Gambling is a hot-button issue in many Christian circles. Some people see it as a harmless form of entertainment, while others believe it is a dangerous vice that should be avoided at all costs. So what does the Bible say about gambling?
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Interestingly, the Bible does not directly address the issue of gambling. However, a few verses talk about wisdom and stewardship, which can be applied to gambling.
Gambling In The Bible
I have a confession. When the lottery jackpot is worth more than a few hundred million dollars, every once in a while, I’ll spend two dollars to buy a lottery ticket. Although I don’t believe I have ever matched more numbers than two, the possibility of winning a substantial sum is worth $2. My mind has convinced me I could handle the lottery without getting sloppy like many lottery winners. I would donate large sums of money to Christian causes and Christian organizations. My sponsorship would be all Compassion children unsponsored in Ecuador (or any other country). I would keep only a small portion of the money for my use. Why doesn’t God allow me to win the lottery? We’ll get to that in a moment. Let’s get to the point.
What Is Gambling?
Let me explain what I mean when I say gambling. Gambling is the act of placing money at risk to win more money. Gambling can be anything, from buying lottery tickets to playing in a casino to betting on horses, but the chances of winning are low. Gambling is a way for people to lose more money than they gain. This is why the gambling industry has been so successful. Because it consistently brings in hundreds of millions of dollars, the gambling industry can give away millions of dollars because it can. With this definition of gambling in hand, what does the Bible say about gambling?
What Does The Bible Say About Gambling?
Gambling is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, or at least not as a commandment. The Bible does contain many principles that can be applied to gambling. For instance, the love of money and the desire to get rich quick.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.1 Timothy 6:10
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”Hebrews 13:5
Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished,Proverbs 13:11
But he who gathers by labor will increase.
Will you set your eyes on that which is not?Proverbs 23:5
For riches certainly make themselves wings;
They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.
A faithful man will abound with blessings,Proverbs 28:20
But he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.
He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver;Ecclesiastes 5:10
Nor he who loves abundance, with increase.
This also is vanity.
The gambling industry is characterized by a “love” of money and a desire to “get rich quick.” The Bible repeatedly teaches financial stewardship and how to manage money effectively. These three principles are violated by excessive gambling. This problem becomes more complicated when gambling is controlled and moderate.
If you don’t have a passion for money or a desire to become rich quickly, can you gamble just for fun? Gambling is “wasted” money, which is money that you don’t spend on other things. Is it wrong to gamble with fun money? People often object to GotQuestions.org’s stance against gambling by saying, “What is the difference in spending $10 on lottery tickets vs. $10 on movie tickets and popcorn?” Although there isn’t much difference, the question misses its point. Are we wasting money on any activity? Gambling is not as bad as other activities.
Let me clarify that the Bible allows us to spend reasonably on entertainment and fun. If all financial responsibilities have been properly and fully managed, there is nothing wrong with “wasting” money on frivolity. This frivolity could include spending a dollar on lottery tickets. Perhaps. However, it should not be done out of love for money or a desire to get rich. Recent scientific studies have shown that gambling addiction is can be as strong as heroin addiction.
What does the Bible have to say about gambling? It is possible to do it without the love of money and without worrying about getting rich quickly. This would be in line with Christian freedom and personal conviction. It is better to avoid gambling altogether. However, I don’t believe the Bible can prove the case against all gaming.
Back to my original side question. Why can’t God make Christians win the lottery so the money can go to good causes? God doesn’t need to use the lottery to fund the causes He supports. God owns the cattle that live on a thousand hills ( Psalm 50.10). A Christian could win the lottery if God so desired. He could also cause the wind to blow the ticket from someone else’s hand and land in the hands of a Christian 100 miles away.
In conclusion, the Bible does not explicitly state whether gambling is a sin. However, we can glean a few principles from Scripture that suggest that gambling is not wise.
- First, we are to be good stewards of our money and time.
- Second, gambling can lead to greed and covetousness.
- Third, gambling can be addictive and lead to financial ruin.
- Fourth, gambling can be a form of idolatry if we place our hope in winning rather than God.
As the Apostle Paul said…
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.1 Corinthians 10:23 NLT