A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Attitudes that Promote Abuse in the Church: Major System Flush Needed

This past week my wife and I have been doing some maintenance on our hot tub. After having it shut down for a short time (and drained) we started it back up and noticed these tissue paper-like flakes coming out of the jets. We did some professional research (YouTube) and found out that this is a common hot tub issue that has to do with a build up of something called biofilm inside the inner plumbing of the tub. One fellow said that 99% of any bacteria present will grow on that biofilm. Yuk.


I found out on the internet that bacteria proliferation on biofilm in hot tubs, air conditioning systems, etc, can cause awful infections.


To deal with this business, we had to do a major all system flush, using a special chemical that attacks that biofilm. You pour it into the water, then turn on the jets and let the thing percolate for 12 hours. Then you drain everything out, suck any lingering water out with a Shop-Vac, rub down the entire surface of the tub with these special cleaning mitts, and then refill with clean water.

There is an allegory here. Most church plumbing hasn’t been flushed for a long time.

A kind of evil biofilm builds up in churches, in the thinking of individual Christians, in seminaries, in denominations….and a sinful bacteria breeds there. Actually several kinds of sinful bacteria. A major system flush is needed. There is serious crud in the water. The flushing agent in this case is the truth and light of God’s Word. Consider the following kinds of unhealthy, disease-breeding germs that inevitably start growing if we neglect the regular maintenance of the application of God’s truth:

  • Patriarchy: The notion that men, by virtue of being men, are superior to women (who are inferior, more faulty beings by virtue of being women).
  • Legalism: The teaching and practice that announces (overtly or covertly) that faith alone in Christ alone is not sufficient to be justified and loved by God. Works on our part must be added to Christ’s work. This is a particularly nasty spiritual bacteria that doesn’t get flushed out easily. We need regular doses of a loud and clear announcement that Christ is our righteousness! Perhaps banners by the front door of the church, behind the pulpit, on the…..well, all over the place.
  • Naivete: The (willful) ignorance that brings bliss and carefree happiness, while victims of abuse suffer all around it. This germ assumes that things are as they appear. If Mr. Jones is a stalwart in the church, a fine saint by all appearances, then without doubt he is what he looks like. Naivete is flat out unbelief in what God has told us about the nature of evil and our responsibility to discern it (1 John 4:1).
  • The Love of Money: Love of comfort, love of material gain. Here is the person who sees a brother or sister in need, wishes them well, but doesn’t help them. That would be too costly. When local churches become lovers of money (new buildings, large staffs and whazzoo programs) the poor and oppressed inevitably suffer. Their problems are a threat to the bank accounts. To stand with them is too costly.
  • Diotrephes in the Pew: Here of course is a very wicked germ that is highly resistant to the flush. Diotrephes (see 3 John) was an abuser of God’s people. Why? Classic entitlement. He loved to be first. These guys aren’t cream, but in most organizations, left unchecked, they will rise to the top where the power and prestige are to be had. The light and truth of God’s Word needs to be so thoroughly and repeatedly blasted through the church plumbing that Diotrephes is exposed for what he is and flushed right on out of the system.

I remember quite some years ago seeing a book title, “Hot Tub Religion.” It might have been written by Chuck Swindoll, but I’m not sure. Whoever wrote it though must have seen that so many Christians, church leaders, and local churches are practicing “Hot Tub” religion. “Ahhhh,” they say as they come on Sunday. “This water is fine and comfy.” But underneath it all, down in the depths of the plumbing of the place, that spiritual biofilm evil has been growing and growing and it is infested with the kinds of spiritual germs we have just listed here – and more.

Our churches need a major and regular system flush. We need it. Without the constant renewing of our minds by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, we won’t even see the gunk floating around in the water. But God does. He sees it all.

When we ran the system flush on our hot tub, right away this dark, green-looking kind of gradoo started floating to the surface and formed a gross ring at the waterline which we later cleaned off. And we had been sitting in that stuff!  From now on we are going to blow the pipes regularly. (I didn’t take a picture of the stuff from our hot tub; the pics in this post Barb found for me on the web.)

Biofilm before after

[October 2, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to October 2, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to October 2, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to October 2, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (October 2, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


  1. Brenda R

    This is a wonderful analogy, Ps Jeff. Thank you for not putting the picture of the dark green yuck. The visual in my mind was enough to know how badly so-called churches are not knowledgeable of their membership and the possible evil being overlooked inside the walls.

  2. Kim

    JI Packer wrote “Hot Tub Religion” — great book from what I remember.

