Wanna bet?

On May 7, I posted a blog about gambling (you can see it if you scroll down, or go back one week). I was stranded at the LasVegas airport with two hours to kill. I posted the question: Did I or didn’t I gamble? Why or why not?

Here are the survey results:


Ready for my answer? Here it is…

I hesitate to say because I know that one side or another will be ticked off. But that’s why they pay me the big bucks… to tick people off.

No. I did not gamble. Not even one little nickel.

Let me quickly say that I do not find in Scripture a clear case to prohibit gambling altogether. On our honeymoon, Margi and I budgeted $10 to play roulette. We walked out with $80. “You gotta know when to fold ’em.” There is a social and an entertainment component to some forms of gambling, obviously.

I also must quickly say that gambling is one of those dangerous activities that sucks you in. If you gamble to pay your bills, I believe that you are missing God’s will for your life. His will is that you work hard, work diligently, and not build your finances on chance.

“Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” Ephesians 4:28, NKJV.

Gambling as a way of making money appeals to a part of our soul that wants to avoid work. It appeals to a “get rich quick” part of our souls–our Inner Mess.

It’s an epidemic among 20-somethings.

I live within 10 minutes of a casino. I have not stepped foot in it, simply because I don’t want to be used as a justification by young adults. I can see it as an occasional, moderate, mutually agreed to (between spouses), limited, form of occasional entertainment. But not here, and not locally, and not where my presence will confuse young people.

Having said that, I recognize that others may have a different conscience on these things, and I do not judge them.

“Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:1-4, NKJV.

Gambling appeals to luck–no matter how logical you try to make it. You’re still playing the odds. God’s people appeal to providence for our sustenance and our way of life. It’s all the difference in the world.

I did not gamble at the Vegas airport for a number of reasons, including:

  1. I have asked my church to give up something and to give the money to a special project (called the Latte Factor) to renovate our kids’ rooms, to launch a venue in Weaverville, and to enhance our online presence. I couldn’t in good conscience waste money on gambling.
  2. I wanted my wife and kids to be proud of me. And my church, too.
    • [P.S. If you would like to contribute toward the Latte Factor, please click here. You’ll be able to specify that you’d like to give to the Latte Factor.]

So I sat there and worked on my sermon on my computer, while I watched dozens of bored people waste hundreds of hard earned dollars.

Christians have liberty to do anything that the Bible doesn’t prohibit. Yep, I fervently believe in that. I am not judging people who gamble. Not one bit.

One last thing: for we who have a leadership role among God’s people, we have a different calling. When I was a youth pastor, someone gave me a pamphlet called “Others May–You Cannot.” It was written over 150 years ago and is a classic. It bugged me at the time, but I see the wisdom in it now. Here’s the gist:

“If God has called you to be really like Christ in all your spirit, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility and put on you such demands of obedience, that He will not allow you to follow other Christians, and in many ways He will seem to let other good people do things which He will not let you do.”


Others may. As a pastor, as a father, as a husband, as a Christian leader, in that time, in that place, in these circumstances… I could not.

(If you leave a comment, please keep it very short, and very respectful of both sides of this issue. Thanks.)


5 thoughts on “Wanna bet?

  1. All right! I had a hundred bucks riding on that answer. Time to pay up, Rob. Looks like Matt eats this week. LOL
    Seriously, when you prioritize like that, it means you have to trust God that His way is best. Some people may find it easier to just follow a rule, but I don’t see how faith is built up like that.
    To complicate it, you said gambling is pure luck. Is that true when betting on sports events, such as horse racing?
    And speaking of the online presence, when do we get the next Esther sermon?

  2. Hey Matt,
    Nope–I didn’t say that gambling was pure luck. There may be elements of logic, or study involved. What I said was that it always appeals to luck–you’re still playing odds, even with the logic, etc., factored in. You can’t eliminated the “luck” part, and that’s what makes it of concern for a Christian.

  3. I thin I’m pretty much on the same line as you. I don’t give in to the “a little won’t hurt” thing. I’m convinced that I’ll never really take a sip of any alcohol as long as I live. The Bible says that you just shouldn’t get drunk. Just a funny subject to me. Good decision!

  4. I agree with you. I too am a Christian and I do not think gambling is wrong. It just isn’t my choice of sport. Gambling with with for me is gambling with my life. Every penny counts in my family. However my husband have lost his priorities when it comes to this subject. I pray to God about it and it SEEMS like my husband is ignoring his voice. Both of us are not working right now and bills should be paid with the rest. He is still gambling even though I told him it is killing us that his priorities are messed up. He pretends as if everything is fine but right as we speak we are struggling to pay gas to get to school/church(he do not attend anymore) and get the kids around, he has over $200 in his pocket he THINKS I don’t know about. Lord help me is all I can say!

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