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Wednesday, May 25, 2011 | Comments (65)

To gamble is to wager on a contest or to play at a game of chance for stakes. When you gamble, you are risking money (or something else of value) on the outcome of something that involves an element of chance, uncertainty, or hazard—for the possibility of winning something someone else has put at stake.


A stake is a prize one person stands to gain through the loss of others.

Simple contest prizes, such as free sweepstakes and door prizes, do not involve gambling if no fee is charged for entry into the contest. Sweepstakes contests sponsored for advertising purposes are paid for by the sponsor. The winner's prize is not financed by the loss of other contestants. Therefore it is not gambling. Nothing is put at stake by the contestants in such events.

Likewise, investing in the stock market is not "gambling," regardless of how much risk is involved. If a stock gains value, all investors earn money. The gains of one investor are not financed by the losses of others. In other words, there are no losers when a stock gains value. When the stock value increases, the economic "pie" grows.

By contrast the size of the economic pie in a gambling contest is fixed. The prize is a pool of money contributed by the players. A casino may take a percentage of that pie off the top, but otherwise, the size of the pie is fixed by the aggregate total of the players' contributions.

Similarly, a farmer who plants seed hoping to yield a crop takes a calculated risk. (If weather or disease destroys the crop, he could lose all he has invested in the crop.) That risk is not, technically, a "gamble," because if the investment pays off, no one loses. Real wealth has been created, unlike in gambling, where no wealth is ever actually created.

In gambling, existing wealth merely changes hands. In other words, one person's gain always comes at the price of hurt caused to others. That is the reason an immoral principle underlies all gambling. (We'll probe this point more carefully before the end of this series.)

One more misconception is worth trying to clear up: You'll often hear someone compare the insurance business to gambling. But although buying and selling insurance involves risk, it is not the moral equivalent of gambling. Assuming risk per se is not gambling. As we know, life is full of risk, and if the act of taking a risk were inherently the same as gambling, you could say that we all gamble every day.

In fact, that is precisely what some who advocate gambling do say. They point out that you take a risk every time you get in an airplane or ride in a car—or walk across the street. You would also face some risk even if all you did was stay in bed trying to avoid risk. Therefore, they say, life itself is a gamble.

But all of that is based on a faulty understanding of what gambling is. Look again at our definitions: To gamble is to play a game of chance for stakes. And a stake is a prize that is obtained at another gambler's expense. Remember: in gambling, whatever one person wins is lost by another.

Furthermore, in gambling, the risk is artificial. It is risk that is created by a game of chance. And the sole purpose for assuming this risk is to try to gain something at someone else's expense.

Now, notice this: all gambling involves four elements: One, something valuable is put at risk. Two, something belonging to someone else is at stake as a prize. Three, an element of chance is involved in determining the outcome. And four, no new wealth is created in the process.

And those four characteristics of gambling are the very reasons gambling is wrong. Each of the essential characteristics of gambling, when combined with the other three, violates one or more biblical principles. In the next post in this series, we'll begin to see why.

Phil Johnson
Executive Director


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#1  Posted by Josh Morrison  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2011at 5:34 AM

What is anyone's opinion on games like the claw machine or skeeball where you get tickets and buy prizes? I see nothing wrong with them, but I have been read the riot act and deemed a sinning gambler for playing both games. Just curious, thanks.

#2  Posted by Mike Bova  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2011at 6:23 AM

Mr. Johnson, good attempt at approaching the subject. I have two points where I disagree with your perception of Gambling.

First, the joint Stock market,

"If a stock gains value, all investors earn money. The gains of one investor are not financed by the losses of others. In other words, there are no losers when a stock gains value."

This is just untrue; the stock market is a zero sum game. For you to buy stock someone has to sell it to you. Now why not necessarily at a lost, however, those who short stock loose when the stock goes up.

There is also the idea of options again with someone loosing. Not to mention the Bible speaking against usury.

Second regarding the insurance company, we are investing money every month in the hopes to cover a larger expense we can never pay, heart surgery. Now some pay never getting anything in return and sometimes the company does not pay out what they should. These are the two ways of gaining money. And even payouts are from the money that came in from other people. Now casino games like Blackjack, for instance, the patron is paid out regardless of how the other members at the table perform. I am at a lost to understand the difference. I am not defending the casino’s who prey off peoples weaknesses and greed. I do not understand how the insurance company can be let off the hook so quickly.

