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Strain of Confidentiality

Pastor Kathy, can I come over? I have something to tell you," Monica asked. I was glad she was coming soon; such phone calls create a sick feeling in my stomach. Was it serious? Anything I had done?

The phone rang again. My husband Roger inquired about my day.

"Monica's coming over to talk to me."

"What about?" he wondered.

"I don't know."

Soon the doorbell rang, and I let Monica in. We sat on the couch, facing each other, while she played with the buttons on her shirt. Her eyes focused mostly on the floor.

"I don't know how to say this. Do pastors have to keep things confidential like priests do?" I reassured her that I would keep her concern confidential.*

"I've been having an emotional affair. It didn't get physical. Well, mostly not. I'm just not sure if God will forgive me." She raised the ideas of venial and mortal sins she had learned in her Roman Catholic upbringing.

I told her of God's promise in 1 John 1:9 to forgive whatever she confessed. Mildly reassured, she continued.

"Do I tell ...

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