If you have been sexually or romantically involved with a professional who was originally helping you, then you are now dealing with a complex set of issues and emotions. Mental health and medical professionals, clergy and ministerial persons, counselors, social workers, attorneys, educators, emergency/crisis crisis, law enforcement professionals and others who enter into a helping relationship with you have made a covenant with you and society, to act in your best interest and not exploit or abuse you. In a professional-client relationship, there is an inherent imbalance of power. Depending on the relationship you have (or had) with the professional, this imbalance of power, in combination with the naturally occurring feelings of trust, intimacy, and emotional dependence, can place you in a very vulnerable position in relation to the professional. Professionals, which includes those in ministerial positions, are required ethically, morally, and in many states legally to maintain boundaries with you and to not exploit or take advantage of your vulnerability, dependence, and trust. When they do have a sexual or romantic relationship with you as his (her) client or former client, the professional bears full responsibility for any harm that results. There is no such thing as "mutually consenting adults" in such a situation, since the exploitation of your emotional dependence is not ethically considered to be true "consent" (this viewpoint on "consent" is upheld by laws in some states).

The faith-based community in dealing with these issues has often framed it as one of morality, and usually one of marital fidelity/adultery. However, times have changed and our understanding about the power of the helping professional's role (whether clergy, ministerial person, counselor, doctor, lawyer, or teacher, etc.) has also changed. The issue is not just simply one of sexual morality/adultery, but rather an issue of the professional's responsible exercise of power. We are now recognizing that the clergy/ministerial role carries a great deal of power in and of itself, and one of the strongest ingredients of that power is the unique role of being seen as "man" or "woman" of God. When one person is providing services, care or instruction to the other, there can NEVER be authentic consent in a relationship involving unequal power.

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