#3  Posted by Bob Browning  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2011at 9:18 AM

Commenting on Mike in #2.

I think one point we need to keep in mind here is that the topic under consideration is gambling, and not financial practices in general. While there are certainly ill-intentioned practices taken by insurance companies, the underlying principle is different from gambling.

As Phil states in his 4 points at then end of this post, gambling involves putting something valuable at "risk" for the "chance" at gaining a "stake." I don't know anyone who pays insurance with the "hope" of ever needing it. Now it is true that you hope you will receive aid in your time of need, and those companies that do not fulfill their responsibility to customers are guilty of abusing the client's trust. But just because the insurance company may abuse their trust (maybe even doing so illegally), that does not mean that the client was gambling. In fact, if insurance was never abused it would truly stand as a great institution because it would be a mechanism by which we collectively agree to take care of each other.

That said, I think we need to really seek to see Phil's point about what gambling "is" and what gambling "is not." There are certainly other business and financial practices that may lead to greed, corruption, and abuse of people's trust, but these practices are not in the same category as gambling. I don't think Phil is ignoring the fact that sin exist in many financial arenas, but he is attempting to show how gambling is distinct from other areas.

Changing subjects, I can also say confidently that anyone comparing gambling to farming is extremely ignorant about agriculture. I grew up on a farm and my parents and I still manage it. There have been many farmers put out of business due to our country's poor support of agriculture and their have also been many farmers who were very bad managers/stewards and brought on their own demise. However, knowing that my father survived more than one major crop disaster - and knowing that without agriculture the entire world would cease to exist - it is absolutely appalling that anyone would compare gambling to farming. Thank you Phil for defending our farmers and for your post.

#4  Posted by Mike Sexton  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2011at 10:48 AM

"Likewise, investing in the stock market is not "gambling," regardless of how much risk is involved. If a stock gains value, all investors earn money. The gains of one investor are not financed by the losses of others. In other words, there are no losers when a stock gains value. When the stock value increases, the economic "pie" grows."

I don't know if I'm splitting hairs or just don't know how the stock market works. (I don't have any money in stocks, so I really could be mistaken here...) But if I invest in Apple, the only two ways that stock can gain is if Apple outsells it's competitors. Someone has to lose somewhere right? If that's true (and again, I could be wrong) then don't we count on the loss of competing businesses before we can make gains with our investments? None of the giant retail chains would be what they are today were it not for the death of mom and pop stores. Isn't that just another mechanism of successful capitalism?

I don't know if I would nail down all gambling as a sin, but I also don't know if I would equate it to the stock market either. Glad to be able to read a learn from the discussion though.

#5  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2011at 11:06 AM

Mike,

That is sometimes the case. Apple's stock goes up when people switch from PC to Mac. But it also went up when people bought iPads, which was a new market with no competitors (at least legitimate ones).

Those companies that lose stock lose it on the basis of bad business (either lack of market interest or poor business practices), but they don't lose it on the role of a dice. There's a huge difference.

#6  Posted by Robert Le Mere  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2011at 11:40 AM

Comment deleted by user.
#7  Posted by Mike Bova  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2011at 11:45 AM

Gabriel,

And sometimes they lose it on lies and rumors, like the K on the side of Snapple bottles is a sign to support the KKK. Or the old pump and dump scam.

So if you can't know what the future will bring is that "a roll of the dice"?

Josh,

I personally don't think so. I equate it to buying movie tickets and then it being a good or bad movie. Where I think it enters sin is in covetous, in how bad is your desire for that particular prize over meeting other needs.

#8  Posted by Edward Howell  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2011at 11:53 AM

#2 I agree with your comments.

I disagree with Gabriel's reasoning on this comment "Those companies that lose stock lose it on the basis of bad business (either lack of market interest or poor business practices), but they don't lose it on the role of a dice. There's a huge difference."

I say what difference does it make about the method if the outcome is the same. The stock market is driven by greed and all the other things that has been said about gambling.

When most people buy stock they don't buy it hoping for return on profits. Most companies don't declare a dividend on common stock. People buy stock to make money on the price of the stock. They try to buy low and sell high. That means someone bought and sold at a loss. Lots of folks have lost all they have on the stockmarket these days.

