When Jesus began His earthly ministry. He challenged the theology of the establishment. He didn’t challenge their belief in God…He challenged their system and WHY they believed what they believed. Many Christians don’t know why they believe much of what they do. He came to fulfill the letter of the law with love. In fact, when accused of eating and keeping company with sinners, Jesus told them they need to reevaluate how they interpreted the scriptures…
Matthew 9:13 (NKJV)
13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’[a] For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”[b]
In Matthew Chapter 23 Jesus sharply rebukes the religious leaders for their blatant legalism, and forcing people to observe statutes not necessarily given by God.
Even today, there are some things that the church really frowns upon…drinking alcohol, smoking, getting high, and yes…gambling.
Most Christians will be quick to tell you that gambling is a sin, and I’m not necessarily saying that it’s not. In fact, let me make this disclaimer…
THIS POST DOES NOT CONDONE OR JUSTIFY GAMBLING!
We do, however, need to be able to have an intelligent, godly discussion about some of the more difficult subjects that aren’t specifically addressed in the bible and ask ourselves how much conjecture has gone into the conclusions we draw about those subjects…one of which is gambling.
Gambling is one of those subjects that when someone sincerely asks a question seeking the truth…sometimes one or all of the following occurs:
- We find it is not specifically addressed in the bible.
- We can try to reeeeaaaaaachhhh to make scriptures apply to the subject that may or may not do so to support our theology.
- We will say that certain scriptures apply a particular subject or behavior that we want to label as SIN, while saying the same scriptures don’t apply to a similar or identical subject or behavior that we want to justify.
Have you ever been asked a bible question, and when you couldn’t find that perfect scripture that you really wanted to use to address it…you picked one or more and ‘made them fit’?
This often discredits us when we’re attempting to either lead people to Christ or help them grow in their faith.
Remember, Jesus and later the apostles constantly challenged the religious establishment on what and why the believed.
So, that being said, I want to briefly and honestly address…
Why is GAMBLING is considered to be a sin?
I’m a minister, and I’m quite familiar with most of the scriptures that we use to support gambling as a sin, Here are just a few…
Luke 12:15 (NKJV)
15 And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness (greed),[a] for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”
This implies that all gambling is greed. (I’ve used this one)
1 Timothy 6:10 (NKJV)
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
This implies that all gambling is rooted in the love of money and greed. (I’ve used this one too)
Psalm 1:1 (NKJV)
Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
This is often used (yep, I’ve used this one too) to imply that all places where gambling takes place, such as casinos, are evil.
There are plenty of scholarly resources available if you want to investigate this further yourself (and I encourage you to do so), or you can do a simple google search.
So, what is gambling?
There are no good examples of gambling in the bible, however there are examples of people casting lots (dice) to make decisions. This is how the apostles chose a replacement for Judas (Acts 1:26). However, this was before the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is who we’re supposed to rely on for guidance.
So what is gambling?
Dictionary.com defines gambling as (1) the activity or practice of playing a game of chance for money or other stakes. (2) the act or practice of risking the loss of something important by taking a chance or acting recklessly.
But, the apostle Paul asserts in 1 Corinthians 6:12 that we are free to do many things, as long as we aren’t brought under the power of them. However, the context of this verse is in a discussion of sins that the bible DOES address directly…(fornication, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, sodomy, thievery, covetousness, getting drunk etc..)
However, even though getting drunk is a sin…drinking a glass of wine isn’t as pointed out in 1 Timothy 5:23 and in my article… ( PLEASE DON’T ‘TRIP’ OVER A GLASS OF WINE – ALL THINGS IN MODERATION…). Some things aren’t a sin unless we do them in excess, or if we let them have dominion over us. This is addressed well in Romans Chapter 14. We should avoid anything that we can’t control.
So, if someone gambles in moderation merely for enjoyment, and if there is some positive benefit (such as a lottery helping to fund roads or education) does that make it okay? Hmmmm?
Before you write me off, also consider this…According to the definition of gambling…
Is investing in a risky stock gambling? (Think of how many people lost everything when the economy crashed.
Is purchasing insurance that you may never use gambling? (Think of how many people don’t get their claims honored due to loopholes…or they never have a loss so never collect).
How about this…Is playing a game at a carnival or amusement park gambling? (What’s the difference in taking a chance to win a teddy bear and taking a chance to win money?)
I think you get my point.
Most people will give you excuses to explain how some risks aren’t gambling when they’re no different from betting on a horse with a history of winning. (Which I’ve never done).
So, here’s my question for the saints, theologians, fellow ministers, and deep thinkers…
If a Christian is obedient and responsible in giving to God…
If they are generous in giving to the poor and those in need…
If they are responsible in paying their debts…
If the don’t neglect their family…
If they aren’t addicted…
If they aren’t obsessed…
Is it a sin for them to purchase a lottery ticket every now that then…or go to the casino and play a determined amount of money and then quit?
For those who say a casino is evil, most of our favorite restaurants have a bar…most grocers sell liquor, but Christians still go).
Again…I’m just trying to have an intelligent discussion about a topic that is often addressed, but sometimes mishandled.
And, I must be responsible enough to say that if anyone has a weakness for gambling, then it is most definitely a sin for them.
But the truth of the matter is…
LIFE IS RISK MANAGEMENT…
And, this is a conversation we must have if we want those who are lost to take us seriously, and not weaken our case for Christ by reaching trying to pick our sins.
Yes, sometimes it is only for fun … and some fun ticket to win a sheep or something is only a game or to support a good case. But … Paul warns us not to let somebody else stumbles because of us, and we also must be careful not to think that we are strong while we are weak and fall ourselves and my friend Mike always warns that we must be careful not to play too near the lions whiskers. 😉
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Hmm..I struggle with this as far as to whether it’s a sin or not. I don’t gamble but it’s mainly because I’m not good at it. I know some Christians who play the lotto. I don’t know if that’s the same or not. I have heard that it is a sin when it comes to some ministers and the way they preach. I guess it depends on how the person views it and how strong they are.
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