Is helping my wife do her homework a sin?

My wife is taking a literature course. She has to interpret the writings of various authors from about 1700–1900. She is from Brazil and not a native English speaker. Also, a lot of the words used in these writings are archaic and not used much anymore, making things even more difficult for her. She has implored me to help her interpret these writings, which I have. I have also been editing the essays she has to write about these writings. It is very important financially for our family that my wife obtain her degree. Is it a sin for me to help her do her homework to this extent?

Rather than consider whether your help constitutes a “sin” (since sin requires knowledge and consent before it can be sinful), let’s consider whether or not your help is ethical.

I would guess that merely giving your wife the definition of an archaic English word is within ethical boundaries, assuming that her professor does not expect her to find definitions of these words on her own. As for “editing” her papers, it depends on what you mean by editing. If you are merely proofreading her work, and letting her fix her errors on her own, that would seem to be within bounds. But if you are doing any actual rewriting of her papers, then that might be a cause for concern.

If your wife is unable to discern on her own what constitutes ethical assistance from others, she could ask her professor for a copy of the honor code. If it becomes apparent to both of you that you have been giving your wife assistance that transgresses ethical boundaries, then you should step back and allow your wife to approach her professor with a request for assistance with her schoolwork. The professor will either help her, or recommend tutors who can help. Either way, it is a student’s responsibility to approach a teacher for help when she is having difficulty with a course.

Keep in mind that the reason deliberate cheating is a sin is because it constitutes the theft of credentials. If those credentials create financial gain, then the seriousness of the theft is compounded.

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