Could it be that Phil is involved in gambling on the stock market so he and others defend that and mark casino gambling as sin since they don't do that. Just wondering?

If I go to a casino to spend a certain amount of money on gambling for a nights entertainment no greedy intent. Just a night of fun. What difference is that than paying for a baseball game or a few rounds of golf. I spent my money enjoyed the evening and went home. Not one hurt and no more guilty of bad stewardship than anyone who purchased a ticket for an event or paid for golf.

Insurance uses tables of odds to set prices so they know they will have more coming in than going out. That is so they will win more than they loose on the policies.

I play the stock market. It is the only hopes of keeping up with inflation these days. I don't play the casino but see nothing wrong in doing it for entertainment.

I don't think a person should gamble his families money away whether is be at a casino or risky stocks. That is the sin of it.

#9  Posted by Mark Tanner  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2011at 12:52 PM

ALL

There must be a distinction made between investing in the success of a business verses "day trading". The latter is gambling whereas the other is (hopefully) based on some knowledge of the economy and the business in which one is investing in and is does not have the intent of making a quick buck and where the winner is at the expense of the loosers as it is with day trading.

Again, I suggest if you are not savvy nor have the time to research and want to minimize risk, then a standard S&P 500 mutual fund is way to go. You are investing in the top 500 companies in America and these companies are diversified internationally; so you spread the risk and yet you are investing in the success of many companies. It is leave it and forget about it till you need the money for the future and the middlemen are nearly cut from the picture as well.

Disclaimer: This is not in anyway financial advice and all investments do have risk so invest wisely.

#10  Posted by Andy K  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2011at 1:41 PM

One thing that most people misunderstand about insurance is that by definition it is not intended to result in any actual gain. It only "makes a person whole" after an unanticipated loss. If I wreck my car, then the insurance company restores me by helping me replace my car. That's why they only pay your car's current value - not what you paid brand new. Most people will tell you they are grateful when insurance is there to help them, but they'd prefer that the accident or injury never even happened in the first place! Obviously, unethical insurance practices and insurance fraud are both wrong, so let's not confuse the issue.) This differentiates insurance from gambling in that the latter can result in material gain.

To Edward - insurance companies are REQUIRED to use tables of mortality, accident statistics, and actual expenses to calculate rates. The state of CA mandates rate increases or decreases based on these figures. It's not a guarantee of profits by the company - it's a guarantee of solvency by the regulators.

#12  Posted by Johannes Koponen  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2011at 2:46 PM

To quote John MacArthur from his sermon (code:45-110), there is nothing inherently sinful with smoking, dancing, and drinking. I would add that there is nothing inherently wrong with gambling either.

IS INVESTING GAMBLING? YES IT IS

I studied finance and some of my fellow alumni are now professional traders, so I am well familiar with how the financial markets work. Despite what many may think, it is full blown out gambling. It is a zero sum game like an other reader mentioned. In order for you to win, someone else has to lose. Potential losers include:

a) Investors who sold the stock thinking it will go down in value, but instead it went up.

b) Investors who had shorted the stock.

c) Investors who hold investments in opposing industries. For example the railroad sector may gain at the expense of other ground transportation sectors. Many internet related sectors gained at the expense of traditional sectors.

d) Investors who hold investments in other, but negatively correlated investment classes. For example when there is money to be made in stocks (Dow Jones), gold may be less attractive (and thus come down in price) because an investor will attempt to capitalize on the equities market. When interest rates rise bonds traditionally get stronger because there is more to gain in interest than from stocks and dividends as it takes more gains in equities to offset the rate of inflation. When neither are strong, the precious metals (and many other commodities - including gold) are stronger because there is not enough to make in either equities (stock) or debt (bonds) so people refer back to items of innate value and near-finite volume. It's not an economist's explanation but it shows general trends and relations.

e) Lastly, in the stock market crash of 2008 there were many winners who made millions and even billions, at the expense of the “general joe investors”, who mostly lost money.

IS GAMBLING FOR ENTERTAINMENT A SIN?

