At Dave Ramsey’s company, enforcement of sexual ethics under scrutiny

Accusations and counter-accusations center on incidents in which the company allegedly enforced or failed to enforce its sexual ethics requirements. - RNS

2738 reads

There are 38 Comments

dgszweda's picture

This is problem when you conflate a business into a parachurch organization and possibly even into a church.

Bert Perry's picture

...when you have a rule and selectively apply it.  Best way to make tort lawyers salivate, just like Pavlov's dogs when a bell rings.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

In 2022, too many American churches have fallen hook, line and sinker for the "no debt" brass ring. In too many churches (I've personally seen several and heard of way more) being out of debt is the idol of perfection, of holiness. It used to be "cleanliness is next to godliness". Now its "lack of indebtedness is next to godliness." If you have no debt, then God has blessed you with wisdom, so the thought goes. If you have a mortgage, well that is tolerated. If you have credit card debt, you are dismissed as a spend-thrift. And God alone can help the poor wayward soul with student loan debt. Shame on you! Didn't you work harder while going to school?

I've applied to be pastor at churches, more than one, where I was asked in detail (yes, detail) if I had debt and to list it out. Never asked if I was addicted to pornography, or cheated on my wife, or read my Bible. But debt... NO SIR, we cannot tolerate that.

In a desperate attempt to find a new church home I have visited church after church, dozens, where the ONLY Wednesday night class for adults is Dave Ramsey... Really... A whole Bible full of material and the only thing that matters is not having debt.

This is the 2022 Dave Ramsey helped build and I hope it collapses around the rotten foundation that it is.

Is lack of debt good? Yes, but it is not an idol my friend.

Larry's picture

Moderator

I have visited church after church, dozens, where the ONLY Wednesday night class for adults is Dave Ramsey

So you have visited at least 24 churches where the only Wednesday night class for adults is Dave Ramsey? 

I am throwing a flag on this one. 

Have you considered that perhaps your difficulty in finding a church is that there is no church that is good enough for you?

 

Craig Toliver's picture

  • I don't see "debt free" as idolatry and I don't see churches (or Ramsey) promoting it that way
  • I'm a "good debt" / "bad debt" guy. Credit is a great leverage. Use it wisely
  • Credit card interest rates really going up - Average credit card rate highest since 1996
  • It's more difficult to be generous (in giving) if paying creditor(s)
  • Debt is tough on marriages

No one needs the Ramsey program to get out of debt

Larry's picture

Moderator

No one needs the Ramsey program to get out of debt

I agree with Craig's points above. No one needs the Ramsey program, but it can be very helpful to those who have a problem and need plan to get out of it. A lot of people simply don't know what to do.

T Howard's picture

So, the church where I serve has made it part of the bylaws to not go into debt to build another building if the need arises. Instead, they have committed to saving the money ahead of time.

Before I began serving at the church, no one asked me about my personal finances ... other than, "Can you live on what we're able to pay you?"

That being said, if you have a large amount of debt and you want to go into pastoral ministry, I'd advise you to get it paid off / paid down before doing so.

Ken S's picture

T Howard wrote:

So, the church where I serve has made it part of the bylaws to not go into debt to build another building if the need arises. Instead, they have committed to saving the money ahead of time.

I've seen this practice at several churches where they would not take on any debt for a building (not sure if it was part of their bylaws, though). I think this is a good practice when it is possible. But I've also seen where it can hurt a church as well. In one case, the church was paying an astronomical amount for rent while trying to save for a building. A mortgage on an expensive building would have been more affordable.

In another case, a church spent years in a building they had long since outgrown while saving for their new building. During that time the church was unable to grow due to space constraints, and there is lost income associated with that as well.

I think a key is to have wisdom in taking on debt. Timing and amount of debt are important considerations. Sometimes it may be best to wait and use cash, but other times it might not be a bad idea to have an affordable mortgage.

 

On personal debt, a church I served at many years ago asked about debt during the hiring process. If I had any considerable amount of debt I would not have gotten the job. They didn't ask about any moral issues, which they should have. I don't think questions about debt are necessarily a bad thing, as high debt can be a huge burden on a person and can take an emotional toll. A church might be wise to not hire a pastor who has a debt burden besides all the other burdens a pastor must bear.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Bert Perry's picture

One thing to note is that a prospective employer will often ask some questions as representative of broader issues.  For example, my dad related that when he was coming out of college, one prospective employer put him up in a nice hotel with a little bar in the room.  When he called my grandmother, she immediately told him not to partake, because it was actually a test to find out if he was a drunk or otherwise had self-control issues.

