We are living in a day when societal acceptance of gambling is beyond anything we would have ever thought possible in our lifetime. I have seen statistics that reveal there are as many as 48 states in the U.S. that have some form of legalized gambling and that 85% of Americans have gambled at least once in their lifetime. It also has been reported that 60% of Americans have gambled in the last year.
With this kind of activity going on in the country, we must ask the question: “Is gambling something with which Christians should be involved?”
When we talk about Christians and gambling, we must begin with the fact that gambling is out of character with biblical morality. This means that gambling is immoral. This means it is a behavior that is contrary to established biblical moral principles.
The popular gambling of our day would be more characterized as “predatory gambling.” Predatory gambling occurs when corporate gambling interests’ partner with the government to cheat and exploit its citizens. (Which is what is happening now by way of new gambling legislation in Georgia.) So many aspects of this gambling type are rigged by the industry that – if you win – it can be used for the purpose of luring you into more gambling.
Now for the Christian, because of gambling’s predatory nature, it becomes a risky behavior that violates moral principles established in God’s Word. I will share with you what I call: “10 reasons why a Christian should not gamble.”
#1. Gambling violates the principle of worshipping God alone because it promotes idolatry.
There are many Scriptures, beginning with the Ten Commandments that talk about the supremacy of worshiping God (Ex. 20:3; Deut. 18:9-12; Matt. 6:33). Because gambling is basically more about “luck” and not skill, it encourages people to put their trust in “chance” and “superstition”.
As a matter of fact, in Isaiah 65:11 (ESV, NASB, NIV) we have two pagan gods named “Fortune” (Gad) and “Destiny” (Meni). There is no doubt this verse has some relationship to the activity that is involved in gambling. Now, let me ask you are there really any other gods than the Lord? No! Then who are these? I Corinthians 10:19-20, reveals who is looked to, if it is not the Lord God.
Gambling ultimately promotes increased demonic activity in people’s lives. Next time you are in a convenience store, just notice the astrology books and horoscope materials that are available to help in choosing numbers for activities such as the lottery.
#2. Gambling violates the principle of helping others who are in need because it exploits the poor and needy.
It says in Proverbs 14:31, “He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.”
Gambling encourages people – often those who are least able to afford it – to spend their money and deprive their families, thinking that they can be better off financially because of it. It is not God’s will that Christians participate in behavior that further oppresses poor and needy people.
Studies have shown us that those people living in poverty or near poverty are more likely to play the lottery than those who are in financially better shape. Sometimes they contribute as much as half of the income to the lottery cooperation in their state.
Amos 2:6 says that God told the people, “I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes.”
#3. Gambling violates the principle of being content with what you have by fostering coveting, greed, and money worship.
Jesus himself said in Matthew 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Gambling encourages people to lust more after the world and its pleasures than delighting in the things of God. And, so because of that it can lead to the worship of money!
1 Tim. 6:10 states money in and of itself is not evil but rather the “love” of money is! This love distracts us from God. The Scriptures teach that focusing on God and godliness is where the real contentment is in life (Phil. 4:10-13; I Tim. 6:6-9).
#4. Gambling violates the principle of protecting children because it exposes them and their families to the greater risk of evil.
Again, we can look to the greatest authority of all, Jesus and see what he said in Luke 17:2, “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” This is just one of many passages, where Jesus puts the priority of caring for children over the other needs and wants in life.
Gambling encourages and has the potential to destroy whole families through addiction, bankruptcy and other evils such as alcohol, drugs and pornography.
I have said for years when testifying in hearings at the State Capitol that the legalization of moral vices has its greatest detriment on our children. And yet, many times children and tax revenue for education are used as the excuse for the legalization of things like predatory state sponsored gambling!
#5. Gambling violates the principle of obeying the law because it increases the amount of crime and illegal gambling.
