By Weldon E. Warnock
Gambling is parasitic, selfish and greedy. It thrives from the lives of others and is out everything for nothing. Someone said that “gambling chloroforms the soul, freezes the very milk of human kindness, and kills all feeling for the spiritual.” The old French proverb says, “Gambling is the child of avarice, the brother of iniquity, the father of mischief.”
Webster defines gambling: “To play or game for money or other stakes; to hazard; wager.” Involved in this definition are action and value; rivalry with another person or persons; possibility of loss and uncontrolled event. Paraphrasing, we could say that gambling is “a participation or engagement by two or more persons in a contest or game wherein they risk their money on value.” Thus, it involves one person trying to get what another person possesses by chance.
Condemnation of Gambling (Phil. 4:8).
Though the Bible does not come right out and specify gambling as a work of the flesh, there principles set forth in the Scriptures that gambling violates. Someone who has the gambling fever might say, enough to show anyone “Show me where the Bible condemns gambling! The word is not even in the Bible.” But, does this make gambling right because the word is not mentioned? Certainly not! Suicide, embezzling, bootlegging, racketeering, etc. do not occur in the Bible, but they are wrong and sinful, nevertheless. So, it is also true with gambling. Though the word is not in the Bible, there are Scriptures that condemn it.
Paul wrote, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Eph. 4:28). God intends for man to make a living by working for it. Those who gamble try to get something for nothing without giving service or exchange for goods. When man fell and was cast out of Eden, God said, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread. . . (Gen. 3:19).
Again, we read, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor. . . ” (Rom. 13: 10). Could one practice this Scripture and at the same time be making plans to acquire his neighbor’s weekly paycheck? We are to love our neighbor as ourselves and do nothing to him that we would not want done unto ourselves. Taking a man’s money is not a very neighborly act.
“Thou shalt not covet” (Rom. 13:9) is another passage against gambling. Covetousness is eagerness to have more, especially that which belongs to another. Thayer says covetousness (epithumia) means, “desire for what is forbidden” (p. 238). He also sates concerning pleoniexia, translated covetousness, “greedy, desire to have more” (p. 516). Every form of gambling is promoted by greed and lust to get that which belongs to somebody else. Covetousness is the root of it. The end result is that the covetous shall not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:10).
Paul wrote to the Philippian brethren, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true . . . honest . . . pure . . . lovely . . . good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8). Gambling is contrary to each one of these things. Furthermore, a gambler cannot glorify God in such activity. Paul said, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
These preceding Scriptures are more than enough to show anyone who is honest and sincere that gambling is worldly and sinful in nature. It should be abhorred, despised and rejected.
Methods of Gambling
There are scores of ways to gamble. People can gamble on almost anything. One of the biggest gambling rackets is horse racing. People do not go day after day to the races just to see the horses run. They go to gamble. Take away the gambling and horse racing would cease. Billions of dollars are “poured down the drain” annually to play the horses. Think what this money would do in feeding the poor, or helping unemployment. Dog racing has also become quite popular. People are literally going to the dogs.
Card playing is another way by which many gamble. This sort of gambling is running rampant in every town. You can find it in the back of the pool hall, in the privacy of the clubs, the casinos, or in the living room of the home. It may be called “bridge,” or “poker,” and maybe only a vase, ornament or a few dollars are involved, but whether the value is little or big, it is still gambling. Perhaps we would be safe in saying that nine-tenths of gamblers are taught in their homes by their mothers and fathers in a bridge game or poker game, or maybe the lottery that everybody has gone “crazy” over. How could children grow up to have any scruples against wagering when the parents have set such unworthy examples before them.
Other forms of gambling are such things as wagering on dice, bingo (you are starting to meddle right here, preacher), slot machines, punch boards, matching coins, pitching pennies at a line, buying chances on a new car, boat, etc. Christians have no business participating in any of these. They are gambling. “But much of it is such a small amount. How could anything like that be wrong?” somebody says. For the same reason that it is just as wrong to steal a little money as it is to steal a lot. Stealing is stealing regardless of the amount and gambling is gambling regardless of the stakes.
Consequences of Gambling
Along with gambling go, many times, crime, murder, drunkenness, broken homes, stealing, robbery, loss of position and reputation, and other evils.
How many have killed as a result of a card game? How many have stolen in order to pay back their gambling debt? How many broken homes have come about because a father began gambling and could not provide for his own because his week’s pay was wasted in a poker game or on a horse race? How many lives have been ruined because the “gambling fever” was not thwarted?
Gambling is just another deceptive sin that Satan uses to entice the souls of men and women into his own will. There is no good in it. It is filled with disappointment, heartache and sorrow. Its way is down and not up.
In conclusion, I quote the words of Solomon: “Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich. Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father. He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor” (Prov. 28:6-8).
Guardian of Truth XXX: 13, pp. 397-398
July 3, 1986