Forgiving the Unforgiveable

The betrayed members of a small group work to forgive the man who lied to them.

"Just forgive him," replied Pastor Bill. "That's what God wants us to do."

David and Michael were fuming. "How can we?" they questioned. "William betrayed us. He lied to us."

Just two days earlier, William, a youth pastor, confessed his six-month affair with a girl from the youth group. As details unfolded, William's friends were astounded by William's nervy scheming: a clandestine rendezvous in the church basement when he was supposed to be cleaning up after a lock-in; closed-door counseling with a "distraught" teenage girl; and jaunts through the woods on senior high retreats.

For approximately a year, Pastor Bill, David (assistant pastor), Michael (youth ministry volunteer), and William had been meeting weekly to discuss personal struggles, read Scripture, and pray for each other. During their times, William openly admitted his struggle with lusting and pornography.

William's battle began in junior high with a brief gaze at Playboy, escalated throughout his hormone-jolted high school years, and spiked during his Pi Kappa Alpha days. Pastor Bill, David, and William prayed for him, and even admitted that they, too, gazed at a woman crossing the street perhaps a second too long.

William seemed to be encouraged by their support and, as time progressed, confided that pornography was no longer a problem.

But he had a larger problem—one he couldn't bear to share.

When the affair was made public, William was dismissed from the ministry and quickly became a pariah among his church community. Even his small group snubbed him. Pastor Bill knew Jesus already had forgiven William, but why couldn't he? The bold-faced lies hurt too much.

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