Thursday, May 31, 2007
But what these liberated women do not understand is that an absence of truly biblical patriarchy facilitates the so-called oppression that Western women face (and the true oppression that Afghani women face). Each culture declares women to be inferior either by sexual freedom and “equality” (which leads to objectification and inferiority) or by rampant abuse (which in some cases leads to death).
The Western feminists can pay lip-service to the horrors of misogyny across the globe all they want, but they don’t really know what misogyny is, really. American feminism can lead to self-inflicted oppression in the form of pornography and male domination, while these poor women did not ask for what they are getting. Though true that misogyny exists in large quantities, these responders to the oppression of women across the world have actually contributed to the very thing they are speaking against in the form of abortion rights, sexual freedom, and women’s liberation. The freedom that feminism thinks it is providing is the same “freedom” that has countless women dragged to a hospital for forced abortions.
Like this article states, there is a sad disconnect between American feminism and the atrocities of true oppression seen and experienced by our women overseas. They are not the same. As Christians, we must care about the women who are executed by the Taliban in Afghanistan, the little girls who are sold into sexual slavery in Thailand, the little babies in India who are murdered simply for being female, and the ashamed victims of rape in Iraq who blow themselves up because they are told that no man will ever want them. But we don’t care because we want so-called “liberation”. We care because we know something that the feminists don’t. There is a mystery at work in our gender distinctions, and unless we see a return to biblical patriarchy in the form of loving, male headship there will be no reprieve from the destruction of women by dictatorial, misogynistic men. The Islamic women, who are oppressed by a far greater and more horrific regime, see the difference and beauty of femininity even amidst great tribulation—but they don’t exactly know why they desire it. They don’t know that it is designed to point to the Messiah and His Bride, the very thing that they deny and hate. We can have all of the “Love Your Body” campaigns that we want, but they won’t help. It will only mask the problem for a little while until it rears its ugly head in another form of dissatisfaction. The Church must hold high the beauty of God’s design for gender—calling men to patriarchy and denouncing misogyny. And that is a world that feminists can’t even conceive of.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
It’s always hard to write recaps of big events—so much happens and there is only so much space to write. So, in order to make the reading light, here are my top highlights of my trip to Louisville. As already stated, I went to the New Attitude conference with my brother and sister-in-law, and made a whole host of new friends along the way!
- By far, my number one highlight is Beth White. She graciously allowed Em and me to stay at her house, and she carted me around everywhere. It was like we were old friends, who just had not met yet. And I must say she is the funniest person I have met in a long time. Now we just have to convince her to come back to the great state of Minnesota for the DG conference (she has a love/hate relationship with our state).
- One of the beneficial things about a vacation is it makes you think about things you normally don’t have time to think about. The Lord really convicted me about areas in my life that need work, and I am grateful for that. I also realized our need for rest. We easily suppress our fallenness in our busyness.
- CJ Mahaney’s message on “Idols of the Heart”. If you have never heard it, try and find it. It’s amazing.
- Finally seeing Southern Seminary’s campus. The pictures don’t do it justice. It’s gorgeous.
- Becoming aware of the fact that I am a Four-Point Calvinist. Not convinced, just aware—there’s a difference.
- Steak and Shake—I missed it in my absence from the South, and I know it missed me. It was a great time and good food.
- The Christmas Tree Story—oh so funny.
- Realizing how thankful I am for my pastor and my church.
- Making new friends.
Even though it was a great time, it’s good to be back. I missed my roommates, and they are glad to be reunited with the beloved straightener. God so used this time off to shape me, teach me, and convict me of so much. I could write so much more on resting, but I’ll save that for another time. I would like to say though that rest is so important if for no other reason than that God commanded us to do it. We realize our sin when we stop and actually think about what we are doing and why we are doing it. In our finiteness we are confronted with our desperate need for Christ. When we don’t slow down it can be great spiritual peril to our souls. Vacations are great, but not because we get to waste time and feed our craving for self-exaltation. Vacations are great because we are able to stop and think about our Christ, minus the crazy schedules of our every day lives. Even though my trip was different than I planned it to be, it was a good and needed difference, one that gave me a host of new friends and a set of “New Years’ Resolutions” in May.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Early tomorrow morning my brother, sister-in-law, and I will hit the road and head for Louisville, Kentucky to attend the New Attitude conference. The NA conference is put on by Sovereign Grace Ministries, and promises to be a God-centered weekend of teaching and fellowship—and with speakers like Mark Dever, Al Mohler, John Piper, Joshua Harris, Eric Simmons, and CJ Mahaney, who wouldn’t be excited. The theme is discernment, and I pray that God uses these men to shape an entire generation of young people (and especially myself) to live according to God’s Word, for His glory.
