I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church. I never heard gambling discussed, but was aware it was frowned on. Never heard why. As I grew up in Washington State, I watched it develop into a gambling society. The Lottery started. Churches, police, social organizations raffled 'for a good cause'. Elderly ladies got together for Pinochle and bingo. Men regularly played cards for money. People looked forward to vacations in Reno or Vegas. I watched casinos become legal in Washington, and the epidemic only seemed to increase. Seeing this, I looked to see if God's people would challenge this invading evil. I went to the Christian bookstore. I searched the social issues books. I saw the major problems books, I looked all over. Nothing. I checked with the sales person and found they didn't have books available to order on gambling! At another Christian bookstore, the sales lady remembered there once being a book on the subject, but upon checking, it was out of print. Not enough Christians were interested in the right and wrong of the issue. It wasn't worth publisher's investing to supply Christian bookstores with even one book on the subject! That turns my stomach.

One day I was in a used bookstore and found a book on the subject. It was a good book. It pointed out with actual figures, research information, and history the iniquity that lines the gambling industry and shattered the arguments of Lotteries helping states. It showed we always lose in the not-so-long run. It pointed out gamblings usually brought in on the back of the church for 'good causes'. Doesn't say much for us does it? Many of the national landmark churches in this country were built with gambling money. The book outlined scriptural principals against gambling. It also had two chapters that were reprints of articles from Christian magazines (different authors), outlining the same principals.

Before reading the book, I figured out what principals were involved in the issue. The three other authors and I agreed in our evaluation. The principals involved in a nutshell are:

I) Improper stewardship.
II) Gaining at someone else's expense.
III) No productive by-product.
IV) An artificial risk prompted by greed.

I) Improper Stewardship

As Christians, we're owned by the Lord. What we have and do is to be to the Lord:

7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. 
Romans 14:7,8

As Christians, all we have is held as ours by trust of wise usage. Tell me, do you think Christ would approve of your using your allotance, of fun money even, pursuing of an endeavor you'll gain in only at someone else's expense? The answer's obvious. If you count your extra money as throw away money, consider what the Billy Graham society had to say: 'To waste your honestly earned money is tantamount to robbing the hungry of the world of food they might have had if the handling of the money had been motivated by compassion rather than greed.'

II) Gaining At Someone Else's Expense
Look at the sponsor's position; those who hold raffles, sponsor lotteries, sell lottery or raffle tickets. This serves, in general, to further victimize the already poor. Lottery and raffle tickets are usually sold at low enough prices to enable the poor to cough up some, so they can participate. This is devilish treatment of your neighbor. What's more, they do it with a smile. Those on the serving out end, spare me. Don't call yourself 'Christian' while dishing such ill treatment to your neighbor. If you want to raise money for worthy causes, how could you conceive of utilizing men's greed to benefit your cause? Does the end justify the means?
As far as the buyer goes, consider two verses:

13 Thou shalt not defraud they neigh-bor, . . .
       Leviticus 19:13a

18 . . love thy neighbor as thyself: .   
Leviticus 19:18

If you win, which is your heart's desire, your neighbor has to lose. Is this an act of love for your neighbor? In order to bring in undeserved gain, you must deprive him and his family. This defrauds your neighbor and shows 'love thy neighbor as thyself' isn't part of your life-style. The gain of a winner is always at someone else's expense. This is selfish and non-productive, the opposite of faith which gives and shows forth labor. If you claim to buy raffle tickets to help worthy causes, simply donate, that way there's no motive of greed:

14 . . . not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.    Romans 13:14
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 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.   
I Timothy 6:6-10

Applying these verses to gambling, one writer summarizes the point saying, 'Gambling has an uncanny way of elevating money and material gain to the place of priority in life.' You cannot serve God and mammon.

III) No Productive By-product

11 Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.
    Proverbs 13:11

This verse shows God's hand of blessing, which shows His approval, doesn't lie in methods of financial gain such as gambling. Gambling is a nonproductive human activity. In other words, it doesn't deliver a just payment for equal services or goods. It's a practice that lives off others. It's a PARASITE. To use such a method to gain money for church or charitable causes is equal to saying, 'the end justifies the means'. Quoting from a fellow Christian, 'The devil's water is used to turn the Lord's mill.' Beware of the devil's lure, he appeals directly to Christians, as seen in a New Hampshire lottery pitch, 'the ideal Christian Christmas gift'.

