Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Video Post: is gambling a sin...

Dear God,
If gambling is wrong please forgive me playing one nickle in a slot machine with Grandma in Las Vegas when I turned 21.
In Jesus name, amen.

Growing up in a conservative household was fun! We learned that Las Vegas is the modern day Sodom and Gomorrah, tattoos are bad, and smoking is Satan's candy. Today I loathe Vegas, don't have any tattoos, and cringe at the smell of smoke. But it has nothing to do with my theology and everything to do with personal choices.

Though there is substantial argumentation for a stance against gambling [see below], in the light of scripture I want to be careful not to sow red letters onto the chest of specific vices.

The bible is clear on greed (1 Tim. 6:10), addiction (1 Cor. 6:12), and lust (1 Thes. 4:4-5), which are commonly associated with gambling. But there is also this freedom and liberty given to Christians to be responsible for our choices [reason #827,481 why I love being a Christian].


Conservative arguementation against gambling (and my two cents):
  • Denies the reality of God's sovereignty. The whole discussion of sovereignty is loaded, so I will simply say that "chance" is contrary to Psalm 103:19.
  • Builds on irresponsible stewarship. Matthew 6:19-20. With that being said, if I'm tithing, paying bills, and canceling debt before I use leisure allowences, I'm still a good steward.
  • Driven by the sin of covetousness. Exodus 20:17. But this could be said for clothing, cars, and the opposite sex.
  • Builds on the explotation of others. Exodus 20:15. If we're going to split hairs, Nike shoes are made upon the explotation of Chinese workers, our fruits and vegetables are picked by under-paid workers, and our coffee is at the expense of children's lives in South America.
Comments, thoughts, stones to throw?

26 comments:

Jason said...

A concern of mine is that if we gamble, our money will be used to maintain an organization (casino, lottery, etc.) that provides an open door to addiction. So if we lose $100, that's a $100 that goes to an organization that's fed the addictions of many gambling addicts.

It's like buying pornography...it funds the companies that produce the porn so that the addict can get it and we know the damage that addiction can cause to families.

So I guess I'd ask if I was enabling someone to feed and grow someone's addiction by financially supporting it.

Krystle said...

I come from a very small town where if you're a "rebellious" Christian you scratch a loto ticket once and awhile.

I have a personal (and not necessarily a spiritual conviction because I've never looked at it spiritually) against gambling except for once a year when I go to play Bingo with my grandmother.

I firmly believe that sin is a matter of the heart. I have no convinction about playing Bingo with my Grammy because my heart is there to connect with my grandmother and not to win money (thank goodness...haha..I haven't won any EVER).

Melinda said...

I haven't listened to the video yet, so I may be premature, but...

We host poker parties at my apartment. Friends show up, everyone buys in for $5 and we play hold-em until we all fold-em. It's a great, fun, cheap night with friends! So, there can be sin found in gambling, but not every game of poker, etc is a sin. Obviously, these are all personal choices/conviction issues.

Katy G said...

Amen to that! I totally agree w/ everything you had to say...sometimes Christians can be so legalistic(take it from a girl who grew up in an ultra conservative household w/ my father the pastor). My father has even said if God gave him the lottery numbers in a dream, it wouldn't be gambling because gambling is all about chance...if you know the numbers chance is taken out of the equation. I think many Christians feel the same way about drinking (is all alcohol bad, or just getting drunk)...it is a fine line we walk, but we can't force our personal convictions on other Christians who may not feel the same way. A gambling addiction can be a horrible thing, because it not only affects you and your family, but your finances. I have a friend who is dealing w/ her husband's addiction right now that put their family in the hole over $11,000 when they had bills to pay, a house foreclosed on, and a car repossessed, leaving her w/ no money for groceries or gas and two special needs children. He's a Christian who has always struggled w/ his walk w/ God and there's nothing I can do for them now but pray!

Bianca said...

@Jason: Your comments are always so insightful! Thanks for posting. Ok, I agree with you. However, since our country is run by national conglomerates and multi-national organizations, everyone is sleeping with the enemy. Disney support a TON of whack organizations. Walmart buys products from slaves in third-world countries. The list goes on and on.
But what about a poker with friends? What are your thoughts?

@Krystle: I hope your beat your Grammy one day :)

@Melinda: My dear friend who joins up in poker night once a month also invites his friends to church with him. He doesn't participate in any other stuff they do, but poker is a night where he can be seen as a normal guy who stands for believing and serving God. Totally rad.

@Katy: And THAT'S why I have a stong conviction about gambling! I'm addictive by nature. I know where I am weak. Christian or not, I think I'd be prone to let gambing rule me.
What I don't agree with is when scripture is manipulated and dogmatically ruled as SIN. Let God be God.

melissa said...

