abuse

Opinion: How I Came to Believe my “Affair” was Abuse

By Katie Roberts

In a podcast last week, Katie Roberts described how her seminary professor, Dr. Art Azurdia, groomed and abused her over a several year period. Following the podcast, Katie wrote an article describing how she came to believe that her relationship with Dr. Azurdia was not an adulterous affair, but abuse. It is reprinted here with her permission.

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” When you’re smack dab in the middle of something, it can be impossible to see the big picture. That was me for a long time. After God rescued me from the situation with my seminary professor, I worked hard to try to figure out what had happened.

As I processed endlessly, I was able to distinguish the trees. I could explain the facts of what had happened. I could describe how I felt about it. I could see that it had affected my life and the lives of everyone I knew and loved. But I needed to make sense of the situation and in order to do so, I had to understand the big picture – the forest. And I couldn’t. I also found that the people genuinely trying to help me couldn’t either.

My best guess was that the forest was adultery, and I tried to make sense of it using that paradigm. I looked at passages in Scripture about sexual sin and lust. I compared myself to David and studied Psalm 51. But no matter how hard I tried, it never made sense. Some of the puzzle pieces fit, but most didn’t have a place anywhere in the whole.

This forest didn’t address the horrific things that had been done to me. It didn’t take into account that he’d been my seminary professor and that he’d deceived and manipulated me. There was no place for the fact that I’d said no. It couldn’t explain the trauma I was experiencing, like panic, flashbacks, problems concentrating, and headaches. And it didn’t do anything to hold him accountable for the things he’d done to me, nor did it protect others from experiencing the same treatment. I was lost in that forest for a long time. I thought something was wrong with me because I was still so confused.

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But I now realize that my confusion wasn’t an indication that something was wrong with me. Instead, I’d guessed wrong. I’d mislabeled the forest and I didn’t have the right framework. It was only when I figured out which forest I was in that everything finally fit together.

How did I see it? I benefitted from hearing stories similar to mine and I paid attention to what was going on online. It helped to read about power differentials and consent. But what ultimately opened my eyes was what I saw in Scripture. There, I found a clear paradigm of relationships in which some people have power and others are vulnerable, as well as how God views it when those with power misuse it in his name. I am still learning and processing this and plan to write more in the blog over time, but here’s the starting point that helped me.

In Ezekiel 34, God gives a metaphor to help us understand this paradigm. He says that the spiritual leaders of Israel (the powerful) are responsible to care for the sheep (the vulnerable). The shepherds who were supposed to feed the sheep, to protect them and watch over them, had actually been feeding themselves. As a result, the sheep were scattered and became food for wild animals. Do you see the forest that I saw? Those with power – the spiritual shepherds, including my seminary professor – are responsible to care for the vulnerable – the sheep, including me as his student.

But that still didn’t fully describe the horrors of my situation. Because my seminary professor had not merely fed himself instead of me – he had fed himself on me. Like Denethor cramming food in his mouth, smacking his lips, and dribbling the juice down his chin, he had consumed me. As I read on, I saw that God addresses that, too. He says “I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.”

The prophet Micah elaborates on the same thing in graphic detail: “Listen, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of Israel. Should you not embrace justice, you who hate good and love evil; who tear the skin from my people and the flesh from their bones; who eat my people’s flesh, strip off their skin and break their bones in pieces; who chop them up like meat for the pan, like flesh for the pot?” (Micah 3:1-3)

It’s an appalling sight, and it’s exactly what happens when those with spiritual authority take advantage of, deceive, manipulate, and use up those God has given to them to care for and protect. Did you ever consider why God sent Nathan to confront David about Bathsheba and Uriah with a parable of him stealing and eating another man’s beloved sheep? Seeing it in the light of the metaphor given in Ezekiel 34 was incredibly eye-opening to me.

In case you’re wondering, God is extremely angry about his sheep being treated this way. He does not condone what was done to you, even if it was done in his name and justified with Scripture. He reserves his harshest words for these evil shepherds.

This is what he says to them, “Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves . . . . I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves.” (34:2, 10). Woe. Judgment. Impending doom. Accountable. Against them. Removed. Gone. No longer in charge of God’s people.

But what about the sheep who have been so terribly damaged? God himself – the sovereign ruler of the universe, the creator of everything that exists – promises to come to our rescue. He hinted at it earlier in the passage, “I will rescue my flock.” (Ezek. 34:10). His flock because he’s our true shepherd.