IV) An Artificial Risk Prompted By Greed
We take risks daily that are necessary, or have sufficient safeguards to limit the danger. Gambling is hazarding something with no necessity. For the Christian, that's foolishness in the administration of someone else's property - God's. The gambler isn't trusting God. He's hoping chance will treat him better than God. For the Christian, God's way and faithfulness in caring for us are found in scripture:

6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: 9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. 10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) 11 Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
    2 Corinthians 9:6-11

Challenging Questions
Isn't buying insurance a gamble?
No. Examine it with the four points:
I. IMPROPER STEWARDSHIP - It doesn't fail in this. Insurance examines the probabilities of needing financial help and joining with others in sharing the burden of those who are unfortunate.
II. GAINING AT SOMEONE ELSE'S EXPENSE - Purchasing insurance isn't an action of greed. In gambling, your hope to be the lucky one. Insurance however, is the pooling together of many to meet the needs of the unfortunate. You're neither pitted against another, nor does your need in loss cause the loss of another. If they need the help, they get it.
III. NO PRODUCTIVE BY-PRODUCT - The productive by-product is the funneling of funds to the person who needs it. To the person who has contributed without the mercenary spirit.
IV. AN ARTIFICIAL RISK PROMPTED BY GREED - In gambling, you try and exploit the unpredictable (an action of greed). With insurance you eliminate the problems caused by the unpre-dictable. You meet the problems caused by the necessary risks of life.

Any action can be checked with the four points to see if it's gambling. How does it own up to these points?

Weren't the Apostle's gambling in Acts when they selected a replacement for Judas?
This is found in Acts 1:26. This wasn't gambling. The method they chose wasn't one of chance, but of God's choosing. They were seeking God's will, delivering the matter for God's direction before Him in prayer. This was neither greed, foolishness nor personal opinion. This wasn't a game of chance and didn't employ the sinful natures of men.

Some excuses to continue gambling are: 'The pinochle games I go to are only nickel and dime games', 'I don't go expecting to win anything', 'I figure the money's fun money to blow, no different to spending it on a movie', or 'I just figure it as giving to charity.' If you figure it as giving to charity, just donate the money and eliminate the motive of greed as I already elaborated on.
Small amounts of money and not caring whether you win or lose, still don't excuse the issue.
If you play, you witness to those you play with, that the gambling's acceptable.
Secondly, your participation helps keep it available for those who do care about the money, no matter how little. Believe me, there are those to whom winning is everything, whether big or small.
If there's no greed, leave the gambling out of your game. If it has to be there, corruption is a part of it. Even if you don't care about winning, you're part of an impure recreation. You're saying, through your actions, human companionship is more important than purity in recreation. Participating gives the testimony that human companionship is more important to you than God. When you participate in that which is unclean, do you expect God to be keeping you company? The Lot principal comes into play here:

7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)   
2 Peter 2:7,8

The heart of a righteous and just person, as should be all Christians, will be vexed with ungodliness. Recreation is to give us pleasure and rest. If there's ungodliness in it, it will fail to accomplish this, but instead tear down by vexing us. If you're not vexed, take heed to that warning. If you're vexed, why would you choose it as a recreation? It makes no sense. Be honest with yourself and don't justify corruption. Clear yourselves in this matter. Seek God and being conformed to His image. Confess your sins and now witness to separation from ungodliness instead of union with it.

The songs of fools and drunkards, show where it starts.
Their hymns of praise, it encompasses their hearts.
This idol calls for reverence, whose homage is more than a tithe,
She won't rest quiet, ‘til she's reaped all with her scythe.
But woe the child of God who once takes a look her way.
Little does he know where she'll stand on Judgment Day.
She promises reward which comes at another's expense.
Her challenge to the Golden Rule, is mockery to our Lord immense.
She promises a payment, for no services or goods.
To her increase by labor, is like fire in the woods
She hisses like a serpent, 'Chance will treat us better than God.'
Tempting us not to trust Him, saying His care is a shod.
With such bold accusations, Our thanksgiving to Him is not.
For truly God will not bless, where greed lays all to rot.
As Christians we become servants, to our Lord God up above.
As His servants we are stewards, whose motivation must be love.
We may play with the devil, in smaller ways too.
In raffles, pinochle, and bingo, just to list a few.
If your recreations, principles and motives, in and of themselves aren't pure,
To be conformed into His image, you surely will find no cure.

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Free to Copy under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND3.0 License by Darrell Farkas
All quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible

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