Q: I went to my 20th high school class reunion the other day, and it was really depressing to discover how many of my classmates are on their second or third marriages. Why aren't marriages lasting today? My marriage is happy, but I worry about what might happen to our children. — Mrs. N. McG.
A: Surely one of our most important responsibilities as parents is to show our children what it means to have a committed and loving marriage. It won't necessarily keep them from having problems in their own marriages — but it still could do much to help them overcome any difficulties.
Why are so many marriages failing today? I can only answer from my own perspective as a Christian and a minister. I'm convinced one reason is because we no longer see marriage as a commitment — a commitment made to God, as well as to each other. Jesus said, "So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate" (Matthew 19:6).
Another reason marriages are failing today is because we've lost sight of what it truly means to love someone. "Love," for many people, is only an emotion — and when the emotion fades, so too does their relationship. But true love is also an act of the will — a commitment to put the other person first instead of self. The Bible says, "Love is patient, love is kind.... It is not self-seeking" (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
God gave marriage to us for our happiness and security. But when we leave Him out of the picture, our happiness and security easily fade. Don't let this happen to you, but commit your life — and your marriage — to Jesus Christ, and build your relationship on Him.
Q: My cousin (who isn't married) says she doesn't believe in saving anything to take care of herself when she gets old, because the Lord will take care of her and provide for her needs. Is this what the Bible teaches? — Mrs. M.D.J.
A: The Bible certainty urges us to put our trust in God instead of money, because God will never let us down — but money will. The Bible tells people "not to... put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (1 Timothy 6:17).
But this doesn't mean we shouldn't save for the future, or that we can neglect planning for our latter years. After all, if we don't provide for our own needs as we grow older, then someone else will have to — and we may find ourselves in very difficult circumstances. Trusting God doesn't mean ignoring His provision for us right now.
I know this is a complicated matter, and not everyone is able to save for the future (especially in this economy). But the Bible urges us not to be lazy, but to be as diligent and thrifty as possible — not only to provide for our futures, but also so we can support God's work. It says, "Go to the ant... consider its ways and be wise!... It stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest" (Proverbs 6:6, 8).
On the other hand, don't become so preoccupied with money that you leave God out of your life. Someday you'll die and leave everything behind, but are you prepared for that day? Remember Jesus' words: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy.... But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven" (Matthew 6:19-20).
Q: We've just discovered that my mother (who is in her late 80s) has been the victim of a scam that's taken almost all her money. We've alerted the police, but why would anyone be mean enough to hurt someone like this? — A.J.
A: All crime is evil — but surely crimes against those who are helpless and vulnerable are among the worst. Only someone with no conscience could commit something like your mother experienced. The Bible labels as evil all those "who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority... They are experts in greed — an accursed brood!" (2 Peter 2:10,14).
You've done the right thing by reporting this to the police. Even if they aren't successful in recovering what these scam artists stole, your report will help them be on the lookout for similar crimes in your area. They also can notify agencies in your community that have contact with elderly people. They in turn can alert the media, encouraging people to be on guard against scam artists. Remember the old saying: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
In addition, if your mother is no longer able to take care of her finances, you will need to step in and help her. (An attorney specializing in elder law can assist you.) She may be reluctant at first — but this situation indicates you may need to be more active in her affairs. The Bible says, "Defend the cause of the weak" (Psalm 82:3).
Urge your mother to be more cautious in the future. Don't condemn her, however, for what happened or keep bringing it up. Instead, pray for her and let her know you love her. Most of all, remind her of God's love for her, and of the hope we have of eternal life because of Christ.
(Send your queries to "My Answer," c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit the Web site for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: http://www.billygraham.org.)