Same thing with asking about debt.  If you ask about porn use, do you think you're ever going to get an honest answer?  However, you can ask for a credit check and see what he's got on his credit cards, installment loans, and the like.  Secular employers like to do this where it's allowed--the big question is where you draw the line, and many states ban the credit check because the application is "rough on people who've had a rough time in life."

Back to the subject, my thought is that what Ramsey has going on is analogous to what a lot of secular employers face.  For example, it's at least rumored that Bill Gates was quietly ushered out the door at Microsoft because his patterns of sexual harassment got so obvious, the company's lawyers went to the board of directors and more or less say "if you don't show Bill the door, then anyone who is shown the door for this is going to point to his example eventually."  Also, pretty much any talented woman would have started to "swipe next" on opportunities from Microsoft if they'd tolerated that.

In secular companies, the line is generally sexual harassment instead of fornication, or possibly also relationships with subordinates as well, but the principle is the same.  Have lines you don't cross, and be consistent about applying them.  If you don't, then prepare to get to know lawyers on a professional basis in an adversarial context.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

Larry wrote:

I have visited church after church, dozens, where the ONLY Wednesday night class for adults is Dave Ramsey

So you have visited at least 24 churches where the only Wednesday night class for adults is Dave Ramsey? 

I am throwing a flag on this one. 

Have you considered that perhaps your difficulty in finding a church is that there is no church that is good enough for you?

 

In the last 2 years we have visited 19 churches physically, and probably a dozen more I looked online. I don't ask for much. But if you check your area I'll bet hundreds of churches no longer have a Wednesday night service for anyone but kids. And if they do, its Ramsey.

Here are examples why I never went back:

1- One large Southern Baptist church's pastor in this city is proud that he mentions Alabama football in every sermon. I went and he did. I checked online to a few more sermons and he did... Mind you I live in Kansas. That's Big 12. No one here cares about "Roll Tide." Go back home. He made the issue. He didn't even attend Alabama. Just loves their football. Fine. I'll go somewhere else.

2- Another large church in the city the day we attended the pastor wrote his sermon outline on giant sheets of glass propped up on the stage with paint pens...

3- Smaller churches that are "fundamental" are also KJV only.

4- We went to one and the greeter said women wear dresses or skirts here... So we left. My wife wears dresses, skirts, and (GASP) pants!!! Oh the horror!!!

5- Another one turned out to be the plant of a pastor in Dodge City, which is about 300 miles west of here. The local "serving pastor" runs the service, then you watch either the recording or live stream of the home church in Dodge City... turns out there are a dozen of these "churches" in Kansas now... you go there if you want Larry. I'm not.

6. From 5, several "plants" in my city just play the sermon from the home church... not doing it.

7. Another large church. Turns out have 2 auditoriums. The main one with the pastor and music. You have to get there early to get in that one. All others get shunted ACROSS THE STREET to another building for the overflow where you watch the music and sermon through video... why???

I could go on. Have to get back to work.

To be clear, most churches no  longer have Wed night for adults. Kids only. If they do have something, its 9/10 Ramsey.

T Howard's picture

mark_smith wrote:
7. Another large church. Turns out have 2 auditoriums. The main one with the pastor and music. You have to get there early to get in that one. All others get shunted ACROSS THE STREET to another building for the overflow where you watch the music and sermon through video... why???

lol. Reminds me of my days attending services while a student at PCC. If you wanted the "live" service you had to get to the Dale Horton Auditorium early. If not, you were stuck watching the service in the overflow in the sports center.

They eventually used assigned service notices. You would be assigned the overflow on certain weeks and receive a notice in your mailbox on the weeks you were to attend the overflow service.

Larry's picture

Moderator

I am going to throw the flag again. Ramsey is 9 weeks long. I do not believe that every single church in America (or Kansas, or your city) does Ramsey every Wednesday, 52 weeks a year, year after year. I know of no churches in this area that do that as the only thing on Wednesdays. In fact, I know of no churches in our area that do it on Wednesday night at all. In fact, I imagine that very very few do that. Maybe they don't have an adult gathering of some sort. I really don't know. 

But back to the point, Mark. I want to be kind, but you seem like there is no place that is good enough for you. Have you considered that the problem might not be every single church? 

