The Rushmore Report – When Children View Pornography

No healthy parent wants to think about his child viewing pornography, but it often happens. Some researchers have stated that the average age of exposure to pornography is down to eight. Before the days of the Internet, children were typically between the ages of 11 and 13 when they began viewing soft-core porn found in magazines.

Today’s child lives in a culture where hard-core porn abounds. Our children are being seduced daily, and we need to bear this fact in mind whenever we have the occasion to redirect them away from pornography.

It is also extremely important that parents not direct all their efforts toward their sons at the expense of their daughters. Porn and other sexualized media can adversely affect girls as well as boys and often leads to significant damage in their ability to form healthy relationships as an adult.

The goal

We want to be intentional parents. It’s our privilege and responsibility to educate them about sexuality. We want to begin early, and continue throughout their time with us in the home.

The ultimate goal for our children’s sexuality is that they will be able to see the dynamic interplay between sexuality and spirituality. As Christians, we want to help them understand, for example, that sexual intercourse is an act of love shared between a husband and wife. This sacred act symbolizes the spiritual union that will occur between Christ and His bride, the Church, upon His return to earth. We hope our sons will see themselves as a type of Christ as they relate to their wives, and that our daughters will see themselves as a type of the church as they relate to their husbands. What we model today in our marriages will likely reproduce itself in our children’s marriages.

By helping our children to see the big picture about the sanctity of sex, we are better prepared to confront the problem of pornography when and if it occurs in our children’s lives.

Do you and your spouse share the same core values?

Ideally, parents will share the same core  values that promote sexual purity. This unity will facilitate your child’s recovery. On the other hand, if a child’s parents are divided about pornography, that child’s rehabilitation will be more difficult.

A child’s repetitive involvement with porn can be a symptom of an unhappy home. Once the child’s issues begin to surface, his parents may benefit from marital therapy if they continue to be at odds on pornography in general or fail to agree on how to facilitate their child’s recovery.

Before you start beating yourself up, however, any exposure to porn can harm children – even otherwise healthy children. The point here is not to blame parents but to help them identify any problems that may be negatively affecting their children’s understanding of sexuality or recovery.

Did my child view pornography intentionally?

I’m convinced that children are victims of a covert form of sexual abuse whenever they are confronted with sexually provocative materials. With this in mind, our children need us to be healthy advocates for their well-being – even if we must confront their willful exposure to porn.

If a child has been found with porn, it’s important to not jump to conclusions. A harsh, impulsive interrogation will most likely just shut down your child. An unhealthy shame often leads to more acting out with pornography.

You will want to learn how your child found porn. For example, did someone introduce your child to porn? Mental health professionals recognize the power differential that occurs as a result of age, and if the person who introduced the porn was older by three or four years, it constitutes a type of sex abuse. These incidents should be reported to local authorities.

Was this my child’s first exposure?

It will also be important to learn if this was his first exposure to pornography. The frequency of exposure matters, as a child becomes increasingly desensitized over time. As desensitization occurs, a child typically begins to seek a greater frequency of porn, and a harder or more severe quality. Greater frequency and a shift to hard-core porn are indicators that the brain has begun to seek more stimulation which can lead to addiction.

If you learn that your child has developed a habit of viewing porn, it will be important to seek the services of a specialist who is trained to facilitate recovery.

Just exactly what did my child see?

What types of porn did he see? Sadly, with the Internet a child can be exposed to a wide range of sexual perversions in seconds. If your child has an email address, chances are he or she is being exposed to pornographic email. One recent study found that 47 percent of school-aged children received porn spam on a daily basis. This study also found that as many as one in five children open the spam they receive. It will be important to learn about the types of porn that your child viewed. For example, was the porn heterosexual or homosexual? Was it limited to body parts or did it include sex acts? Was sexual violence a part of the porn, and did it include bestiality?

Regardless of what was viewed, it will be more important to rehabilitate your child than to merely correct or punish him.

How can you prevent future occurrences?

Frankly, there is no guarantee that even the best parent can prevent his child’s exposure to pornography. As with parents of any age or culture, we seek to do the best we can with the resources we have. Should another incident occur, it will be another teachable moment where you restate the precepts and principles that guide us toward wholeness.

Fortunately, the probability of future occurrences can be diminished by taking a four-pronged approach.