And this is what he says he’ll do. “I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. . . . I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. . . . I will tend them in a good pasture. . . . I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak. . . . I will shepherd the flock with justice.” (Ezek. 34:11-16). Do you see how God takes his power – and he has it ALL – and uses it, not to feed himself, but to tenderly care for the sheep at his own expense? He sees you, he hates what was done to you, and he cares deeply about you.

He also fulfilled his promise. He came to your rescue in the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is promised right here in Ezekiel 34:29. God says, “I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them.” Yes, God is talking about that David (the one who consumed Bathsheba). But he’d ruled hundreds of years before Ezekiel was written and was already dead. Instead, this verse references the one to whom David pointed – the better, the perfect shepherd – Jesus. He is both God (who promised that he himself would come to shepherd his sheep) and man (the literal descendant of David).

Here’s what Jesus says about himself, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” (John 10:11) Such simple words, but they are bursting with hope. There is a good shepherd. There is a good shepherd who does not feed himself. There is a good shepherd who does not consume the sheep. Instead, he uses his power to feed the sheep. To serve the sheep. And, as we see clearly here, to sacrifice his own life for the sheep. The polar opposite of those evil shepherds who devour the sheep.

Jesus was true to his word. He metaphorically laid down his life for the sheep in everything he did, and then literally when he died on the cross to forgive our sin. But he didn’t stay dead. He is alive, he is reigning, and he is here with us. He promised that he would not leave us as orphans, but would come to us. He is still our good shepherd today.

As I ponder my story, I can now see both the forest and the trees. I still have work to do to process it all. But now that I have the right paradigm – spiritual abuse – it finally makes sense. And although I am aware of the evil done to me and the lasting damage the wicked shepherd caused, I see something else even more clearly.

The risen, reigning Lord, Jesus Christ himself, came to my rescue. He took me out of the mouth of that shepherd. And he is even now feeding me, healing me, and caring for me. He’s promised that he’s willing to do the same for you. He truly is the good shepherd.

For more on this topic, see this week’s podcast with Dr. Diane Langberg: Understanding Adult Clergy Abuse.

Katie Roberts, who is married to Richard and has three children, is a speaker, writer, and teacher. She has a Masters of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies from Western Seminary and teaches the Bible to women in her local church. She wants the Lord to use the insight and hope she gained through her experience of God’s rescue from adult clergy abuse to help others. You can find her at katieroberts.org

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36 thoughts on “Opinion: How I Came to Believe my “Affair” was Abuse”

  1. Cynthia Grant

    Katie,
    Your a Bible teacher of women. How would you teach the Truth that God allowed satan to tempt Eve? Is the Almighty the abuser here? Why can’t you just admit that “our hearts are desperately wicked and who can know them”. I sin and you sin. I’ve got a good nasty list of my own sins to which the Blood of Christ has covered. Just repent and move on. How can you teach women if you cannot even speak the truth about your own actions and own them?

  2. You biblical reasoning is fully appreciated for children who were/are abused in their innocence, but you, as a grown up, responsible adult had promised before God and witnesses to hold your husband only to yourself, forsaking all others. You could be so much more effective if you would not cave in to the victim-spirit of this age, and as a leader of women, help responsible adults to own up to their part, rather than, as Eve, point to something other than herself. Women can be stumbling blocks or stepping stones to help people as a beacon to righteousness. We are to be helpmates to our sole husband. We will all stand before the Lord where there will be no finger pointing at someone else, and THAT Relationship above all else will stand or fall. Please You biblical reasoning is fully appreciated for children who were/are abused in their innocence, but you, as a grown up, responsible adult had promised before God and witnesses to hold your husband only to yourself, forsaking all others. You could be so effective if you would not cave in to the victim spirit of this age, and as a leader of women, help responsible adults to own up to their part. Women can be stumbling blocks or stepping stones to help people as a beacon to righteousness. We are to be helpmates to our sole husband. We will all stand before the Lord where there will be no finger pointing at someone else. Please do not let yourself off the hook, but deal with your part before the Lord who told the woman caught in the very act of adulatry, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and SIN NO MORE.” do not let yourself off the hook, but deal with your part before the Lord who told the woman caught in the very act of adulatry, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and SIN NO MORE.”

    1. Barbara Bates

      WH, I don’t think most of the challenging comments here or on the previous blog post exonerate this man at all. I applaud Julie for her willingness to expose evil and warn churches and schools who might be in a position to hire a wolf like this. I believe God may be exposing bullying, fraud and immorality to a greater extent than I can ever recall. But God grant that I remember to speak the truth in love.

