While there is no Biblical condemnation of gambling, there are some principles involved that could be used as a guide. If, for instance, a person is seeking to have their needs met through chance, it's not only naive, but scripturally wrong because the Bible indicates that our needs are met by the Lord, not through quick fixes. The best and most moral fix for financial problems is through the labour of our hands.
(See Eccl. 5:10 & Prov. 13:11).
However, an occasional lotto ticket, or bet which is part of a cultural tradition (eg. a bet on the annual Melbourne Cup in Australia) cannot I think be seriously considered as "spiritually" life threatening. However, the risk does exist of finding that you might do well and go on to "press your luck" a bit further, but most people should be able to tell if fun has been replaced by obsession.
Organized gambling on a large scale such as in casinos, and at race tracks, is I believe, not a satisfactory activity for a Christian, or anyone for that matter, to be involved in. Working hard, trusting God, not wanting everything we see, using common sense and "seeking first God's kingdom and righteousness (Matt.6:33)" is, I think, the best way to avoid, or get out of, financial difficulties.
GAMBLING (take 2)
By Dave Miller and Kyle Butt
7:15-20, Jesus Christ laid down a test by which every activity or philosophy
could be assayed, and its true value assessed. He said, quite simply, that
“every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree
cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.” Jesus’ statement was
addressed specifically to false teachers, but it certainly can be applied to
various philosophies and activities of life (such as gambling). What kind of
fruit does gambling produce? When legalized gambling arrives in a new community,
does it raise the moral standards of that community? Does it help to lessen the
hardships of families in that community? Or, is the opposite the case? Does
legalized gambling place a burden on the communities by an appreciable lowering
of the moral standard and an increase in the financial burden for those who
already are working with a poverty-level budget? Let’s take a walk down the
gambling produce aisle and see what it has to offer.
The social effects of gambling have been substantial. As far back as the late 1980s, the National Council on Compulsive Gambling estimated that between four and six million gamblers are suffering from an addictive disorder that threatens their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Now, gambling researchers say that at least eight million people are compulsive gamblers, with one million of these being teenagers. A survey of 500 Gamblers Anonymous members reported that 21% of the participants stated that they had never thought of suicide, 48% said they had thought about suicide, and 13% had attempted suicide. According to the Charter Hospital of Las Vegas, the suicide rate among active gamblers (especially women) is the highest of all illnesses. Would anyone classify a highly addictive activity that often results in the participant’s contemplation of (or attempt at) suicide as a beneficial fruit that is good for society?
Furthermore, experts have expressed alarm at the rising numbers of teenagers who are gambling. They refer to gambling as “the growing addiction,” and predict that it will cause teens more problems during the next decade than illegal drugs.
David A. Korn, in an article titled “Expansion of Gambling in Canada: Implications for Health and Social Policy” in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, noted that gambling often affects the lower-income families more dramatically than those of higher income, due to the fact that lower-income families spend almost four times as much on gambling (in proportion to their income). Korn wrote: “These data suggest that gambling expenditures may be regarded as a voluntary regressive tax that has a proportionately greater impact on people with lower incomes.” He further noted: “Several populations are vulnerable to the impacts of gambling, in addition to lower socioeconomic groups. The cost to families in terms of dysfunctional relationships, violence and abuse, financial pressure, and disruption of growth and development of children can be great.” In concluding his article, Korn commented: “The rapid expansion of gambling represents a significant public health concern that challenges our values, quality of life and public priorities.”
What then, could one conclude from even a cursory glance at the “fruits” of gambling? Gambling is addictive, it preys on those with lower incomes, it dramatically affects teens, and it often leads to dysfunctional family relationships and abuse. Surely these would classify as “bad fruits.”
FROM A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE
Many people no longer care what God thinks or what the Bible teaches. Nevertheless, there is a God in heaven who has given His written Word. That revelation is designed to govern human behavior. One principle that runs throughout the Bible is that of stewardship. The Bible repeatedly and consistently paints the picture that God is the ultimate owner of all earthly possessions. The psalmist observed that the Lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10). James wrote that every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17). Jesus referred to humans as stewards—those who are entrusted to take care of another’s property (Luke 12:42). And He declared that every person has the moral responsibility to be a faithful steward of the money that has been entrusted to him (Luke 16:10-11). Yet, each year people shell out billions of dollars gambling away the money that has been entrusted to them by God. Imagine the good, wholesome projects that could be supported annually by such enormous stores of cash—children could be fed, the Gospel could be preached, houses could be built, and the list goes on. Instead of such worthwhile projects, however, these billions of dollars are pumped into a system that leads to addiction and abuse. It would be difficult, indeed, to conclude that gambling is good stewardship of the money with which God has entrusted a person. In reality, to pour one’s money into a system that mathematically and statistically has been proven, time and again, to benefit the “house,” and take from the gambler, certainly would fall into the category of unfaithful stewardship. Concerning unfaithful stewardship, Christ said: “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon [money or riches], who will commit to your trust the true riches” (Luke 16:11)? To stand before the throne of Christ, having squandered the money God entrusted to you on an idle activity like gambling, would be a frightening thought indeed.
Furthermore, as Colossians 3:17 notes, “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” It is not enough for a person to ask, “What is wrong with an activity?” Instead, the question actually should be phrased: “What is right with this activity?” The burden of proof falls on each individual to show that what he is doing has a positive, encouraging effect on himself and on others. One would be hard pressed to find any evidence that would classify gambling as something that could be done “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” In fact, when Christ returns, what person would want the Lord to find him in a casino?
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