Mark_Smith's picture

Are you trying to be obtuse and argumentative? I never said they run Ramsey 24/7 or all the time. I said they do NOTHING on Wed for adults, except when they do its LIKELY Ramsey.

Larry, you don't know me, or what I have experienced. So why the attack. What church should I attend? The one where I was accused of being a heretic for preaching a sermon called "The Use of All in Salvation Scriptures?" by a man i thought was my friend? The one where everyone shows up in shorts and flip flops (that's a dozen evangelical churches easy)? The one with the smoke machine during Sunday morning (that's another dozen churches)? The one where a guy shouts "Roll Tide" every service at the end? The ones that are KJV only? The one with no one less than 75 years old attending? The 20 American Baptist churches in town? A Presbyterian church though I don't believe in presbyter leadership or paedo-baptism? The ones with female pastors? The ones that had ridiculous COVID policies so my daughter could not safely attend for 2 years (she has a trach... no interest in caring for her at all... we have to oppose the gubment...) Kansas is a hub of a denomination called Churches of Christ (Restoration). There are a dozen or more in town. They are amillennial. Would you attend an amillennial church? I can't.

Where?

Mark_Smith's picture

1- A church that has Sunday AM, PM, and Wed services. Do you know how rare that is? NO CHURCH I can find in my city lists that that is not KJV only as far as I can tell.

2- A church with biblical expositional preaching (not topical). Again hard to find. I have visited a dozen large, prosperous growing churches in my town, all topical. Also smaller churches as well. 

3- A church with a youth group not led by latest "cool dude" and where the students are actually Christians. Again, almost impossible. You should see the average evangelical youth group.

4- An evangelical church that sings worship songs NOT WRITTEN by Charismatics. Again, nearly all pastors who trumpet how bad charismatic Christianity plays their music every Sunday. I mean Bethel, Jesus Culture, Hillsong, etc...

That's probably my top 4. You tell me if that is an absurd list.

TylerR's picture

Editor

That's very restrictive criteria for a church. I am sorry your experiences have not been good. One anecdote:

  • We haven't had Sunday PM for years. We're likely going to shift Wed to something better suited to get our community to corporate prayer. Details are still fuzzy, but that's the direction we're going.
  • We have no youth group.
  • We sing songs written by charismatics, along with other folks. Hillsong regularly shows up in our songs, on Sunday morning.

I think you will have great difficulty finding a congregation that meets all your criteria.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

RajeshG's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

1- A church that has Sunday AM, PM, and Wed services. Do you know how rare that is? NO CHURCH I can find in my city lists that that is not KJV only as far as I can tell.

2- A church with biblical expositional preaching (not topical). Again hard to find. I have visited a dozen large, prosperous growing churches in my town, all topical. Also smaller churches as well. 

3- A church with a youth group not led by latest "cool dude" and where the students are actually Christians. Again, almost impossible. You should see the average evangelical youth group.

4- An evangelical church that sings worship songs NOT WRITTEN by Charismatics. Again, nearly all pastors who trumpet how bad charismatic Christianity plays their music every Sunday. I mean Bethel, Jesus Culture, Hillsong, etc...

That's probably my top 4. You tell me if that is an absurd list.

For the most part, the church that I am a member of in SC meets all 4 of your criteria, and it is not KJV (some of the individual messages and some of the preaching series have been topical--all have been solidly biblical, whether they have been topical or not). Maybe, you should consider moving to another area where you can find a suitable church.

AndyE's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

That's probably my top 4. You tell me if that is an absurd list.

Not absurd at all.  But I agree that it can be hard to find.  My daughter is looking into grad school and one of the schools is in a place with very limited decent church choices.  She may end up at a KJVO church for a couple years, which I originally was very much against, but I would take that over CCM and grunge youth groups.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Mark_Smith wrote:

1- A church that has Sunday AM, PM, and Wed services. Do you know how rare that is? NO CHURCH I can find in my city lists that that is not KJV only as far as I can tell.

2- A church with biblical expositional preaching (not topical). Again hard to find. I have visited a dozen large, prosperous growing churches in my town, all topical. Also smaller churches as well. 

3- A church with a youth group not led by latest "cool dude" and where the students are actually Christians. Again, almost impossible. You should see the average evangelical youth group.

4- An evangelical church that sings worship songs NOT WRITTEN by Charismatics. Again, nearly all pastors who trumpet how bad charismatic Christianity plays their music every Sunday. I mean Bethel, Jesus Culture, Hillsong, etc...

That's probably my top 4. You tell me if that is an absurd list.