The Scripture says in Romans 13:1, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”
Gambling encourages more lawbreaking through other illegal activity which is usually associated with the gambling. Stats have shown that things such as theft, drugs, pornography, murder, prostitution, drunkenness and illegal gambling increase wherever predatory gambling is legalized.
Once again, the scripture warns us in 1 Timothy 6:10 that “…the love of money is the root of all evil…”. The further legal expansion of gambling has proven that it promotes MORE evil in a society!
#6. Gambling violates the principle of a biblical work ethic because it implies that you can have something by doing little or nothing.
The Apostle Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”
Gambling encourages people to think that being slothful and lazy is not something to be looked down upon, because winning (in some cases) has become more important than working.
There is no doubt that in societies where work is highly esteemed and respected, individuals, marriages and families are more likely express to love, dedication, and commitment to one another. With the amount of homelessness, divorce, child abuse and crime, we can’t afford to move in another direction.
In the Book of Genesis and Exodus, we even see that God expressed work and encouraged others to do the same (Gen. 2:2; 3:19; Exodus 20:8-11).
#7. Gambling violates the principle of good stewardship because the majority of wagering is a waste of money with little or no reward.
God wants there to be prosperity among his people and all the earth, but his principles must be followed as seen in 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”
Gambling, on the other hand, encourages people to take what is usually their hard-earned money (which is also, God’s money) and put it up at a tremendous risk. It is a risk, that the majority of the time, ends in failure!
Predatory gambling is based on the premise that there must be a majority of losers! The “House” MUST always win out! Which means the people who play, MUST lose as a general rule.
Proverbs 12:11, puts the principle plainly before us:” He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.”
#8. Gambling violates the principle of freedom by enslaving its participants to gambling addiction.
The Scripture says in Galatians 5:17, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”
Gambling, however, encourages a compulsion to a behavior that once a person is “hooked”, it becomes uncontrollable. Anywhere predatory gambling is expanded, addiction exponentially explodes!
It is like a moth’s destructive fascination with the flame of a candle. It is a fatal fascination that will theoretically and, in some cases, literally kill you. Statistics nationwide have shown that one-third of addicted gamblers attempt suicide.
The Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 6:12, All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
#9. Gambling (when legalized) violates the principle of governmental ministry by permitting laws that encourage its citizens to participate in the gambling industry.
The Scripture says in Romans 13:4, “For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”
Gambling on the other hand, (when run by the government) encourages that which is evil and perverts the purpose for which God intended government.
This is preciously what predatory gambling is. It is state sponsored gambling that is based on the pretext that we are allowing something evil, but it is being sanctified, because it is supposedly doing something (raising tax revenue) that is good (ie. helping the children)!
I do not believe God will hold us as citizens guiltless if we allow this to happen again in Georgia!
#10. Gambling violates the principle of love by leading people into an activity that could very well destroy their lives.
Christians are reminded in Romans 13:10 that, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
Gambling on the other hand, encourages the destruction and hurt of individuals and families! This is the opposite of helping them to experience blessings and fulfilment.
It is impossible for us to love people the way God wants us to love people and at the same time participate, promote, or to not do anything to stop those activities which hurt and destroy people’s lives!
Jesus himself said in Matthew 22:39, “…Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” He also said this in Matthew 7:12, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them…”
I can never accept that Jesus would be a part of predatory gambling. And it is hard for me to conceive of anyone following Jesus, knowing these dangers, who would participate in it or not fight to stop it!
Gambling is immoral and out of character with biblical Christianity.
The very nature of the predatory gambling industry (The Lottery, Video Coin Operated Machines, Sports Betting, Casinos, and Parimutuel Betting) is antithetical to living the Christian life.
Ephesians 5:8-10 says, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”
There is no doubt in my mind that participating in activities like predatory gambling is a bad witness to the transforming power of the gospel in a believer’s life!
See this link for additional statistics on gambling impact on society: https://gabaptist.egnyte.com/dl/YGzUY5Z5sp