GAMBLING AND THE CHRISTIAN
By Wayne Camp
Scripture: Gal. 5:16-25
TEXT: 1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
The topmost headline in yesterdays paper read, Tenn. Lottery plan survives 96 legislature. As the casinos have multiplied just south of us and more to the north I have become increasingly concerned about the eventual effect it might have on our area. This week the progress was made toward getting a Tennessee lottery. I had not planned to speak on this subject this soon, although I have been studying the matter for some time. But, due to recent developments in the gambling racket, I have decided to go ahead and deal with it at this time.
Just recently a man and woman who had come to Tunica from Ohio to gamble were fatally wounded in an elevator by a distraught man who was a gambler and drug addict. In the last few days, a woman was seized in the wee hours of the morning after returning from the casinos. She and her husband had planned to go together but when he was going to be about 30 minutes late she went on to the Casinos without him. I dont know the outcome of the matter but it appeared from the news account she was so eager to get down there to gamble she was unwilling to wait 30 minutes on her husband. (The womans body has been found and she had been killed. She had won money at the Casino but her ill-gotten gain was not found with her body. RWC)
I received e-mail this week from a preacher brother who wrote, "My brother, 58 years of age, claiming to be a believer, has spent his life gambling. Beginning at an early age, he went to prison for writing bad checks connected with gambling debts. After a number of years, he went (to prison) again. Hes still gambling. It has wrecked his family, destroyed his children, and hes still at it. He cant (wont) stop." This man is a hard worker but continues to gamble away much of his income.
A few months ago I read in the paper about a Memphis man who started gambling at Tunica. He threw away a pretty good lifes saving (it seems to me it was about $50,000), mortgaged his house and lost that money, lost the house, lost his wife and family, and finally took his own life."
I have not come before you this morning to tell you a lot of horror stories connected with gambling, although, the history of gambling abounds with horror stories. Gambling leaves a trail of bankruptcies, murders, child abuse, rape, spousal abuse, lost homes, and suicides. The American Psychiatric Association lists gambling as a compulsive disorder.
The day was when gambling was associated with the saloon, dance hall, and prostitution. It has not changed a lot even though it has received the stamp of approval in many states. Nevada, one of the first states to promote Casino gambling, is also a state where houses of prostitution are also run with state approval.
When the religious leaders in Israel remained silent on such pressing moral issues as the one with which I am dealing, God called them "dumb dogs." Isaiah 56:10 His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. I dont want to be a silent watchman (dumb dog) on this matter so am speaking out.
But, what I want to deal with this morning is the subject, Gambling and the Christian. I was in a grocery store checkout about two weeks ago and overheard two ladies discussing gambling. One was a member of a large Baptist church in our area and she said, "I asked my pastor if there was any Scripture that expressly forbids gambling. He said he would get back to me on the matter, but I could tell he couldnt think of one. So, I am going to just keep going to Tunica when I want to."
That put me to thinking. And, I sent out e-mail to some 20 or 25 preachers asking them for a Scripture. Most, who responded, agreed there was no specific verse that forbids gambling but that the whole tenor of Scripture is against it. The entire analogy of faith forbids it.
Friday, I met Ron at the airport for lunch. He was flying to Bentonville for a week of training required of new Sams general managers. On my way back, I noticed that the road leading from the Airport is lined with advertisements that are designed to lure and seduce travelers down to the Casinos.
There are several things I want to point out about gambling that should cause every Christian to abstain from any kind of gambling, be it the office pool, the lottery, the race track, the casino, or even church and school raffles. I want you to know why you should vote against it if it ever comes to a vote. This is not politics folks, this is a pressing moral and ethical issue.
Gambling is of this world; it is definitely not of God. 1 John 2:16 For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Gambling is not true and honest for while one is lured with promises of riches without work, the truth is, the Casinos want to take every dollar they can get from their prey, and they care absolutely nothing about the persons whom they dupe.
Gambling is not just because it pits professionals against amateurs who are often there for the first time; and the professionals will take what belongs to the amateur, and they care not if he has to mortgage his home and loses his family as long as he comes in and gives them his money. The games are rigged in favor of the Casino and there is nothing just about that.