  3. Anonymous Pastor's Wife

    Great posting, Jeff! About 12 years ago when we were going through a difficult time in our ministry, a much older Baptist Pastor told my husband and me that “every church needs a good toilet flush and not to be discouraged by the difficulties and stress that some members cause. God will take care of it with a good toilet flush.” It wasn’t but a few weeks later that the person at the center of the problem, left the church. It certainly didn’t end all of the stress but as we thought back to the advice given to us, we just chuckled. God had flushed the toilet. (No disrespect to God intended.) And just as a congregation needs that toilet flush corporately, as you said, so do we as believers, also need to flush out our system of all that junk that hinders our relationship with God.

    I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your ministry and the help it is to so many. My prayer continues to be that the Evangelical church and the whole church in general will get the message of how destructive they have been in coddling abuse within the walls of our churches. I have seen some good progress in the 2+ years of following this blog. Jeff / Barbara, don’t get discouraged, keep up the fight! God will win in the end!

    [Paragraph break added to enhance readability. Editors.]

    • Thanks, dear sister, for touching my heart. I like your screen name. It makes me think that when you write, you could be writing for all anonymous pastor’s wives. (((hugs)))

  4. Katy

    This is a great analogy; you know how I love analogies! Ha.
    The thing is, with a regular “system flush” the church would lose paying members. We can’t have that, now can we?
    I would add to the list of germs:
    6) That God’s saints are just as bad as the worst serial killer or molester on earth, therefore let’s not condemn or remove anyone from the Body for their continued sin — we all “fall short” now don’t we?

    • The idea that —

      God’s saints are just as bad as the worst serial killer or molester on earth, therefore let’s not condemn or remove anyone from the Body for their continued sin — we all “fall short” now don’t we?

      As regular readers know, we call that SIN LEVELING. And we even have a tag for it: Sin Levelling.

  5. Lisa

    LOL, thanks for letting me know what is wrong with the Jacuzzi in my fixer-upper house. Thankfully I have not trusted that [it] is clean despite running cleaner through it. Yikes, those pictures.

    As for churches, the naivete one really gets to me. All those “nice” people who don’t want to upset their comfy nice lives to notice someone in real need. I have seen that in almost every church I have been to. We call them the “Christian Beautiful People.” They are the ones who tell you everyone has problems and then list theirs; theirs usually sounds more like a brag list delivered with a miserable sound in their voice of busy-ness and overwhelm, not battering or poverty or crazy-making, etc.. For some of these people, it is willful naivete and for others, their lives and families have been so stable that they really have no comprehension.

  6. fiftyandfree

    Wow. Terrific analogy. Thanks for sharing this.

  7. granonine

    I, too, love analogies. This is a great one.

    I’m working with two women right now who attend the same church. Neither knows that the other is seeing me. The problem: The husbands are highly thought of at church; busy, active, even in positions of authority. At home, they are sarcastic, cruel, sexually abusive and thoroughly unpleasant. Both wives have serious medical conditions which the husband refuses to “coddle,” because he thinks she’s just trying to get sympathy. The pastor has told both these women that they just “need to pray and obey, and all their problems will be over”.

    I believe the church is infected with patriarchy, legalism, naivete, and the spirit of Diotrephes. I say this not just because of these two women, but from an intimate knowledge of the leadership and history of the church.

    • Brenda R

      The pastor has told both these women that they just “need to pray and obey, and all their problems will be over”.

      When Jesus comes back all of our problems will be over. Until then, this and many other pastors need a new line. This one sounds like a broken record. You can pray until the cows come home (not that I am denying the power of prayer) and if the person you are praying for doesn’t want to change they aren’t going to. Obey? Obey who? God or the husband that is abusing them. I surely don’t think this pastor has given them any sound advice at all.

      • granonine

        No, indeed he has not. And the “obey” was meant to obey the husband who beats her. Go figure.

    • Katy

      Oh wow, that is so horrible! 😦 You can’t really tell them to get out of there can you? Can you point them here?
      It must be so difficult trying to counsel people in these situations, when you can’t really speak your mind.

      • granonine

        I’m always very careful about counseling a woman to leave her marriage. I do however, strongly urge them to separate, find a shelter, protect their children, and quit enabling the man in his evil behavior. What is so frustrating to me is what this post described: An attitude in the church that also enables the abuser.

  8. BeginHealing

    This really does not pertain to this post but I need a little advice….

