Each Christian young person must be governed by the law of Christ and consider the will of Christ in his life. He must decide for himself what to do when he is asked to participate in a gambling game.
Many youth never face the gambling problem. However, many youth who live in areas of the country where gambling abounds, and whose parents make their entire living from the gambling industry, need to carefully consider this subject.
Frankly, gambling has never enjoyed a very good reputation among those who study sociology. True statesmen, patriots, and legislators do not have much good to say for gambling. The Chicago Crime Commission questioned District Attorneys throughout the entire United States concerning their opinion on legalized gambling and almost one hundred percent were AGAINST it.
George Washington was a believer in and frequently quoted the French proverb: "Gambling is the child of avarice (greed), the brother of iniquity and the father of mischief."
Thomas Jefferson said, "Gambling corrupts our dispositions, and teaches us the habit of hostility against mankind."
The great statesman, Benjamin Franklin, said in Poor Richard's Almanac concerning gambling, "Keep flax from fire, youth from gambling."
Statesmen and leaders such as these cannot be brushed aside as unimportant. They were concerned about the orderly moral development of our nation. They felt that gambling would be a HINDRANCE to such.
Even the new Columbia Encyclopedia says,
"Gambling flourishes in the United States usually under the control of a criminal element, and with the blessings of corrupt police officials."
Another writer reports that gambling is now "the largest illegitimate business in the United States." Fort-five percent of the U.S. adult population admit they participate in some form of gambling.
WHAT IS GAMBLING
Gambling is an artificially created game of chance, completely separated from all the vital and constructive risks of living. No skill is involved in most gambling games. In other gambling devices, skill only slows down the loss of the gambler's money. The ONLY consistent winner in gambling is the HOUSE (the gambling establishments). The games are so planned and arranged that the odds are ALWAYS in favor of the house.
There are always a FEW winners, (very few, compared with the losers) but the money these few win is merely an excellent method of advertising. It is no loss. It merely brings in millions more dollars as others see the possibility of winning, too.
The fast majority of gamblers are a sick and disappointed people. When they do occasionally win, they usually lose it all again.
Free drinks are a part of the sales pitch which the gambling house offers. Girls serve drinks among the crowds continuously. Since alcohol works fast on the part of the brain that controls good judgment, the more a person drinks the more freely he gambles until he has lost his last cent and lost his power to borrow another dollar. Gambling becomes an addiction, and many feel that it is harder to cure than ALCOHOLISM.
ISN'T ALL LIFE REALLY A GAMBLE?
True, all of life is uncertain and has its risks. We start down the road but do not know if we will reach our destination. We are told in the Bible that our lives are like a vapor that appears for awhile and then vanishes, and that we do not know what a day may bring forth (James 4:13-15). Yet, this risk is not artificially contrived. These are the realities of life.
We are frail human beings and as Christians we realize that our lives are dependent upon God. We were placed in the circumstances of life with many of its uncertainties that are beyond our control. We are to be the best stewards possible of our lives, our time, our talents, and our possessions. We are to be as sure as we can about the matters of life.
To those who call all of life a gamble, we simply answer that while life has its risks, the more intelligent a person is, the more he REDUCES the element of uncertainty. The farmer is NOT a gambler. He doesn't leave everything to chance. He does all he can to insure himself a good yield from his crops. The wise business man reduces his risks to a very minimum. He watches his inventory, checks his accounts, feels the pulse of public wants, and studies the market.
Marriage is not a gamble when two intelligent young people become well acquainted as to family background, ideals, beliefs, hopes and dreams, habits, and disposition, before finally saying the "I do".
The Bible sanctions farming and blesses it as a needed industry. The Bible commends honesty and diligence in business. The Bible honors marriage.
The only right ways to receive money are by work, gift, or inheritance.
WHAT EVILS RESULT FROM GAMBLING?
Gambling is like a cancer, corrupting everything it touches. Alcoholism is its attendant evil. That's why you see the free drinks served at the casinos. Prostitution and narcotics are tied right in with the cards and the wheels and the dice. An estimated 500 prostitutes operate through the summer in Reno even though Washoe County has OUTLAWED prostitution Nevada, where gambling is legalized, has the highest suicide rate in the nation!
The crime rate in Nevada is very high. Robberies are five times the national average, auto thefts triple, and burglary and larceny double. From eight to nine hundred vagrants with prison records are arrested EVERY MONTH in Reno. One police official stated, "Reno and Las Vegas collect all the human garbage from the other states."
