IS GAMBLING RIGHT OR WRONG?
Well, much of America (over 50 million) is obsessed with gambling, spending more than 50 billion annually. In addition to this, there are lotteries, bingos, and church raffles which are also gambling. And, many Americans never think about gambling from the standpoint of right or wrong and for many who do think it is wrong, they have changed the label to “gaming.” So, gambling or gaming is big business.
Now, we could talk about the casino itself. There is no doubt that the house is in it to make a lot of money and if you will take the time to look at pictures of Las Vegas and other gaming areas, you will see that they are big and elaborate, and this was all built on the losses from people gambling. We could also talk about the fact that you are winning from those who have lost in the past, but I don’t think that will work. All of these things, while important to study, do not give us a clear answer if gambling is right or wrong.
So, what is the truth, as found in the Bible, pertaining to gambling? Well, to start, the word is not found anywhere in the Bible. And, there are many arguments that, I believe, will not hold up to the Scriptures, such as: Everything belongs to God theory. We know that everything belongs to God, but to say that it is a sin, from this standpoint, is not going to hold water. Gambling is not work and therefore, it is sin. Well, I know of gamblers who spend a great deal of time working and perfecting the way they gamble. Sure it is not physical work, but neither are a lot of other jobs in the world. Gambling is not a work for ones needs (2 Thess. 4:7-12), for family (1 Tim. 5:8), to help out another (Eph. 4:28) or to support the Lord’s work (1 Cor. 9), thus, it is sin. Or, gambling is not a gift or inheritance (2 Cor. 8:9; Gen. 15:1-4) and it is not something that we sell or give away and therefore, it is sin. Now, I understand this, but again, this theory will not work on proving if gambling is right or wrong, from a Biblical standpoint.
But, we can turn to the Bible to passages such as 1 Tim. 6:6-10 that speaks of the love of money, being the root or foundation of all kinds of evil. But, what does it mean to love money? Well, this is an interesting word, which root word “arguros”, means to love “silver” (Acts 3:6). Another meaning is “covetousness.” And, we also find the word “pleonexia” in Lk. 12:15 and Col. 3:5, which also means “covetousness” or “greedy desire to have more” or “fraudulent” which both the Lord and Paul forbids. Solomon states in Eccl. 5:10, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money . . .” In addition to this, gambling encourages selfishness and materialism (Phil. 3:19).
Now, something else that the love of money does is it is wealth gained hastily (Prov. 13:11) and one who gains this way, has an evil eye (Prov. 28:22). Furthermore, since the love of money is the foundation of all kinds of evil, notice the major side associate with gambling: Alcohol, Smoking, Prostitution, Theft, Lying, Appeals to the flesh, Wrecked homes and destroyed lives. Plus the fact, that gambling is an addiction. There is a group called Gambler’s anonymous. Like alcoholic’s anonymous. And so, just from these implication alone, Paul states in Eph. 5:11, “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”
Now, some may argue, “So what if it is gambling, the money is for a good cause!” Well, gambling is still the love of money, it is still covetousness and therefore, it is still wrong no matter what good may come from it. Now, someone may say, since gambling is a risk, then you can’t drive because driving a car is a risk. Or, what about the apostles who risked or gambled their lives to take the Gospel to the lost as God directed them. Some of our brethren will even go so far as feel there is nothing wrong with gambling as long as it is not at a casino. For instance, paying to enter a golf or fishing tournament in order to win a pot of money. Or, gambling at the kitchen table with money being exchanged. Some even look at investing and say, isn’t this gambling too?
You know, all this philosophy and justification will not work. Sadly, it is an attempt to justify what they do that they know is wrong. Now, as to investments, I will say that when we look at the one talent man (Matt. 25:24-27), the Lord mentioned to him why he did not at least, invest it. Investing was not developed to take money from others, but was designed to help a company to grow and develop. Thus, an invest will reap a return but based on the law of sowing and reaping. However, gambling is a game of chance where the purpose is solely to bet on the outcome of the game or event in question.
Now, while gambling does involves risk, not all risk involve gambling. Gambling is defined as: “To take a risk in the hope of gaining an advantage or a benefit.” Well, when we look at the definition of covetousness, it states, “Extreme desire to acquire or possess that which belongs to another.” It is not hard to see that gambling is really an act of covetousness. And, this is what Jesus warned against in Lk. 12:15.
Gambling robs the poor of their money and lines the pockets of the rich. So no, I do not believe one can gamble and be pleasing to God.