    2. Susan, you say all of this having no idea what Katie has laid before God. I, too, am an adult victim of sexual abuse by my pastor boss. Upon discovery, before I learned it was abuse, I took full responsibility. I personally apologized to my husband, my family, my other pastors and elders, my co-workers on staff, my church body and my abuser’s wife. I let those elders get up on stage, name me and my abuse. I repented to God. I was so filled with shame, it took time to fully embrace His forgiveness and see myself as clean in His eyes. I owned everything. Then my husband learned how narcissist predators abuse adults. So I began to research, too. I didn’t want to agree until I had seen for myself. Because, see, I wasn’t afraid of the truth, even if it had been that I willfully sinned and had an affair. I knew God had taken my shame. But I learned I was groomed by and trauma bonded to a very skilled narcissist. If you care to understand this, you can do the research. By the way, what these men do as pastors is illegal in 14 states because pastors are responsible for the integrity of the relationship because they have physical, emotional and spiritual power. Now that I understand what my pastor did, that must be part of the truth, too. If I was groomed and coerced into inappropriate activity that I would otherwise reject, that’s important. I will not share my testimony as though I willfully entered into an inappropriate relationship when I didn’t. That is victim blaming other victims of these predator pastors. And it’s just not the truth of what happened. What Katie does not need to do is cower to the idea that, because of criticism and judgement from uninformed Christians, she should take the easy way out and just skip the truth of her abuse and take responsibility that doesn’t belong on her. Katie has the right to bring all of the truth into the light.

  3. So good, Katie! This is such an encouraging and accurate message. I thought your interview on the podcast was also extremely insightful.

    For those resistant to the idea of clergy sexual abuse, please reconsider your position. Ask yourself if Dr. Azurdia’s treatment of Katie sounds to you like a relationship of mutual attraction, consent, and affection. It obviously wasn’t. So what was it?

    1. I think we do need to be careful here. Dr. Azurdia certainly abused his position in the worst way. He is certainly unqualified for ministry. Without question he was predatory in the typical fashion of a manipulative male. That he was a spiritual leader adds greatly to his transgression. There is no question Katie was being groomed to satisfy his desires.

      That said, I believe a grown, married woman is responsible for her own actions. Women, for generations, have detected such behavior for exactly what it is. The women I know talk about it among themselves. If I understand this incident correctly, Katie had at one point discussed this situation with her husband and he stepped in. That was the right thing to do, but I don’t understand why she did continue to involve him: “This man is still trying to manipulate me. Here are his texts. What do you think?” I believe that was her responsibility. It was the natural step. The greater sin is the Dr.s because of his position and his determined effort to seduce Katie, but it is worth exploring for one’s own good why involving her husband didn’t happen. There is a reason that was hard to do beyond the Dr.s manipulative tactics.

      Are some women unusually weak and prone to be taken in emotionally? I believe Scripture would say, “Yes” (2 Tim 3:6). Does that absolve them of all responsibility? I would say “No.” I do not think treating women as child-like is helpful. A woman is as capable as any man of determining right from wrong. Haven’t we moved beyond treating all women as inherently weaker?

      One lesson is clear: Ladies, show your husbands any suspect texts or e-mails, and discuss any uncomfortable conversations! They are there to protect you!

    2. Elaine Mercer

      Katie, thank you for sharing your story on the podcast and here. It was very brave, especially in the face of the comments on the podcast. I’m sorry some people don’t realize that this was not an equal relationship, but that Azurdia deliberately and purposely set out to do this. People like him don’t ask personal questions to get close to women, they ask them to select women with prior sexual abuse that they know they can manipulate. Once they learn someone’s past, they twist and turn things and gaslight until the woman totally doubts herself and everything around her. It doesn’t happen quickly, but predators are ao skilled at it.

      Some people also don’t understand how being abused as a child can damage you in ways that aren’t easily seen. They don’t understand how the sudden, over the top rage can paralyze you, even though you don’t want to react like that.

      It’s so easy to pass judgement on someone when you’ve never experienced their traumatic experiences.

  4. Bob Newhart has an old comedy sketch where he plays an overly simplistic therapist. I think he perfectly illustrates the church’s typical response to complex, deep-rooted behavior issues.

  5. Shawnele Surplus

    Satan deceptively enticed Eve for his own evil gain.
    Eve ate and gave of the forbidden fruit to her husband with her.
    Adam also ate.
    In spite of Satan’s deception, we see that God held all 3 of them responsible for their sinful rebellion against Him.

    Satan’s deception did not absolve Eve or Adam of their responsibility.

    Satan is wiley and he does prowl about looking for someone to destroy. When we fall for his tricks, we get up, repent, and move forward. When we deflect from our own sins even when accurately noting someone else’s sin (as Adam and Eve did), we’re just continuing in his trap.