Last year, my 7 year old came home jumping up and down, with a huge smile on her face...

"Mommy, mommy...Auntie taught me how to play poker and I stayed up until 2 in the morning and won $24 dollars!!!!"

GULP.
um, er, eh, aahhh.... :/ .... hmmm.

Haha! My brain short circuited for a few minutes. I realized she enjoyed the game, her earnings, time with family and she isn't going to vegas anytime soon. So I was okay with it. However, I still had the responsiblity to use it as a teachable moment to discuss how we could honor the Lord with the gifts he gives.

And...seriously...loved your scrapbooking analogy. Had to laugh at that...my husband would say I am a recovering addict in that department. ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi Bianca,

I think gambling is only a sin, if you endamage somebody else but yourself.

God is great and if we don't have to do sometimes mistakes, God won't give us the free will... ;-)

greets from germany,
Markus :-)

Matthew T. said...

Gambling is supposed to be a cheap and fun way to win money. It can be fun, up to a certain extent, however if constant gambling causes financial problems for you and your loved ones, then a limit needs to be set.

I see this as one pattern: If a person wins money and or prizes, the person will be more inclined to gamble more frequently and the financial losses will continue to pile on.

Sometimes people even pray to God that they'll win something, and they thank him lots for every winnings they receive from gambling.

Gambling is risky, it requires luck and discipline.

Cristina Alyssa said...

I love poker!
We never play for money.
But even still people judge just the word "poker."

But shoot don't be hatin'
Too many legalistic people in our world... preach it

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine recently called and told me that her boyfriend (jobless, I might add) had bought a lottery ticket and asked her to join him in prayer for luck in winnings...she said she prayed with him, but questioned his actions...he has never asked her to pray with him before, ever... and all of a sudden God is going to hear him? Does God answer all prayers?

Anonymous said...

Gambling is not a sin, but a very tricky game, like a spider web, once you get all tangle in it, it wouold be very hard for the person to get out of it, I did a research at school about gambling which these days with modern technology is even available online.. People regardless if they are a Christians or not must be very careful with this issue, Gambling can make you lose, your job, property and most importantly your family, so if you are not mature enough to handle this “game” don’t, and pray to God is you are in the gambling activity, because the way in it’s so easy the way out, not much!!

DToTheG said...

I think no matter what it is we do we should always ask "Is this activity I am involved in right?" -that should strike at the core of your heart and possibly help you discern what intentions are behind many things we do.
My 2 cents - I do not think getting together with friends to play some poker, monoply, uno or whatever is wrong especially if it is out of friendly competition.
If we get caught up and are diverted from our devotion, time and heart for the things of the Lord and our mind is no longer on the things of heaven and as a result we now focus our time, mind and heart on worldy things bring forth greed, lust and worship of anything other than Jesus - that is when we really need to check ourselves. If gambling becomes what you live for, what you eat and sleep, I think it then becomes a sin factor. It can come in the form of clothes, food, a person, tv, drugs, alcohol, career, XBOX 360 = ) etc. If God is not #1 on our list then we need to hit the emergency brake quickly and get back in our lane where we allow God to manuever for us.
I do believe that we need to be protective of any brother or sister that may have come out of that form of addiction so that it will not become something they struggle with in the future.

Jasmine said...

Love this post.........but you're wearing MY EARRINGS! Stop 'borrowing/stealing' my cute jewelry! ;)
xoox

Amy C said...

Thank you for your thoughts. I agree so wholeheartedly. It's a heart issue. I find your lack of legalism SO refreshing. I personally don't gamble but I'm not morally against it in itself. I think it can be very bad and very dangerous for some people...but so can movies, internet, exercise, etc for some people.

You have to know YOURSELF and know your own triggers. If anything is addictive or hinders your relationship with Christ in any way...then it's not good for you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you bi. Now I won't feel so bad when we take you know who to Las Vegas!! Especially since we know its all just for fun and we don't let him get carried away betting on those horses!! :)

Kati said...

I just laughed out loud at your sisters comment. TOTALLY something that would happen in my family!


As far as gambling is concerned, the fine line is definitely ADDICTION. When you gamble excessive amounts of money (which could be only $50 bucks for some people, or thousands for others), and simply can't bring yourself to stop.

I have a friend who's husband is a professional poker player. His only job is playing poker. He makes incredible amounts of money. I often wonder how many "lines" this is blurring and crossing all together.

Ali Brown said...

This is SO good! Thanks Bianca for keepin' it real. Lots of folks have said it already, but I think there is no harm in playing a little poker or bunco or whatever while fellowshippin' with your friends. It's when the act of whatever one is doing (gambling, eating, surfing the internet? -speakin' to myself here) takes a hold on one's life. Where I feel like I am lost in doing whatever that "thing" is. I need to be lost in God's love...that's what breaks addiction in the first place right? :) Oh...and I laughed SO hard when Jazmine was reminding you about her earrings! HAHAHA! That was so my sis and I! She would always take my clothes...and bring it back with a big 'ole stain on it or something...not sayin' you do that :) Anyhoo, I just thought that was hilarious!!!!