Gambling is not pure; its every thing but pure; it is often controlled by the Mafia and other elements of organized crime. There is no way a person will be purer after he has gambled. As a matter of fact, one will be less pure after he has gambled. It has a demoralizing effect on any who enter into this vice. And, its legalization has a demoralizing effect on governors, legislators, and states and nations where it is legalized.
Gambling is not lovely. I doubt anyone would speak of how lovely a one armed bandit or a crape table is, especially when he loses money to them. It is certainly not lovely to lose hard earned money on a roulette table. There is quite a difference between being flashy and glittering, as are most gambling halls, and being lovely.
Gambling is not of good report. In fact, gambling is of ill and evil report. People lose their grocery money at the Casino. They lose their house payments there. The whole business is built on luring losers into the casinos; consistent winners would put them out of business.
If you knew that most farmers lost money at farming, would you go into it? If you knew that most people who run grocery stores lose money would you invest your hard earned money in a grocery store? Most people who gamble lose their money. How foolish to invest one dollar in a game in which you are almost guaranteed to loose that dollar? It is a fools investment!
There is no virtue in gambling. In fact, gambling is considered a vice. Vice is the exact opposite of virtue. In most police departments the vice squad polices the gambling institutions in their area. There is just nothing good that can be said about gambling. I recall a tract I read once that was titled, You Cannot Actually Insult the Dance. The authors argument was that dancing was of a nature that no matter what one said about dancing it would not be an insult. Gambling is such a vice. No matter how one berates gambling there is no way it can be insulted.
There is nothing you can praise about gambling. If one wins, he takes what some other person lost. 1 Corinthians 10:24 Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth. One wise person said, "Dueling is murder with consent and gambling is robbery with consent." One who gambles seeks to take another persons wealth. He seeks to rob the other person with that persons consent. At the same time he gives his consent to the other person or the gambling establishment to try and rob him. I guarantee you the Casino always comes out in the black on any given accounting period, as for as the gambling goes, so the winners among the customers are only taking what some other person lost. If one loses, there is no praise to that.
Gambling is not spiritual; it is carnal, and therefore against God. There is absolutely no way one can make gambling spiritual unless he has reference to the spirit that works in the children of disobedience. Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. That is the only spirit who condones gambling. Satan would love to make gamblers our of every Christian. In that way he would rob the churches and hamper their work. I have heard of "Christians" who gamble but do not tithe. Can you imagine that? Demonic spirits and devils condone gambling, but certainly the Holy Spirit of God does not condone nor bless this deceptive practice.
Gambling does not edify the Christian nor does the Christian edify others by gambling. Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. There is nothing about gambling that will build one up in the most holy faith. It tears down; it does not build up or edify. I cannot conceive of any one making the claim that they are edified by gambling. It is of the devil and has no edifying value.
Gambling does not help one to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. We are admonished to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Growth comes from thinking on Christ, studying his word, attending upon the preaching and teaching of the Word of God, and the cultivation of the various Christian virtues and graces. Can any reader suggest a way in which gambling would enhance your spiritual growth? I can think of no way one would be assisted in spiritual growth by participating in the vice of gambling. Rather than edifying and helping one to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ one is stunted in his spiritual growth if he gambles. If you win, someone else must lose. How can taking from them enhance growth?
Gambling does not glorify God. The primary work of the Christian on this earth is to glorify God and no one can glorify God by gambling. 1 Corinthians 10:31-32 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God. Every thing you do should glorify God. You can go to work at an honorable profession and glorify God. This is true if your job is sweeping floors, digging ditches, or running a large company. But, a Christian cannot go to a casino and eat for the glory of God, much less go there and gamble for his glory. A person who was visiting in our home recently wanted my wife to go with her to eat at a casino. My wife declined for she felt it would be wrong for her to do so. It angered the visitor that Ruth refused to go with her.
A Christian cannot go to a casino and drink for the glory of God and you sure cant go there and glorify God by pulling the lever on a slot machine. A Christian may argue that he should be able to do what he wants once in a while, even if it doesnt glorify God, but that is not true. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. There is absolutely no way a Christian can take his body and spirit to a casino and gamble and be glorifying God in body and spirit while he is doing it. No Way!
