UM Sexual Ethics

Misconduct of a sexual nature is about power

Misconduct of a sexual nature is about power – power which is abused through sexualized behavior.

Power is of God, but like all God’s gifts, humankind has the freedom to misuse power. When this happens, it becomes corrupt, and it violates and dehumanizes others. Powerlessness limits human development and denies persons their promised fulfillment…. We have each been given the power to do what we can do, but are we willing to claim it? To accept it? Or is it safer to ignore or rationalize it away? Is claiming this kind of power worth the cost of change or the risk of rejection? – Helen Bruch Pearson, Do What You Have the Power to Do

We use the words “misconduct of a sexual nature” because the focus must be on the misuse of power. Sometimes this misuse is through sexualized behavior. In those instances the misconduct is sexual misconduct. However, to label the subject as primarily sexual is to avoid the deeper subject of sacred clergy office and authority.

The continuum of behaviors called sexual misconduct within the ministerial relationship represents an exploitation of power and not merely ‘inappropriate sexual or gender-directed conduct.’ Sexual misconduct in any form is unacceptable in church and ministry settings whether it is clergy-to-lay, lay-to-clergy, clergy-to-clergy, lay-to-lay, staff-to-staff, staff-to-volunteer, volunteer-to-volunteer, or volunteer-to-staff. Anyone who works or volunteers under the authority or auspices of the Church must be held to the highest standards of behavior, free of sexual misconduct in any form. (The Book of Resolutions 2016, #779)

Download a free brochure, Understanding the Role of Power.