A Cry For Justice

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

The First Church of Keilah – A ‘Church’ that Hands Victims Over to the Abuser

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.


This story came to my mind today as I was thinking about how local churches so often essentially hand over an abuse victim to her abuser —

Now they told David, “Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are robbing the threshing floors.” Therefore David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” And the LORD said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” But David’s men said to him, “Behold, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?”

Then David inquired of the LORD again. And the LORD answered him, “Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand.” And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines and brought away their livestock and struck them with a great blow. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.

When Abiathar the son of Ahimelech had fled to David to Keilah, he had come down with an ephod in his hand. Now it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah. And Saul said, “God has given him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.” And Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men. David knew that Saul was plotting harm against him. And he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod here.” Then David said, “O LORD, the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O LORD, the God of Israel, please tell your servant.”

And the LORD said, “He will come down.”

Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the LORD said, “They will surrender you.” (1 Samuel 23:1-12)

Notice the great good that David had done for the people of Keilah. He literally saved their lives at the risk of his own. Yet how did they repay him when they heard Saul was coming? They would have given him over to Saul, just as the Jews gave Christ over to wicked men to be killed.

And so it is today. In order to save their own hides, so many churches are handing the righteous over to the unrighteous.

“Lord, will the people of this church surrender me and my children into the hand of our abuser?”

“And the Lord replied, ‘They will surrender you to him.”

Time to flee. Leave Keilah in the dust.



  1. lonelywife

    This helps so much…I’ll tuck it away to use in the future if need be! My church staff is supportive, but I suspect only because my stbx stopped going to church several months ago, and has refused to talk to anyone from my church, including my Pastor, and I have evidence of his affair(s). He’s proven all by himself what an a$$ he is!
    I do have a feeling though that if he reached out to them, to tell “his side” then I’d find that they wouldn’t “take sides” and would urge me to “forgive and forget.” I could be wrong, but I don’t think so…
    I’ve thought about leaving, but I am happy there, as is my son, and I won’t upset him at this point, he’s been through enough with the emotional abuse and the upcoming divorce.

    Barbara or Jeff, or anyone else who has an opinion…I do have a question, and there might be a post you’ve already done on this, so please point me to it if so…but I’m struggling with how to handle the relationship with between my sons and STBX.
    I find that I cannot and will not encourage a relationship between them, and I get criticized for taking this stance, by my very own family members, who say he’s their father and I should encourage a relationship…no matter what he’s done!
    My stbx is living a life of lying and cheating, and he emotionally abused and abandoned us for many years, he is a toxic man, so why would I want him in their lives?
    My sons are all young adults, and they’ve all made the decision to not have a relationship at this time, my youngest who is 17…he says he doesn’t want to see his dad again, unless he gets his life right with God and changes how he acts, and yet there are people who are telling us that we are wrong, that we need to forgive him and that my sons need to build a relationship, because obviously my stbx needs to “be saved” and my sons can be a witness to him!?!?
    I say it’s not their job to be the Holy Spirit to their father! He sat in church for over 30 yrs and knows the truth…he’s just rejected it and chosen to follow his own path of destruction!
    Any advice you can give would be appreciated!

    • What a good question, Lonely Wife!

      We don’t have a post directly addressing it, but here are some that you might be able to glean a snippet from to transpose as appropriate to the situation with family’s pressuring you in that way.

      How I Teach My Children to Honor Their Abusive Parent — this post discusses how the ways to honour an abusive parent can look quite different from how we might honour a non-abusive parent. You might be able to adapt some of the ideas and use them to rebut your family who are pressuring you.

      Family Scapegoating: Part 1

      The Family and Friends section of our Resources has some links that may be useful.

      How Family Values Can Replace the Gospel and Promote Abuse

      And this article has some suggested answers to unhelpful comments from well-meaning people. It may prompt you to think of some ways to put challenging questions back to your family, questions that might provoke them to rethink their wooden stance.

      Basically, it sounds like they are saying that fatherhood trumps everything else, and that a son must have a relationship with his father no matter how evil and duplicitous the father may be. If you can get them to recognise how silly that idea is, then you may get them to back down and stop pressuring you. But if they are not willing to be educated, you won’t get anywhere and will have to just be a stuck record in saying “That’s what you think, but it’s not what I think. We will have to agree to differ. I will not put any pressure on my sons to do what you think they ought to do. They are old enough to make their own decisions.”

      And if they keep persisting, you can condense that wording to “Stop it!”

      • lonelywife

        Thank you Barbara! I appreciate you taking the time to post this info!

  2. JesusmyJoy

    I have to admit that it is discouraging to see this happen in churches and among those who claim the name of Christ. It does give me more understanding of why non-believers often see Christians as so hypocritical. Out of one side of their mouths they claim to stand for righteousness and shout they are pro-life, yet support or hide the abuser at the expense of the abuse victim whose life and children’s lives are being destroyed.

    • lonelywife

      JesusmyJoy, I have a friend who is an atheist and that’s exactly what she says…she’s seen so many hypocritical Christians that she wants nothing to do with Christ!
      Sadly, my own story has shown her the fake side of Christianity, with my stbx acting this way! I just try to model Christ to her with my own life, that’s all I can do.

  3. bright sunshinin' day

    Very good comparison, Jeff! WHY do many church leaders turn victims over to their abuser? Out of deep care and concern for them? Many reasons, one being their wallet. As you’ve said before, there is no money in standing by the victims. Side with the victim and one may lose his job. Another reason, their position. It is not the popular position to stand by the oppressed. I believe many are in church leadership positions because they crave the praise of men rather than wanting to care for God’s people. The sheep are gullible and untrained making it pretty easy to rise to “power.” The list of reasons goes on…

    Thankfully, God has preserved His Word and these stories of the past which teach us how others, like David, dealt with abusers. David inquired of God and fled Keilah and Saul.

  4. bright sunshinin' day

    Lonelywife, you are wise to identify your stbx as a toxic man. Sounds like your sons are wise, too, not wanting a relationship with their father. Bad company corrupts good morals.

    Pastor Sam Powell’s post called “Snakes and Wisdom” found at the link below may encourage you as you work through many decisions.

    Snakes and Wisdom [Internet Archive link]

    • lonelywife07

      Thank you! That’s a perfect analogy!

      • Cindy 2

        Bless you, Lonely Wife. So glad for you and your sons, and your stance. Oftentimes wisdom looks way different than what most think. I will be praying for you.

  5. Finding Answers

    Pastor Jeff wrote::

    Notice the great good that David had done for the people of Keilah. He literally saved their lives at the risk of his own. Yet how did they repay him when they heard Saul was coming? They would have given him over to Saul, just as the Jews gave Christ over to wicked men to be killed.

    It would appear getting tossed under the bus is “biblical”, inside or outside the “c”hurch.

    Betrayal is a way of eliminating the voice of conscience.


  1. A ‘Church’ that Hands Victims Over to the Abuser – A Cry For Justice blog – GBFSV SPIRITUAL ABUSE VICTIMS' RECOVERY

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