Answered by: Fr. Planchak
Thank you for the good question.
First, let’s ask ourselves, “Why do we go to school?” – to learn something and to achieve something in life, to gain knowledge that would be beneficial for us. If we cheat, what do we learn?
If someone cheats at school, then that person is dishonest and lies to himself or herself and others. Maybe it’s a little lie; but, little or a big, it’s still a lie. Today it might be a small lie, but tomorrow it could be a big lie, and that leads us to a problem. You ask if cheating for a test is a big (mortal) or small sin? Sin is sin and leads us away from God.
The Bible doesn’t speak specifically about cheating, but often refers to honesty and lying. For example: “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.” (Proverbs 12:22); “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another” (Leviticus 19:11). This, of course, reflects the eighth commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour” (Exodus 20:16).
In the gospel according to John, Jesus makes this stark contrast between those who accept the truth of his message and those who do not: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. … Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. You are from your father the devil … who does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:31-32, 43-44).
St. Paul offers a positive view of the Christian as a new creation in Christ: “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:9-10).
Cheating is a very selfish act and gives a false sense of success. We Christians must seek an honest path to success. We are witnessing various types of cheating in our society, but that does not mean it is good. This way is not God’s way.
I hope this helps you.