1. Behavioral

Behavioral approaches attempt to prevent a scenario from developing in the first place. The house and grounds, for example, should be purged of all pornography. Media should be carefully screened for “triggers” that serve as gateways to acting out. The computer should be moved to the family room, in view of everyone.

2. Cognitive

Porn is propaganda and generates destructive myths about sexuality. Once exposed, it will be critically important that a comprehensive sex education gets underway, if it has not already been initiated. The child will need to learn what and how to think about sexuality.

3. Emotive

Sex is inherently emotional. Premarital sex has even been linked with codependency, where at least one person becomes compelled or addicted to be in relationship with another. Our children need to understand that emotional attachment is often involuntary, and especially when the relationship has been compromised sexually.

4. Spiritual

At its core, sexual integrity comes down to a spiritual commitment. The Christian message of how Christ loves His bride, the Church, is our inspiration. The prohibitions and consequences of sexual sin are secondary to the intimacy that one experiences in obedience to God.

A final thought

If we really believe that sin is a powerful barrier between our child and God, we will move past a mere “sin management” approach to mentor them into a loving relationship with us and, more importantly, with Him. Wherever pornography or sexual sin is found, whether in the lives of our children or in our own, we can surrender ourselves and those we love to the greater care and compassion of our Father. His purity remains and cleanses us.

About the Author

Rob Jackson writes for Focus on the Family.

The Rushmore Report – A Dying Pastor’s Final Wish Come True

Shane Hall was the beloved pastor of First Southern Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. For three and a half years, the 46-year-old battled stomach cancer. Friday, the battle ended, as he went to be with the Lord. Knowing all medical options had been exhausted, Hall knew his fate. He had one dying wish. And that wish came true.

Hall’s final desire was to see his youngest daughter, Mallory, come to faith in Christ before he died. Here is the timeline of the pastor’s final days.

On Wednesday, February 7, Mallory trusted Christ as her personal Savior. Two days later, on February 9, Misti, Shane’s wife, announced that all medical options to save Shane’s life were exhausted, and they were now focused on pain management until his death. Then, on Sunday, February 11, Pastor Hall baptized his young daughter. On February 16, Misti posted, “Tonight he is worshiping with Jesus.”

The last person Hall would baptize would be his daughter.

The funeral service for Shane will be today in Oklahoma City. This week, Misti posted, “We continue to see God’s sustaining grace in all of this. Shane said he just wanted to baptize Mallory. So, for him to say that and then to see it within two or three weeks was just a precious gift to him. I felt like, that’s what kept him here for awhile, his wanting to fulfill that desire to see her come to know the Lord.”

Frank Page, President and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, prayed with Hall many times in his final weeks. “When I heard about Shane’s miraculous efforts in helping to baptize his daughter, I wept,” he said. “It spoke of a father’s love. It spoke of a pastor’s determination. God bless his wonderful family.”

 

The Rushmore Report – Can You Be Both Democrat and Pro-Life?

In Illinois a Democratic Representative is running for reelection. Normally, that would mean he would receive the full support of the Democratic Party. But there’s just one problem. Rep. Dan Lipinski is generally opposed to abortion. That raises the question – Can you be both a Democrat and pro-life?

Apparently, the answer is “no.”

A pro-abortion Democrat – Marie Newman – is running against Lipinski in a primary. The Democratic Party isn’t picking sides – officially. Chairman Tom Perez said, “One thing I’ve learned from primaries in the past, is that when the DNC gets involved in those races, then we sometimes get accused of trying to put the thumb on the scale.”

The problem with that argument is that Perez and party leadership have made it a tradition to always “put the thumb on the scale” in Democratic primaries – in support of the incumbent. The difference here, of course, is that the incumbent supports the right of the unborn – to be born.

Perez is attempting to sound inclusive, to keep the few pro-life Democrats that exist, in the fold. His past remarks make that difficult, of course. Last year, he stated that “every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health. That is not negotiable.”

So the answer is no, you can no longer be a Democrat and pro-life at the same time.

Finding a Good Man

Recent surveys indicate that 52 percent of those over the age of 25 are single. I am not naïve enough to believe these single saints are all interested in getting married. Some of them are too smart for that!

But if you are a single woman, and you opened today’s blog in hopes of fining dating advice, you came to the right place. I am here to help. The answer to finding the right guy is prayer. You must pray, asking the Lord to direct you to the right man, the man who will make you happy all the days of your life.