  6. I am appalled at others comments to you. I believe it should be a crime for any one in a pastoral position to use their spiritual clout to become abusive and predatory toward anyone sexually, at any time, under any circumstance. PERIOD.

  7. Carolyn McLaren

    Thank you for writing this piece and sharing it. The Lord has used your story to make more sense of my own. I also thank Julie Roys and Diane Langberg for their voices.

  8. Chuck and Janet Chillingworth

    Excuse us Ms. Roberts, but you are and have been in an adult pastoral position as well. You are equally responsible. Period. This shirking of responsibility through a revised storytelling of victimhood is beyond insulting to actual victims of abuse. Abusers are everywhere and in all walks of life. Nowhere in Scripture do you find a lessening of responsibility due to the source or nature of the temptation. We’ve known many real victims and you’re not one of them. You were a knowing and willful participant, taking initiative to continue the relationship. Bringing in reinforcements to continue to defend the indefensible is delegitimizing to you and The Julie Roys Report. Have we forgotten what our parents taught us and what we taught our kids?? Accept personal responsibility! It’s the first step into adulthood. Grow up. You failed. Accept it. We’ve all failed and had to accept personal responsibility and move on. And by the way, Bob Newhart is on point…STOP IT!

    1. Chillingworths, (first, is that last name for real? Isn’t Chillingworth the villain in The Scarlet Letter?), think of how God dealt with David and Bathsheba – Nathan is sent to David alone. Also, Jesus says, “Whoever causes one of these little ones to sin…”. There are people who pursue and manipulate others in order to deceive them and draw them into sin – sin the victims would never have even imagined they’d participate in except for the influence of another person.

      And in the case you two are purposefully presenting a hyperbolic version of Christian hypocrisy (like your namesake), well-played! If that is truly your last name and you are being sincere…wow, the irony.

    2. Debra Szemplinski

      Mr. and Mrs. Chillingsworth, I thank you for being the adults in the room. I thank you for your wisdom. I am thankful people with your credential have found this forum to help differentiate victimhood and responsibility dodging.

      I’m wearing Carnac the Magnificent’s turban right now (the old Johnny Carson bit). Holding an envelope to my crowned head. “In the future thinking like an adult and/or offering mature advise that leads one to feel bad about oneself will be considered, ‘abuse’.”

      Hope that doesn’t come true, but we are dangerously close to that reality based on the immaturity and brainwashing sadly on display in the comment section. God help us.

      Yes an adult woman, in possession of her faculties, who has entered into the covenant/contract of marriage is responsible for any activity entered into of her own free-will that so violates said vow/oath. Remember only you can be you. Yes, we as adults are responsible for our actions.

      Can anyone imagine a man making the claim they were abused, victimized into adultery? “Really hun, I am the victim here!” Comical! That would make a terrific Bob Newhart skit!

  9. Yes, it is wrong for anyone in authority to abuse their position and manipulate people for sexual immorality! However, it is also wrong for a full-grown married adult to choose to participate in the sin. You don’t have to negate the second one to believe the first one. Both can be true at the same time.

    In this case, the seminary professor’s (Dr. Azurdia) sin seems far worse (if you were to rank them) but you cannot reason from there that the woman (Mrs. Roberts) is innocent of wrong doing.

    If any kind of “luring” and “power differential” frees one party from responsibility, then there are going to be a LOT of people who are no longer considered responsible for their behavior. Oh he was your boss? Don’t worry, that wasn’t your fault; you didn’t actually break your marriage vows. Oh, he was the director of the play at the local community theater and you were one of the actresses? Also not your fault. Oh, she was a senior and you were a junior? Not your fault, then. Oh, he was a man and you were a woman? Not your fault.

    The Bible is clear on this. In Proverbs 5 & 7, even though the woman is “luring” the man (see 5:3 & 7:13-21) the man is still responsible his behavior (see 5:11-13 & 7:25).

    In the case of Joseph with Potiphar’s wife, the moral of the story is NOT that Joseph would have been innocent of all wrongdoing if he had only slept with her just because she outranked him.

    When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (in Daniel 3) defied Nebuchadnezzer’s orders, they were doing the right thing, even though there was a huge “power differential” between them. The same goes for Shiphrah and Puah (in Exodus 1:15-21) when they did not cave in to Pharaoh’s orders. Huge power differential. Huge abuse of authority. And yet, God rewarded Shiphrah and Puah because they feared God more than Pharaoh.

    Abuse of authority is evil. But so is creating a new culture where weaker persons (in certain respects) are told that they don’t have to obey the Lord anymore.

    1. Dear Joy,

      Thank you for sharing a HOLISTIC perspective on this sensitive and important issue in the church.

