Agency forwards resolutions on pornography, sexual ethics


By Linda Bloom
United Methodist News Service

SAN FRANCISCO - Sexual harassment and misconduct remains a concern of the church, according to the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women.

As the denominational watchdog on issues of sexual ethics, the agency is submitting updated legislation for the United Methodist General Conference to consider when it meets April 23-May 2 in Fort Worth. The legislation was approved by the agency’s governing commissioners at their Sept. 20-22 annual meeting.

COSROW also has prepared a resolution on what it has determined to be a “disturbing trend”: Use of Internet pornography by clergy, laity or volunteers, often on church-owned computers.

“The use of pornography continues to increase as it becomes more accessible (via the Internet, for example) and allows more immediate, realistic and anonymous sexual contact and gratification,” says the resolution on “Prevention of the Use of Pornography in the Church.”

Such harmful and addictive behavior alters relationships and sexual perceptions, and the church needs to be aware of those dangers, the commission says.

The resolution declares that “the use and abuse of pornography in church programs, on church premises and with church property by persons in ministerial roles (lay and clergy) is a form of sexual misconduct, a chargeable offense for laity and clergy in The United Methodist Church.”

Suggested actions include sexual ethics training at various levels, training on issues of pornography, and strict oversight of church-owned computers and technology.

The updated resolution on the eradication of sexual harassment reports that recent surveys show sexual harassment “remains a significant problem” in the church despite a “relatively high awareness” of the denominational policy.

COSROW also continues to advocate for full participation of women within the denomination. An updated resolution celebrates that:
• One in four United Methodist pastors today are women, compared to less than one in a hundred in 1972.
• Sixteen of the 63 active United Methodist bishops worldwide are women.
• Women account for half of all students enrolled in United Methodist seminaries seeking ordination.
• The Women’s Division, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, “is the largest and most prolific mission working entity” in the denomination. But, the resolution also points out, “there are still areas of leadership, of professional ministry, of decision-making and areas of discipleship for which the church will not trust, value, revere or allot resources to women to the same degree as their brothers in the faith.”