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Why is gambling wrong?

While the Scripture does not specifically address the subject of gambling, it provides us with a number of principles that can guide us on this issue. The Bible does not say, “You shall not gamble,” or “gambling is wrong,” but it does teach us that while we might be free to do many things, all things are not profitable and we should never be brought under the control or power of anything other than the reign of Christ in our lives (see 1 Cor. 10:23; 6:12). Gambling, like many things in life, can become addictive. Further, it becomes a means of getting rich quick or of seeking fortune apart from constructive labor or work that is truly beneficial to society. God has given us each abilities and with training we can become productive members of society and of the body of Christ. Gambling seeks to bypass this process.

Below is part of an article by Kirby Anderson with Probe Ministries at www.probe.org that directly addresses this issue and is an excellent summary. You can find other articles on this at their site.

Even though the Bible does not directly address gambling, we can derive a number of principles from Scripture.

First, gambling breeds a form of covetousness. The Tenth Commandment admonishes us not to covet. Coveting, greed, and selfishness are the base emotions that entice us to gamble. I believe Christians should be concerned about gambling if for no other reason than the effect it has on the weaker brother and how it will affect the compulsive gambler. State-sponsored gambling makes it harder for the compulsive gambler to reform. Legalized gambling becomes an institutionalized form of greed.

Second, gambling destroys the work ethic. Two key biblical passages deal with the work ethic. In Colossians 3:23-24, the Apostle Paul says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” And in 2 Thessalonians 3:7,10, he says, “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. . . . For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”

The Twentieth Century Fund research group commented, “Gambling’s get-rich-quick appeal appears to mock capitalism’s core values: disciplined work habits, thrift, prudence, adherence to routine, and the relationship between effort and reward.” These core values of the work ethic are all part of the free enterprise system and are part of the Christian life. Gambling corrupts these values and replaces them with greed and selfishness. Rather than depending upon hard work, gamblers depend instead upon luck and chance.

Third, gambling destroys families. Gambling is a major cause of family neglect. Many of the social costs associated with gambling come from its mindset. As people get caught up in a gambling frenzy, they begin to neglect their families. Money spent on lottery tickets or at horse tracks is frequently not risk capital but is income that should be spent on family needs. In 1 Timothy 5:8, Paul says that a person who refuses to care for his family is worse than an infidel. Parents must provide for their children (2 Corinthians 12:14) and eat the bread of their labors (2 Thessalonians 3:12). When gambling is legalized it tempts people to neglect their God-mandated responsibility to care for their families, and these families often end up on welfare.

Fourth, gambling is a form of state-sponsored greed. We read in Romans 13 that government is to be a minister of God. Government should provide order in society and promote public virtue. Legalized gambling undercuts government’s role and subverts the moral fabric of society through greed and selfishness promoted by a state-sponsored vice.

Gambling is bad social policy; it is bad economic policy; and it is bad governmental policy. Moreover, it undermines the moral foundations of society and invites corruption in government. As Christians, I believe we must stand against society’s attempts to legalize gambling.

Related Topics: Cultural Issues