      I share this as a former pastor and a Marriage and Family Therapist who works with sexual abuse victims 12 months of the year… There is not a week goes by that I am not working with sexual abuse victims who were 3-4-5-7-10 years old when they were sexually violated by evil pedophile predators, and sadly, all too often, mothers looked the other way, choosing denial or blaming their daughter, or giving the lame excuse that they needed the dad, they needed mom’s boyfriend or step-father, or grandfather etc. to support them and keep a roof over their heads.

      So they are choosing denial in a way that sacrifices their children on the altar of their own preservation, resulting in life-long pain, suffering, PTSD, broken relationships, health problems, nightmares etc. etc (and even when the mother was abused as a child, this does not excuse her choice to bury her pain at the expense of her own children…this is especially true when many of these abuse victims I work with make their children’s safety their top priority, which is a rebuke to their own mother’s and father’s failures to protect them)….

      I share this to say that I never minimize a victim’s pain and heartache and lack of choices.

      Pastors who abuse their position of authority and power are clearly in the wrong and there is no excuse for being predators.

      And because we are created in the image of God, with the power of choice, choosing to listen to the “still small voice” of the Holy Spirit would have:

      [1] Let Katie to Include her husband in all communication at all times with this abuser

      [2] Led Katie to report him and get another job

      [3] Let Katie to void even the appearance of evil with this abuser

      [4] Let Katie to proactively protect herself and her husband by seeking his help and the help of the others

      Maybe her own upbringing stole her voice and told her she could not speak up, and her predator/wolf sensed this, or drew out her story (like Ravi Zachariah drew out his victim’s stories to use against them)…

      It is easy to speak up, when someone is in a position of power over you/to be a whistle blower on a boss?
      NO it is NOT.

      And this is why most people give in to those in positions of power over them, which ironically, reinforces the evil in the evil-doer, and also ironically, because it reinforces evil, is a sin against the evil doer, because it is the opposite of Ephesians 5:10-11, that tells us to expose the evil doer and having nothing to do with the evil doer.

      Again, is this easy to do? NO, which is why so few Christians will turn to God with their fear of losing their job, being maligned, losing their reputation etc… knowing intuitively that the evil-doer/manipulator will do everything in his power to hurt the other person under his authority for not complying (just like Potiphar’s wife lied about Joseph when he acted with integrity, instead of acting like he had to do what she said)…

      Yet we have examples you shared… likeJoseph saying no to Potiphar’s wife, who was in a position of power over him.

      We have Daniel saying “no” to those in power over him, knowing he would be thrown into a den of hungry lions.

      We have Daniel’s three friends saying “no” to those in power over them, in Daniel 3, knowing that they would be thrown into a fiery furnace that was large enough for them to walk around in.

      And while one commenter mentioned David and Bathsheba in the context of Nathan only speaking to David, who was clearly in a position of power over Bathsheba…

      When individuals in Israel chose to follow corrupt wolves, whether they were kings, priests or false prophets, they experienced the consequences of their choices.

      Regarding the story of David and Bathsheba:

      [A] Scripture is clear that David was the aggressor at every step (he should have been at war, while Bathsheba was bathing where women bathe), as David sent men to find out who she was, discovering that she was married to one of his top warriors

      [B] David then sent soldiers to her home and they “took her” (2 Samuel 11:3-4)…

      [C] David finds out she is pregnant and has Uriah come back from the war

      [D] Uriah chooses to NOT give into David, who is king and has power over him/Uriah chooses to NOT sleep with is wife while his fellow soldiers are at war

      [E] David chooses to have Uriah killed, as David’s reward for Uriah’s integrity and David’s lack of integrity

      And this is why Nathan speaks only to David…because David was the aggressor in every part of the story.

      So using David and Bathsheba is the wrong example in scripture, because:

      [1] There is a false assumption that this was an affair and/or that Bathsheba baited David, even as scripture does NOT show this or even hint at it and actually reveals that David is the aggressor in each step in this terrible story

      [2] 2 Samuel 11-12 reveals how Nathan confronted David with a story about an INNOCENT ewe lamb who is TAKEN from his owner (2 Samuel 12:4)…which reinforces the fact that David sent his soldiers to Bathsheba’s home and they “took her” (being taken does not allow her to choose to say no, so again, this is the wrong example to use when we talk about an employer/boss/religious wolf in power over someone…)

      Unless her boss kept her after work hours and forcibly raped her…then it is not her fault at all.

      And if this is what happened, as opposed to grooming her and melting her power of choice, then it was not Katie’s fault.

      But if that happened, then Katie would need to go to the hospital to receive help and report him for rape, even as her story seems to emphasize a predator who groomed her own time.

