No One Can Serve Two Masters: What the Bible Says about Gambling
By Betty Miller
Studies show that lotteries are the favorite legal gambling game for teenagers. Statistically, one of seven who play will become addicted. But teenagers aren’t the only ones affected. One out of 10 adults who gamble will become addicted too. In fact, gambling is the fastest growing addiction in America. Like alcoholism and drug addiction, compulsive gambling is costly to the economy. Families are the ones who suffer the most. Many people feel gambling is only a game that is fun, but the Bible tells us this evil is a terrible sin that will lead to poverty.
The Hidden Traps of Gambling
He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him. Proverbs 28:22
Gambling in our nation is spreading as the number of states operating lotteries has more than doubled since 1980, making them the ultimate “get-rich-quick” schemes. As gambling spreads to more and more states, Christians need to have the Bible’s instruction about this money robber. The Bible declares that it is wrong to bet money on the possibility of becoming instantly rich.
He who oppresses the poor to get gain for himself, and he who gives to the rich will surely come to want. Proverbs 22:16
States who legalize lotteries and gambling are oppressing the poor for gain. According to a 1988 study of the Michigan lottery, that state sells the greatest number of tickets in low-income and ethnic neighborhoods in urban areas. Lottery tickets made available in grocery marts and drive-in markets make it easy for people to purchase these “chances to win the big hit.” Some spend money on the lottery tickets instead of groceries for their families. Many compulsive gamblers wreck their lives and their families as they are encouraged to risk money that they usually cannot afford to lose. An estimated 15 million people are compulsive gamblers.
The lie that is used to promote this evil in our society is that legalized gambling doesn’t promote crime and will lower taxes. Actually just the opposite is true – gambling promotes other vices which attract the criminal element. This results in higher, not lower taxes as the cost for additional policing must be increased. Indian reservations and the big gambling centers of Las Vegas and Atlantic City are taking in billions of dollars. Casinos rob those who play the games with them as the odds are stacked 80% to 90% in favor of the casino. Even those that do win big on occasion statistics have proven that within two years most winners have totally spent the money they won.
Proverbs 21:20 says, “There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.”
People who gamble give to the pool of money that composes great wealth. This causes them to give to the rich and as Proverbs 22:16 says “…he who gives to the rich will surely come to want.” Our states are also reaping a type of “poverty” where gambling exists because it undermines the American work ethic. The result is lowered productivity, use of work time to gamble, absenteeism, high rates of business failure, and repeated non-payment of loans, mortgages and other financial obligations. Gambling is, to many, a scheme to escape labor.
Is Gambling Really a Sin
Some Christians argue that gambling does no harm. However, the scripture is clear that this activity is sinful. Anytime someone is enticed to gain money at someone’s else’s certain loss, this is definitely not practicing the principals taught by Christ. Also, the practice of gambling takes away from the Bible’s principals of economics – working, saving and giving. Discipline and accountability for spending are ignored. Gambling preys on the weakness of others.
Let me mention here that entering free sweepstakes or drawings are not sinful as they are advertising ploys paid for by the sponsors. They use these to advertise their products while giving their customers a chance to win in a drawing. There is no gambling involved as the participants give no money for a chance to win the prize.
However, many Christians are guilty of supporting lotteries, bingo, horse racing, and even playing at the casinos. Video poker has become so popular it is now referred to as “the crack cocaine of gambling.” Some do not realize the gravity of their sin. They justify gambling simply because they have needs that cannot be met through their present earned income. The Lord desires to meet those needs for them and will give them a plan for becoming debt free if they seek him and His economic principles in the Bible.
The Lord can bring deliverance to those caught in this web of compulsive gambling. Through admission of this sin and repentance God will break the bondage of it in those who desire to be set free. Gamblers need love and acceptance but they must repent in order to be free. The Lord loves those who are addicted to gambling and will help all that call upon Him for deliverance.
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Betty Miller has written several books on other topics as well. To view titles or purchase those books visit our bookstore.