There are many reasons why I am looking forward to the weekend, but I will simply share a few with you. I am excited about…
- Spending time with my brother and sister-in-law.
- Hearing Mark Dever preach live. His teachings and writings have shaped my view of the local church tremendously.
- Hearing Al Mohler preach live.
- Actually being an attendee at a conference and not working, at all.
- Having the opportunity to sit under the teaching of great men of the faith.
- Being on vacation.
So, I will leave you with the NA video, which makes me excited just watching it—and you will be too.
Friday, May 18, 2007
My heart sank when I read this verse regarding Samson. Not because I had never read the book of Judges before, and not because I was surprised at the outcome of the story. Samson was a big deal in my house growing up. I grew up with three brothers who often times would refer to Samson when talking about their desires to be strong. Popeye and the Hulk were great, but Samson was the pinnacle of strength in the Tarter household.
This verse struck me because of the force of it. Very often when I read my Bible I breeze over phrases, trying to get all of my reading done in a short amount of time. But if you stop and think about a phrase like “he did not know the LORD had left him” you realize the devastating effects of such a verse. God is gone.
God was the source of Samson’s strength, and when He left there was no longer any power or protection surrounding Samson. He was alone. But God did not leave without reason. Notice the events leading up to God’s departing from Samson. Samson liked women, and his desire for ungodly women ensnared him even to the point of being manipulated by Delilah (Judges 16).
This is not the only reference in the Bible to God leaving a person, 1 Samuel 16:14 tells us the heart-breaking story of King Saul: “Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.” Saul, like Samson, had created a path of deception, hatred, and self-promotion that eventually left him abandoned by the sovereign Creator.
It is easy to read these biblical accounts and disassociate ourselves from the tragic choices and consequences, but we must remember that we too are of the same stock as Samson and Saul—and even Judas Iscariot. The root of all these tragic stories is sin, and none of us is exempt from that truth. After reading the book of Judges for the first time I asked my dad how God could keep saving the Israelites. I mean, after all, they never obeyed. They always went back to sinning. It really frustrated me. His gentle rebuke guides me every time I read this book—“Courtney, doesn’t God keep forgiving you?” You see, the fact that I was appalled at the Israelites really showed that I didn’t understand sin.
We are all that depraved, and if we are not vigilant about fighting sin in our own lives, we too will find ourselves left alone to drown in our wickedness. The people the Apostle Paul is talking about in Romans 1 probably didn’t even realize that God had given them over to the “lusts of their flesh.” We should never become comfortable with the language of the Bible, especially with regards to our sin. It should make us weep, but most importantly it should make us tremble. It should make us introspective, asking God to reveal to us the areas in our lives that we are “exchanging His glory for a lie”. Samson was exchanging God’s glory for a lie—the lie of one night with a deceptive woman.
But the story does not end there. Though Samson willingly relinquished his power into the hands of Delilah—and thus was abandoned by God, God is merciful. When God takes His hand off and gives us over to our depraved minds, He does so in order to bring glory to Himself and repentance to us. God may depart from you, but just as the Prodigal’s father welcomed back his wayward child after years of debauchery, so God restores His children who cry out to Him for mercy in their pig sty.
This is not a license to sin, but it does offer great hope for you today. The Bible does not end with Judges, and the very next book after it is Ruth—a great picture of the keeping power of God. In the darkness of Judges, God foreshadows the coming Messiah.
