Saturday, November 7, 2009

What's so wrong with gambling?

Wouldn't it be nice at times if the Bible would speak straight forward with thou shall or thou shall not on certain issues? Just add a whole new list of commands in Exodus or even at the sermon on the mount in Matthew of thou shalt not gamble, thou shalt not do drugs, thou shalt not get abortions. It sure would make it easier for laymen like me if this were the case. Don't fret though, for that's the beauty of the Bible. It does say all these things, not so bluntly but with careful examination of God's Holy Word we see all that He actually does say on these topics.

Lets look at why gambling is indeed wrong, and it is wrong for so many reasons, I ask you to bear with me for this post may be long. The driving motivation behind gambling is greed. People want the big payout. You don't play the lottery for fun, you play to win the millions. The Bible is extremely clear on the issue of greed and covetousness which is another motivation behind gambling. So is materialism. I will put the extensive list of sins that motivate gambling or a result of gambling at the end of this post, so that now we can examine a little of the history of gambling.

The history of gambling in America is interesting. The American Revolution was funded by the sale of lottery tickets. The lottery was also used by Washington to build federal city, Washington actually bought the first ticket for that project, and we now know federal city as Washington D.C. Many colleges and churches in those times used gambling to build their building, for it was an easy way to raise funds for such projects. However the church started coming to their senses apparently, because they started speaking out against the unbiblical act of gambling, and in 1894 all forms of gambling were outlawed. The state lottery was again enacted in the state of New Hampshire in 1964, and since then it has spread like wildfire to other states and areas such as casinos, dog/horse tracks and more. Saint Augustine said that gambling was invented by the devil. Martin Luther said that money that was won from gambling was won out of self seeking sin. John Calvin outlawed gambling in all of Geneva.

There are studies that show 500 billion dollars a year are wagered legally. That's 500 billion just legally, taking the amount I'm sure much higher if we could tally all the illegal gambling dollars wagered. Just to put that in perspective, that is more then we spend on dentists, or sporting events, or foreign travel, or household appliances, or even health care a year. This is a huge problem, all driven by greed. Studies also indicate that there are approx 10 million compulsive gamblers in America. I think that's more then admitted alcoholics. Twenty percent of compulsive gamblers have admitted to thoughts or even attempts at suicide. The suicide rate of spouses of gambling addicts is 150 percent higher then the national average.

Atlantic City instituted gambling and casinos in 1976 to help revitalize their economy, unemployment and tax revenue. We always hear about the great tax revenue and jobs casinos bring. Now in Atlantic city, the crime rate has risen 380 percent, the police force has been doubled, even though the cities population is down 20 percent. Half of the 2100 small businesses closed, and unemployment is up. The best is, four of their last six mayors have been indicted for corruption, 3 of which are incarcerated. I could give more statistics but that would be moot, I just wanted to make the point that casinos and gambling bring a lot more with them then they promise, and that which they do promise is a lie in the end.

A big sin a person commits by gambling is discontentment. Phillipians 4:11-12 11Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
Paul knew what it was like to have and to need, and either way he was content with what God gave him. Gambling is in a sense saying I need more. What You have provided is not enough. Discontentment is a lack of faith, and it is a sin.

Proverbs 30:7-9
Two things I asked of You,
Do not refuse me before I die:
8Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
9That I not be full and deny You and say, "Who is the LORD?"
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.

This is such a remarkable verse. Be happy that you have enough. I know the American dream is the big house with a picket fence in a suburb with new cars. The American dream revolves around greed, so it shouldn't surprise us that the lottery and casinos do so well. The lust and materialism and greed drives us to get that American dream and all the things to "keep up with the Jones". This verse should teach us to be happy, be happy we have enough. Be happy you have a roof over head, no matter where you live. Be happy you have an automobile, no matter if it's a "beater". Be happy you have food in your belly. Many people don't have the luxury of saying those things. Here the Bible pleads for God to provide, not abundant riches, and not extreme poverty. You may not have abundant riches, but if you're on your computer right now reading this, then you also are not living in extreme poverty.

I will not post the entire parable of the talents, for it would make this post even longer, but I do ask you get your Bible out now and read it. It's found in Matthew 25 starting at verse 14 and going clear to 30. Many of us may already be familiar with these words of our Lord. I want you to look at verse 30: "Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

This slave was a bad steward of what he was given. He did not lose his masters money, not a bad steward in that way, but he was a lazy steward. He was irresponsible with what he was given. That is exactly what gambling is! This is also a sin, and look at what Jesus said to do to the person. Outer darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth are always used in reference to hell. I am not saying if you gamble as a Christian you will go to hell, we all are and can be forgiven, but I am saying it is a sin. How does God look at sin? Well, you, me, our kids, and every other human, will die because two people ate fruit they weren't supposed to. It wasn't even the act, but the rebellion against God. That's what sin is, rebellion against God. Gambling is rebellion against

Lets look at sins that motivate and sins that result from gambling:
1)Greed and materialism
2)Covetousness and lusts to have more and more
3)Laziness it undermines Gods standard of working by "trying to get rich quick"
4)Discontentment not happy with what you do have
5)Bad stewardship with what you are given
6)Distrusting God and His providence
7)Irresponsible family leadership it is true men
8)Stealing in order for you to win big someone lost big. So even if you do have a good day you are taking from someone who did not, and most gamblers are the poor
9)Not keeping the great command of loving your neighbor look at 8

I actually think I could keep going and going. Gambling exploits the weak, the poor, the undisciplined, and the gullible. It is the greatest example of taking money from the pockets of a lot of the poor and putting it in the pockets of a few rich. If you have extra money, and you claim Christ, don't gamble with it. It would be much better off to directly give it to someone in need. Or church, or a charity that helps people. Not the casinos. I did this blog because of issue 3 that passed here in Ohio (unfortunately). I was thinking, what is so wrong with gambling, so I listened to a few sermons on it, read my Bible and researched some statistics and was amazed at how much I learned and what a huge problem this is. The true church is busy defending the Bible against homosexuality and abortion, and have let this issue slip through the cracks. I say if you know Christ and have the hope within you, step up and defend God's Word and character when people push these immoral sins upon us. This is one of those sins that is not "good if done in moderation" like so many say. It's a sin, no sin is good in moderation. As far as helping school's and tax revenue, that still does not make it right, but even more wrong. That's just feeding the bigger chain of greed and discontentment. Plus the ends do not justify the means. This has gotten extremely long, and I will put another post about it soon on other parts I wanted to point out.

My prayer is that we learn the higher calling the Lord calls us to as His children. That we live holy lives because He is Holy. That we study His word and learn what is right and wrong according to His standards, which as His children are the only standards that matter. Let us also, with gentleness and love, help those who have fallen into the temptation and addiction of this sin, that they may know Him and be changed from within as we have been. With love and prayers always