our ethics were the outward manifestations of our primary moral convictions. That is, what we do is the product of our character, our beliefs about God and our place in His world.
So how do you ‘train’ someone to have ethics, without leading them through a personal conversion and transformation of their worldview?
I am imagining a room full of agents taking careful notes as the well-paid instructors are saying things like, “Being faithful to your wife is good, prostitutes are bad.” Someone in the back raises his hand and says, “slow down, professor, I need to get this written down.” Perhaps they will revert to the dog training technique of pressing their noses into a picture of a prostitute while bopping them with a rolled up Washington Post and saying, “bad agent, baaaaad agent.” Or perhaps they line them up and have them walk past three hookers and as each agent walks past without stopping, the instructors in white coats and clipboards say, “good Jim, well done, Bill…” and when an agent hesitates and reaches for his wallet they all cry out, “no Harry, no, back to your desk, no fruit cup with dinner.”
Is there a final exam in this training? “Question number one, True or False: It is not a good thing to spend tax payer money on purchasing services from prostitutes.” I can see several of the agents tapping their pencils in frustration mutter to themselves, “Damn, I should know this one…”
The bottom line is, you can’t teach ethics as though it were a new computer skill. Our character is formed from our core beliefs. I would encourage the instructors to start with an open Bible and share with these agents the good news of God’s love for them, the cross where their sins were forgiven, and the call to become the new creation in Christ. Now that would be ‘ethics training’.