So, as you go about your weekend love your Old Testament. Love the hard books that are rarely talked about—our Christ is on every page. And fight sin, dear Christian. Don’t play with the kindness of God. He will not tolerate sin forever—and it is a very despairing life for the one who has lost the hand of God, and doesn’t even recognize it.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I don’t track the history, or reasoning, behind grocery store’s stocking decisions, but I think this deserves our attention. Every adult in America must frequent the grocery store, including Christians, and if we can wade through hundreds (literally) of magazines in the aisle without finding a single one of relative significance what does that tell us about our worldview, or our ability to truly comprehend reality?
We live in a society that likes to suppress the truth, and maybe the grocery store doesn’t serve as a spiritual barometer for the Church, but it comes close. Maybe we’re not buying into the celebrity gossip, but we might be enticed by the newest Self magazine that promises to help you shed ten pounds. Is it wrong to try and be healthy? Absolutely not, but unfortunately we very often do not look beyond what is fed to us—and if our only choices in the checkout lane are fluff, then fluff we will get.
As Christians, we must learn to look beyond the false reality that our culture is spoon feeding us. The marketers would love for us to buy their magazines, buy their products, and support their causes—all the while trusting in their promises of a better life. I took a magazine writing class once, and one of the main things that we learned in marketing our articles was people like lists that promise results. They are groping for a better existence, and Newsweek magazine isn’t something they want in their reach.
Paris Hilton’s renditions of the horrors of jail time give you a three second celebrity thrill, but it won’t give you truth. Newsweek won’t either, but at least it will allow you into some semblance of reality, however distorted it may be by the media. Not only should the magazine rack enrage us by its lies about beauty and personhood, but it should also make us cry out for mercy. Yes, these consumers are groping, but they won’t find it in InStyle—they’ll find it at the Cross of Jesus Christ. There is a lot that could be said about the reasoning behind the grocery store magazine choices, like the fact that we don’t really like to read about anything of depth, or that we only like to read things that make us feel good, but it must start deeper. Fundamentally it is a matter of the heart. Our hearts are wicked, yet created by God to worship Him, and because of that we worship everything but Him in our depravity. As Christians, our media spending habits should not reflect the lost world around us—and we shouldn’t be saying “Give me Newsweek”, instead lets say “Give me Christ”.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Raising four children was not easy, especially when two of them were wayward. My mom has spent three Mother’s Day’s, two Christmas’, and many birthdays, waiting for a child to walk through the door and say “I’m saved.” Though the family never seemed whole without the fourth child there, she pressed on with the normal traditions that the Tarter family does on every holiday. She bought presents for her absent child, and placed them under the tree, where they would wait until God brought them home.
In all of this, my mom did not cease to worship God. She did not cease to read her Bible. And she did not cease to pour out her distressed soul to her Savior every day. I can still hear her telling me “God will bring you home, or He will take you out. Don’t forget that.” Even when she questioned God’s reasoning for this suffering, she never doubted that He was the one orchestrating all of it for His glory and our good.
When I look at my mom, I know that her love for our Christ is not some fluffy, cotton-candy type of love. It is a love that has been tested by fire, and has come out stronger and more precious because of the purifying flames of suffering. She has spent the night in hospitals next to an injured child, she has stayed up all night with an ill child, and she has spent hours upon hours begging God to save the souls of her children.
For the most part, my mom is done with the labors of child rearing, and is transitioning into being a Mimi (grandma). But she still cries every time we leave, because her job is never truly done. She will never cease being our mother—and for that she deserves much recognition.
There is so much more about my mom that I admire, like her tremendous generosity and care for new mothers, or her compassion towards people who are hurting, or her interest in every little detail of our lives (even if it is boring to every other person), but I realize that all of these things are possible because her hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. The natural woman does not live this way. Only a woman, who has been purchased by the blood of the Lamb, can serve her family in this manner.
And so, as you prepare to spend time with your mother’s tomorrow, remember to thank her. Thank her for the sacrifice, even if it wasn’t what you think it should be, and if your mother is not around, or not a mother who cared, ask God to teach you to be a mother who is a life-giver and not a life-taker. But most importantly, thank God for the gift of mothers—they truly are the backbone of our society, even if nobody else notices.
So, thank you momma for giving up your life for me and the boys. We did not always treat you like you deserved. We did not always respect you. But you taught us more than we probably will ever know. You taught us to read, you taught us to eat, and most importantly, you taught us about Christ. Thank you for telling us we are sinners so we could see Christ in His sinlessness. May your faithful teaching bless generations of Tarter’s to come.