The person who gambles does so because he covets the money that belongs to someone else. Acts 20:33 I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. "But," someone protests, "I am not covetous and I do not desire the silver, gold or anything else belonging to another." So, you go to the gambling hall to lose, not win. If you go with the desire to win, you go with a covetous spirit. You want what belongs to another or others.
The covetousness of gambling is two-fold. The owners of the Casinos covet the money of the customer. The customer covets the money of the Casino owners; money which they have taken from other customers.
Dr. R. G. Lee, the late Pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church here in Memphis said, "A man that gambles is either a fool or a thief. A fool if he loses; a thief if he wins." The great theologian, Charles Hodge, said that gambling breaks the 8th commandment which is Exodus 20:15 Thou shalt not steal. He said it falls under that category because "Advantage is taken of the unwary or unskillful to deprive them of their property without compensation." The southern theologian, writer and preacher, Robert L. Dabney, concurs with Hodge by asserting that gambling plunders our neighbors estate; accordingly, he includes gambling with vices such as robbery, theft, stealth, swindling, wastefulness, extortion, and embezzlement. G. I. Williamson, another discerning theologian wrote, "Gambling always involves the element of stealing because the motive is to get money without labor, and without it being given as a gift."
A person would be very stupid to gamble to lose money; every gambler hopes to win because he covets what others lose. 1 Timothy 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. George Washington was a believer in and frequently quoted the French proverb: "Gambling is the child of avarice (greed), the brother of iniquity and the father of mischief." Thomas Jefferson said, "Gambling corrupts our dispositions, and teaches us the habit of hostility against mankind." The great statesman, Benjamin Franklin, said in Poor Richard's Almanac concerning gambling, "Keep flax from fire, youth from gambling."
For any who doubt my contention that gambling thrives because of the covetousness of the carnal nature, let me ask some questions. Does a person put money into the office pool betting on a basketball game for any reason other than hoping he wins what everybody else puts in? That is covetousness! Does a person go down and buy a lottery ticket for any other purpose than that he hopes he will win a lump of the money that other covetous people put down for tickets? That is covetousness! Does a person call a bookie or go to a horse or dog track and buy a ticket betting on some horse or dog for any other reason than that he hopes he wins some of the money the other bettors will lose? That is covetousness! Does a person put a coin in a slot machine for any other reason than that he hopes he will hit the jackpot and win what others have lost? That is covetousness! Does a person play the crape table or the roulette table for any other reason than his hopes that he will win what others have lost? That is covetousness! Do gambling establishments set up business for any other reason than their hopes that enough suckers will lose enough money that they can make millions of dollars? That is covetousness!
Some justify gambling because they do it "just for fun." The young punks who murder and ravage on our streets often do it just for fun but that does not make it right. Some men and some women are unfaithful to their spouses and are committing adultery and fornication just for fun, but that does not make it right. Some people who are caught for shoplifting were just doing it for fun, but that does not make it right.
When one of our church members, Connie Barton, was robbed I understand the guys in the car were laughing; they were having fun, but that does not make it right. Many cars have been stolen just because someone wanted to take a joy ride, but that does not make it right. Likewise, gambling for fun, if that were ever really all there is to it, does not make gambling right. If a casino were to set up five slot machines just for those who gamble for fun, and put a notice on them saying, "These slot machines are for those who just gamble for fun; you will not win anything, but you can have fun." How many would play those slot machines?
The deceitfulness of riches and the lust of other things are often forces behind gambling. "If I could just win big one time, if I could just hit the jackpot one time, I would not have to get a job or keep a job." Mark 4:19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. These lusts of the flesh which cause some to gamble can result in much hurt. 1 Timothy 6:9 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.
These lusts which drive some to gamble can be the cause of war in the home or in the church. James 4:1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? The drastic increase of gambling in its various forms in this nation is one of the characteristics of what Paul calls the last days. 2 Timothy 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Self-love will cause a person to gamble. Covetousness is a strong motivation in gambling. It follows that when self-love and covetousness increase, swindlers will increase and casino owners are swindlers. If you know someone is a swindler, would you do business with him? Casino owners are swindlers; the odds are always pitched in their favor; they are the only consistent winners; the customers are the only consistent losers. Even when they win they usually end up losing it back.
