Standard of Character and Conduct

Our Standard is Rooted in Scripture

Western Seminary believes in the freedom for each student to develop morally, ethically, relationally, and spiritually, under the authority of Scripture and the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Students are often viewed as Christian role-models, even during training for future positions of leadership. Many maintain positions in ministry or service internships during their education. It is essential that the student exemplify a God-honoring life both on and off the campus, maintaining their lives in a biblically moral, holy, and upstanding manner.

In our contemporary context, doing so is especially important in matters of sexuality. A healthy sexual relationship within a biblical marriage as envisioned in Matthew 19:3-6, is normative and based on God’s beautiful design (Genesis 1:27). The Bible forbids all attitudes and activities that deviate from this standard, including lust (Matthew 5:28), coarse jokes (Ephesians 5:4), and all manner of sex outside of monogamous biblical marriage (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 1 Timothy 1:8-11). While this position is countercultural, we believe that it offers the best meeting point between grace and truth, is rooted in more than two millennia of Christian history and practice, and is a foundational component of human flourishing.

Our Goal is Growth and Restoration

Western Seminary values helping students move forward toward their intended ministry. The Seminary may thus recommend students reconsider their program goals if there is a concern that their direction does not match the goals of their current program or if there is a question of fitness for ministry.

While questions about particular practices may be referred to the Dean of Students, in general, believers should avoid that which is prohibited by Scripture (Mark 7:20-23; Gal. 5:19-21). Behavior should also be limited by that which is unwise or not expedient in deference to those within our Western Seminary community and/or the Body of Christ (Rom. 14; 1 Cor. 8), including that which violates civil law, that which violates professional ethics, or that which puts the safety of a person(s) at risk.

When the institution has concerns about a student’s development or well-being, a referral may be made to the Office of Student Development to determine what support or disciplinary action may be appropriate. The goal of all student discipline is restoration and reconciliation. Attempts will be made to engage the student in a collaborative effort of accountability, growth, correction, restoration, and/or reconciliation. In most cases, institutional action is reserved for situations wherein students are unwilling to engage positively in a process of correction, growth, and healing. Should circumstances warrant, the student may be given a warning, disciplinary probation, suspension, or dismissal. Action which would interrupt a student’s progress in a program (i.e., suspension or dismissal) will be taken by the Student Development Committee after input from the faculty. In such cases, the student shall receive a written statement of the concerns raised by the appropriate committee. The student shall be given an opportunity to speak before the administrator or committee hearing the matter, may be accompanied by a personal representative, or may bring witnesses.

Our Policy for Unresolved Difficulties

In the case of unresolved difficulties in moral, ethical, relational, or spiritual development, the student may appeal to the Student Development Committee and, ultimately, the President. Appeal of action at any level must be in writing and be submitted to the Vice-President of Student Development within 30 calendar days of notification of the action; a personal interview will be granted to deal with any appeal which goes to the President. Any expenses incurred by students (such as counseling, communication costs, etc.) related to restoration, discipline, or appeal shall be solely the financial responsibility of the student. Procedures relating to students enrolled in distance programs (such as Online Campus, Doctor of Ministry, or Doctor of Intercultural Studies) may differ, although such procedures will always include the opportunity to appear in person (at the student’s own expense) and the right of appeal. These procedures are separate from the Professional Assessment of Candidates detailed in the counseling program handbook.

Western Seminary will seek to support the student in living a life of integrity and continued personal growth. When moral, ethical, or spiritual violations or relational difficulties become known, steps shall be taken in accord with Western's conduct and TItle IX policies to appropriately address areas of concern. Repeated and/or serious violations of the standard may jeopardize a student’s continued enrollment.