Is it wrong to gamble? Is it really "all that bad" to place a bet on the outcome of a contest, to play a game of chance, to buy a raffle ticket or to play the lottery? Gambling has its promoters and justifiers, especially our own state government. There are also opponents who label it "immoral" and "destructive."
What does the Bible say? While the word "gambling" does not appear in the Bible, there are numerous principles which, properly applied, prohibit the practice. Consider these:
1. Gambling violates God's design for man to earn his living by honest toil (Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thessalonians 4:11,12). Gambling is not "innocent fun," but a violation of the fundamental principle of work.
2. Gambling is highly addictive and many become obsessed with it. The Bible teaches that we are not to be brought under the power of anyting (1 Corinthians 6:12). The "It won't happen to me" argument has also been made by those addicted to alcohol, other drugs and vices. Gambling destroys lives!
3. Gambling is wrong because it causes people to lose their moral stamina. How often do those who gamble turn to other vices? Not surprising when they are part of the "gambling package." Gambling, drinking, partying, indecent shows, cheating, stealing..., birds of a feather! The Bible says, "Abstain from all appearance of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
4. Gambling violates the Golden Rule. The Master said, "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them..." (Matthew 7:12). In gambling, one tries to "beat his neighbor." That's the iron rule: "Yours is mine if I can take if from you!" Gamblers would not last very long following the Golden Rule. Think about it!
The fallacious arguments to justify gambling are too numerous and unworthy of time or space. One of the most common is that it is "okay" to gamble when the proceeds are give to a worthy cause - like education. The end does not justify the means! It is true that the Lottery is bringing large sums of money into the state coffers. What is not mentioned is the burden the lottery is placing on our welfare system, the children who are going hungry because the family paycheck was squandered, the lives that are being destroyed via addiction, and the spiritual consequences of living for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Recent studies indicate that those who win "the big one" end up the greatest losers. I guess "one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." Read that somewhere (see Luke 12:15)! That goose may not be so golden after all!