Is it a sin for me to make a bet for $10 with a friend as to which team is going to win a certain football game, so that we'll have a little bit more excitement amongst each other while we watch the game together? Not if we can both well afford to lose $10 and we are doing this with a good spirit without offending anyone else.

Is it a sin for me to gamble at a casino? In theory, no. However, there are a few extra factors to consider:

1. Would society as a whole be better off without casinos? Yes. If so, is it morally right to support these institutions and perpetuate their existence?

2. Are there other sources of entertainment that have less severe possible consequences for some people? Yes.

3. Can me going to a casino offend weaker brothers in my congregation and/or cause a weaker brother to stumble? Yes

So in conclusion, I don’t agree in summarily “demonizing” gambling as such but rather, as always, we have to look at the big picture to determine what would be the best course of action in any given situation.

#13  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2011at 3:24 PM

My thoughts are that no doubt there could be better legislature concerning many professions and their practices not excluding the likes of the insurance industry. But to deliberately use money at a "game" of chance and compare that to benefits of your private insurance that may or may not be utilized often if at all is a real stretch for me.If we want to talk odds, I am quite sure everyone is not going to get out of this world alive. We will either die in a some sort of accident or crime or at the very least be severely injured or live a long life and develop some sort of health issues attributed to the elderly. Or we will be raptured. What are those odds compared to the aforementioned?

I'm like everyone else. I gripe about my premiums and what my co-pay doesn't cover and my deductible and so on and so on. I gripe until a real crisis happens. Suddenly my insurance carrier is one of my heroes. The power of election of whom will treat my loved one and where and having that control brings is HUGE to me!

Not sure but I don't think scripture about being discerning had to do with cards or any kind of gambling. I don't think scripture was suggesting that you learn how to play the game....better.

Now I have been over insured before. That was not good and foolish. I am now wiser and have better discernment. But I didn't stop having insurance altogether which is actually RE assurance that I will be protected and or cared for in the event of a crisis. Not having insurance is Russian Roulette for me. And if I am able and can help avoid being a drain on my family, my church and community by having private insurance rather than asking others to take up the slack seems to be the right thing to do.It seems responsible to me. Gambling does not make me feel responsible.

The stock market issue is a little more involved. Too many dynamics there. You can twist and turn investing and corrupt it. But you can do that within a church. The ability is there to corrupt anything. That should never be a pass to do what is obviously already corrupt and totally unnecessary.

Lastly, gambling seems to be a really lazy way to to make money. In this parable, did the man expect his servants to gamble or invest?

Matthew 25:14-30

#14  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2011at 3:25 PM

# 12 - Johannes Koponen, I'd suggest that you put whatever you are quoting into quotation marks. Plus, I don't see where you are quoting John MacArthur in that sermon, I couldn't find the sentence that I assumed you were quoting him, which is: "there is nothing inherently sinful with smoking, dancing, and drinking." You are really not quoting him, you are summarizing some of what MacArthur said in those issues (smoking, dancing, drinking).

FYI, to quote is to repeat or copy the words of another person, making sure you are not changing any of the words. Plus, because you didn't use any quotation marks, it looks like the sentence "I would add that there is nothing inherently wrong with gambling either" is by MacArthur as well, when it's yours.

#16  Posted by Ronald Caruso  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2011at 6:27 PM

I invested money into Starbucks, Whole Foods, Weingarten Realty..all which are conservative growth companies and whose products i believe in. I could only leave money in there for a year, and I lost BIG on all three! does that make me a day-trader or risky investor? Yes it does, based on the results.

So, only LONG-TERM (5-years or more) are not risky and not gambling? I lost money over 5-years too. So, it must be twenty years to be considered not-gambling! maybe 30?

Are we all missing the point? When did our Lord say to lay-up riches for our retirement? When are we Christians encouraged to accumulate enough wealth to retire? If I have 200k in my regular low-interest bearing bank account and a brother has a need, my Biblical faith compels me to use the money that's available. some or ALL of it as God requires. BUT, if i lock it up in LONG-TERM stocks for MY future, i can say, SORRY my brother, I am not able! Because there is no way i can access that money quickly or without paying a penalty. And, without a shred of guilt! After all God wouldn't want me to lose money on the deal when he knows I worked hard and need ALL my retirement money! God help us all when we buy into the corrupt world system and their way of thinking and get their approval without even a second thought of what would Jesus do. In His Love, Ron

#17  Posted by Johannes Koponen  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2011at 7:46 PM

@Elaine

You are right, I should've said "to summarize" and not "to quote"; and should've made a better distinction between what I was saying compared to what I was summarizing from Pastor John's sermon.. I will make an effort to be more careful in the future. That was my first post ever here.