Happy Mother’s Day, momma!
Monday, May 7, 2007
Once upon a time, motherhood was a desired profession. Little girls considered motherhood to be their calling, and even lived and prepared toward that end. In the wake of feminism, and now living in post-feminist America, motherhood is seen to be repulsive, and much to our shame—subhuman.
It seems a little ironic, doesn’t it, that we have an entire day devoted to the very thing that is seen to be so belittling to our own gender? I am convinced that one of the primary ways we can lift high the beauty of biblical womanhood is to praise our mothers, and learn from their strengths, and weaknesses.
So, all this week, in honor of Mother’s Day on Sunday, I am going to devote my posts to my mom, and end the week by lifting high the glory of biblical mothering in a post-modern, feminist culture.
My mom, Deb Tarter, was born to Richard and Joan Garrett on July 23, 1955 in Algonac, Michigan. For those inquiring minds out there, Algonac is located at the bottom of the thumb (because Michigan is shaped like a glove, that’s how I was taught it at least). She became a Christian at a young age, as a result of hearing the Gospel, having grown up in a Christian home and church. After a brief stint at Detroit Bible College, she went on to Liberty Baptist College (now Liberty University), where she met my dad. They were married in August of 1980.
For my mom, there was never anything that she desired more than motherhood. Though she never completed her college education, you would never hear her complain. Her greatest joy has been raising four children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, and it is evidenced by her continued self-sacrifice even with most of her children out of the house. In a culture that encouraged a mass-exodus from the home, my mom spent her summers swimming at the YWCA and going to the library, all the while singing the Beach Boys and Jackson 5 in a mini-van with her children. To this day, every time I hear "Help Me Rhonda" and "I Want You Back" I am brought back to the fun of my childhood.
Now, don’t think that just because she didn’t finish college that she is somehow illiterate. That is hardly the case with my mom. Reading characterizes her life, and now mine because of her influence on me. And not just any reading, she reads anything from the Puritans, to Tozer, to David Wells, to John Piper. Her love for her Savior is shown in her consistent feeding of her own soul through reading.
She took her role as a mother very seriously, and for as long as I can remember, we were always going to the library on Fridays. Micah went to story time, Zach checked out sports books, Jeremy checked out Charlotte’s Web (every week), and I loaded up on as many books as possible. To this very day, my love for reading is a result of her first teaching me to read, and then teaching me to read about my Savior.
There is much to be said about my mom. I have been so shaped by her leading, teaching, and unconditional, tough love of me (through the many times I did not deserve it). She did not adapt to the cultural norms of raising children. And from the beginning of their marriage until now, my parents resolved to live according to the Scriptures no matter what the evangelical culture was adhering to. Through many storms, this philosophy has shaped an entire family to desire Christ above all things.
To be continued…
Saturday, May 5, 2007
But, the Bible is not scared of blood. Blood is a common theme throughout the Bible, the Old Testament especially.
“And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with these words” (Exodus 24:8).
I was explaining this to my small group girls one week, and as I was sharing with them I realized how gross this was. Animal blood being thrown on you is always disgusting. I’m sure it must have shocked the Israelites at first. It’s not every day that someone throws blood on you. The horror of that fact is telling us something. Our sin is that disgusting. We become so comfortable in the language of atonement and forgiveness and sin that we forget how horrific our sin is in the sight of God.
Before we begin the explain this away as a minor detail in an Old Testament book, let us remember and see that this is not an isolated incident in Scripture (Exodus 29, Exodus 30, Leviticus 8, Leviticus 9, and many other places), it characterizes Christianity. We are a blood bought people. And like Isaac was a foreshadowing of the Christ to come, so blood too is a foreshadowing of the blood to come. Two thousand years ago on Calvary, a bloody Christ bore the penalty because the blood of bulls and goats could not satisfy the wrath of God. The blood in the Old Testament was not saving sins, it was pointing to the One who would come and make atonement. The “type of Christ” was no longer a type. He had come.
