Dear Aebi ...


The Lottery And Gambling

Charles J. Aebi

Dear Aebi "Is it wrong for a Christian to buy lottery tickets? Isn't this just another way to pay taxes?"

Playing the lottery is gambling, and gambling for the Christian is wrong in any form. Of course, it is wrong for the non-Christian as well. It is covetousness, which Paul says is idolatry. In Colossians 3:5-6, Paul says, "Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things' sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience" ASV. Covetousness is called "greed" in some modern speech versions. "Uncleanness" is called "impurity." What he means by "put to death" is explained in Romans 6:1-11, where he says the person who is baptized repents by crucifying the "old man" or the former way of life. "Your members which are upon the earth" in Colossians 3:5 is explained in the words that follow; it means the sins that people do. So, as Christians, we are to have no living connection with sexual immorality, lust, wanting what is evil, or coveting (being greedy).

How is gambling being greedy, or covetousness? Gambling is wanting something for nothing, or for much, much less than it is worth; it is wanting money (or whatever else is at stake) without honest labor for it. There is a little of the welfare syndrome found in people who want things but do not want to put forth real effort to get them. It is akin to stealing. Someone said it is not gambling if you bet on a sure thing (which is what gamblers often think they are doing). No, if you bet on a sure thing, it is not gambling; it is stealing! Covetousness is at the root of both stealing and gambling. There is no way to justify it in the eyes of God, according to what He says in the Scriptures.

One man argued that gambling is found in Scripture. Yes, the soldiers who crucified Jesus gambled to see who would get his seamless coat or robe. Who thinks this makes the case that God approves of gambling?

Some people think it is justified because it would be for a good cause, but Paul condemned the idea of doing evil that good may come in Romans 3:8. But would it be for a good cause? Much of the money spent on the lottery comes from the pockets of people who can ill afford it, and a lot of the money thus spent ends up in the pockets of the gambling interests that run the lottery for the state. "But the state realizes a percentage of it," say those who support the lottery idea, "and they use it to support education." State income from the lottery is not enough to justify the evils connected with it, just as state income from casino gambling usually is not enough to offset the additional cost of increased crime, prostitution, drug-running, alcoholism, and other evils attendant to big-time gambling. There are better ways to support schools.

Isn't this just another way of paying taxes? No! It is not a form of taxation, and even if it were, it wouldn't be justified. Taxes are levied on citizens; the lottery attracts money from out of state as well. Taxes are based on one's ability to pay (income or property), while the lottery takes the most money from the poorest segment of the population. Taxes do not encourage one to become addicted to gambling; the lottery does. Taxes are not gambling; the lottery is. Have nothing to do with lotteries. -2660 Layman Rd., Vincent OH 45784


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