Thanks for your feedback :)

#18  Posted by Darrel Robertson  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2011at 8:33 PM

Well this is my forst time, I am a very amid admirer of John Macarthur, love the man dearly...so so please excuse my poor grammer and sentence structure, I will do my best here,I myself play the College game and some NFL, I pull a slot machine lever every now and then, and what not....I also consider myself a recreational Gambler.

Am I going to hell for that, I think not, I have looked hard and long and have also prayed about this many times, and there seems to be no check in my heart....at all! I have been a Christian for 35 years been married for 41 been a Elder, Decon 4 years of Bible College...was a total misfit in high school didnt study..sports was the only thing that got me through was totally saved right out of high school.

I not raised in a Christian home, but non the less it was a home of love and down to earth people. I think many times the Church want to run people lives from not the view point of scripture but how they interpet scripture, I dont look at the stock market or any other means of trying to feel not guilty about whether I can gamble or not,but which is the bigger sin, if some see this as a sin, one who goes out and buys a $40,000 pickup when he can barly make the payments, and his wife and kids dont have much left over to make ends meet.....one who goes out and buys a home , just to make him self look good when people from the Church come over..and can barely meet the house note, or one that just for enjoyments sake pulls a slot machine lever,OR ENJOYS Blackjack or video poker and knows when to call it quits and is out what ever his bank roll says ..TIME TO STOP?

Now understand me here there are warning about Gambling, but no different than anyother warnings about how anyone overuses their Money on anything, you can also over indulge in Church.

Would I pull a slot machine handle with one who has had a Gambling problem?....absalutly not! there in is where we need to abey our Lord. and love our Brother. We can use scriprure to almost justify our means on anything but when my wife and I are away on our own we live it up and have a wonderful time.

I just dont want to look at things like Having a sip of brandy now and then, pulling a slot machine lever, or laying down 50 dollars on a College football parley through the eyes of a Pharisee.

Example: you should give that money to the Church not las Vegas!

you should not spend to much time fishing and do more witnessing.

you should not put 10.00 in to the State lottery and put it in to the Church building fund!!.....do these sound familure? sounds like Legalism and not Grace to me.

I could quote scripture to support my view but why? when many would find some legalistic way of disagreeing with me.

#19  Posted by Tim Eriksen  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2011at 10:18 PM

Johannes

Investing is not a zero-sum game. A zero sum game is where the gains from one side entail a corresponding loss for the other side. A true zero sum game has a fixed pie. Poker is a zero sum game (ignoring the house's rake). Investing is different. If for example, Apple goes up $10 a share there is not a corresponding loss in another security or group of securities.

Are most day traders gambling? Yes. But buying a stock becuase you estimate that it is undervalued and holding it until someone is willing to pay a fair price for it is not gambling. That is the true definition of investing.

Too many people on this board are confusing risk taking with gambling. They are different. Please read Phil's definitions for clarity.

Disclosure: MBA with an emphasis in finance. Currently an investment advisor managing a small hedge fund.

#20  Posted by Mike Dillon  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2011at 10:23 PM

So, if I play a poker game with 6 of my friends and I lose the $5 I used to buy-in I have sinned? I do not enjoy gambling for the sake of gambling. I’ve been to a casino once and lost $100 in less than 1 hour! I felt sick and foolish—I knew I had sinned against God. On top of that, the casino environment seemed far from holy. I have since repented and asked for forgiveness.

Now, back to my $5 poker game with my friends. I lose that money nearly every time I play. But that is not why I play. I play because I enjoy getting together in the home of a friend’s house and conversing with my pals. If I lose that means another friend of mine has gained my $5 and a few other fellas’ $5. But I believe I have gained an opportunity to have a good time with friends. If it becomes more than this then the $5 poker game does become sinful.