Now that I have firmly established that gambling thrives because of the covetousness of the carnal nature, the covetousness of the casino owner as well as the covetousness of the gamblers, we should consider God's attitude toward the covetous.
The Lord abhors covetous people. Psalm 10:3 For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth. Paul admonished the church at Corinth to exclude members from their fellowship who were covetous. 1 Corinthians 5:10-11 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. Paul warned that covetous people will not inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. Ephesians 5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Covetousness will disqualify a man as a pastor. 1 Timothy 3:3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous. Habakkuk pronounced a woe upon those who are covetous. Habakkuk 2:9 Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil! If a person who gambles were to argue that he did not gamble because of a covetous motive, I would ask him if he gambles to win. If he hopes to win when he gambles he is covetous.
The lazy or slothful person does not want to work but that does not keep him from coveting something for nothing. Proverbs 21:25-26 The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour. 26 He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not. Notice the covetousness of the slothful. Notice that the righteous give; they do not covet and hope to take from others through a roll of the dice, or a pull of a lever, or the speed of a horse or dog, or the prowess of a team on which they have bet in the office pool.
God has commanded that his people work for what they get; gambling discourages the work ethic ordained by God. Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. This country was built and grew to greatness on the work ethic established by God in the dawn of human history.
God blesses wealth that is gained by labor but not that which is taken from another, such as is done in gambling. Proverbs 13:11 Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase. Many of the people who have won the lottery have ended up bankrupt because wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished. A Christian who gets wealth by good, honest hard work can expect to have God bless his labor; but the Christian who gets wealth by gambling can expect God to blow upon it and bring it to nothing. Look at the verse again. Proverbs 13:11 Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase. Any wealth gotten by gambling is certainly uncertain riches and will rob the Christian of his faith. 1 Timothy 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. God will sooner or later take that which is obtained through the wrong means, and then where will the gambler be? Jeremiah 17:11 As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.
God strongly condemns any effort at getting something for nothing as is done in gambling. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. Paul admonished the Thessalonians to quietly work to earn what they needed. 1 Thessalonians 4:11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you. He never admonished them to try to get money any other way than by work. A person who goes to Bellevue told Ruth that since legalized gambling came to Mississippi, Bellevue has had to budget a good deal more money for their benevolent fund. I know of a lady who was in need and was given 100.00 by a Baptist church in our area. She then went to Tunica and lost it gambling. Many people on welfare use some of the money provided by taxpayers to gamble.
This nation, with its liberal welfare programs, has created a generation of people who want to just "lay back and take it easy on welfare," as one young recipient recently stated her goal. Now, there are others who want to hit the jackpot and cease their working for a living.
The lust for money causes people to resort to all kinds of things to get money to try to win money. State Representative Todd Akin of Missouri District 86 tells of a gambler who stole the ring from his mothers finger as she lay in a coma in the hospital. He pawned the ring for $1200.00, gambled away the proceeds, returned to the hospital where he found that his mother had died. When a person gets into the mindset of wanting something for nothing, he will stop at nothing to get something for nothing, including stealing from his own family, and from God.
It is the laborer, not the gambler, who is worthy of his hire. Luke 10:7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. To expect to be paid for ones labor, whether it be digging a ditch, roofing a house, or preaching the gospel as in the verse, is not covetous. God has irrefutably declared that the laborer is worthy of his hire. On the other hand, the gambler cannot make claim to this specified matter. He is not worthy of his hire as is the laborer.
1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. Gambling surely fits in this verse and should not, therefore, be the recreation of the Christian.
Most people who gamble lose money or the casinos could not continue to operate. When a person goes to a casino he is almost certain to lose. The winners are few compared to the losers. The Bible teaches that we are responsible to be good stewards of 100% of what God puts in our care, not just our tithes and offerings. Matthew 25:14-30 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
The man who was given five had to account for five and what he had earned. There are those who feel that as long as they give their tithe, they are free to do as they will with the rest of their income. This man was given five talents and he had to give an account for the five and show what he had done with them all.
