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 – 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.”

 

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 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.

The Rushmore Report – Chip and Joanna Slammed for Having a Baby

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, the sharks are back. The other day, my wife told me the happy news. Her Twitter buddy, Joanna Gaines, posted the news that she and husband Chip Gaines are expecting their fifth child. But it didn’t take long for the “I have nothing better to do with my time” critics to go nuts. How dare them have another child!

Their “sin,” apparently, is that they are helping to overpopulate the earth. At least when the earth burns up, we’ll know who to blame. It’s those crazy Christians who live on a ranch, teaching their children the truths of God’s Word while living wholesome and entertaining lives in front of millions of Americans on the most popular show on HGTV.

One critic posted, “Thank you for contributing to the over population of the planet. I hope this one [baby] will be your last and you will use wiser judgment.”

Another idiot posted, “I like them ok, but enough with the kids already!”

To their credit, Chip and Joanna are being wise and harmless in their response. They have not responded.

I love Fixer Upper. Beth and I have visited the famous silos twice. I once spent $45 in Joanna’s bakery, on a boatload of cupcakes. (I recommend the strawberry cupcakes.) We have things around our house that we bought at their shop. So I guess, in a way, we have become enablers – encouraging them to keep up their wholesome, Christian, uplifting ways.

And for that I am proud. Call me silly, but I think we could use more wholesomeness, not less; more Christianity, not less; and more encouragement, not less.

The Bible says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (Psalm 127:3-5).

My advice to Chip and Joanna is this: keep doing what you’re doing, ignore the critics, and please, please, please – change your mind and return for one more season of Fixer Upper! 

The Rushmore Report – Planned Parenthood – 82 Abortions for Every Adoption Referral

Planned Parenthood’s latest annual report reveals that for every adoption referral the organization made they performed 82 abortions, and the federal government is the group’s largest source of funding. The abortion giant received more than $543 million in federal dollars in the most recent fiscal year, despite seeing fewer patients.

The Catholic News Agency reported the organization received 61 percent more in government funding than in the previous year. In 2017, the group saw 2.4 million patients at its hundreds of locations nationwide.

Planned Parenthood’s excess revenue also increased by 27 percent from $77.5 million to $98.5 million. The group performed a total of 321,384 abortion procedures, approximately 878 per day, in fiscal year 2016-2017.

CNS columnist Terence P. Jeffrey ran the numbers further, calculating that if Planned Parenthood had done its abortion procedures around the clock for the entire year, they would have had to abort about 37 babies per hour, one every 98 seconds, to make their yearly total.

About the Author

Brandon Showalter writes for The Christian Post.

The Rushmore Report – Does Falling Out of Love Justify Divorce?

Divorce isn’t justified just because one spouse has fallen out of love, says theologian and Desiring God founder John Piper. In a podcast posted Friday on the Desiring God website, Piper was asked a question from an anonymous listener whose adult son was planning to get a divorce. The question elicited a direct response from Piper.

The individual said, “I’m totally perplexed by the timing. I don’t understand why he feels unhappy, but he claims he is ‘no longer in love’ with his wife anymore. What would you say to someone who has ‘fallen out of love’ with their spouse, and why that’s no ground for divorce?”

Piper responded that falling out of love is a bad reason to divorce because, in his opinion, married couples oftentimes fall in and out of love, yet remain together.

“It is, in my judgment, almost ludicrous to think that we experience ‘being in love’ the same for the entire 60 years, just like we felt at the beginning of the relationship,” said Piper.

“In a relationship between two sinners forced to live as close as married couples live, it is naive to think that every season will be one of warmth and sweetness and sexual romance. That’s just contrary to almost the entire history of the world and contrary to every makeup of fallen human nature.”

About the Author

Michael Gryboski writes for The Christian Post.

The Rushmore Report – Why You Can’t Embrace Climate Change and Still Be Pro-Choice

I am going to present the one scientific argument for which the climate change crowd has no answer. By the end of this column, I will have shown why it is impossible to embrace the scientific case for climate change (global warming) and still support abortion rights. You can believe in climate change or you can be pro-choice. But you can’t legitimately be both. Let me explain.