      Katie is NOT and NEVER was responsible for her abuser’s choices to groom her and violate her boundaries again and again, at so many levels.

      Maybe she was afraid and intimidated. Maybe she was concerned that she would lose her job. Maybe she was confused about her options etc. etc.

      Katie IS still responsible for her choices to NOT include her husband in ALL communication from and with her abuser.

      Katie is responsible for her choices to NOT seek help, to NOT quit her job, to NOT report her boss.

      Katie is response for NOT seeking more help, whether it was from fear, shame, confusion etc…

      And again, we can and should emphasize that this does NOT and will NEVER make Katie responsible for her abuser’s choice to use his position of power over her to meet his own selfish, evil, sinful desires.

      So again, I appreciate you sharing a holistic picture.

      And my prayer is that Katie will receive the FULLNESS of God’s healing grace, peace and truth, by looking at what she wishes she would have done differently, with:

      1. The “Still small voice of the Holy Spirit” whispering an invitation to God’s strength, peace, truth and safety

      2. Her fears, concerns, worries, confusion etc.

      3. Her choices to not fully include her husband and/or seek more help early on when she was feeling uncomfortable and not feeling safe

      4. Her choices with the “wolf” in her life, who was a boss abusing his position of power over her

      As she is willing to name the harm done to her by his vile, inexcusable grooming of her so he could use her and violate her – so that she is NOT taking responsibility for his evil, willful, predatory choices…

      AND she is willing to name her pattern of choices, her fears, worries, concerns, confusion etc. – she can receive the fullness of God’s freedom, grace, strength, healing, peace and truth.

      Then she will be empowered by the Holy Spirit to make better choices in the future and help other women via her own story of her lessons she has learned.

      She was victimized. And my concern is that failing to look at her pattern of choices means that she is 100% the victim, thus she has no responsibility in her choices that she made, and thus she did nothing wrong, which means there is no need for her to grow in this area of life, because that is the result of the victim mindset.

      With appreciation God’s heart being revealed to Katie’s heart so she can receive the FULLNESS of forgiveness for everything she did and did not know about her pattern of choices that hurt her, her husband and many others.

    2. What an excellent post, Joy! I think it is you that needs to be the “speaker, writer, teacher” on this topic, it’s a shame to see how victimhood and deflecting blame has infected Christianity, but we were warned “men shall be lovers of their own selves…” Two Timothy 3:2

  10. What you have gone through is horrible and never should have happened. What you are saying about “wolves” is 110% true. What you are saying about his responsibility is 110% true. What you are saying about being groomed and eaten is true, because of the incredible damage this kind of abuse does to your heart and mind, and to your family. And my key questions include: [1] In the middle of being groomed by a predator, was the Holy Spirit whispering convictions and warnings to your heart? [2] If the Holy Spirit was whispering convictions and warnings to your heart, what responsibility do you have for your choice… [a] to not listen to these convictions and warnings [b] to give into a need to seek his approval or whatever need he was preying upon? [3] What is the difference between his responsibility for his evil choices and your choice to give in to the way he was grooming you so he could use you for his own selfish, twisted, evil desires? [4] And if those core lies from Satan ‘the father of lies’ that were used to manipulate you are not brought into the light of God’s grace and truth, what will happen the next time Satan sends the next “wolf” into your life…a wolf who is even better at grooming? [5] What responsibility do each of us have for our own choices if Satan himself appears to you or to me or to any of us, as an angel of light and we are deceived? You are NOT-NOT-NOT responsible for his choice to groom you and use you…that is all on him. And the one missing piece that I am left wondering about is your responsibility for the way the Holy Spirit speaks in a “still small voice” to us, warning us, cautioning us and seeking to lead us away from harm, giving us discernment to know when someone is being a ‘wolf’ in our life. With prayers for discernment that brings the fullness of God’s healing and peace that He has for you…

  11. Janet Chillingworth

    Joy – so well articulated and so on point. Janet Chillingworth here: my husband Chuck and I have been very happily married for 38 years. And we have 2 very happily married children. We met at church after college, dated for 4 1/2 years and got married and waited till our honeymoon to “consummate” our marriage. We both were on missions during that time and Chuck went to Dallas Theological Seminary as well. I am a Speech and Language Pathologist in the public schools in Southern California and Chuck has been in the banking side of the insurance business for 30 years. We have been members over the years of several churches from conservative Bible churches to openly charismatic churches and thoroughly enjoyed all of them. We have led a young couples class for a number of years and have a very big interest in missions. We are not naive about anything anymore. This is a direct result of us making a “Super Decision” when we got married that covered all the “Little Decisions” along the way. Just say no. We both have had instances of being approached for an inappropriate relationship and I NEVER considered myself in any way a helpless victim of the initiator. And I am completely appalled at Ms. Roberts’ victimization narrative which you so eloquently exposed. God bless you.
    P.S. I am proud to be the much-loved wife of a Chillingworth