Anonymous said...

Gambling, addiction, lust, desire etc can indeed be seen in a variety of daily as well as occasional activities. For me, I have witnessed first had at what money gambling can do to a family. It creates the desire to have what you have not worked for (lust, desire, greed etc)it takes the money away from what is really needed, housing, food, clothes, transportation. Gambling in any form creates an illusion of reality of ones position or location in life. Gambling causes one to be enthusiastic about the "winner prospect" instead of the Godly aspect. Gambling takes Fathers away from the Children, Husbands away from Wives, therefore, diminishing the family unit, causing detachment of each person in the family unit. Instead of a Father being one with His Wife and Children, He is more interested in the score of the game, the position of the horse or the numbers.
I myself have dropped a few coins in for fun while going through Las Vegas, but for some reason...after I drop the dollar or quarter in that stupid machine, I always feel ripped off, doing that activity makes me feel, well filthy. After all, I work for God, He provides all I need..and I wasted what He gave me on what? a desire of the flesh, a desire to have what I dont have.

I do have an addiction though, I'm addicted to food and coffee, chocolate. When I'm happy, I could care less about eating, but when Im stressed or upset, all I want to do is eat...and I can eat.

So, I guess I am throwing stones and commenting on one of my personal struggles.

ap

Michelle said...

I love your bullet points under the VLOG. I love that you filter "Christian no-no's" through the word rather than being dogmatic. I also love Jason's comments above. And while I understand that the US as a whole operates under multi national conglomerates I don't think that's a reason NOT to use his reasoning as a basis to make decisions about money that we spend or companies that we don't want to support. We can't be perfect (thank goodness God allows for this) but we can do the best we can. I believe Jason's reasons are good reasons for me to not gamble among other reasons. However, I also believe in avoiding dogmatic positions. So I don't condemn others who make different choices. :)

Love ya B. Also love the windy hair thing going on at the beginning of the VLOG. So chic! ;)

Anonymous said...

Its just SO hard to NOT judge Christians who go to the casino, gamble, etc...

KS*Rebecca said...

Hi Bianca I posted on here about my personal experience w/ gambling? Did you delete my comment?

Bianca said...

@KS: No, I haven't deleted any comments. Hmmm, maybe it didn't go through :( Sorry for any confusion.

Jordana said...

“Do you like honey? Don't eat too much of it, or it will make you sick!” (Proverbs 25:16, NLT)

I think this verse says it all in a nutshell. If you like gambling or poker, don’t have too much or it will make you sick!

This is where the fruit of the spirit of self-control comes into play. Someone without self-control and gambling is like a recipe for self-destruction. If any person has not developed this Godly characteristic of self-control anything can be destructive including, food, wine, television, books, entertainment, and even your tongue.

I strongly believe that anything in excess can bring you discontent. The key here is not to say “I can’t do this or that”. That only makes you a legalistic person like the Pharisees. I go by this golden rule: If it causes you to sin then don’t do it. Or, if you have a problem taking Jesus with you to a casino or family poker game then you have no business being there. The food, wine, or gambling is not the problem, it’s what you do with it that reveals who you really are and what’s inside your heart. Can you control your tongue or gambling or wine consumption? If not, then maybe you need to sit down and spend some time with Jesus to help you with this weakness in your life. It’s okay to be weak. In fact God prefers a weak person because it’s in those areas that He shows up most. He is here to help us and make us strong where we are weak.

KS*Rebecca said...

Oh ok, it prob wasnt meant to be posted then, thanks and happy Vday

Lydia said...

I think the idea that gambling is bad is more implicit than explicit. It's not found in one specific verse, but is based on a few principles. You've covered a few up top: sovereignty of God, covetousness (clothes, cars, etc. are necessarily covetous), etc. One thing not covered is that more than once, God tells us that the proper relationship between money and the gaining of it is work. Gambling attempts to circumvent this principle. MacArthurs says it best, "The Bible advocates gaining money by inheritance, by hard work, and by wise investment, but it never advocates getting rich by gambling or fast money.The Lottery is not a legitimate way to make a living or invest for the future..."

Dianne said...

I'm not sure if you have heard of this website or not, but gotquestions.org always helps me answer a lot of tricky questions. They cover gambling here but in a round about way basically cover what you said. You might want to check it out :)

http://www.gotquestions.org/gambling-sin.html

PS. I just found your blog and am so encouraged by it. Thanks for sharing your heart with us :)

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