I heard a pastor say a while back that nobody likes to sing about blood anymore. And it’s true. We like to sing about happy things, not gross things. The blood-bought, atoning, work of Jesus Christ on the Cross is not a cotton-candy, idea that we pay lip-service to at the Lord’s Supper and maybe Easter. The blood was proclaiming promised salvation for us in the Old Covenant, and it saves us in the New Covenant. We should not be afraid of it. We should rejoice in it. Our discussion about Christ’s death should make us tremble, it should make me tremble. And so often we take it lightly because we don’t understand the seriousness of it.
Every time Moses threw the blood on the altar, He was declaring a transaction with God, all the while knowing that this transaction was not enough—and you feel the tension of that when you read through the Old Testament. When Christ came, and faced great agony in the Garden, He felt the seriousness of what was coming. When we read Jesus’ words saying “it is finished” that should make us fall on our faces. God did not absolve sin when He forgave us, He poured out the necessary wrath on Christ—His blood literally was spilled so we could live.
The blood is gross and vile because our sin is gross and vile. It might make us uncomfortable, but it was necessary. Let’s start singing about the blood again. We should sing and talk about the blood of Christ with great joy and thankfulness. Our names are in the Old Testament in the promises of the coming Messiah, our name is written on the hands of our Christ as He died in His own blood on Calvary 2,000 years ago. We are a peculiar people, we come by blood.
I come by the blood
I come by the cross
Where Your mercy flows with hands pierced for me
No I dare not stand, on my righteousness
My every hope rests on what Christ has done
And I come by the blood
I Come by the Blood by Sovereign Grace Music
Thursday, May 3, 2007
First, as a disclaimer, it must be said that women have the primary role of taking steps to protect their own hearts. When in our friendly interactions with men, we take kindness to mean declaration of undying love; we are not being proactive in guarding our hearts. Part of serving the opposite sex is seeking to understand where he or she is coming from, what his or her struggles might be. Women read into things. A lot. Too much actually. This is not a cop-out for our tendency to be overly analytical. But we are wired, by God, to be responders to initiation, and a guy should understand where a woman might be coming from before he asks her to go home to his parents house for Easter dinner, just as friends.
So, as men interact with their female friends, they must be asking themselves what messages their actions are sending. What a man might see as casual conversation, a woman could see as interest. Does this mean that a woman should be angry with the man for never going beyond friendship? No. It is unfair to our brothers to read into a friendship and then expect more than what it truly is. But part of male leadership is examining what message your actions send to your sisters in Christ. If you are spending an excessive amount of time with a girl friend, talking late nights on the phone, sharing your deep thoughts, or even treating her differently than you would your other friends, and you have no plan for the future with her—you are not protecting her heart and you are not exercising your God-ordained role as a leader. Friendship with women should not be a substitute marriage—it should be a pre-requisite.
Elisabeth Elliott tells the story of Jim in her book Passion and Purity when upon finding out a girl friend likes him, he goes to her and sets the record straight, leaving no room for confusion or wrong intentions. Friendship with women is not wrong, ambiguity and ignorance to a woman’s perspective is misleading and hurtful to a fellow sister’s heart.
Modesty on the part of men and women requires much discernment, accountability, prayer, and work. It requires that we live for the benefit of others, and not ourselves. It might mean forgoing a cute outfit, or even forgoing the weekly coffee date with your good friend who is a girl. As we seek to live as biblical men and women, may we think outside of our own desires and feelings, and serve our brothers and sisters so that Christ may be glorified through our friendships.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Summer can be hard on the Christian woman, and as we have been navigating through qualities of a godly woman, our discussion would be incomplete without mentioning modesty. We have all heard the rhetoric before, right? The “Hallelujah Test” states that if you can’t praise Jesus because your shirt is too short than it’s time to get a new shirt. And the list could go on.
These are all important principles to follow, but we must remember that all of our outward actions are really pointing to what is happening inward. Our lack of discretion when it comes to our attire is speaking volumes about what we believe about the Bible. When we dress immodestly there is one of two things happening. Either we know that our clothing is inappropriate and like it that way, or we are ignorant of the effects and message of our appearance. Both are sin.
One is promoting and encouraging fornication even if the act is never committed. Jesus says “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Choosing to dress immodestly for the exploitation of our own body is promoting and aiding adultery, because it is asking for lustful thoughts simply by the lack of clothing.