I agree that that list is not absurd, but I think that it will be difficult to completely meet.

  • I don't live in KS, but at my church we do > 75% traditional hymns, some new hymns, and some Getty and similar.  No Hillsong, etc.
  • We don't have a "cool" youth group.  (In fact, our youth group is pretty small, but is based on teaching, prayer, and only a few other outside activities, and although the teens can certainly invite others, it's not geared towards catering to the unsaved.)
  • We have mostly expositional sermons, but there are certainly occasional topical messages, when warranted.

What we do NOT have:

  • A Sunday evening service
  • Politics (of any persuasion) from the pulpit
  • KJV-onlyism (though outside speakers can and do occasionally do preach from the KJV, and I do agree with Andy that a KJV-only position, while not desirable, is better than some other things).
  • A requirement that everyone wear masks (but no one will give anyone grief for doing so).
  • A praise band
  • Wednesday night seminars of Dave Ramsey (which we have NEVER done in the 19 years I've been at this church).

So outside of what some would call our "lackadasical" handling of Covid and not having a Sunday night service, I think we'd meet most of what you are asking.  I'm sorry you can't find that in Kansas.

 

Dave Barnhart

josh p's picture

On moving, I used to consider this regularly. I believe Larry is in Michigan and, every time I've been there, I'm in total disbelief how many excellent churches there are there. I don't think people know how bad it is out there. When I went to a conference at DBTS I was Horace Greeley "Go west young man." I really wish good seminaries would plant churches outside of the Midwest but still in this country. We really have not one IFB church in our county that is not KJVonly. Unlike Andy, that is a non-starter for me. But, everyone needs to decide for themselves. 
 

On the multiple services requirement: There is no biblical command for multiple services. It's nice but it's not required. Same goes for youth group, although to me it's not that nice either :). Maybe your presence would help encourage (facilitate?) more services. 

Bert Perry's picture

I think it would be fairly remarkable, statistically speaking, if most of the evangelical/fundamental Baptist churches around Wichita, where I think Mark lives, were that into Dave Ramsey, but the thought occurred to me "what if these churches are predominantly reaching a demographic for which debt is a gigantic issue?"  No doubt it can be overdone, and I've personally got my own differences with Ramsey (starting with he's weak on the issue of covetousness, especially in his own life), but if you've got a church filled with debtors, maybe a little bit of that tough love is in order.

Or maybe it's the fad du jour, and that's a bad thing, of course.

Regarding Mark's list, I don't mind it that much, but I've got my quibbles with #1 and #4.  Sometimes it seems that three services a week can add a lot of burden on the church without adding any real spiritual growth, and I've seen a ton of good through small grouops as an alternative.  Regarding #4, my objection to a lot of songs is not their origins (that's really the guilt by association fallacy), but rather that too many songs, especially in modern times, simply don't have much content.  If a major purpose of song in the church is to impart the Word of God to the people of God in lyric form, "low content" songs would seem to be working against that purpose.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

I don't live in Wichita, or KC, or Lawrence, or Manhattan. I know of great churches in all those cities.

I am willing to compromise around my  list, my problem is there is no church in my city of 130,000 with anything close to the list. NO CHURCH other than fundy KJV only or pentecostal/charismatic has a service other than Sunday AM (a few do a Saturday PM).

I am adamant about singing Charismatic songs... I'm done with it. Yuck. As a former Charismatic it almost makes me sick to sing them. I see all the bad theology you don't see in them.

Mark_Smith's picture

isn't guilt by association. Its supporting a brand of Christianity I believe is wrong. The same pastor who called me a heretic for being too Calvinistic has no problem supporting Bethel Music (aka Brian Johnson Redding, CA). I asked him about it more than once. Showed him books, Comments, etc. I know them because I used to be trapped by that. He had no problem with it. Yet, the mere idea that Jesus died for the elect only made him furious and he would rant against it...

Joel Shaffer's picture

isn't guilt by association. Its supporting a brand of Christianity I believe is wrong. The same pastor who called me a heretic for being too Calvinistic has no problem supporting Bethel Music (aka Brian Johnson Redding, CA). I asked him about it more than once. Showed him books, Comments, etc. I know them because I used to be trapped by that. He had no problem with it. Yet, the mere idea that Jesus died for the elect only made him furious and he would rant against it...