And for those of you who don’t know how to pray, I can help you with that, as well.

Here, I offer a prayer. Use it as your own. Don’t even feel obligated to tell God where you got it. He probably already knows, anyway. So ladies, if you are looking for a guy, here’s your prayer: “Father in heaven, hear my prayer, and grant it if you can. I’ve hung a pair of trousers here; please fill them with a man.”

If you pray that prayer from your heart, it’s just a matter of time till you meet that special man. Perhaps you’d like to come up with your own prayer. The point isn’t the words anyway. God listens to your heart.

The Rushmore Report – The Feel Good Story of the Year

Even a dog with a microchip can go missing for a long time. But even a dog that’s missing for a long time can end up back home where she belongs. That’s what a Pennsylvania family learned recently when they recovered their black Labrador mix, Abby, who had run away 10 years ago from the family’s home in Apollo, 33 miles east of Pittsburgh.

After some time went by, Debra Suierveld and her family assumed Abby had died. But on January 27, Suierveld received word that someone had found their dog. Abby showed up on George Speiring’s front porch in Lower Burrell, 10 miles west of Apollo. Speiring contacted Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley, which discovered the dog’s microchip and was able to contact Suierveld.

Someone had taken good care of Abby over the years. The dog was in great health and still remembered some things the family taught her, Suierveld said.

“She would lie on the floor and cross her paws, and she remembers my daughter’s commands, and she remembers the commands I taught her,” Suierveld told KDKA-TV.

Suierveld called her 22-year-old daughter, who is a student at Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio, to share the news.

“She cried,” Suierveld told the Tribune-Review.

Suierveld’s family has planned a reunion dinner for Sunday to welcome Abby back. “It feels like a part of my kids’ childhood is back, part of our family is back,” Suierveld said. “It’s pretty awesome.”

 

Grandmas and Stamp Machines

There was a long line at the post office. A man stood in the line, noticing the lady in front of him was there to buy stamps. After 30 minutes he said, “Excuse me, but there is a stamp machine over there that would be a lot quicker than waiting in this long line.”

She replied, “That’s okay. We’re almost to the desk.”

A few minutes later, he said, “But the stamp machine would be so much quicker.” She responded, “Oh, I know, but that old stamp machine would never ask me how my grandchildren are doing!”

Some of you are screaming to grandma, “Learn to adapt! Use the stamp machine!” Adaptability is good for some things. Fifty-one million people watched the final episode of the Survivor series that had 16 men and women “stranded” on an island near Borneo. The survivor/winner became an instant millionaire. When asked how he won, he said, “I learned to adapt.”

But if you want to be happy, stay in line. Be patient. Nothing is better than having someone ask, “How are your grandchildren doing?” There is no substitute for the personal touch. Consider the woman in the Bible who suffered with the issue of blood. She was so desperate to touch God that she was willing to stand in line. She thought to herself, “If I touch his clothes, I will be healed” (Mark 5:28).

The Rushmore Report – ‘Pro-life’ Must Encompass More than Opposition to Abortion

If being “pro-life” only means opposing abortion, we need a better conversation about the myriad ways human life is threatened today. On Friday, the March for Life brought together thousands of anti-abortion activists and conservative political leaders in Washington, as it does every year on the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

The gathering offers an opportunity to reflect on what it means to defend life. It’s understandable that abortion remains a foundational issue for millions of Americans. Debates over when life begins, whether a fetus can feel pain and at what stage a pregnancy can be terminated raise profound moral and medical questions.

While interest groups on both sides of this contentious issue often use absolute claims and polarizing rhetoric to make their case, many Americans recognize the complexity of abortion should not be reduced to talking points or bumper stickers. In fact a poll from Public Religion Research Institute found that 43 percent of respondents identified as both “pro-choice” and “pro-life,” a sign that binary categories are insufficient.

A more productive national discussion could start with acknowledging that the way we talk about abortion can’t begin with a culture-war approach, and finally recognizing the limits of single-issue politics.

There is nothing “pro-life” about defending life in the womb while walking away from our collective obligations to care for the child once that baby is born.

Trump addressed the rally by live video from the Rose Garden.

The president has won over many political and religious conservatives with his appointment of anti-abortion judges, including Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. His administration pushed for expanded conscience exemptions to contraception coverage requirements in the Affordable Care Act, and like every Republican president since Ronald Reagan, he reinstated the so-called Mexico City policy, which forbids U.S. aid money going to any international group that funds or promotes abortion.