    Are there mini-cycles in the midst of larger cycles? I am so confused right now…. The last couple of weeks in February my husband (We have been separated for 4 months.) seemed to be testing boundaries more, blatantly crossing boundaries, and acting on self-absorbed impulses. I sent him the emails stating how he over-stepped my boundaries and calmly stood up for myself. He never replied to those emails, acknowledged my feelings, or offered an apology. Now, he is acting all sugary sweet and contrite (He signed his email “Tractably Yours”….honestly this just makes me nauseous.). It is very confusing…. Have any of you experienced anything like this? I feel as though there is manipulation going on here but I can’t put my finger on it…. Am I just looking for a monster under the bed? I am so confused right now….

    My feelings were not acknowledged but now he is being flowery and nice. Please help me discern what might be going on here if you have a moment. I am scared that the kindness is having an effect on me for the first time in months. But this is not real right??? If he didn’t acknowledge his errors when I spoke up but now he is being nice and “tractable”, this is manipulative right?? Or am I being stubborn??

    [Paragraph break added to enhance readability. Editors.]

    • Heather2

      Yes, this is manipulation, BeginHealing, and abusive. He is yanking your chain. He is not affirming anything you have said. In fact, he is ignoring your feelings. If you are manipulated to return it will get worse. The more you see, the more you call him out, the more his true colors will come out. He may sugar coat them but he will dig his heels more and even lash out more.
      My son-in-law warned me to never, ever go back after three unsuccessful attempts because he would make me pay. I heeded his advice.

    • Brenda R

      BeginHealing, I sense a “Big Bear Trap” being set and instead of the bear he’s trying to put you in it. He skipped over all of the boundaries you’ve set and gone right on to the courting phase. He is taking no responsibility whatsoever.

      “Tractably Yours” — So he thinks you can easily manipulate him. Sounds like reverse psychology or an attempt anyways. Wait a couple of days the leopard’s spots will change again. I know, I had one just like him.

      [Paragraph break added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      • Anonymous

        My feelings were not acknowledged but now he is being flowery and nice. Please help me discern what might be going on here if you have a moment. I am scared that the kindness is having an effect on me for the first time in months. But this is not real right??? If he didn’t acknowledge his errors when I spoke up but now he is being nice and “tractable”, this is manipulative right?? Or am I being stubborn??

        BeginHealing – I have been experiencing the same thing. It is very confusing and I must confess to slowly coming out of the fog as to what to do in my situation. Even with much prayer and a counselor advising me that I am “way too trusting” – it is difficult to break this emotional roller-coaster ride.

        I continue to make plans for the future, prayerfully seeking God’s perfect timing for each decision. I am blessed that He has provided timely guidance via ACFJ postings and comments. 🙂

        Pastor Crippen – thank you for another great post.

        [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      • BeginHealing

        Brenda, thank you. He did not skip over all of the boundaries but he did skip over a pretty big one. He was compliant for a while but he just chose to do what he wanted a few weeks ago. To be honest I really haven’t set up too many boundaries. I am only really starting to learn how to tell what my needs are and that I can speak up and set boundaries.

    • Barnabasintraining

      Yes, he is being abusive and manipulative. And what he is doing is not kindness and it certainly is not tractable. (!)

      The last couple of weeks in February my husband (We have been separated for 4 months.) seemed to be testing boundaries more, blatantly crossing boundaries, and acting on self-absorbed impulses. I sent him the emails stating how he over-stepped my boundaries and calmly stood up for myself. He never replied to those emails, acknowledged my feelings, or offered an apology.

      He is choosing to disregard your boundaries because he thinks he shouldn’t have to be subject to them. He thinks he can buy or maneuver his way around them by being “nice” which I put in quotes because it is nothing of the sort. He’s doing it to get you to drop your guard and let him in. He wants you to violate your own boundaries so he can get what he wants. He is showing his true colors right there. And if he were doing right by you, it would not be confusing, nor would you feel nauseous when he says he’s something he most definitely is not (tractable).

      You are not being stubborn. If he really loved and respected you, you wouldn’t have to work hard to defend your boundaries. Why can you not just say “I don’t want you to do x.” and have it be respected? Why is it even a question? If you see what I mean. If anyone is being stubborn, it’s him. He is stubbornly refusing to respect your boundaries and demanding, in the “nicest” possible way, you remove them while telling you to interpret his behavior/demeanor as “tractable.” Hence, the confusion and nausea.

      Am I just looking for a monster under the bed?

      It sounds more like he’s figured out which end of the sheep-suit goes in front. Real sheep don’t leave you feeling confused and nauseous.

      • BeginHealing

        Thank you, BIT This is so hard to discern sometimes. He has been respectful in responding to some of my inquiries regarding finances and things with the kids. It confuses me that he is behaving well in some areas but when it comes to my emotional needs or respecting my time he is dismissive.