The man with two talents had to account for two plus what he had earned. He was not responsible for only a tenth. He was responsible for the entire amount. God gives us all that we have and we are responsible to him for every thing he gives us.
The man who was given one still had it, but had not added to it, and he was an unprofitable servant worthy of punishment. I wonder what would have happened if he had said, "I lost it gambling." Does anyone believe he would have been counted a good steward if he had lost it gambling.
The casino owner is a swindler, and the gambler is being swindled, for in the long run, he never gets back what he puts into the gambling. It is a known fact that most who win at gambling soon lose it all back plus some. The casino owner knows that money won by his customers is a good investment in advertisement so he readily publicizes the winners, even if they win a good deal of money. He knows this win will attract others into his establishment so that he can fleece them. And, he knows the winner will get a taste of winning and will try to do it again and again. The result is the casino always comes out on top. The gambler ultimately loses even when he has won.
The time might come when a gambling Christian (I sure dont like the sound of that expression but am going to use it anyway.), the time might come when a gambling Christian would get in a tight and would actually gamble away his tithes and offerings. As impossible as that may sound, it has probably happened.
A man who posted a message on a site on the Internet called Issue and Interchange was defending a Christian gambling. He said that if a Christian doesnt rob God by gambling away his tithes and offerings, and if he doesnt rob his family of necessities, and if he pays his bills, there is nothing wrong with his gambling with the rest of his money. He fails to take into consideration that we who are Christians are responsible for all that God gives us, not just a tithe plus what we owe and our family needs. God teaches 100% stewardship and that will not permit gambling.
What this man, who professes to be a Christian, was not taking into consideration is that he is to be a good steward of all that God gives to him, not just his tithes and offerings. Psalm 24:1 The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
It is very poor stewardship, even when you have given your tithes and offerings, and fed and clothed your family, and paid your bills, to invest any of the money with known swindlers. And casinos and lotteries and race tracks are known swindlers.
We shall all stand before Christ one day and give an account for all that God has given us. 2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. I can see someone say, "Lord, I always gave my tithe. I thought that was all that mattered." The Lord will surely ask about the other 90% and how it was handled. It will do no good to try and cover up for he who knows all is fully aware of where every penny went and you will be asked to explain.
Paul is a Christian writing to other Christians. His statement in verse one leaves no doubt that this is true. 2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Consider also his statement in verses 8-9. 2 Corinthians 5:8-9 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
A Christian who gambles must stand at the judgment seat of Christ one day and give an account for gambling. Since we must give an account of the deeds done in the body there are a couple of questions I would ask the reader who is a Christian but feels it is acceptable to gamble, "Would gambling fall into the category of the good deeds done in the body?" Or, "Would gambling fall into the category of the bad deeds done in the body?" There is no way I can conceive of calling this a good deed. It must, therefore, fall into the latter category of bad deeds. If you are truly saved, and you gamble, do you look forward to the judgment seat of Christ when you will give an account for the times you gambled and the money you lost doing so?
Another reason for the Christian to abstain from gambling is the company gambling keeps. Its associates are of the worst sort. Gambling was, in the past, relegated to the saloon where the only women who participated were bar room floozies.
Gambling is sooner or later usually associated with organized crime. In reports I have read from various sources, organized crime and gambling are always associated. In reports prepared for the states of Illinois, Florida, and Louisiana, this was a major concern of those preparing the reports. Only recently, I have read of problems of this very thing happening on the Gulf Coast area of Mississippi. Gambling gives the Mafia and other such crime syndicates a good avenue for laundering their other ill-gotten gain. Every where gambling has been legalized for any length of time, the crime syndicates have moved in.
Gambling is often associated with prostitution. At least 500 known prostitutes operate around the casinos in Reno, Nevada. Other places where gambling has been legalized, the prostitutes have increased. Their ilk, the ilk of the whoremongers who go after them, and the ilk of gambling itself, are enough to disgrace any community. The Christian who gambles supports this kind of degradation.
Gambling has some other close associates which I shall now name.