    1. Janet, I very sincerely wondered if you were trolling the blog with the name Chillingworth. Now that I know that is your real name, I am still surprised at the irony of it, but I did not intend to launch an ad hominem attack based on a last name. I hope you change your mind about these issues, but God bless all the same. And, if you haven’t, you should read “The Scarlet Letter”. It’s really good.

      1. Barbara Bates

        Paul Konkol, I appreciate your willingness to show grace to Janet as well as to Katie. For the most part, this has not been a Scarlet Letter exercise in hypocrisy and judgmentalism as you seem to suggest. I’m encouraged that Julie has some readers who are able to rightly divide the word of truth. I hope Katie has a circle of mature Christian friends who are willing to speak the truth in love while continuing to support and encourage her. After hearing her own words about the role she played in this sad affair, I’m convinced that her original confession before the congregation, which took much courage and humility, was the right thing to do.

    2. Elaine Mercer

      Janet, I’m glad you have had a happy life, both growing up and as an adult. It has obviously made you strong. I wish everyone could experience the same thing, but sadly they don’t. When you are abused as a child, which Katie was, it really changes you and how you deal with things. It leaves you much more vulnerable to abuse in the future. There’s not enough room in the comment section to explain fully. One legacy for me is that it has taught me compassion.

  12. I’m sorry that this happened. But this is minimizing one’s sin. The Holy Spirit didn’t say… “Don’t do this?” You are responsible for your own sin. This article is an affront to one’s sin. It’s the world’s way of minimizing one’s personal responsibility. The gospel can heal this sin on both parts. The victimhood in the church has swung too far on the pendulum of sin and victimized people. It is sad how the church’s view is reflected from society.

    1. Barbara Bates

      KC Dell, I agree with you on the role of the Holy Spirit in convicting and of the healing power of the Gospel. But to say that the church has swung too far in favor of sin and victimization is premature. We need Julie and others like her to bring abuse out into the open and to challenge the church to do what is clearly their responsibility. However, Katie’s story distracts from victims of real abuse… so far. I say so far because her story is not over yet. I have hopes that she will see her sin and failure in light of the Gospel and will soon find true healing and freedom. I stand with Katie as a sinner who is poor in spirit and in much need of grace and mercy.

        1. Barbara Bates

          I stated it poorly. I was thinking in terms of victims who have no power of refusal. That wasn’t true in this case. Thanks for your comment.

      1. Stand with her, but she sinned as well. Victimhood has replaced right and wrong. How about this… “Lust of the eyes” “Lust of the Flesh” and “The pride of life”. She knew he was married and committed an adulterous relationship.

      2. All who are actually believers are poor in spirit or they are not a believer. But when they come to Jesus they realize their sin. I’m asking. Did she not know he was married? Did he force her to lay their and sleep with him? It sounds like Eve in the garden. Blame shifting.

  13. Not meaning to be unkind, but even after taking the link, it sounds like it might have just been a regrettable affair. Many women are attracted to older men they see as wise and mature. Pillow talk about reasons for continuing an affair are common. Affairs are marked by all kinds of rationalizations and psychological needs very difficult to parse. I seriously doubt he was the only one rationalizing the affair.

    At the graduate level, professors and students often do date and even marry. Executives date and marry junior work associates. Doctors and nurses date and marry. The work place and graduate schools are brimming with dating. Counselors can ethically date and marry former patients. Military officers date and marry enlisted personnel they don’t supervise. Legislators date, have affairs with staff, divorce their wives, and re-marry. Pastors date and marry their Worship leaders. Princes and Princesses date and marry commoners. For married Christians, these situations are not only sinful, but particularly painful, disruptive, hurtful, disorganizing, and unwise, but between fully consenting adults not crimes or criminal abuse.

    Pretty much the current ethical practice is that a profs can date a former student and that a prof can date a student but can’t have them in class. If dating and marriage were only non-abusive where experience, status, wealth, credentials, etc. were exactly equal, there wouldn’t be much dating, affairs, living together, divorces, or marriage going on.

  14. Why must it be one or the other? This was an abusive, adulterous affair. Both participants were in the wrong although the one in authority may bare the greater burden (James 3:1).

    1. You should have checked your dictionary or thesaurus. You should have said, “the one in authority may bear the greater burden.”