I realize that one could argue that there are many more edifying ways to spend time with friends. However, I must borrow from the argument of the college student and ask what is the difference between a $5 poker game with friends and a $150 family outing at the ball park? In both situations you likely lose money while gaining fun times with family and friends.

I have greatly appreciated this discussion. I respectfully disagree with the argument that gambling, in and of itself, is a sin—even by the definition that has been put forth in this blog post. I do believe that gambling can easily hinder a person's pursuit of Christ (Heb 12:1) and, perhaps, create an opportunity for sin. For that reason a Christian must be on guard and be sensitive to the guidance of the Spirit so as to not give the devil a foothold.

Throw off all that hinders and the sin that easily entangles, and run with perseverance the race marked out for us with our eyes fixed on Jesus.

#21  Posted by Jeremy K  |  Thursday, May 26, 2011at 1:43 AM

Likewise, investing in the stock market is not "gambling," regardless of how much risk is involved.

I don’t agree. It is gambling if you don’t know what you are doing. How many millions of people have a superfund that is topped up by their employer and yet have no idea what that fund is invested in at any one time or worse, why that superfund is invested in certain companies? If you don’t know the why’s and what’s of investment, then you might as well be at the race track.

If a stock gains value, all investors earn money.

…On the backs of other losing investors who, in some cases, irrationally pull out. As I understand it, in the stock market, value and price are two very different things. A case in point would be when Berkshire Hathaway was priced at something like $120K on September 10th 2001 and the very next day it was sitting at about $76K – don’t quote me on those exact figures I’m working from memory. Now any rational human would have to assume that the value of that company did not change by such a wide margin overnight, but the stock market panicked and the price dropped – clever people would have moved in and bought the abandoned stocks at a bargain price thereby achieving excellent value for their money. This leads me to this next point...

The gains of one investor are not financed by the losses of others.

If I invest $5000 in xyz company they get the use of my money. If the price drops and I decide to cut my losses, of which, only $3489 remains, then I have just lost $1511. Someone around the world comes in and buys my stock in xyz company for a total price of $3489 + a $30 brokerage fee. Now let’s say that at a later date the price on xyz company rises once again to reach a new high of $6000. That person just made a great investment on my loss. So whilst the other investor’s gain is not directly related to my loss of money it was my money that financed that company at one point in time, it was my money that helped keep it afloat, it was my money that helped keep xyz companies employee’s paid. Generally speaking, If there were no investors, like me who lose, there would be no listed company for other people to come in and make that investment in xyz company in the first place. Most people are indeed gambling with the stock market, they simply hold stock for a period of time and either lose interest or lose their nerve and someone with more experience comes in at the right time and buys them out.

#22  Posted by Johannes Koponen  |  Thursday, May 26, 2011at 8:01 AM

@Tim

You are right, saying that the whole stock market is purely a zero sum game is oversimplifying the situation. With options and future contracts it is 100% a zero sum game, but not necessarily with everything. However, there is absolutely no new wealth created with the entire stock market. It's just wealth going from one pair of hands to an other. The reason why stocks for example go up in value is because more investors come in. Because the amount of wealth and population in the world has kept on increasing there has been a steady amount of new money coming into the stock market system, which has resulted in a somewhat steady increase in value in most years.If the number of people investing and the amount invested in total in the system would not increase, the total value of the market would never increase. In effect, the system functions like a ponzi scheme. The system creates no real wealth. For example, in the crash of 2008, when billions in market value was lost, where did that market value disappear? It went into thin air, because it was artificial to begin with.

I'm not saying that taking risk and buying stock is a sin. In fact, it's a legitimate form of investing. It involves risk like all other investments, and the returns are greater based on the amount of risk one tasks. One might buy government bonds or put money in a savings account at a bank, taking a risk that the government or bank won't default (which can happen). As a result one gets a rather low amount of return. Alternatively one can take on more risk and invest into the stock market hoping for a larger return, or even start one's own company (very risky), and then get a potentially bigger return.

So, in conclusion I don't agree with the categories below that are used to label gambling a sin:

"all gambling involves four elements: One, something valuable is put at risk. Two, something belonging to someone else is at stake as a prize. Three, an element of chance is involved in determining the outcome. And four, no new wealth is created in the process."