Murder is often associated with gambling. The murder rate increases in areas where gambling is legalized. When a person loses his money gambling he is in much more an explosive and murderous frame of mind than one who has not gambled. Those who have studied the matter also report that the very act of gambling tends to make people less caring and more violent. All the time they are gambling they are trying to take what belongs to someone else. To do that one must develop an insensitive nature. He will become callused in conscience and this leads to less respect for others, thus he can kill easier than before.
Divorce is often associated with gambling. One partner in the marriage gets involved in gambling and loses the rent money or the grocery money or both. Before they realize what is happening, they have destroyed the marriage.
Bankruptcy is often associated with gambling. It is a documented fact that anywhere legalized gambling is possible, the number of bankruptcies increase noticeably. Most people cannot afford to lose a weeks wages at the casino. Then it is more and more. The payments on things go unpaid, money is borrowed to gamble some more to try to recoup the losses. The collectors start harassing, and rightfully so. To gain any relief, bankruptcy is filed and granted and businesses who had sold him goods in good faith lose because money was lost by the debtor at the gambling establishment.
Of course, homes are lost and savings accounts are emptied. Often, the gambler will borrow everything he can on any thing he owns and all is eventually lost because he never wins. Or, when he does win he goes back and gambles some more so that ultimately he is a big time loser.
Suicide is very often associated with gambling. A group in our area which is studying the impact of gambling on the area, said there is strong suspicion that some of the wrecks that have occurred on Highway 61 between here and Tunica have been the result of suicide efforts of losers. It is a documented fact that suicides increase in the areas where gambling is legalized.
Now I will substantiate these things with some facts and figures. Deadwood, South Dakota, is a small town where Casino gambling was first introduced in 1989. In four years the local states attorney reported: "Felony crimes increased by 40%, child abuse was up 42%, domestic violence and assaults rose 80%. Police costs doubled." Speaking of Tunica County, Mississippi, District Attorney Laurence Mellen states, "Theres and increase in violent crime, armed robberies and sexual crimes. Knowing the background of the cases, its because of gambling." According to Police Chief George Payne, crime statistics for January to July, 1993, and January to July, 1994, show that in one year crime escalated in Gulfport, Mississippi, at an alarming rate after casinos were opened there in 1992. Rape increased by 185%, robbery by 200%, assault by 61%, burglary by 110%, larceny by 99%, vehicle theft by 148%, arson by 36%, vehicle accidents by 58%.
According to the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, Inc., In 1976, before legalized gambling, Atlantic City had no prostitution problem. Today it is a serious public health problem because many teenage girls are forced into prostitution when they cant pay their gambling debt to the loan sharks in Atlantic City.
James Moody, Chief of the Organized Crime Section of the FBI said, "Gambling itself . . . is probably the biggest producer of money for the American la Cosa Nostra that there is." According to federal affidavits, "A Minnesota company with major casino interests in Michigan, Louisiana, and Mississippi has links to, and may be controlled by, an associate of New Yorks Genovese Mafia family. According to the Times-Picayune, "The indictment . . . of eight people in an alleged blackjack cheating scheme at a Biloxi casino is the latest evidence of organized crimes varied attempts to infiltrate the gambling industries of Louisiana and Mississippi."
The projected effect of gambling on social programs such as welfare is astounding. According to The Executive Office of the Governor of Florida, "Theoretically, to maintain the same quality of life after the legalization [of gambling] occurs, social-welfare budgets would have to increase by 100% to 550%. The pressure on elected officials to increase taxes to address these social welfare costs will be enormous."
According to this same report, suicides are much higher in areas where legalized gambling is available. "Nevada, for example, has the highest suicide rate for residents in the nationits rate is more than double the national average. It has the highest high school drop-out rate; is first for deaths per vehicle-mile driven; and, according to the January, 1994 issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, it led the nation in child death by abuse in 1979-1988 (a period when casino gambling was illegal in other parts of the nation except Atlantic City."
The same report also points out, "Atlantic Citys crime rate has exceeded the state [New Jersey] rate ever since casinos were authorized in 1978. Between 1978 and 1981, the crime rate tripled. In just three years following the opening of its first casino, Atlantic City went from 50th in the nation in per capita crime to first."