  15. As long as Christians take it upon themselves to assign guilt/blame balances to issues such as this one, mercilessly rake people over the coals these things will keep happening, and the church in our country will increasingly be viewed as a dangerous, self-protective institution, and avoided. Note: there has been very little discussion from commenters of Dr. Azurdia’s grooming, manipulation, lying, self-protection, rejection of church discipline, neglect of his marriage, evasion of his church’s accountability structure, etc., but MUCH conjecture, discussion, and pontificating of that of Mrs. Roberts’. Perhaps we are unhealthy not because of our views of sin, but because of the way we often treat those who sin. The comments on this (and related) threads further convince me of two things:
    1. We really haven’t done our homework.
    Until there is an acknowledgment of the horrible fact of psychological grooming, seduction, and thought reform that abusive leaders inflict on their followers, it will continue. There is a wealth, a treasure-trove of peer-reviewed, academically vetted, time-tested research regarding the exact violation of power differentials displayed in this incident. You know who isn’t surprised at stories like this one? People who have studied the issue utilizing all the information available to them, sacred and secular. However, for us, it will just be a matter of time until the next “big fall” of a church hero, usually a preacher. Many will be shocked, disbelieving, and then will trudge out the old King David/Bathsheba narrative, and hammer all the suspects and parties into it. And then, the same discussions, insensitivities, finger-pointing and stone-throwing will begin again. “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall…”
    2. We have some biblical blind spots, and need the testimony of victims to understand those blind spots.
    For all of the noise we Christians make about our confidence in and love of the inspired word of God, it is the areas of the word that we diminish, ignore, or assume we easily understand that become the areas of our greatest vulnerability. Why would we disregard or brush off statements by Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, Jude, and other writers of the bible, when they warn and worry of the damage done by ministry predators, and even prophesy that such predators will continue throughout the history of the church? And is it really possible that having such warnings, any person would actually presume to be “bulletproof” and invulnerable to their deception and attacks? If responding to ministry predators/false-teachers, etc., were as easy as some in this thread have made it sound, why in the world would the writers of scripture have made such a big deal about it? But the victims who stay in a process of recovery and learning, and then stand up to become truth-tellers and advocates–we need them, desperately.

  16. Patty Montgomery

    Katie, I appreciate your honesty, vulnerability and courage. You don’t deserve the vitriol and judgemental juggernaut by the Body. We’re supposed to be your family, your protector, not your predator. I grieve over the harsh and unloving treatment you’re receiving.

    But many of us do understand the evil of power abuse, especially done in the name of Jesus. You are a brave and courageous woman and I’m proud to be your sister.

    1. Patty: Often people in adulterous affairs become almost delusional in rationalizing and justifying what they are doing. I’ve spoken with folks having affairs and during the affair it is almost impossible to reason with them. They frequently are utterly disconnected from reality and blind to the possible consequences as their emotional and psychological needs take over as the driving force in their lives. I think real healing and moving forward involves acknowledging one’s own bad judgment in adult consensual affairs. Her prof is not her pastor. She is married and an adult woman in graduate school, not a helpless, inexperienced girl.

      It’s not unloving to ask one to look at his or her own motivation and behavior. How do we distinguish between feelings of anger and betrayal when someone we thought we loved turns out to be a loser and full board taking advantage of a person not capable of informed consent or so psychologically damaged as to be easily manipulated? Is the former really abuse? At what point are we infantilizing women?

      I attended a church where a 30 year old youth minister and a 16 year old student fell in love. They hadn’t yet done anything untoward, but confessed their budding love to the pastor. The youth minister was fired and took tremendous heat from the congregation for being a “child molester.” She received endless support as the poor victim. They kept dating and two years later they got married. A few years later, he re-entered the ministry. They have three kids, have been happily married now close to twenty years, and he’s the successful pastor of a church. Abusive? At first sight when considering the age differential and his position, it might seem so. However, this particular case, as reported, gave me pause. These should be considered on a case by case basis. There was a time when most women got married in their teens, when they didn’t pass out of childhood at 30.

      The woman here is thoroughly convinced she was a helpless, manipulated victim, so what I say matters little. Who knows, she may be right. But I still think the question should be asked, and that we shouldn’t be hasty to stereotype every relationship between older and younger, higher status and lower status, more and less educated, more and less powerful, etc. as always victimization when it doesn’t work out. This is the danger I am speaking to.

  17. Katie, I want you to know that they will run out of stones eventually. I would turn my back to them and cover you if I could. There are some who have knowledge of your plight and know understandable empathy for you. We call on angels for your protection. Forgive them Father, for they know no what they do. Amen.

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