Articles by Ferrell Foster

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CLC DA A CONOCER UN NUEVO RECURSO SOBRE EL ALCOHOL Y EL USO DE DROGAS

by Ferrell Foster on August 8, 2019 in CLC Español

Para ayudar a los cristianos y a las iglesias a comprender mejor lo que la Biblia dice sobre el alcohol y el uso de drogas ilegales, la Comisión de Vida Cristiana ha elaborado un nuevo recurso. Se trata de un documento de seis páginas titulado “Sobre el alcohol y el uso de las drogas: Una perspectiva bíblica”. El texto no habla sobre el abuso de drogas de receta médica; esperamos hacer algo para esclarecer ese tema muy pronto.

Con todo, las consecuencias negativas del abuso del alcohol son pasmosas. De acuerdo al National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (Instituto Nacional para la Prevención del Abuso de Alcohol y el Alcoholismo, en español), sobresalen los siguientes datos:

  • Se estima que 88,000 personas mueren por causas relacionadas al alcohol cada año, lo que lo convierte en la tercera causa prevenible de muerte más importante en los Estados Unidos. La primera es el tabaco, la segunda es la dieta deficiente y la inactividad física.

  • En el 2014, los accidentes automovilísticos fatales por motivo del exceso de alcohol fueron la causa de 9,967 muertes (31% del total de muertes por accidentes automovilísticos).

  • En el 2010, el consumo indebido de alcohol le costó a los Estados Unidos $249 mil millones de dólares.

  • Tres cuartas parte del costo total por causa del consumo indebido de alcohol se relaciona con el consumo compulsivo del alcohol.

  • Más del 10% de los niños estadounidenses viven con un padre que tiene problemas con el alcohol.

  • Los estudios indican que el consumo de alcohol durante la adolescencia podría interferir con el desarrollo normal del cerebro del adolescente e incrementar el riesgo de desarrollar Síndrome de Abuso de Alcohol (AUD, por sus siglas en inglés). Además de ello, el consumo de menores contribuye a una amplia gama de consecuencias graves, tales como lesiones, asaltos sexuales e incluso muertes, entre las que se incluyen aquellas que son provocadas por accidentes automovilísticos.

  • 1,825 estudiantes universitarios de entre 18 y 24 años de edad mueren a causa de heridas no intencionales provocadas por el consumo de alcohol; en ellas se incluyen los accidentes automovilísticos.

  • 696,000 estudiantes sufren de ataques sexuales de parte de otros estudiantes que han bebido.

  • 97,000 estudiantes reportan haber experimentado ataques sexuales o violaciones en relación al consumo de alcohol.

  • Cerca de uno de cada cuatro estudiantes universitarios reportó haber sufrido consecuencias de tipo académico por causa del alcohol, entre las que se incluye el faltar a clases, retrasarse en clase, hacer un papel ineficiente en exámenes y trabajos de investigación, y recibir bajas calificaciones en general.

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CLC releases new resource on alcohol and drug use

by Ferrell Foster on July 18, 2019 in CLC

To help Christians and churches better understand what the Bible says on both alcohol and illegal drug use, the Christian Life Commission has compiled a new resource. It is a six-page document titled "On Alcohol & Drug Use: A Biblical Perspective." (It does not deal with prescription drug abuse; we hope to do something soon on that subject.)

In American culture alcohol use is common. Advertising associates drinking with good times, parties, and beautiful people. It may not, however, be as widely consumed as sometimes perceived. The 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health said 70.1 percent of people reported they drank alcoholic beverages in the past year; 56.0 percent reported that they drank in the past month. That's most Americans, but almost half of Americans steered clear of alcohol over the previous month.

Still, the negative consequences of alcohol abuse are staggering. According the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, here are some of the stats:

  • An estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. The first is tobacco, and the second is poor diet and physical inactivity.
  • In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities).
  • In 2010, alcohol misuse cost the United States $249.0 billion.
  • Three-quarters of the total cost of alcohol misuse is related to binge drinking.
  • More than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems.
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ES IMPORTANTE PROTEGER A LOS MENORES DE EDAD

by Ferrell Foster on June 10, 2019 in CLC Español

Protegemos a los niños y a los adolescentes porque son un regalo de Dios y una bendición al mundo. Al crecer son vulnerables debido a su tamaño y a las etapas de desarrollo por las que atraviesan, y requieren de adultos que los cuiden y protejan.