The same categories apply to many other things that are clearly not sins. We just have this cultural presupposition about the "evilness of gambling". We should recognize gambling for what it is. It's not inherently evil just like smoking or dancing aren't inherently evil (see sermon code:45-110). It can be a form of innocent entertainment, but it can also be a stumbling block for some, a source of grief for a weaker brother, a morally questionable thing to support the casino industry which is not good for society as a whole, etc. etc. We should always look at the CONTEXT.

I like the quote John MacArthur used for dancing: "You as a strong Christian might be able to go out with your wife and go to a saloon and dance around and quote Bible verses to each other, I don't know. But there are a whole lot of people taking your example who wouldn't be able to do that at all, for whom it would be a tremendous stumbling block."

#23  Posted by John P. Nesbella  |  Thursday, May 26, 2011at 8:06 AM

Men of God are instructed to "flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness" Not only does "the love of money lead to all sorts of evil" but the "pursuit of riches "is also an evil thing. (see I Timothy 6: 9-11) If we want to be Christ's disciples (a Christian) then we must deny ourselves which includes denying the lusts of the flesh and the lusts of the eyes and the boastful pride of life". Gambling falls into all three of these categories! This gospel call to deny self is why many, many strive to enter into the kingdom but actually very few enter it. Remember, today is the day of salvation! Repent and believe in Christ and Live!

As a NOTE: There is huge difference between "Risk" and "Gambling". It is when we learn this difference that we will stop justifying this sinful behavior. Taking a risk as one does in business affects no one except the investor himself. With gambling others are negatively affected. This is the context of this blog..

#24  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Thursday, May 26, 2011at 8:16 AM

#18 WOW! So no point in giving scriptures cause anyone that disagrees with you is legalistic?

Well, I'd like to point out that I have done more reading this time around and less commenting. Why? I don't gamble for entertainment. But this post has been really entertaining to me. I'm watching now to see how many ways a person can justify gambling? A lot is what I have discovered. I'd dare say there is no end. Posts like these reveal WAAAAAY more about our Christian lives than this particular blog may have intended.I hate to keep using kids and my experiences with their excuses but I am truly having flashbacks. "But Mommy, what about her (sin)? Did you see what she did?"

In Texas, we have Aggie jokes that get passed around. Like, how many Aggies does it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer: Three. One to hold the light bulb and two to turn the ladder! How many Christians does it take to transform sin into harmless entertainment? Just one. Like a trail of dominoes.....all you need is to tip one over and the rest follow.

Every comment defending gambling could be used to defend ALL my sins past present and future.Just change the topic(sin), date, time and place.I wonder if Jesus is amused......or convinced?

#25  Posted by Mark A Smith  |  Thursday, May 26, 2011at 9:16 AM

For the record, it is common knowledge that government lotteries were used in the 18th and 19th century to fund many public projects in the United States. Much of the French and Indian War was funded that way and early on lotteries helped raise cash for the American Revolution. Of course, later on government lotteries became unpopular due to corruption and they were later outlawed around 1900.

So, Phil has argued that the US was founded in sin!

#26  Posted by Robert Le Mere  |  Thursday, May 26, 2011at 10:19 AM

Good day everyone,

I am not going to talk about all the different aspects of gambling for they are numerous and many have been discussed already with people waying in on both sides.

My question for those that feel gambling is a not wrong or sinful,what do you comsider to be things that are sinful? I would like examples of specific things and not just a list of the ten commandments. The reason I ask is that I have noticed that many christians seem to feel that almost anything they do, watch,wear or say is ok because they have "Christian Liberty". It just seems that everything is ok these days and apparently all of the christians for the prior 1900 plus years were just a bunch of legalistic church goers who had no concept of what the Bible actually was saying.

Just looking for your thoughts.

Thank you.

#27  Posted by Johannes Koponen  |  Thursday, May 26, 2011at 11:47 AM

@ Robert

Here are a few things I could consider either sinful or non-preferred behavior from a biblical standpoint.

1. Offending and causing a weaker brother to stumble or grieving him.

2. Abusing any of our Christian liberties or allowing them to control us. Anything in excess can be sinful.

3. Not being a good husband/wife/father/mother and not performing our respective roles.

4. Being a bad witness/example to the unsaved world around us.

5. Not taking care of ourselves and bodies (health) to a reasonable extent.

6. Not bearing the fruits I'm supposed to bear as a saved Christian. (mostly witnessing to people around me, but other things as well).