For some voters and political leaders, these checks on the scoreboard are a sign that Trump passes the test.

There are signs that a more expansive understanding of what constitutes a “life issue” is challenging that narrow vision. Pope Francis, the world’s most influential religious leader, is driving that conversation.

The pope strongly opposes abortion, but has also elevated what he calls an “economy of exclusion and inequality” that “kills,” the death penalty, climate change and the treatment of immigrants as central pro-life concerns.

When asked by reporters about President Trump’s decision to rescind an Obama-era program that protected some 800,000 young immigrants brought to the United States as children, Francis didn’t equivocate. “The President of the United States presents himself as pro-life,” the pope said, “and if he is a good pro-lifer, he understands that family is the cradle of life and its unity must be protected.”

Climate change is “one of the principal challenges facing humanity,” according to the pope, a stark difference from a president who pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and who once called global warming a hoax invented by the Chinese.

Francis also helpfully rejects the kind of simple categorizations that limit American political debates. “Everything is connected,” he writes in “Laudato Si,” the first encyclical in the church’s history to address environmental themes and climate change. Francis understands that climate change caused by human activity is already killing people in the poorest countries, and it contributes to a migrant crisis also exacerbated by war and economic exclusion.

When Pope Francis visited the United States in 2015, he linked the need to protect life in the womb with “children who die of hunger or from bombings, immigrants who drown in the search for a better tomorrow . . . and the environment devastated by man’s predatory nature.”

Several U.S. Catholic bishops are taking the pope’s lead.

Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, an influential adviser to the pope, calls immigration “another pro-life issue.” Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich views gun violence as an urgent pro-life concern, and is a leader who forges alliances with progressives and Democratic politicians who disagree with the church’s position on abortion. In a speech to the Chicago Federation of Labor, the cardinal spoke of “feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, protecting the unborn, caring for the sick and welcoming immigrants” as part of a “consistent ethic of solidarity.”

The language echoed the message of a previous Chicago cardinal, Joseph Bernardin, who in the 1980s became the most prominent American church leader. “Those who defend the right to life of the weakest among us, must be equally visible in support of the quality of life of the powerless among us: the old and the young, the hungry and the homeless, the undocumented immigrant and the unemployed worker,” Bernardin said in a 1983 speech at Fordham University.

Debates over abortion shouldn’t stop. But let’s make sure the conversation about protecting life and human dignity doesn’t end there.

About the Author

John Gehring is Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, and author of The Francis Effect: A Radical Pope’s Challenge to the American Catholic Church. 

The Blessing of Old Age

“Hope I die before I get old.” Those were the words sung by Roger Daltrey in 1965. The founding member of The Who was 21 at the time. At 72, he must not be old yet, because he has yet to die. Is getting old really that bad? Try telling that to Yuichiro Miura, who climbed Mount Everest at age 70. Or George Brunstad, who swam the English Channel at the same age. Naval officer Grace Hopper became the first female rear admiral on the United States Navy when she was 79. Margaret Haggerty was 84 when she ran a marathon on all seven continents.

Many of the heroes of the Bible did their best work in old age. Moses was 80 when he led the Israelites out of Egypt. Abraham was 100 when his son was born and Jacob was 90 at the birth of his son. Noah was 120 when he started building the ark.

The Bible has much to say about old age. “Gray hair is a crown of glory” (Proverbs 16:31). “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days” (Job 12:12). “Even in your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you” (Isaiah 46:4). “They still bear fruit in old age” (Psalm 92:14).

The most godly man I know is 85. The most godly woman I ever knew was still blessing my family at 86. My pastor is almost 80. My best Sunday School teacher taught the Bible well into his 80s. God uses old people.

But when I think of the elderly, I think of Blanche. I wish I knew her last name. We only talked once. The year was 1975 and she was 93 at the time. On a Saturday morning, our youth group went to Blalock Nursing Home in Southwest Houston, where we sang to the senior adults. Blanche was among them. After one of our songs, she woke up, pointed her finger at me and said, “God is calling you to preach.” That was the totality of our lone conversation. Three days later, she died.

Does God use old people? God especially uses old people! Here’s your exercise for the day. Find someone old and call them, visit them, encourage them, thank them, and bless them. They are God’s greatest gifts, with wisdom and insight waiting to be unwrapped.

