Pastor I was wondering

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          Question:  I was raised in church when I was young, but through High School and College, I drifted away and lost my faith.   Recently through some good friends, I was brought back to church, and I have become a Christian.    My friends told me that now that I am a Christian I will have to give up all the things I used to do when I was an unbeliever, including going to the Casino, and playing poker and gambling.  I really liked gambling.  I was wondering, is gambling a sin?  Does God forbid Christians from gambling?

            First of all, praise the Lord for your friends who lovingly brought you back to Jesus.  Praise the Lord that you are a Christian.   

            Not everything that an unbeliever does is immoral!  Some unbelievers live very moral lives.  They are generous in giving to charities!  They are kind to people who are being picked on.  They respect law and order.  All the things that Christians do.  And if, when you were an unbeliever, you did these type of things, the Lord would not want you to stop doing them.   The Lord asks us to turn our back on sin, and not commit the same sins we did when we were unbelievers.  So, I don’t believe you need to give up everything you used to you, now that you are a Christian.

            But now, what about gambling?   Is gambling a sin?  Does God forbid Christians from ever gambling?

            There are clear passages where God tells us that “stealing” is wrong.   There are many proverbs that tell us we should not be lazy, and that we should not try to get something for nothing.   There are many passages that ask Christians to be good stewards of all the gifts that God has given them.  But I have not found any passage where God forbids His people to gamble.  

            That puts us in the category of what we call “adiaphora,” things that are neither commanded, nor forbidden by our God.   And in such situations, as Christians we have the freedom to choose whether we want to do those or not.   The only command God gives us about these “adiaphora,” is that we be careful that we don’t “offend” weak Christians, and tempt them into sinning by doing something that goes against their conscience; and God forbids us from using our Chrisian freedom as a license to sin. 

            I am hard pressed to find any clear passages from Scripture that would forbid you, as a Christian, to gamble.   I would say that all things being considered, you have the freedom to make that choice on your own.  Just be aware of weak Christians whose consciences forbid them from gambling, and do nothing to harm them. 

            I will however give you some warnings about gambling.  

 

  1.  Gambling can become very addictive.  It doesn’t take much to become addicted to gambling, so that I am gambling not because I want to, but because I need to.    That, we Christians definitely need to steer clear of.

 

  1.  Never put down what you need to get back!  When you place a bet, or buy a lottery ticket, if you need that money to pay your bills and take care of your family, and therefore, need to get that money back, you shouldn’t be gambling.  Because the odds are against you getting that money back.  You are better off to keep that money in your pocket, and pay the bills you need to pay.  

 

  1. If you are buying entertainment, you’re OK to gamble.  When I go to a movie and then out to eat, I am looking for entertainment.   At the end of the evening, I don’t expect to get my money back.  I’ve had my fun, and I am willing to pay for it.   So, also with gambling.  If you can go out gambling with the same attitude, that I am going out to have some fun, and at the end of the evening, whether I’ve won some money or not, I am happy, because I’ve bought some entertainment for the evening, and I am happy.  But if at the end of the evening, I expect to get my money back, then you shouldn’t be betting.

 

  1. If you are looking to make money gambling, don’t gamble.   The odds are always in favor of the house.  The house doesn’t have to cheat, it’s just the way the game is set up, that the odds are they will win.   Gambling establishments are in the business of making money.  They are not charitable organizations who give money away.  Oh, they will!  Some people will win big amounts of money.  And they will publicize that.  But for every person who wins big, there are 100 people who have lost big as well.  If you are looking to make money, put your money in the bank.  If you want to gamble, just assume that the money you gamble, you will lose.

 

I hope these thoughts have helped you make a Christian decision as to whether or not you feel comfortable gambling.  If you have any questions about what I’ve written, or if this has spawned more questions, please get back to me.   

 

May the Lord continue to bless you in your faith, and in your walk as a Christian.

 

 

 

 

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