"Sexual Misconduct is a chargeable offense, for both laity and clergy."
The Book of Discipline 2012, ¶ 2702.1,3
The Book of Resolutions 2012, #2082: “Prevention of the Use of Pornography in the Church”
Sexual Misconduct is a betrayal of sacred trust. It is a continuum of unwanted sexual or gender-directed behaviors by either a lay or clergy person within a ministerial relationship (paid or unpaid). It can include child abuse, adult sexual abuse, harassment, rape or sexual assault, sexualized verbal comments or visuals, unwelcome touching and advances, use of sexualized materials including pornography, stalking, sexual abuse of youth or those without capacity to consent, or misuse of the pastoral or ministerial position using sexualized conduct to take advantage of the vulnerability of another. (The Book of Discipline 2016, ¶161)
Sexual Harassment is “any unwanted sexual comment, advance, or demand, either verbal or physical, that is reasonably perceived by the recipient as demeaning, intimidating or coercive. Sexual harassment must be understood as an exploitation of a power relationship rather than as an exclusively sexual issue. Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, the creation of a hostile or abusive working environment resulting from discrimination on the basis of gender.” (The Book of Discipline 2016, ¶ 161.I)
Sexual Abuse is a form of sexual misconduct and occurs when a person within a ministerial role of leadership (lay or clergy, pastor, educator, counselor, youth leader, or other position of leadership) engages in sexual contact or sexualized behavior with a congregant, client, employee, student, staff member, coworker, or volunteer.
Pornography is sexually explicit material that portrays violence, abuse, coercion, domination, humiliation, or degradation for the purpose of arousal. Any sexually explicit material that depicts children is pornographic. "We deplore all forms of the commercialization, abuse, and exploitation of sex." (The Book of Discipline Social Principle ¶161)
See full list of definitions in Alphabetical Lexicon below
“The United Methodist Church declares that the use of pornography … is a form of sexual misconduct, a chargeable offense for laity and clergy.”
Examples of Sexualized Behavior or Sexual Contact:
- Displaying sexually suggestive visuals
- Making sexual comments or innuendos
- Touching another person’s body, hair or clothing
- Touching or rubbing oneself in the presence of another
- Kissing; fondling; sexual intercourse
Guidelines for Determining a Hostile Environment:
Is the behavior …
- Sexual in nature or gender specific?
- Severe or pervasive enough to interfere with one’s ability to work, get an education, or participate in ministry?