02.05: Romantic or exclusive relationships

A participant is not to become exclusive in any relationship or pursue any new romantic relationship during the program – including pre-service training, in-service location, and post­-field debriefing.

  1. Short­-term service is not the time or place to find/be with a boyfriend or girlfriend. A romantic and/or exclusive relationship is not acceptable with any national, other service workers, expatriate workers, or other team members during the outreach assignment. This includes friendships of any kind which exclude other people in an ongoing way. A participant needs to be careful not to do anything that could be received as romantic interest towards a national in the outreach location. 

  2. In-­depth or intense one­-on-­one counseling/training is to take place only between members of the same gender. This includes repeated times together involving sharing deep emotions, praying together and/or spiritual counseling. Participants need to confer with the outreach coordinator in regard to check-ins.

  3. EMM does not accept sexual immorality of any kind (i.e., harassment, unwanted advances, inappropriate physical/sexual contact, homosexual conduct, pornography, etc). 

  4. A breach of any part of the above policy may be grounds for immediate termination. In all situations, termination is determined in the context of care and accountability. It is desired that anyone struggling with sexual issues have open and honest accountability with the outreach coordinator.  

Social customs and norms  
All people are influenced by their culture and its norms, which vary greatly from place to place. What may seem like a natural and legitimate relationship in one's home culture may be viewed quite differently in other cultures. Contacts between genders, among fellow workers, and between workers and local people need to be discreet to avoid embarrassment, misunderstanding, or damage to the Christian witness. Caution should be taken to avoid social relationships that might be perceived differently than the worker intends.

Effective: 1985. Revised: 06/2016.