Q: Over the holidays, we had a very hard time renting family-friendly videos that we felt comfortable having our children watch. Even some with a family rating had too much violence or bad language. Are we being too protective? — Mrs. K.H.
A: No, I don't think you're being too protective. Our children are influenced by everything they see and hear, including things that former generations never had available to them.
After all, how do children decide what's right or wrong? They decide by what they observe — both in our lives and the lives of others. If they grow up thinking there's nothing wrong with violence, sexual immorality, greed or anything else they see in the media, why are we surprised if they adopt those ways of living? The media can be a powerful influence on young people, for good or for ill. The Bible says, "Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path" (Proverbs 23:19).
What can you do? First, help your children understand why you disapprove of certain types of entertainment, even if their friends are permitted to experience them. You can't shield them from the realities of the world (nor should you), but you can help them understand that God's way is best. Newspaper or Internet reviews can help you decide in advance what videos are appropriate for your children.
The most important thing you can do, however, is to make Christ the center and foundation of your family's life. God has given your children to you and you have the privilege of helping them discover God's plan for them. The Bible's command applies to our children as well as us: "Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2).
Q: A few weeks ago, a fast-talking salesman got my elderly mother-in-law to sign an expensive contract for something she doesn't need and can't afford and certainly will never use. Why are some people so cruel, taking advantage of someone like this? — Mrs. A. McL.
A: Tragically, some people are absolutely heartless and think nothing of exploiting those who are helpless or weak. Perhaps your letter will encourage people to be more alert to these dangers, especially if they have friends or family members who may be vulnerable. The Bible says, "Blessed are those who have regard for the weak" (Psalm 41:1).
Why do some people act so cruelly? The reason is because they're concerned only for themselves. They never would want anyone to treat them this way but that doesn't bother them, for they think only of themselves. They think this way because they've left God out of their lives and have allowed their sinful human nature to control them. The Bible says, "In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises" (Psalm 10:2).
Do what you can to help your mother-in-law, including getting legal advice concerning this contract and whether it can be canceled. Remember: Your concern shouldn't be just for her but also for others who might be taken in by this scheme. In addition, it may be time for your husband to take over your mother-in-law's finances; her lawyer can advise you about this.
In addition, ask God to help you be a blessing to your mother-in-law during these latter years of her life. She took care of your husband when he was young and helpless; now ask God to help you care for her. Remember the Bible's command: "Honor your father and your mother" (Exodus 20:12).
(Send your queries to "My Answer," c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn., 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit the Web site for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn.: http://www.billygraham.org.)