The case for climate change is summarized in one word – science. Just ask anyone who makes the case for climate change. The argument goes like this: “Over 90 percent of scientists agree that man-induced climate change is real and it is dangerous to our planet and our way of life.” Then they will point to studies they don’t understand produced by scientists they don’t know in languages they can’t read. “Science proves climate change is real, and anyone who doesn’t believe it is ignoring scientific facts.” Science, science, science. That is the argument for climate change.

Whether the climate change alarmists are right is not the point of this column. Let’s assume they are right for the moment. Therein lies the deep hole the climate change alarmists have just dug for themselves, and out of which they cannot climb.

Here’s why, in a word – fetus.

Sure, there is a biblical argument against abortion. There is a moral argument, a spiritual argument, and a physiological argument – none of which will impress the climate change alarmist. They live in the world of science. If science – as they understand it – supports climate change, the case is closed. Sealed. Done. Never to be opened again.

Here’s the problem for the climate change doomsayer. The same science on which he hangs his hat tells us that the victim of an abortion is a real human life.

Life in the womb for a child is as well documented as anything in science. With ultrasound and Doppler machines, as well as other technology, one can monitor the life of a baby in the womb from very near the beginning until birth. Moments after conception, the resulting single cell contains all 46 chromosomes necessary to grow into an adult human being. Within 48 hours of conception, the mother’s body starts producing a hormone to let her know she is pregnant. In the beginning of the third week, the baby’s heart begins to beat, with a blood type that is often different from his mother’s.

During week five, eyes, legs, and hands have begun to develop. By week six, brain waves are detectable. Week eight has every organ in place, bones begin to replace cartilage, and the baby can begin to hear. By week twelve, the baby is nearing the end of the first trimester. He has all the necessary parts to experience pain, including nerves, spinal cord, and thalamus. He can grasp objects placed in his hand and has fingerprints, a skeletal structure, and circulation.

By week fifteen, he has an adult’s taste buds. At week twenty, the earliest stage at which liberals used to conduct partial-birth abortions, the child can recognize his mother’s voice. He is within one or two weeks of the stage where babies can routinely be saved outside the womb.

In spite of all this, to justify the slaughter of tens of millions of unborn children, abortion apologists have regularly ignored the indisputable science of life in the womb.

Let’s summarize. The same climate change apologist carries his message on the back of science. But when that same science makes clear the fact of life within the mother’s womb, he turns the other way.

The vast majority of climate change alarmists are rooted in leftist ideology – the same ideology that defends abortion. But you can’t have it both ways. If you support climate change on scientific grounds, you must oppose abortion for the same reason. Unless, of course, you support the taking of innocent life.

So if you want to be intellectually honest, you can be a believer in climate change. But only if you stand just as strongly for the life of the unborn.

 

The Rushmore Report: Where to Take Your Family in 2018

Nothing beats a great family vacation. I still cherish the trips we took as a family when I was a kid – to California, the Smoky Mountains, and Orange, Texas. Well, Orange wasn’t so hot! Now is a good time to start planning your family vacation for 2018. U.S. News has surveyed families nationwide. Here are the top 15 destinations for your next family vacation.

But first, a few suggestions. I have been to ten of these 15 destinations. They are all great. I suggest a few things before you go to any of these incredible spots.

First, enjoy the journey. When David was young, we usually drove on our vacations. Some of our best memories came from the journey. Don’t get in a hurry. Make memories along the way.

Second, go when the weather is good. Nothing is worse than going to a great place at a bad time. None of the places on the list below is fun when it is 100 degrees outside.

Third, don’t get in a rush. It’s good to have a plan. But expect crowds, lines, and things to go wrong. That’s okay. Take things slowly and expect the unexpected.

Fourth, take lots of pictures. This may be my only regret, looking back on our family trips through the years. We didn’t take enough pictures. Today’s pictures are tomorrow’s memories.

Fifth, pray before you go. Nothing makes for a great trip more than the presence of God. Invite him along; he’ll be there anyway!

Now, according to U.S. News – and a lot of children everywhere – here are your top 15 destinations for your 2018 family vacation.

1. Disney World

2. Disneyland

3. Branson

4. San Diego

5. Grand Canyon

6. Yellowstone

7. Ocean City

8. Washington, D.C.

9. Maui

10. Honolulu

11. Outer Banks

12. Hilton Head

13. Yosemite

14. Gettysburg

15. Chicago