Standard of Character and Conduct

Our Standard is Rooted in Scripture

Western Seminary encourages students to develop morally, ethically, relationally, and spiritually, under the authority of Scripture and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As they prepare for various ministry roles, in counseling, church ministry, or otherwise, it is essential that students exemplify a God-honoring life in all facets of life.

In keeping with our vision of striving to be an educational community that promotes gospel-centered transformation in every aspect of its life and work, we remain committed to living a life in pursuit of loving Jesus and loving others well. To accomplish this vision, we expect all Western Seminary students, staff, faculty, administrators, and trustees to live within the biblical parameters outlined in this standard. 

We are also committed to valuing the personhood of all people, made in God's image, regardless of whether they agree with or live within the standard we maintain for our seminary community, which we commit to uphold with grace and truth. 

Human Sexuality Statement

In our contemporary context, it is especially important to be clear in matters of sexuality. The following outlines our convictions and commitments as a seminary community in this area: 

Scripture teaches that marriage is the only appropriate context for sexual relationships, and that marriage is the covenant union between one man and one woman. This vision of marriage is normative and is based on God's beautiful design (Genesis 2:18-25, Matthew 19:4-6). The Bible forbids all attitudes, activities, and affirmations that deviate from this standard (Matthew 5:28, Ephesians 5:4). This includes all manner of sex outside of monogamous biblical marriage (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 1 Timothy 1:8-11) as well as any kind of abuse or exploitation. This applies to both those who are married, who are called to faithfulness within the marriage relationship, and to men and women who are not married, who are called to practice faithful singleness in view of these biblical principles. This standard is rooted in Scripture and more than two millennia of Christian history and practice, and it represents a foundational component of human flourishing. 

Our Goal is Growth and Restoration

Western Seminary values helping students progress toward their intended ministry and vocational goals. The Seminary may 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 specific practices may be referred to the Dean of Students, in general, believers should avoid what Scripture prohibits (Mark 7:20-23; Galatians 5:19-21). Behavior should also seek to honor and respect all people, striving especially to build up one another within the body of Christ and the Western Seminary community (Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 8).

When the institution has concerns about a student's development or well-being, a referral may be made to the Head of Student Success 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, restoration, and/or reconciliation. 

In most cases, institutional action is reserved for situations where students are unwilling to engage positively in a process of correction, growth, and healing. Should circumstances warrant, the student may be given a warning and/or may be placed on disciplinary probation, suspension, or dismissal. Action that 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 will receive a written statement of the concerns raised by the appropriate committee. The student will be given an opportunity to speak before the administrator or committee hearing the matter, and 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 Head of Student Success and, ultimately, the Dean of Faculty. An appeal of action at any level must be in writing and be submitted to the Head of Student Success within 30 calendar days of notification of the action. A personal interview will be offered to deal with any appeal concerning unresolved difficulties. Any expenses incurred by students (such as counseling, communication costs, etc.) related to restoration, discipline, or appeal will be solely the financial responsibility of the student. Procedures relating to students enrolled in distance programs 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.