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Sexual Ethics

"Do All The Good You Can, By All The Means You Can, In All The Ways You Can, In All The Places You Can, At All The Times You Can, To All The People You Can, As Long As Ever You Can."



This resource page is for churches, laity, and clergy, offering guidance, information, and templates around issues of sexual ethics. Please keep in mind these are samples and templates and not legal advice.

To minimize liability, it is essential that any policies developed and adopted by a local congregation are approved by insurance provider and governing body and are followed as written

The UM Sexual Ethics website is a wealth of information about the complaint process, sample policies and forms, and more (from ResourceUMC and the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women of The UMC).


How the Church Defines Sexual Misconduct

As stated in the UMC Book of Resolutions, “Sexual Misconduct within ministerial relationships is a betrayal of sacred trust. It is a continuum of 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. It includes criminal behaviors in some nations, states, and communities and is a chargeable offense in The United Methodist Church." (2016 Book of Resolutions, #2044)

Local Church Resources

Additional Resources

Covenant of Clergy Sexual Ethics for the Michigan Conference of The UMC

God has called us, through the grace of Jesus Christ, into covenant with God and one another. This covenant is intended by God to be a means of reconciliation, justice, faith, hope, and love. We live out this covenant in the Church. This covenant implies that there are standards to which clergy are expected to adhere and assumes that each clergy person seeks to live according to these high standards. “Ordination and membership in an Annual Conference in The United Methodist Church is a sacred trust.” (The Book of Discipline of The UMC – 2016 ¶362). Sexual misconduct, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment of any kind is sinful behavior against God and one another. Not only does such behavior violate a person’s humanity, but also constitutes an unjust use of status and power which breaks this sacred trust. Therefore, all clergy are expected to live out the highest ethical standards regarding the role of human sexuality in all interpersonal relationships. from the Covenant of Clergy Sexual Ethics & Guidelines for Our Life Together: A Policy of the Michigan Conference of The United Methodist Church (2018).

Full Covenant can be downloaded here.

Paragraphs and Resolutions related to Sexual Ethics


Last Updated on October 31, 2023

The Michigan Conference