No todas las sociedades le dan una gran importancia a la protección de los más jóvenes. Incluso en los Estados Unidos, tuvieron que aprobarse leyes laborales para proteger a los niños y adolescentes de la explotación. También nos aseguramos de que reciban educación básica, que los pequeños vayan asegurados en los automóviles, que los padres los traten apropiadamente, y no se permite que ningún adulto se involucre sexualmente con menores de 17 años de edad.

Aunque no todas las culturas protegen a los niños y los adolescentes de la manera que la sociedad estadounidense lo hace en la actualidad, las Escrituras hablan del gran valor que Dios le da a los menores de edad. (La Biblia fue escrita en un tiempo y lugar en que los niños llegaban a “la mayoría de edad” a los 13 años; en nuestra sociedad, con el aumento de su complejidad, esa edad es por lo general entre los 17 o 18, y algunas leyes reflejan ese aumento).

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It’s important to protect children, teens

by Ferrell Foster on May 14, 2019 in CLC

We protect children and teenagers because they are a gift from God and a blessing to the world. As they grow, however, they are vulnerable because of their size and stages of development. Children and teens need adults to care for and protect them as they grow.

Not all societies have placed a high value on young life and the importance of protecting them. Even in the United States, child labor laws had to be enacted to protect children and young teens from being exploited. We also make sure children and teens get a basic education, that young ones are safely secured in vehicles, that children are treated properly by parents, and that no adult is allowed to be involved sexually with someone under age 17.

While not all cultures protect children and teens in the way the current American society does, Scripture sets forth the high value God places on young people. (The Bible was written in a time and place when children were seen as "coming of age" at 13; in our society, with its growing complexity, that age is more generally seen as about 17 or 18, and various laws reflect that increase.)

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Scripture does not prohibit calling police about sexual abuse

by Ferrell Foster on May 13, 2019 in Ethical Living Blog

When a sexual assault is reported, church leaders may be tempted to invoke the Apostle Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 6:1. “If any of you has a dispute against another, how dare you take it to court before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?” (CSB).

That passage is dealing with what we in the U.S. call civil lawsuits, where church members were asking the Roman courts to rule on disagreements between church members. “As it is, to have legal disputes against one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” (1 Corinthians 6:7, CSB).

This passage is not dealing with sexual assault. If a Christian in Corinth had murdered someone at a church meeting, the church, I think, would have called the local authorities to have the person arrested before he could kill anyone else.

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JESÚS NOS LLAMA A ROMPER EL CICLO DE LA VENGANZA

by Ferrell Foster on March 25, 2019 in CLC Español

Hace dos mil años Jesús puso el dedo firmemente en la noción de venganza. “Ustedes han oído que se dijo: ‘Ojo por ojo y diente por diente”. Pero yo les digo. No resistan al que les haga mal. Si alguien te da una bofetada en la mejilla derecha, vuélvele también la otra” (Mateo 5:38-39, NVI).

Esto suena maravilloso hasta que uno es el que recibe la bofetada; entonces la cosa se vuelve personal. A mí me enseñó mi padre, quien es seguidor de Cristo, que si alguien me golpeaba, yo debía regresarle el golpe. Esto era el reflejo de una sabiduría rural práctica con la que él creció, no lo que Jesús enseñó.

La venganza es algo que se nos inculca a una temprana edad, y lo interesante es que la venganza está ligada a la justicia; de ahí la enseñanza del Antiguo Testamento de ‘ojo por ojo’. De hecho, esta ley limitaba el castigo a que el agresor pagara proporcionalmente por lo que había hecho. En otras palabras, si alguien me robaba una vaca, yo no debía ir a matarle a su hijo. Yo debía buscar una restitución justa; una de sus vacas, o quizá más de una como castigo.

Aunque la justicia del ‘ojo por ojo’ es limitada, podemos ver cómo se metastatiza, especialmente cuando las personas o grupos buscan lo que ellos piensan que es un castigo justo, no lo que una autoridad externa piensa que es lo justo.

Esto sucede una y otra vez en el escenario global. Un interesante artículo de The Washington Post habla sobre cómo los supremacistas blancos y los musulmanes fundamentalistas se alimentan mutuamente.

