Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Gambling Question #2: Is Gambling always wrong? What about the Lottery?

The Bible never explicitly mentions gambling. Many well meaning Christians will say that it is “sinful” all the time. Through my studies, I have concluded that a lot of the time it would be wrong, but I am NOT willing to say that it is ALWAYS wrong from a Bible standpoint.  On many questions people have about certain activities the Bible is not specific, but instead lays out principles and it is up to the student of the Word to take this principles and apply them and make a “wise” decision.

The Bible condemns greed, covetousness, ripping people off, tempting people to sin, a lack of self-control and irresponsible money management. The Bible tells us to also watch our influence and what environments we put ourselves in.

So a lot of times I would say that gambling does violate the principles listed above. Many times gambling is done out of greed, some times you might be taking advantage of the addictions of another and often the casino environment is not conducive to godly living (such as barely clothed cocktail waitresses and drunkenness etc.).

Now depending on how you define gambling, it might not always be a violation of Scripture. A friend and I may play a game of basketball and we might agree the looser has to by the winner a Gatorade. This would be gambling by definition, but I would not see that as a violation of the Bible. 

Investing money, might also be a form of gambling, For one company to succeed, it may require another to fail. Yes good investors do their research, but it is still often a matter of chance and luck.  The skeeball game at Chuck E Cheese for tokens would also be gambling.

I am always very cautious about making a blanket statement about something being "sinful"  or trying to state definitively what the “Bible says” if the Bible does not explicitly deal with it. 

So instead of telling people that "gambling is a sin", I instead say the Bible teaches that "gambling could be a sin most of the time" or it "is usually unwise". 

By showing why greed, poor stewardship, taking advantage of another, evil associations, etc.. are sinful, the Bible gives people the tools to use wisdom and make a judgment call on whether or not the actions they are engaged in are sinful or a good choice.

So back to the Lotto, yes it is gambling, yes it could be wrong (if it is done irresponsibly, out of greed, or some sort of addiction etc), but at the same time I am not going to rush to judgment on a person bought a scratcher ticket with the quarters left over in their car cup holder. I think I can say that gambling is unwise without a doubt, but I cannot say from the Bible that it is always wrong.

People struggle with this line of thinking at times, they want the bible to always tell them exactly what to do and not to do. But God does not always work that way, the Bible will often lay out principles and require the reader to draw conclusions and use wisdom in what choices they make. 

Side Note: Many may be thinking, “that change used to by a lottery ticket could be used to help the poor or feed the hungry”. This is very true, but so could that money we used to buy that car we did not need, that ipod, and that snickers bar. Wisdom, frugality, responsibility, generosity, entertainment and recreation is a balancing act in which God allows us to make a personal judgment calls. 
(Post By Cliff Sabroe)