Poverty, divorce, drunkenness, dope addiction, prostitution, robbery, theft, suicide, and murder are a few of the evils that gambling PROMOTES. The revenue taken in taxes is small compared to the cost of combating crime - much of which is aggravated by gambling. In our work in Reno, striving to bring souls to Christ and to patch up scores of homes that are falling apart, we observe that gambling is a principle factor in the ruination of the home. You see, young people, gambling ruins character.
WHY DO PEOPLE GAMBLE?
Many people say they gamble just for fun. This may be true. People drink, dance, smoke, swear, and live immoral lives, too, just for fun. The Bible says that sin is pleasure "for a season." It's a very short season, though, and the hell that follows makes it a poor deal all around.
But, really, I wonder sometimes if people do gamble just for fun. They sure have serious looks on their faces while playing those gambling devices and games! They surely get angry and curse when they lose!
I wonder if people would play slot machines if they knew they could NEVER win. If there were a line of devices set aside with a sign on them saying, "These machines are for those who play only to pass the time of day; for relaxation and enjoyment. There are no jackpots!" - do you think they would ever be touched?
I really think most people gamble because they are GREEDY, and want to try to get something for nothing. They are COVETOUS. Gambling is really wanting something that we have no right to have, and without laboring for it. The gambler wants to reap without sowing. Covetousness is the basic reason for gambling.
ARE THERE ANY BIBLE VERSES THAT CONDEMN GAMBLING?
In certain areas, this is a common question. A man could say, "If two of us come together and I will either rob you or you can rob me, and we will let CHANCE determine which of us robs the other, then it's nobody's business but our own." By the same reasoning, dueling stands in relationship to murder as gambling does to stealing. Just because a man is willing to risk his life in an encounter does not justify the taking of that life. The fact that a person is willing to risk the loss of his property does not justify him in taking the property of another without paying the equivalent.
Some Bible verses to remember in the light of these few facts concerning gambling are:
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Philippians 4:8).
We are to keep out of our thoughts those things that are dishonorable and are not of good report. Gambling is surely one of those things.
"Let him that stole, steal no more; but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth" (Ephesians 4:28).
The right way to get possessions is by work, not by stealing.
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).
"For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (I Timothy 6:10).
Covetousness makes people gamble. This verse pictures the condition of many a gambler.
"Abstain from all appearance of evil" (I Thessalonians 5:22). Christians should not possess cards or dice or any of the gambling devices. Many children have learned to play cards at home and, having become skilled a the game, are easily led into card games in the gambling casinos. Because cards and dice have a bad reputation, Chrtians should have nothing to do with them.
Anyone knows that a deck of cards could be used in an innocent way, but sinŠnce they are the MOST POPULAR of gambling devices, a Christian abstaining from the appearance of evil and desiring to cause no one to stumble, will not participate in any game where they are used, lest his testimony for Christ would be hindered.
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit" (Matthew 7:17). The fruits of gambling are evident on every hand, and they are not good. This is true especially here in Nevada. Gambling is a corrupt tree that yields no good. Therefore, a Christian will have nothing to do with it, and will speak out boldly to others that they might be saved from it, too. It causes a complete disintegration of character, and is often the first step to a life of laziness and crime.
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets" (Matthew 7:12).
We do not treat others like we like to be treated when we gamble, nor do we love our neighbor as ourselves.
Since life and money are sacred trusts given by God, let us not squander them, but use them for Christ and the furtherance of His cause. We have NO right to squander the possessions of another - so we have no right to use the money and life God gives us to satisfy covetous desires. There is a great day coming when we shall render an account for our stewardship to God. Let us learn early in life to use our money for the benefit of the Kingdom of Christ and the saving of souls for Christ.
"Let not thine heart envy sinners; but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long. For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off. Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way." Proverbs 23:17-19
Gambling, both legal and illegal, is a phenomenon gaining unprecedented acceptance. Because it is so widespread, Christians must look at this activity to determine the ethical and moral implications.
Advocates of gambling often try to place it in the same category as other ventures that involve risk. They describe farming, business, insurance, and even investments as gambling because the outcome is unpredictable and losses can occur. In this way they hope to transfer the respectability of legitimate ventures to gambling.
L.M. Starkey Jr. has made the following observation: "Life does have its normal risks which one must accept with faith and courage. These normal risks are in no sense equivalent to the risks in the game of chance. Gambling devises artificial risks in hope of excessive gain far beyond what the investment of time, money, or skill would justify. In gambling, the chance is unrelated to any creative effort called for by the farmer or the stockbroker in the responsible investment of his mental, monetary and physical funds."