What's difficult is the money that is made for the Bethel and Hillsong brand and organization when one sings Bethel or Hillsong, which makes things more murkier.  I've never been involved in the Pentecostal or Charismatic movement, which is probably why I don't have the passion that Mark has against songs that from these groups.  Our church doesn't sing any Bethel songs but we sing about 3 or 4 Hillsong songs on occasion. What's also difficult is that many of these churches/church movements that write songs are performing/publishing each other's songs so you don't know if it is an actual Hillsong song or a Matt Redman song or a Chris Tomlin song unless you actually do some research. And I just don't have the time or motivation to get worked up about it.  While I wouldn't ever want to violate Mark's conscience, I wonder what will happen down the road when groups like Hillsong or Bethel fade into history? Will we treat any of their songs (if they have any lasting influence) the way that that Western Christianity has viewed the song, It is Well, since Horatio Spafford, who penned the words to It Is Well, went off the rails and ended up starting an end times cult with his wife in Chicago that eventually moved to Jerusalem. Around the time that he wrote, It is Well, he was "deconstructing his faith," by not believing in eternal punishment and combining strange charismatic-like teachings with with outlandish end-times view and eventually got kicked out of their Presbyterian church. As their cult developed, They wouldn't allow medicine and doctors to treat any of them. They repeatedly attempted to raise the dead among those who had died in their group. Horatio even had a divine revelation that abolished marriage among their group. That marriage was giving license to sexually sin.  But when his wife Anna (who was a priestess in their cult) cheated on Horatio, she claimed that it was good spiritual training for Horatio that she became one with another man. I could go on and on. There is a historical account of all these stories from Jane Fletcher Feniesse's book "American Priestess. The Extraordinary Story of  Anna Spafford and the American Colony in Jerusalem." 

josh p's picture

Joel brings up something important. Way more attention needs to be paid to the songs we are singing in church. I'm not concerned with who wrote it but what it communicates. For instance, we use the masters seminary (or whoever it is in that orbit) hymnal and it has Fosdick's song in it. That's crazy to me. It's not communicating what we as a church believe about fundamental doctrines. This is true of many other songs as well. 

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

josh p wrote:

I'm not concerned with who wrote it but what it communicates. For instance, we use the masters seminary (or whoever it is in that orbit) hymnal and it has Fosdick's song in it.

Just out of curiosity, are you referring to "Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah" or to some other song by Fosdick?

Dave Barnhart

Larry's picture

Moderator

For instance, we use the masters seminary (or whoever it is in that orbit) hymnal and it has Fosdick's song in it.

How many people in your church would know Fosdick or his song? Or would be led into Fosdick's theology because of that song?

JD Miller's picture

Last night we sang "Victory in Jesus."  I love that song, but years ago a friend of mine said he did no want to sing it after what he learned about the author.  I wish I knew nothing about the author.  I like to sing songs in the same way I eat meat I buy in the market- not asking questions, but looking at what is in front of me and throwing out anything that looks rotten.

Bert Perry's picture

A lot of great hymns come from Catholic sources, some use pagan root music ("Be Still My Soul" and "JoyfulJoyful", etc..), and then a fair number are from liberal churches, not just Hillsong.  I can see a reluctance to assist Hillsong through royalties, but all in all, if we eliminate every hymn with objectionable associations, it's going to be awfully quiet in church until the preacher steps up.

(another reason to be cautious with Hillsong is that they have a recent history of tolerating some pretty serious sexual abuse among their leaders, FWIW)

All in all, I'd still argue that if we take a good look at lyrics and such, we're going to make a lot of the same decisions Mark would like us to make.  I'm all in favor of modern music in the church and the broadening of genre to include a lot of "other peoples' music", but that is not equivalent to "anything goes in terms of lyrics."  My particular bete noire are songs that bear way too much similarity to Air Supply and thus force male congregants to sing in a pretty effeminate way.  

Back towards the subject, if indeed a large portion of churches in Mark's area are spending a disproportionate amount of time and effort on Ramsey's contribution vs. other areas critical to growth in Christ, absolutely that is an imbalance that needs to be corrected.  Not being from along the old Santa Fe route, though, I can't speak directly to it, though.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

josh p's picture

Larry wrote:

For instance, we use the masters seminary (or whoever it is in that orbit) hymnal and it has Fosdick's song in it.

How many people in your church would know Fosdick or his song? Or would be led into Fosdick's theology because of that song?

Maybe two besides myself. That's not the issue though. The issue is that we are singing things to God that are not true. We (the church general) carefully guard the pulpit but sometimes not what we sing. 

Pages