|The more state governments approve of legalizing casinos, lotteries, and various forms of gambling (along with many good organizations and some religious groups), the more citizens become confused about whether it is honorable and right to participate.|
The first regular lottery was authorized to be drawn for charitable purposes at Malines, in the Low Countries, in September 13, 1519. It was to benefit the Church of St. Peter.
An English lottery in 1612 supported the English settlement in Jamestown, Virginia. Between 1744 and 1894, more than 1,300 separate lotteries were approved. Harvard University's Holsworthy Hall was built from such lottery funds. In the 1830's, many Americans began to oppose lotteries. State after state began to prohibit them. In 1894, Congress had closed interstate and foreign commerce to lottery materials, thus ending the lottery craze. In 1963, New Hampshire revived the American lottery tradition by instituting such.
John Jacobson, Executive Director of the "National Association of Fund Raising Ticket Manufacturers" stated that in 1992 at least $6.4 billion was spent on bingo, raffles and other ticket games for charity in the U.S.A. The income from the bets netted about $721 million for charities in 26 states and the District of Columbia. The amount did not include the amount of money poured into electronic gambling, such as slots and video machines nor dice, punch boards, horse racing, football parlays, check stub number matching, etc. The association actively lobbies against those devises which competes with the tickets it manufactures.
The question is often asked, "Is it sinful to gamble?" I will attempt to answer this question from the Scriptures and by applying some common sense. May it be understood that the amount one gambles does not justify it, as it is the principle of gambling that makes it wrong.
Gambling is an attempt to gain without working. All games of chance come under this heading. Genesis 3:17-19 states that man is to work for a living. Likewise, Ephesians 4:28; 6:6 calls for old fashioned work. In II Thessalonians 3:10 the inspired writings even state that those refusing to work should not be given charity. Certainly those who are incapable (physically or mentally) do not come under this category. However, when work is available and one refuses to work – he is not to be donated to. Our present-day government welfare programs should be reading the Scriptures and then maybe our taxes would be much less.
Some would point to the Scriptures and attempt to prove gambling is justified. Often, one will point to Exodus 28:30 to the usage of "Urim & Thummim." However, this was a means by which divine revelation was revealed to the High Priest. God directed this, and nothing that God directs is in error. Likewise, some will point to Acts 1:26 to the "Casting of Lots," for the selection of a replacement for Judas Iscariot. However, this was a procedure which God approved.
I Corinthians 5:11 uses a Greek word "HARPAX," which is translated "Extortion," and "Swindler" in English. It means to: seize, carry off by force, rob, plunder. . . Basically, it means to take without giving in return! That is what gambling is – it is all for taking home the jackpot without giving labor in return.
Exodus 20:17 (The last of the Ten Commandments) says, "Do not covet. . ." It is greed that causes one to covet. It is also greed that causes one to gamble, (see Colossians 3:5; I Corinthians 6:9,10). Some would have us to believe that gambling is a sickness like alcoholism. However, just like alcoholism, gambling is self induced.
Some cry out, "But the word gamble is not even in the Bible, so how can it be wrong?" Please note Philippians 4:8,9 and determine if gambling is right. The seeking of sudden wealth leading to a life of ease and no responsibility is not God's plan for man. Matthew 6:24 states that one cannot serve two masters and this is what happens as one permits him/herself to fall into the trap of gambling.
Some advocates of gambling cry out that the stock market is a gamble. It is strange that mankind will always turn over every stone looking for a way to justify his sin. Investments in stock markets, and insurance is a far cry from the roulette wheels, poker tables, race tracks and river floating casinos. Investments in stock markets and insurance companies produce many jobs for multitudes as this investment money is recycled repeatedly throughout our land and around the world.
Gambling is addictive. Several million people belong to "Gamblers Anonymous" today. It has caused people to lie, cheat, steal, rob, rape, sell their bodies, minds and souls to get money so that they can gamble "just one more time." Connected with it are many evils. Normally drink is associated with it. Organized crime goes from the small neighborhood protection gangs to the larger controlled Mafia groups. I Thessalonians 5:22 warns, "Avoid all kinds of evil." I Timothy 6:10 also warns "The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." Proverbs 13:11 states that money won in gambling will quickly disappear. Can one be a good Christian witness and be a gambler? You must decide!
Some recent gambling info looks like the following:
1) In a 1989 survey of 2,700 high school students in four states, 50% of the students admitted to gambling at least once a year.
2) There are twelve million obsessive gamblers in our land and 90% of them began gambling prior to age twenty-one.
3) One fifth of the gamblers of our nation are youth and many do not understand how it is addictive and do not want to earn money the old fashioned way — work for it! Gambling produces parasites.
4) "Gamblers Anonymous" has over 700 chapters in the U.S.A. with over 12,000 members seeking help!
5) Between 20 and 40 percent of male and 58 percent of female compulsive gamblers have seen mental health professionals prior to enrolling with "Gamblers Anonymous."
6) A large number of compulsive gamblers end up with unhappy marriages, abusing their family (61% become violent toward their spouse), and too often the marriage ends.
7) Over $300 billion is spent annually in the U.S.A. on gambling.
8) It is estimated that 100 million Americans gamble in the U.S.A. in the country's 37 state lotteries.
9) Nearly ten years ago ('84) – gamblers in the U.S. in one year spent $177 billion. That was twice the amount spent on education, fifteen times that contributed to all religious groups combined in America. This exceeded that spent on medical care and one half of what was spent on food.
10) Illegal gambling in America is estimated to exceed our National Debt.
11) State lotteries give only 2-3% to public school education systems, but the extra police officers needed and welfare expenses far outweigh the income.
12) 60-90% of those who play the lotteries are of the lower income groups.
13) Pete Rose (Cincinnati Reds Manager) made $600,000 per year and gambled $324,000 when he got caught. Due to gambling, he went from the "Hall of Fame" to the "Hall of Shame."
14) Of "Regular" gamblers – 1 in 10 become "Compulsive" gamblers.
15) One third of gamblers are female and 96% of "Compulsive" gamblers are hooked prior to age 14.
1) "Gambling, A Bad Bet" by Dr. Norman Geisler; Pub. Fleming H. Revell; 1990
2) "Gambling In America" by Bertha Davis; Pub. Franklin Watts; 1992
3) "Gamblers Anonymous" 606-277-8236
4) "Gambling" Pub. Information Aids, Inc. 1992
5) "USA Today" Sept. 10, 1993, Page 3-A
6) "Gambling And The Bible" by Thomas F. Eaves; Pub. Star Publishing
7) "The Ohio Week" by Sue Gorisek; Page 7; Oct. 15, 1993
8) "Daily Times"; Portsmouth, Ohio Daily Times; Page A-3; Oct. 11, 1993
9) "Gambling, Trading Morals For Money" by Dr. Paul Meier & Dr. Norm Geisler; Focus on the Family (Tape #CS 742); 1992
10) "Holy Bible"
About the Author
Brother Hoyt W. Allen Jr. is a Restoration author, preacher and director of the KYOWVA Evangelistic Association in Ironton, Ohio. You may visit his website at www.kyowva.com.
Brother Allen's article is courtesy of the The Home Bible Study Institute - www.james1-22.org.
Permission to use is granted if attributed to author, his website and the website of The Home Bible Study Institute.
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