Speaking the Truth in Love

Should Christians Gamble?

When I was living in Indiana, I often heard an advertisement for an area casino. The radio commercial promised the moon—good food, friendly service, luxury suites for customers wanting to spend the night, and the chance to win big. Gamble with us, the casino was suggesting, and we will take care of you. A more accurate ad would boast: “Gamble with us, and we will take you for every cent you’re worth, and then some.”

Gambling may be foolish, but is it wrong? Does the Bible anywhere say, “You shall not gamble”? No. But if “the word of God is living and active” (Heb. 4:12), then the Scriptures must address every moral question facing the church. The biblical principles mentioned below enable us to make a good decision concerning gambling.

Weakening My Spiritual Man Is Wrong. Although it is true that God will always provide the Christian a way to escape the snares of Satan (1 Cor. 10:13), the apostle Paul urges the church to be “watchful,” “courageous,” and “strong” (16:13). This instruction implies the Christian’s responsibility to avoid situations and behaviors that make him vulnerable to sin. Gambling is certainly in this category. It has the power to take control of the person who engages in it. Evidence for this is overwhelming. Wherever gambling is legal, support groups like Gamblers Anonymous must be there to clean up the mess.

Hurting My Influence Is Wrong. Paul explains that “it is right not to […] do anything that makes your brother stumble” (Rom. 14:21). Perhaps I’m perfectly able to place a few bets without ever becoming a gambling addict, but a friend or relative may not fare so well. In fact, gambling may destroy him financially, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. If my example contributes to his downfall, am I walking in love? The Bible says that “we who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves; let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to edify him. For Christ did not please himself” (15:1-3).

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