To distinguish gambling from risks involved in legitimate ventures it would be helpful to recognize three integral factors in gambling: I) an incentive consisting of money or merchandise is offered. 2) The prize is acquired primarily on the basis of chance. 3) A payment of money or other consideration is required to become involved in the chance taken.
Gambling, then is recognized as any activity in which wealth changes hands, mainly on the basis of chance and with risk to the gambler. Creative efforts, useful skills, and responsible investment are not integral factors.
Because gambling exists in many forms and people in increasing numbers are exposed to its temptations, it is good to examine this subject from a Biblical point of view in order to ascertain whether such activity contributes to living the Christian life.
It is interesting to note, looking back into Old Testament times, that during their Babylonian captivity, the Israelites came under the influence of a people who gambled. Some of the Israelites became involved. It was to these people that Isaiah wrote: "But you are they that forsake the Lord, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering to that number" (Isaiah 65:11). As indicated in some modern translations of the Bible, the Hebrew words translated "troop" and "number" were names of the gods, "Gad" and "Meni." To the heathen, Gad was the giver of good luck. Meni was the god of bad luck.
The translation of Isaiah 65:11 by James Moffatt is as follows: "But ye who have forsaken the Eternal, ye who ignore His sacred hill, spreading tables to Good Luck, pouring libations to Fate, I make the sword your fate."
The sin for which the Israelites were rebuked was trusting in luck rather than God. Isaiah made it clear that trust in God and trust in luck cannot coexist.
A careful reading of the Scriptures reveals a number of Biblical principles which indicate that gambling should be avoided. In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus tells the Parable of the Talents. The whole thrust of the story is that the good and faithful servants administered the talents entrusted to them in such a way that the Master was pleased. The wicked servant failed to administrate and suffered the consequences. Jesus was here recognizing a basic truth. We do not really own anything. God the Creator does. All the things we have are given to us by Him and our proper role is that of manager or steward.
When people recognize their stewardship responsibilities, and that they are managers of God's resources, they will not consider gambling the proper administration of Divinely bestowed resources. Even the ethics of our society today deem it wrong for a manager to gamble with resources entrusted into his care.
Another point to consider is the very nature of gambling. One person gains while many others suffer loss. The economic benefits come only to a very few. The financial loss is usually borne by those who can least afford it.
The Bible teaches that Christians are to love their fellow man. In gambling, one has to hope for the worst for his fellow man in order to gain the best for himself. William Temple, late Archbishop of Canterbury, stated it this way, " . . . To attempt to make a profit out of the inevitable loss and possible suffering to others is the antithesis of that love of one's neighbor on which our Lord insisted."
Gambling stands against the work ethic outlined in Scripture. Working for wages is God's plan for making a living and gaining money. Proverbs 12:11 says: "He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread." 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says: "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat."
Not only does the Bible prescribe that mankind should work, but it also wars against the something-for-nothing "get rich quick" approach. Proverbs 28:20 says: "He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent." Proverbs 28:22 says: "He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him." Proverbs 13:11, says: "Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished; but he that gathereth by labor shall increase."
Gambling, whether to secure wealth in a hurry or to place bread on the table, is inconsistent with what the Bible teaches about work.
Gambling also has a tendency toward addiction. As in the case of alcoholism and drug addiction, compulsive gamblers are dominated to the extent that they risk not only money, but everything meaningful in life. They have lost control of themselves. This condition is contrary to the teaching of the Scriptures which point out that Christians are not to be enslaved to anything (I Corinthians 6:12). One of the characteristics of the life controlled by the Holy Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:23).
Gambling addiction studies show that there are six major symptoms which are characteristic of compulsive gambling. 1) The activity becomes chronically repetitive. 2) It becomes a mania which precludes all other interests including family. 3) A pathological optimism replaces the ability to learn from previous losing experiences. 4) The ability to spot in a winning situation no longer exists. 5) In spite of initial decisions to gamble only so much, the addict invariably risks too much. 6) The activity seems to produce an enjoyable tension consisting of both pain and pleasure.
It is obvious that habitual gamblers are under the control of the compulsion to gamble. Rather than being servants of God, they are servants of a desire they cannot handle. Paul, the apostle described the condition clearly when he wrote: "Know ye not that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye obey" (Romans 6:16).
When the truths of God's Word are considered, the Christian should not adopt a neutral stance on gambling. Gambling fosters trust in luck rather than God, it disregards our role as manager of God's resources, it involves the unloving practice of trying to gain from others' loss, it goes contrary to the work ethic of the Scriptures, and it is addictive. May God bless you as you prayerfully consider this matter as it applies to your own life and convictions.