The other is a sin of ignorance. Many of us do this unknowingly simply because we don’t think outside of our own existence. We think we are autonomous beings whose actions only affect our lives. But our actions do affect other people. There is no clause in the Bible for women who didn’t know their clothing was inappropriate. Modesty requires thought, accountability, and a counter-cultural mentality that desires holiness more than trendiness.
Part of being a godly woman means knowing how our brothers in Christ think. A dear friend of mine told me recently that modesty is not a “weaker brother” issue, and she is right. What she was saying is that the weaker brother argument implies that the person who is weaker is the one with the problem. Both people have the problem. Immodesty is not a license to look, but it also is revealing a rebellious heart on the part of the young woman. Often time’s modesty requires forgoing the outfit of the season in order to obey Christ and to protect our brother’s eyes.
If we look at the Scriptures, we will see that modesty is a characteristic of a godly woman (1 Peter 3:3, Titus 2:5, 1 Timothy 2:9). The Fall left us with the need to cover up (Genesis 3:21), and immodesty does not exhibit an enlightened mind, like the world would like to tell us. But actually it shows the depravity and moral decay of a mind that has been corrupted by sin and made to think that nakedness outside the contexts of marriage really is a good thing.
Modesty is a Gospel issue. I heard a great sermon on biblical manhood and womanhood a month ago, and in preaching on gender in the church, the speaker took us through the entire book of 1 Timothy to show us the cohesiveness of the argument. At the end of the book, Paul tells Timothy “teach and urge these things” (1 Timothy 6:2), and the man asked the question “What are these things?” All of the things Paul had previously been talking about, which for the benefit of this topic, includes modesty (2:9). Modesty and purity must be talked about in the church because they are Gospel issues. They reveal what we think about the Gospel—whether or not we think the Gospel changes hearts.
As you think about these things, I recognize that practical examples are really helpful for discerning modest dress. So, here are some tips for dressing modestly:
- Recognize that your sinful heart will want to buck the system. The most important thing to remember is that our hearts are “deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). We need changed hearts in order to desire modesty.
- Ask your dad. He knows. I have learned more about modest dressing from my dad and three brothers. They have helped me tremendously in understanding the way guys think—even though there have been times when I haven’t believed them like I should.
- Ask your mom. She knows. Moms are very helpful because they have been there before us. Titus 2:5 tells the older women to teach the younger women purity. Moms are there to teach us modesty, among other things.
- Ask the Lord to convict you when you are in your closet. Every year I find that there is one more outfit that the Lord is purging from my closet. Ask Him to make you desire modesty and then show you areas where you need growth.
- Know your Bible. Yes, the heart is desperately sick, and the only cure is Jesus, and the only way to know Him is through the Word.
- If you don’t live at home, ask your roommates to hold you accountable. In college, my roommates and I would do this. If no one was home in our room, we would go to the girls down the hall and ask them. If something was questionable, we did not leave the dorm without asking someone else first.
May God burn into your heart a desire to dress in a way that makes the Gospel of our Christ attractive.
Here are some more links:
Mrs. Mary Mohler wrote a booklet called “Modeling Modesty”:
The Girl Talk blog is a wealth of sound, biblical information. Here is a link to their posts about modesty:
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
We can repackage the stories all we want, but the truth will always remain that lives have been lost. And in a few days, I will forget that these poor women were dragged to a hospital to await the imminent slaughter of their unborn baby, just like I have forgotten about the bones of the little girls in India. But God does not forget. He sees all, knows all, and is in control of all. In college I was told that I could not write that Christ was the answer to all of these awful events. It was too simplistic. But now, more than ever, I am convinced that the only hope for anyone amidst the rampant wickedness that lives in us and around us is Jesus Christ. The Chinese government can seek to “manage” their population through the destruction of the innocent, but there is a judgment coming. Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. Our hope is built on the slaughter of a Jewish man 2,000 years ago who rose from the dead and conquered sin and will one day come back and judge those who refuse to repent. He will make all things right. Until then we say, Maranatha, Come quickly, Lord Jesus.
Here is a link to the article: