Where Does the Bible Condemn Gambling?

Why do so many Christians label gambling as a “sin” when the Bible doesn’t specifically condemn gambling?
By Wayne Jackson | Christian Courier

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Occasionally someone will ask, “Where does the Bible condemn gambling?”

They demand a book, chapter, and verse that specifically prohibits the practice.

Like many sins, gambling is not directly named in Scripture. It is nonetheless, condemned in principle numerous times.

Gambling Is a Violation of Faithful Stewardship

The Bible teaches that what we own belongs to the Lord and is entrusted to us for our stewardship.

Imagine leaving money to care for your children with a relative while you were away on a trip. How would you feel if your relative put the whole wad on Powerball Lotto tickets?

The flippant person will say, “Great if he won!” But the reality is gambling empires are built on people losing, not winning.

To risk losing our Father’s money on games of chance is poor stewardship.

Notice the principles of stewardship embedded within the following passages.

“Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2).

“And the Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time?’” (Lk. 12:42).

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Pet. 4:10).

Gambling Seeks to Enrich Self while Ignoring the Welfare of Your Neighbor

Gambling ignores the law of love for one’s neighbor. It is a zero-sum game. It is stealing by deception, because the loser, even though he grants permission never anticipates losing.

Love for other people means acting in their best interest even when they do not.

Note the principles of love must be ignored to participate in gambling.

“And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt. 22:39).

“Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10).

“Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor” (1 Cor. 10:24).

Gambling Is Dishonest

Gambling violates the principle of doing honest work for one’s bread. It places your prosperity in the hands of Lady Luck, rather than a fair exchange of value for value. Lady Luck owes you nothing!

While gifts may be graciously received from time to time, the general rule is that we prosper by reaping that which we have sown. Giving to others labor or something of value initiates the receiving process. The motive for gambling is to prosper from others without a fair exchange.

“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thes. 3:10).

Gambling Enslaves through Addiction

Gambling is highly addictive. According to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, 15 to 20 million adults and adolescents have either problem or pathological gambling addictions, which is about 5-7 percent of the U.S. population.

“If you take 15 million people and place them in average-sized NFL Football stadiums that hold about 70,000 people, you could fill approximately 214 stadiums to capacity with problem and pathological gamblers in the U.S. alone!” (CitizenLink.com)

Here are some important principles that require the Christian exhibit self-control, not addictive behaviors.

“‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything” (1 Cor. 6:12).

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:23).

Gambling Sets an Evil Example

How many parents who truly love their children would want them to experience the negative consequences of gambling addiction?

Your influence on others either makes this world a better place, or it leads your friends and neighbors farther away from Christ.

Ask yourself, “Which of the following biblical principles of example and Christian influence does gambling violate?”

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all” (Rom. 12:17).

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1Tim. 4:12).

“So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander” (1 Tim. 5:14).

“And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Pet. 2:2).

Gambling Is often a Gateway to Crime

Gambling is the frequent companion with other vices (e.g., stealing, drugs, prostitution). Frequently, those chasing the elusive pot of gold resort to theft and other crimes to fund their gambling.

“For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Rom. 13:9).

“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Eph. 4:28).

Gambling Destroys Families

Gambling is the destroyer of numerous homes. It takes food, clothing, and medical care from wives and children.

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8).

Gambling Destroys the Soul

Gambling is the enemy of mental peace. It brings fear and anxiety. It creates an obsession with money that consumes the gambler. The suicide rate among gamblers is very high.

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Tim. 6:10).

Let every person who wishes to honor God and respect his neighbor avoid this noxious habit altogether.