Why God Hates Gambling

Last week it was announced in our local newspaper that a citizen of the county had won the lottery. The woman will receive $50,000 a year for the rest of her life. She bought the winning ticket at our WalMart Super Center. She said that she usually buys one ticket per week but decided to splurge for two the day of the purchase. It was that second ticket that hit the jackpot. Stories such as this one keep people buying lottery tickets. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that playing the lottery is gambling and the Bible teaches that gambling is not of God.

Perhaps your response is, “Oh, come on, Russell. What’s wrong with having a little fun? I can buy a lottery ticket every now and then, go to a casino a couple of weekends a year, or put some money on the ballgame, and it not be a big deal.” Well, my friend, it is a big deal with God. Let me take the Bible and give you four solid reasons why He hates gambling.      

Reason #1: God hates gambling because it shows a lack of contentment (1 Timothy 6:6-10, Philippians 4:11-12, Hebrews 13:5, and Exodus 20:17). When you gamble, you are, in essence, saying to God, “I am not content with the financial situation in which you have me. I want more money.” The subject of discontentment can be traced back beyond the tenth commandment, all the way back to the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve coveted the fruit from the one tree that God had deemed off limits to them.

Reason #2: God hates gambling because it involves get-rich-quick schemes (Proverbs 28:20,22; Proverbs 10:4; Proverbs 13:4; Proverbs 13:11). The Bible never promotes such schemes. Instead, it consistently promotes hard work, good stewardship, and even wise investing.

Reason #3: God hates gambling because it exploits the poor (Proverbs 14:31; Proverbs 28:27; Proverbs 29:7; Psalm 41:1). Did you know there are many more lottery outlets in poor neighborhoods than in higher income areas? Did you know that on those days when welfare checks arrive around this country, long lines form around the stores that sell lottery tickets? Did you know that in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods, the Illinois state lottery rented billboards that showed a lottery ticket and the caption, “This could be your ticket out of poverty”? In gambling, for one person to win, other people must lose. And what category of people can least afford to hand over money and get nothing in return? That would be poor people.

Reason #4: God hates gambling because it frequently destroys peoples’ lives (Proverbs 24:1-2). Evil people work to tear down, not build up, society. But how does the gambling industry tear down society? First, gambling leads to an increased crime rate. Studies have shown that while casinos initially bring short-term economic benefits, property crimes take a sharp rise by the fourth year. Second, gambling leads to addiction. A survey done by two Duke University professors found that 10% of those who buy lottery tickets are compulsive gamblers who account for a whopping 50% of all money bet on lotteries. It’s also been proven that people are twice as likely to become problem gamblers if a casino is located within fifty miles of their home. Third, gambling leads to what we might call “a culture of destruction.” One survey of compulsive gamblers found that 22% had divorced because of gambling, 49% had stolen from an employer to pay gambling debts, and 79% said they wanted to die. Fourth, gambling leads to a demise in local business. Show me $50 that was spent on lottery tickets, and I’ll show you $50 that wasn’t spent in local stores on groceries, gasoline, clothes, or dinner.

The fact is, the gambling industry is a dirty business that thrives off peoples’ pain. Evidence of this is seen in the pawnshops that are frequently located near casinos. One pawnshop owner in Reno, Nevada has actually displayed a jar of gold-filled human teeth that his customers have pulled and pawned. Why would we want to have anything to do with an industry that causes people to do such a thing?   

Matthew 27:35 is an interesting verse on this whole subject. It says of Jesus and the Roman soldiers: “Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, ‘They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.'” Even while God in the flesh was giving His all in dying for the sins of mankind, sinful men were engaging in the equivalent of “shooting dice” to see who would get His clothes. Instead of recognizing what Christ was doing for them, their attention was focused upon gambling. Sadly, there is something about that scene that makes me say, “Yeah, that sounds about right.”   

Ah, but here comes the cry, “But so many people are doing it.” Well, a lot of people are cheating on their spouses too, but that doesn’t make it right. A lot of people are abusing their kids, but that doesn’t make it right. A lot of people are watching pornography, but that doesn’t make it right. Therefore, let’s have none of this argument that says that gambling must be okay because so many people are doing it. That argument is nothing but a lie. The hard, cold truth of the matter is that God hates gambling, and it’s about time that message started being heard.

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One Response to Why God Hates Gambling

  1. Malcolm Woody says:

    I’ve always been somewhat troubled by the use of casting of lots in the bible. Russell’s blog peaked this troubled spot, so I did some research:

    Casting lots is written about 70 times in the Old Testament and seven times in the New Testament. Nothing is really known about the actual lots themselves. They could have been stones, pieces of wood, something akin to coins, or some crude form of dice. The closest action today to casting lots is likely flipping a coin or perhaps rolling dice.

    We discover casting lots in connection with the division of the land under Joshua (Joshua chapter 14-21). God instructed the Israelites on the issue several times in Numbers (Numbers 26:55; 33:54; 34:13; 36:2). God even allowed the Israelites to cast lots to determine His will in two places (Joshua 18:6-10; 1 Chronicles 24:5,31). There were multiple procedures and practices in the Temple also determined by casting lots (1 Chronicles 24:5,31; 25:8-9; 26:13-14). Who could forget the sailors on Jonah’s ship (Jonah 1:7) casting lots to find out who had brought God’s wrath upon their ship. The 11 cast lots to replace Judas (Acts 1:26). Casting lots eventually became more of a game with earthly prizes and wagers on the results of the cast. This practice changed the casting of lots from its previous utilization. This is seen in the Roman soldiers casting lots for Jesus’ garments (Matthew 27:35), as Russell alluded to in his article.

    If the New Testament teaches Christians to use a method similar to casting lots to help with decision making, I haven’t found it. In Acts 1, when the apostles cast lots to replace Judas. This appears to be an affront to the teachings of Jesus, who had repeatedly told the apostles to wait for the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5), who would instruct them and give them wisdom. The 11 needed the Holy Spirit and once the day of Pentecost came, everything changed. The Paraclete, in every sense of the word – had arrived. The followers are radically enabled, empowered and equipped. They had the Spirit. The same Spirit, by the way, that Christians have access to today and that is how we are to discern God’s will today. Casting lots, flipping coins, or rolling the proverbial dice – should no longer apply. Well, okay, I’m okay with the flip of a coin to determine who gets the ball first, no problem there. (but, don’t get me started on flipping a coin to determine a tie break when all other methods are exhausted. – What happened to the Twins last year was a travesty – but I digress)

    I didn’t find another instance where the followers reverted back to the act of casting lots to make another decision and football hadn’t been invented yet.

    Great article Russell… I commend your courage to confront issues that others push aside for fear of upsetting someone. Fear is a tool of the enemy and anything when presented rooted in the Word with the truth and grace of the Spirit of Christ will be void of legalistic judgment. So fear not, brother Russell and keep running the race God has plotted out for you with your eyes resolutely set upon Jesus (Hebrews 12:1).

    -m

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