        A pastor is CC’d on all of our emails. I confided in this pastor for a while but once my husband learned this he started seeing this pastor on a regular basis. He has a way of moving in on people once he knows I am confiding in them. I don’t speak to this pastor anymore, I just don’t feel safe. My reason for pointing this out is that because this pastor sees all of these emails, I wonder if his overt cooperation on some matters where he is not doing anything wrong is a show for the pastor. To make me look like I am being the aggressor and he is being to patient and “open” with me. But he neglects to address what is the bigger problem. His lack of respect for me and my boundaries.

        It really is so confusing. I have moments that I think I am starting to have hope that he is changing but I need to look closely to see if the important stuff is changing. Is he respecting me? Is he addressing my needs? Is he willing to be humble when he hurts me and apologize? Is he taking full responsibility for what he has done (No, he still blames me. He tells people that “She was isolating herself from me….so I was in a bad place”.). It is great that he is being open with our finances and taking better care of the kids….but what about the other stuff? I need to focus on the other stuff…. I feel like he is a magician getting me to focus elsewhere so I don’t acknowledge what the other hand is doing.

        God give me the strength to persevere and to run this race with endurance, focused on You.

      • BeginHealing, what you’ve described is very typical — how you feel unsure and uncertain, how things appear to change but don’t change enough, how the abuser is like a magician getting you to focus elsewhere so you don’t acknowledge the underlying realities.

        Don’t blame yourself for feeling confused. it is the abuser’s intention and design to keep you feeling confused.

        You might find it helpful to read this if you haven’t already come across it:
        Checklist for Repentance

        [This link was corrected to reflect the new URL. Editors.]

      • Brenda R

        I tried to copy and paste this list, but it won’t let me. It is a very good resource.

        Last night I got an email from my daughter who told me that my former sister-in-law gave her phone number to pass on to me and she would like for me to call her. She has thought X was the best thing since sliced bread for the entire time I have known her, but she never wanted to listen to what was happening at home from me or my kids. She is married to X’s brother who is lazy and hasn’t worked in years, but as far as being truly abusive I don’t believe so. I have not spoken to this person for a couple of years and we have lived within 2 of miles of each other for 2 decades. I feel an ally about to attack.

        Last weekend, after X verbally attacked and threatened to discredit me with my friends last Saturday and all of our financial business being resolved, I asked him the following day if he had any remorse for what he had said the previous day. He said, “No, nothing.” I responded with “I am sorry to hear that”, and followed through with what I had already told him that I had planned to do once I had my new email address set up and all of my important contacts notified….I deleted the old account.

        Since then he has left 3 voice mails on my phone. The first telling me that I had no guts and wouldn’t tell him to his face that I didn’t want anything more to do with him. I’m not sure how many ways there are to say “you haven’t changed a bit, show no remorse and continue to verbally attack me, so “no” I don’t want further contact with you.” I have no reason to meet with him in person or think it would accomplish anything, but him trying to sweet-talk me into seeing the change in him, which I know is not real. The second demanded that I call him and tell him the same thing. The 3rd demanding that I email him and put this whole thing in writing. With my new email address: How stupid does he think I am. I followed none of his instructions and really, which part of divorce does he not understand. We are no longer married and I have no intentions of going back to that “un-life”.

        The fact that former sister-in-law choosing now to decide that she wants to talk to me is all too suspect. I emailed both her and another sister-in-law a couple of months ago as both had stopped all contact with me not even sending the funny “forwards” like before. I explained that I did not leave X for another man as he was always accusing me of and held nothing against either of them. X’s sister started writing me again and said that she could believe many of the things about X that I had said. The one wanting the phone call didn’t respond at all. So why now other than to do battle for X.

        That brings me back to the list. I plan to have it in front of me when I inevitably talk to her. There are things on that list that I have told X over the past year and may very well wind up telling her the same thing. I am praying for wisdom and discernment as I attempt to speak truth in love to her and pray that He would give me the words to say. I don’t believe this woman knows the Lord as Savior and do not want to say anything that would lead her further from Him.

      • Brenda, the “Checklist For Repentance” is available in three ways:

        1. An ACFJ post Checklist for Repentance.
        2. A pdf configured for US letter paper When being sorry is genuine [Internet Archive link].
        3. A pdf configured for A4 paper When being sorry is genuine [Internet Archive link].

        I’m sure you could print out the pdfs. I know, it’s clunky and old fashioned and I need to re-do that whole website but I haven’t got round to it.

