A. This is very similar to the drinking issue. Even though there isn’t a prohibition from partaking of alcohol, God makes it very clear that we are to avoid things that can cause us and/or others to fall.
A Christian must ask themselves the questions, “Even though I may be free to do something, is it truly edifying and glorifying to the Lord?”
1 Cor 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient [helpful]: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
The Bible does not condemn gambling, so we can’t argue from silence and call it a sin. The Bible does speak very clearly about our attitudes regarding money and many behaviors that can result from gambling.
1 Tim 6:10 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.
Gambling can certainly lead to sin, because it is based on winning money, which is gained by chance (God tells us to work to provide for our needs Prov 6:9-11, 2 Thess 3:10). In addition, gambling usually leads to a coveting of luxury items that can only be bought with excess money beyond someone’s work income — bigger houses, boats, jewelry, fancy vacations, expensive clothing, etc. With an increased desire and hope for more, and bigger and better, things gambling can be seen as the means of getting them. It can create a vicious cycle.
Gambling is proven to have a high risk of becoming an addiction, just like drugs or alcohol. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, 2 million U.S. adults are pathological gamblers and another 4 to 6 million are problem gamblers. This addiction can destroy the stability of the family, lead to job loss, and cause a person to lose control of their life:
You question mentioned a person who is strictly limiting their gambling to a designated amount, considering it a set cost for an entertainment activity and walking away when they have lost the previously determined amount. My question would be, “Do they lose EVERY time?
The problem is that gambling is designed so people will sometimes walk away with winnings. That’s what lures them back and conditions them to begin to believe that they CAN win…and win BIG. No one plays a game or engages in a sport at which they have a 100% failure rate. It would cease to be any fun.
Activities and things, in and of themselves, are not sin. The activity of gambling is not sin, but it is proven that regular participation in it can lead to sin. The desire to gamble more and win more, results in a desire and need for more money. Jesus said:
Mat 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon [money].
Our need and desire is to be for Christ alone and we are to value Him above all things. Engaging in any activity that can elevate money to such a position is taking the risk of creating an idol in your life. A risk, and sin, that should be avoided.
So is gambling wrong? We can’t say it’s wrong, but we can certainly say that it is an activity that leads people into sin.
Finally, gambling can provide a sense of false hope. No one goes to a casino or gambling party, hoping to lose. The hope is in winning, just as it would be with any game or sport. However, with gambling the odd of winning are astronomical, so it truly is a false hope that cannot be trusted.
Our hope and trust is to be in Christ Jesus alone.
1 Tim 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
A personal experience from Carl:
Now, let me bring it into the ‘real’ world. I’ll never forget when I moved to Chicago as an air traffic controller at O’Hare TRACON. One of the first people that I met was a man they called “TRACON Johnson.” I was introduced to him, and we spoke very briefly. All we essentially said to each other was, “Hi, how you doing?
That night the phone rang at our home and my wife answered. She handed me the phone and I said “Hello!” And the caller said, “Hi Carl, this is TRACON Johnson!”
Needless to say I was surprised. I’d only spoken to him for 20 seconds that day. He continued, “Hey Carl, can I borrow some money.” Now I’m really shocked. I told him that I couldn’t because we had just moved and funds were really tight.
At work the next day during lunch I asked a coworker, “Do you know TRACON Johnson?”
That’ all I asked and his response was, “Why, did he ask you for money?” I tap-danced around the answer, not wanting to embarrass the man.
I was then told that TRACON Johnson used to be one of those “goody-goody born-again Christians.” Since I had just started working there, they didn’t know that I am a “goody-goody” Christian.
My coworker proceeded to tell me that one night they got him to go down to the “boat” to drink and gamble (gambling is only legal on riverboats in Illinois). After that he got hooked became an addict. He’d lost his home, his family, everything. He eventually went to jail for writing bad checks. The guys at lunch were now making fun and laughing at him.
To make it worse, the guys laughing and mocking claimed to be Christians, they just “weren’t the ‘goody-goody’ type that didn’t drink, smoke or gamble.”
So from that experience I learned that it’s important that we not partake in anything that can cause a weaker brother to stumble and fall. I don’t want that mill-stone around my neck.