by R. J. Evans
In 1931, the state of Nevada legalized most forms of gambling. The city of Las Vegas, in particular, became the center of gambling in the U.S. Over the course of time, it has been referred to as “Sin City”, which is not surprising. Now, the city has developed a marketing catchphrase— “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. Need I say more?
Since 1931, many forms of gambling have become a thriving “vice” in America, especially casinos. At present, Nevada and Louisiana are the only states where casino-style gambling is legal statewide. In other states, casino-style gambling is restricted to certain small geographic areas like Atlantic City, NJ, the Mississippi gulf coast, or the American Indian reservations.
I have never been to a casino (and have no desire to go), but I have seen enough TV commercials to get an idea of what they are like. I find it interesting what they use to lure people in—bright lights, glitter, entertainment, prizes, and especially the food. The buffet-style food is a big draw.
The commercials displaying colorful scenes of appealing foods give evidence that they know they can get to people’s wallets through their stomachs. In these establishments, it is as if the average person is playing against a “stacked deck”. The “odds” are always in the casino’s favor.
Games of chance are like that — if that were not so, casinos would lose so much money they would have to go out of business. The gambling patrons win just enough to whet their appetite to keep coming back — it is always “wait till the next time — I’m going to hit it big!” The sad part is that a good percentage of these folks are already having financial difficulties.
At this point, we raise the question of our title: Should a Christian gamble? To gamble is “to play games of chance for money or some other stake; to bet on an uncertain outcome.” Some people reason that since the word gamble is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, then it must be okay. Of course, there are other terms not specifically mentioned in Scripture but are still in violation of what the Bible teaches. Words such as “rape”, “abortion,” or “suicide” would come under the category of what is considered wrong, based upon Bible teachings and principles.
In this article, let us observe some biblical principles that are violated when someone gambles, what it can lead to, and why it is a sinful vice. Consider the following:
- Gambling destroys the incentive to work (Genesis 2:15; 3:19; Ephesians 4:20; II Thessalonians 3:10; Acts 20:34-35).
- Gambling is unjust gain (Proverbs 28:6-8; Ezekiel 22:12-13).
- Gambling is a form of covetousness (Ephesians 5:3; Jeremiah 22:13; Habakkuk 2:6).
- A gambler is greedy and becomes a lover of money (I Timothy 6:5-10; Colossians 3:5).
- Gambling breaks the second greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 13:10).
- Gambling violates the “golden rule” (Matthew 7:12).
- A gambler robs his family (Ephesians 4:28; I Timothy 5:8).
- A gambler destroys his influence for good (Matthew 5:13-16).
- Gambling is a form of evil (I Thessalonians 5:22).
- Gambling is addictive (I Corinthians 6:12-13).
Based upon the biblical teachings mentioned above, Christians need to stand firmly against all forms of gambling.