The Rushmore Report – Christian University in Texas vs. Hooters

Hooters is expanding its presence to mid-sized markets throughout the United States. While new locations have been well-received in most municipalities, that cannot be said for one city in Texas. It’s not the town that is outraged; it is one particular university. Rich in Christian heritage, this university is taking a strong stand against Hooters. Which city are we talking about?

Abilene, Texas.

Which university are we talking about?

Abilene Christian University.

The conservative Christian school is urging its students to not apply for a job at the new Hooters. The Abilene Reporter-News has reported that the university released this statement: “We have asked students to consider both what Hooters represents, and whether that is something they really want to support in terms of both their faith and the value this business model places on women.”

You probably have two questions. Let’s tackle both.

Yes, despite the fact the town is home to three religious colleges, despite the fact that you can hardly swing a cat in Abilene without hitting a stained-glass window, the grand opening of the “breastaurant” is next week.

The other two religious colleges – McMurry University and Hardin Simmons University – haven’t raised a fuss, but perhaps that’s because this Hooters is going to be just across Interstate 20 from Abilene Christian. Almost as close as the Cracker Barrel.

The university, affiliated with the Churches of Christ, is serious about its Christian values and its code of conduct. On the Dean of Students Office portion of ACU’s website, it reads right up top: “Abilene Christian University maintains a Christian discipline, promoting a way of life that is intended to uphold the teachings of Jesus Christ, calling all people to God’s truth. Therefore, community life at ACU is a disciplined life.”

This is followed by a quick and handy link for reporting violations of student conduct. And what could one report, other than, say, working or dining at Hooters? Let’s turn to the Code of Conduct in the Student Handbook . . .

Category one violations (punishable by, among other things, a $25 fine) include parking infractions, use of tobacco, profanity, dress code violations, curfew violations, and refusing to report your fellow students’ violations.

Category two violations include alcohol violations, not going to chapel, use or possession of pornography and sexual immorality. Among other punishments, you could get a $50 fine for each.

It goes on from there, but the message is clear: Abilene Christian and Hooters aren’t likely to get along.

Some graduates of ACU include theologian Edward Fudge (called “one of the foremost scholars on hell” by The Christian Post) and Christian pastor and author Max Lucado.

About the Author

Dave Thomas writes for the American-Statesman, the leading newspaper in Austin, Texas.

The Rushmore Report – Are You Depressed? This May Be Why

Millions of Americans are clinically depressed – more than ever. They turn to drugs, alcohol, and too often, dangerous activities, to cope with their depression. Many times, I recommend seeing a therapist. But the cause of depression may be right in front of you every day. Social scientists have found a significant link to depression for millions of us.

Clutter.

Yes, a link has been found between clutter and depression. Specifically, there is a link between high cortisol (stress hormone) levels in female home owners and a high density of household objects. The more stuff, the more stress. For men, the link of messiness to depression is less clear.

Women associate a tidy home with a happy and successful family. The more dishes that pile up in the sink, the more anxious women feel. But the problem stretches beyond the kitchen. For example, think about kids’ toys.

Although U.S. consumers bear only three percent of the world’s children, we buy 40 percent of the world’s toys. And these toys live in every room, fighting for display space with kids’ trophies, artwork, and snapshots of their last soccer game.

To avoid depression, you need to limit clutter.

Adopt the Rule of Five.

Every time you get up from your desk or walk through a room, put away five things. Or, each hour, devote five minutes to de-cluttering. At the end of the day, you’ve cleaned for an hour.

Be ruthless about your kitchen sink.

Pledge to clear and clean your kitchen sink every day. It takes a couple of seconds more to place a dish in the dishwasher than dump it in the sink. A clean sink will instantly raise your spirits and decrease your anxiety.

Put photos away.

Return to yesteryear when only photos of ancestors or weddings earned a place. Put snapshots in a family album, which will immediately de-clutter many flat surfaces.

Unburden your refrigerator.

Researchers found a correlation between the number of items stuck to the fridge door and the amount of clutter throughout the house. Toss extra magnets, file restaurant menus, and place calendars in less conspicuous places.

About the Author

Lisa Kaplan Gordon is an award-winning, Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer who contributes to real estate and home improvement sites. In her spare time, she gardens, manages three dogs, and plots to get her 21-year-old out of her basement.