        [Barb’s comment was edited to reflect the following changes. The link to the Checklist for Repentance referred to in point 1) was corrected to reflect Barb’s moving the Checklist for Repentance from her old Not Under Bondage website to ACFJ. The PDFs referred to in points 2) and 3) are from Barb’s old Not Under Bondage website. Editors.]

      • Also, you CAN copy and paste the html version but to see the text you need to make it BLACK text not white. Ha! I forgot that. It used to confuse me as well. 🙂

      • Brenda R

        Thank you, Barb, I didn’t mean for you to go through all that fuss. The PDF printed fine. I still don’t understand why copy and paste didn’t work. It should just do what it is supposed to.

  9. Just Me

    So I vote for an ACFJ retreat with support group meetings to take place in the Crippen’s hot tub.

    • Anonymous

      Just Me – LOL…. Vote – yes! I’m in. 🙂

    • anonymous

      Yes! 🙂

  10. speakingtruthinlove
  11. Valerie

    This couldn’t have come more timely. My H filed for divorce unbeknownst to me and let me know kindly by text a few days ago. My husband is a deacon; and the pastor and other members of Consistory knew before I did that he had filed (I know this for a fact because the pastor told me he already knew).

    I have told the pastor he has abused me and spoken to him several times about it. He asked what I wanted and I said for the church to hold him accountable. Our “issue” was brought before the Elders without my H present and they decided that “due to the suffering he is already experiencing during this hard time they would not want to add to HIS burden so they are leaving his Consistory standing as is.” So a person in leadership position can divorce his wife for no biblical grounds and their response is to leave him as is, not hold him accountable and not support the one who is abused (they could at least ask me about it if that wasn’t too much trouble). Needless to say I will not be returning to the church I’ve attended faithfully for 10 years. Oh, I also told the pastor I didn’t feel comfortable coming back to church based on the response I had gotten thus far — before I knew about the meeting.

    I’m not surprised as I read this as the norm, not the exception in abuse cases. Even my supporters try to make me feel better by saying “they just don’t understand abuse” or “they are not counselors”. I don’t even expect either. What I do expect is for them to KNOW the Bible, just enough to know who God is. To practice discernment. Instead they see the photos of the green gunk in pipes, quickly exit the screen and say “wow, I’m glad that’s not MY hot tub!” as they go on their heads-in-the sand way.

    What troubles me even more is I feel the need to hide this kind of stuff in the support groups I’m in on the internet because I feel it will only lead those who don’t know God to feel further alienated by Him. So I try to just talk about how faithful God has been to me and keep my mouth shut about the church, who I can no longer refer to as “a body of believers”.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Valerie – these are excellent words, and right on! You are thinking very accurately in a time when you have been dealt gross and sinful injustice by your church and pastors. It is incredible, isn’t it, that your husband is being permitted to continue not only as a member of the church, but as an officer in the church! That can only lead me to conclude that the pastor and other board members are allies of his, and ultimately blame you for the divorce. As you said, this is very, very typical in churches and it is evil. I think the Old Testament prophets had something to say about calling good evil, and evil good. That is exactly what these men are guilty of. Blessings on you as you move on in your life to new freedom.

    • IamMyBeloved's

      Valerie – so sorry for your situation. Sounds familiar to mine in some ways. When I left, because they began supporting my abuser, they came after me and attempted to absolutely destroy me, by sharing all of my “counseling” I had with them and what I had shared with them, with the entire “c”hurch. I am amazed that they acknowledged your husband was abusing you, but then allowed him to divorce you! When my abuser was asked by my pastor and his wife if he had done the things my children and I had said he had done, he answered “no”, and that was the end of it. They ruled “no abuse” based on the abuser’s untruthful response. But God has brought me and the children through all of this and [I] just to encourage you, you will be better off now. You will not have to face all the others who do not understand abuse and divorce, who would have told you that you were wrong for divorcing the abuser. You will be free to just know that the wicked man abandoned you after abusing you, and that God has given you full right to move on and follow Him, so be free!

      I am glad that you have left that “c”hurch you were in. I pray they leave you alone and not try to come after you and bring “charges” against you for leaving or whatever. If they do, just throw it all away and don’t put yourself through any of that. My new church had told me “to throw it all away when they came after me and to just ignore them”. They told me this, because they knew that this man / wife team were false teachers. Anyone who claims Christ, yet goes against His Word, has to be questioned about whom they are actually representing and professing. Please keep us posted!


  1. Attitudes that Promote Abuse in the Church: Major System Flush Needed | Christian Heritage News
  2. Patriarchy: Doug Phillips, Bill Gothard, Doug Wilson and Damage Control | Spiritual Sounding Board

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