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On The Sexual Integrity Of Ministers

WHEREAS, Roman Catholics are seeking to address the scandal of sexual abuse by members of their clergy; and

WHEREAS, We acknowledge our own fallenness and the need to prevent such appalling sins from happening within our own ranks; and

WHEREAS, The Bible calls ministers of the gospel—whether they are pastors, counselors, educators, missionaries, chaplains, or others—to be above reproach morally, both within the body of Christ and in the larger community (1 Timothy 3:1-13); and

WHEREAS, Believers are the salt of the earth and the light of the world so that our actions will glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:13-14); and

WHEREAS, The holiness of our triune God and the gospel of Jesus Christ require the highest levels of integrity in personal, family, ministerial, and business relations; and

WHEREAS, Ministers serve as trusted members of the community, in public ministry, in personal and family counseling contexts, and as private citizens; and

WHEREAS, The erosion of moral fidelity has reached crisis proportions; and

WHEREAS, Sexual infidelity and other violations of ministerial integrity always have tragic consequences for those who are victimized and for others indirectly impacted by those transgressions; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, June 11-12, 2002, call one another to build and maintain relationships and practices of integrity and fidelity to God and others; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge all our spiritual leaders to hold one another accountable to the highest standards of Christian moral practice; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge our seminaries and other related educational institutions to make ministerial integrity a major emphasis in the training of pastors, missionaries, educators, and other ministers; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage those religious bodies dealing with the tragedy of clergy abuse in their efforts to rid their ranks of predatory ministers; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on civil authorities to punish to the fullest extent of the law sexual abuse among clergy and counselors; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on our churches to discipline those guilty of any sexual abuse in obedience to Matthew 18:6-17 as well as to cooperate with civil authorities in the prosecution of those cases; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we pray for those who have been harmed as a result of sexual abuse and urge our churches to offer support, compassion, and biblical counseling to them and their families.