Is Gambling a Sin?

*This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of all of the contributors to the Particular Baptist

Recently, I had the privilege of appearing on the Why Theology podcast to talk about the Church and how it should be governed. While on it I was asked the question about how a church with a congregational form of government would make a decision about whether to support a casino moving into town. I had never really considered the question of how specifically to react to a casino moving in and what to do about it, although I had spent time thinking about the subject of gambling before. I thought it might be edifying if I placed some of those thoughts here and applied them to what Christians should think about casinos.

There is no Bible verse explicitly condemning gambling. And as Christians we do not want to add to God’s law and forbid things He has never forbidden (Deuteronomy 4:2). To do so would be to say we know better than God about what is right and wrong. However, there are some verses about how we should think about money that we should consider when thinking about this subject.

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. 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.

1 Timothy 6:9-10

We are not to love money. That’s not to say that money itself is evil, but that the love of money consumes and turns people into idolaters. Covetousness is sin. If someone is engaged in gambling because of a love of money then they need to examine themselves and repent of their idolatry of seeking money rather than God.

He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.

Proverbs 28:22

The Bible condemns trying to get rich quick and commends those who through diligence build wealth. So one who is involved in gambling goes against God’s wisdom. And as the verse says poverty is likely to come upon him.

The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

Psalm 24:1

For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.

Psalm 50:10

Everything belongs to God. Even “our money” is not our own. Even if we earned it through work, God is the One who gave us our skills, material, and the opportunities to earn it. In the parable of the talents, we are commanded to be wise with what we are given (Matthew 25:14-30). Gambling large sums of our money is putting our ability to provide for ourselves, our families, and for the work of God’s kingdom into jeopardy.

 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

1 Corinthians 6:11

Gambling can lead to gambling addiction. If you’re the type of person that has an addictive personality type, you should stay away. If you are a gambling addict, you need to come out of it. And the Lord Jesus can deliver you from this sin (Matthew 1:21) if you put your trust in Him (Acts 16:31).

Is gambling inherently sinful? I don’t think so. The Bible doesn’t say this. I’ve had friends over to play a friendly game of cards with poker chips, and I see nothing in the Bible that would condemn this, as I wasn’t being unwise with my money. I’ve also been to a casino once since becoming a Christian (although much earlier in my walk). I went into it with the idea that I knew I would probably lose my money and I was not going to spend very much, but I was going to use it as a source of entertainment, just like I would by spending money to see a baseball game or something of that nature. To be honest, I didn’t end up having that much fun, as constantly pulling the levers on the slot machines and immediately seeing I lost made me feel like I was just throwing money away. But if someone went into it with this attitude, I would not think they were being unwise with their money. That being said casinos do destroy people’s lives, and a believer might want to consider whether it’s wise to spend their money and support an institution that encourages this. A believer might also want to consider how others might perceive them going to a casino. Even if its not inherently sinful, if we know it would cause a brother with a gambling problem to stumble, or if it would cause the unbelieving world to think that Christians are consumed by gambling, I would say you should not go. We should walk in a way as to not cause our brothers to stumble nor the world to think we are just like them.

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