According to the Chief of Police of Tunica, Mississippi, "Arrests for drunken driving have increased up to 500%" since the coming of the casinos. This is attributed to the free and cheap drinks that are available at the casinos. According to Dr. John Kindt of the University of Illinois, "Shortly after the advent of legalized casino gambling [Nov. 1989], the Deadwood [South Dakota] casino economy lurched forward. The state attorneys office in Deadwood indicated that within approximately two years: Child abuse cases had increased 42% to 43% (from 350 to 500); Police costs had increased 80% to 100% with a virtual doubling of the number of police officers; Although national statistics had increased only slightly, crime in Deadwood area increased overall by 10% (although prior to 1989 the crime rate had been declining) with a 50% increase in felonies. Furthermore, there were 614 Class One misdemeanors or felonies in 1988, and 1070 in 1992, a 75% increase in four years; Domestic violence and assaults had risen 80%; and Burglaries and writing of bad checks had increased.
Sen. Richard Lugar told the Christian Coalition, "The spread of gambling is a measure of the moral erosion taking place in our country . . . It says that if you play enough, you can hit the jackpot and be freed from the discipline of self-support through a job or the long commitment to ongoing education." He further stated, "We cannot tolerate the get rich quick symbolism of gambling, while pleading with our children to avoid other tosses of the dice that lead to unhealthy living and destructive behavior."
Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Virginia, has offered a bill to establish a National Commission on the Impact of Gambling. Senators Richard Lugar and Paul Simon have offered a similar bill in the Senate. This commission would be asked to provide unbiased answers to the following questions:
How does gambling affect suicide and crime rates among juveniles?
What effect does a casino have on a citys economy?
Who loses the money that makes gambling such a profitable business, and who then has to support the losers families?
The gambling lobby does not want those questions asked, much less answered, and has put up a lobbying kitty of $2 million for openers, to try and stop the establishment of this commission.
Christians are commanded to abstain from all appearance of evil, and gambling not only has the appearance of evil, gambling is evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. Christians are commanded to be careful that they not become a stumbling block before sinners or weak brother and sisters and gambling will make a Christian a stumbling block. We are taught by the example of Paul to abstain from meat if it offends a brother. 1 Corinthians 8:13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. This should have a double application to something like gambling. Romans 14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.
I realize I have not painted a pretty picture of gambling. I assure you I did not start out to put it in a good light. If I were preaching on murder, I would not try to put a pretty face on it. If I were preaching on abortion, I would not try to put a pretty face on it. If I were preaching on homosexuality, I would not attempt to put a pretty face on it. I have been dealing with gambling, and it is like death. You can take a cemetery and give it a name like Sunset Gardens, and landscape with beautiful shrubs, trees, flowers and fountains, and you can put majestic stones on the graves. But, when all is said and done, down in those graves are dead men, women, boys and girls. Their bodies decay, rot, and stink, just as they would if you buried them in a pig sty.
You can take gambling out of the beer hall and the wild west Saloon and put it into glittering casinos with elaborate decorations and fine buffets and beautiful lights and fine hotel rooms, but it is still gambling. It is still covetousness. It is still the lust of the flesh. It is still greed. It is still a stench in the nostrils of a holy God. It still causes murder, divorce, wrecked homes and ruined children. It still breeds bankruptcy. It still spawns suicides. It has always been sin; it is still sin; it will always be sin.
One person after whom I read said, "If dueling is murder with consent, gambling is robbery with consent."
It is bad enough that Pete Rose, one of the greatest baseball players in history is banned from baseball for the rest of his life, he is barred from ever being admitted to the hall of fame, and shamed and disgraced for the rest of his life for gambling on ball games. Gambling on golf came close to destroying the career of Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
If gambling can ruin the career of Pete Rose, and come close to ruining the career of Michael Jordan, what does it do to the testimony of a Christian in the eyes of a lost world? The judgment seat of Christ will probably reveal that!
If you were to go to the casinos and win a million dollars and give half of it to the church that would not be worth nearly as much as doing right. Let me close with some very wise words from Solomon for any who may be tempted to gamble. Proverbs 16:8 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right. And, Dear Reader, there is just nothing right about gambling. NOTHING!
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