Thou Shalt Not Gamble (Part 2)
I want to continue to refute the argument that the Bible has nothing to say about gambling. Many people in support of gambling point out that the Bible does not specifically address the issue of gambling, in fact, they point out that the Bible fails to even use any form of the word “gambling”. My contention is that even though the Bible may not use the something like the phrase, “thou shalt not gamble” it plainly addresses the issue and forbids gambling. It is not silent on the issue. Every expression of gambling whether it be slots, card games for money, betting on sports, bingo, lotteries, or raffles goes against everything the Bible plainly says about honesty, love of neighbor, material stewardship, the way one should trust God for provision, and the proper work ethic.
3. We should manage our material resources responsibly. Christians are to recognize the Biblical principle that we are stewards of the material world. Everything on this planet has its material source in God as Creator of the universe and is to be managed under the direction of His righteous Lordship (Psalm 24:1). God is pleased when we invest and multiply His resources (Mt. 25:14-30); He is pleased when we share them (Acts 2:44-45); but He is not pleased when we waste them (Ezekiel 16:49). We are to manage God’s resources with wisdom. There is nothing wise about gambling. It is a game of chance that exists because there are a lot of people in the world who waste their time and money. There is nothing in Scripture that encourages someone to take what God has given them and speculate it upon pure chance.[i] Why don’t proponents of gambling accept that argument from silence as readily as they do the aforementioned one – that the Bible is mute on gambling simply because it does not use the word? If it is good enough that the Bible doesn’t say “thou shalt gamble” why isn’t it good enough that it doesn’t say “thou shalt?” Gambling is open rebellion against Biblical stewardship (1 Peter 4:19, Luke 16:11, Proverbs 21:20, Psalm 24:1, Colossians 3:23, Luke 12:42-46, Matthew 6:19-21). If people who gambled began to practice these principles there would be no gambling industry. People who practice Biblical stewardship DO NOT GAMBLE. Therefore, because of what the Bible teaches about stewardship, it speaks resoundingly against gambling.
4. We should trust God and work hard for our provision. People make three major mistakes with money. 1) We love it. 2) We are prone to believe that enough money would bring happiness and solve most all of our problems. 3) We believe that the best way to get rich is quickly. The gambling industry fosters these attitudes. The Bible condemns them. The Bible teaches that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Even if the Bible were left out of the argument, it would not be difficult to make the case that the Bible’s statement here is true. All one needs to do is watch people who love money do evil. The gambling industry loves money. It should not be surprising then that where there is gambling there is greed, corruption, and all sorts of evil. Furthermore, even without the wisdom of Scripture, studies have shown that people who gain wealth quickly have no idea how to manage it. The Bible teaches that the best way to gain wealth is through the slow process of hard work (Proverbs 10:4, Proverbs 13:11). When people work hard for money they gain a sense of value, both about themselves and of a dollar. If it comes to them freely, they will spend it freely without a sense of responsibility. Those who get rich quick, often find poverty just as quickly. The gambling industry promises a shortcut. A person does not have to work hard or trust God for provision, all one has to do is take a chance that pays big dividends. You don’t need to be smart, just lucky. If it were really that easy, there would be no gambling industry. The industry is built on you losing and the people who offer you a venue in which to gamble, winning. The Bible teaches that it is a blessing to gain wealth God’s way. There are not blessings to the shortcuts. (Jeremiah 17:11, Proverbs 10:22, Psalm 112, Proverbs 23:4-5, 1 Timothy 6:17,18) If the gambling industry practiced these principles there would be no gambling industry. Casinos CANNOT live out what the Bible says and exist as they are. Therefore, because of what the Bible teaches about proper work and wealth, it speaks resoundingly against gambling.Does the Bible clearly forbid gambling? Absolutely! It teaches an ethic that if practiced, would shut down the gambling industry. As a pastor, what grieves me most about the argument that gambling is allowed because the Bible does not plainly forbid it, is how many people who claim to be followers of Christ ignorantly subscribe to it. If you are a Christian who reads and practices Scripture you are living in open rebellion to God’s Word if you gamble. It is, in every facet and meaning of the word, sin. Based on what the Bible plainly teaches about honesty, love of neighbor, material stewardship, trusting God for provision, and the proper work ethic, it has a resounding message for its readers, “Thou shalt not gamble.”
[i] There is a clear difference between risk and chance. Every investment is “risky,” but it is based on historical precedent, a business plan, and future probabilities. A person who makes an investment has the opportunity to educate themselves on how their investment will be used and the potential loss. Gambling promises one thing, you have the chance to win. One could actually make the case that gambling is not really based on chance at all. There is nothing arbitrary about it. It is handicapped and regulated heavily so that the house and the government institutions involved are clear winners. Nothing about gambling is left to chance.