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Jesus calls us to break cycles of revenge

by Ferrell Foster on March 22, 2019 in CLC

Two thousand years ago Jesus put his heal on the notion of revenge. “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also” (Matthew 5:38-39, CSB).

This sounds wonderful until you are the one slapped; then it gets personal. I was taught by a Christ-following dad that if someone hit me, I was to hit him back. It was a reflection of the practical rural wisdom he grew up with, not with what Jesus taught.

Revenge gets embedded in us early. And here’s the interesting thing, revenge is related to justice. That’s the point of the eye-for-an-eye instruction in the Old Testament. It actually limited punishment to an equal response for an offense. In other words, if someone steals my cow, I’m not supposed to go and kill his son. I’m supposed to seek a just recompense -- one of his cows, or maybe more than one cow as a punishment.

Even though eye-for-an-eye justice is limiting, you can see how it metastasizes, especially when individuals or groups seek to exert what they think is a fair punishment, not what some external authority thinks is just.

This happens over and over on the global stage. An interesting article in The Washington Posttalks about how white supremacists and Muslim fundamentalists are feeding off of one another.

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Texas children are dying in unsafe Texas homes

by Ferrell Foster on March 4, 2019 in CLC

Our Texas governor said something during his State of the State address in January that should not have been shocking, but still it is. “Last year, more than 100 children died in our Child Protective System.”

It should not have shocked us because this is not new. In fiscal year 2017, Texas had “172 confirmed child abuse and neglect-related fatalities,” according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. And that was a decrease from 2016, when 222 died.

Here are the death totals from 2010-2015: 227, 231, 212, 156, 151, and 171. That’s 1,542 deaths from 2010 until the end of the Texas fiscal year Aug. 31, 2017. We are now 18 months beyond that point.

As Gov. Abbott said, “The primary goal of government is to keep its citizens safe and secure.”

We are not doing that well enough. In 2017, 238,600 children were assigned for investigation or “alternative response” by Child Protective Services. That is a lot of children. That’s 3.18 percent of the 7.5 million Texas children.

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What should a church do if someone reports sexual abuse?

by Ferrell Foster on February 12, 2019 in CLC

Sometimes it is hard to acknowledge what we know to be real. Such is the case with sexual abuse that happens in churches or by a church leader or volunteer.

It is real. It is tragic. It is devastating to lives. It is damaging to the cause of Christ.

The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News have partnered in producing a three-part series on sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches. This is not the kind of news any Southern Baptist wants to read, but it is exactly the kind that we must read.

Reporting possible crimes

Any charge of sexual misconduct should be taken seriously. If it involves possible criminal activity, law enforcement should be immediately contacted. Keeping it quiet within the church is not a option.

If we think a store has been broken into, we call the police. If we think money has been embezzled, we contact authorities. If there is any indication a sexual assault has been committed, a church needs to report it.

The wise approach to any instance of alleged sexual abuse or assault is to call the police, says Kathryn Freeman, the Christian Life Commission’s director of public policy. Reporting such crimes is also the law in Texas.

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Pastors see importance of discipleship in dealing with social issues

by Ferrell Foster on February 1, 2019 in Ethical Living Blog

A new Barna report shows that pastors “place a premium on discipleship when it comes to social issues.”

At this point, I have read only a sample of their findings, not the full report, but I wanted Texas Baptists to be aware of it. “Faith Leadership in a Divided Culture” includes these details:

Nine in 10 pastors (90%) say it is a major part of their role to help Christians have biblical beliefs about specific social issues. Just under three-quarters (72%) say helping Christians think well about culture in general is a major part of their job.

Pastors believe they can make a real difference when it comes to developing this kind of cultural discernment. More than nine in 10 believe they have influence with their congregants when it comes to how they think about current issues in society (31% say “a lot” of influence, 60% “some” influence). Most leaders express optimism that their congregants are prepared for a divided culture—a majority of pastors says their congregants are somewhat (55%) or very (7%) well-equipped to have conversations on sensitive topics.

We can be thankful most pastors say it is a “major part” of their work to help believers develop a biblically informed view of social issues. Also, most see themselves having at least “some” influence on how church members think about current issues.

I’m not as confident as the pastors who say their congregants are well-equipped to have conversations on sensitive cultural topics.

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