7. Being a "worry-wart", always worrying about my needs (oh, I lost my job now what will I do, will my children be safe on their vacation, etc.) as opposed to trusting God to take care of me and my family.

#28  Posted by Johannes Koponen  |  Thursday, May 26, 2011at 11:49 AM

8. Wearing clothes that have a high probability of inciting lust in others around us.

#29  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Thursday, May 26, 2011at 1:13 PM

Comment deleted by user.
#30  Posted by R.s. Tillotson  |  Thursday, May 26, 2011at 1:59 PM

I've been following this all along; I don't gamble as I see it as not glorifying to God. Rom.6:16 tells me that what I give myself over to, I become the slave of. In Rom. 8,Paul also gives us the warning about the conscience of the weaker Brother/Sister must be considered by us, and that ultimately we will all have to give an account of our deeds to non other to Jesus Christ Himself. As Isiah has told us,our hearts are deceitful,but do we really believe that?

Rebecca...How many Christians does it take to change a light bulb? Ans:Who said anything about change?:):):)...rs

#31  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Thursday, May 26, 2011at 2:33 PM

Would it bother anyone here to see his or her pastor gambling in a casino? I know it would me. I would have serious reservations about my pastor, and there would be a high probability I would be looking for a new church home.

But I am sure my pastor would not do such a thing, as of the Sunday before last, he asked those who own expensive cars to sell them and help the less fortunate.

#32  Posted by Matthew Frields  |  Thursday, May 26, 2011at 2:42 PM

James 1:27 "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world."

I think we (I'm included in the we) concentrate too much on our Chrisitian liberties. I think when you are involved in an activity such as gambling you should ask yourself "Am I being 'stained' by the world by being apart of this activity?" Maybe I'm wrong with this point - but - I do believe it's an excellent question to ask yourself.

Also, I am slowly learning that if I have to work hard to justify something I do - I find I am sinning in what I am doing.

#33  Posted by Bob Browning  |  Thursday, May 26, 2011at 3:32 PM

To Darrel in 18.

I don't understand why you're an "admirer of John Macarthur" and yet seem to have a problem with the supremacy of the word of God.

I've also observed that most people who are justifying gambling (or any other sin for that matter) often compare their sin to that of others. While I would readily agree that someone who buys a truck that he can't afford and thus causes financial problems for his family is guilty of sin, I fail to see how this is at all relevant to the question of gambling. The only reason it could be relevant is if we are "grading" on a curve - but God doesn't do that.

I don't understand either why nobody seems to want to discuss my comment about abstaining from not just evil, but also the appearance of evil, as I think that's where a lot of this discussion falls. I think that is really the heart of the issue but people would rather try to justify gambling for themselves than realize that they need to avoid it for the sake of their brothers and sisters.

This whole discussion really shows how confused many people are and how unwilling many are to actually give their whole life to Christ. If we weren't so caught up with ourselves, then it would be much easier to realize that although gambling may not be a direct problem for us, it may severely hurt our witness and it may cause a brother to stumble - and the Bible has quite a bit to say about that.

However, for those who think that taking scripture literally is being legalistic, I guess there's not much hope of ever coming to grips with real truth.

#35  Posted by Darrel Robertson  |  Thursday, May 26, 2011at 6:14 PM

No I will not go into a discussion with anyone on a basis of the biblical principals of who thinks the apperance of evil is.

I made a statement now I am guilty of sin because I PULL the handle of a slot Machine, and you are to be looked up to because I should ad-hear to your point of view. And you say "how unwilling many are to actually give their whole life to Christ." Sir I hung upside down for approx 3 hrs at a time in A pow CAMP IN VIETNAM and was beaten with Bamboo poles much of the time....and that is when I gave my whole life to Christ....so I have been in a area of pain I dont think you know to much about my friend.

Now when my wife and I go and have a Vacation , honestly Christ comes along, and what my wife and I do when we are away are between us and out Lord...we might get wild, and you know what we dont cast judgement on any one else. and we will never go to a place wher a weaker brother dosent want to go.

I an so glad you are understanding and knowlegable of the word, and I really can not understand why people dont live the way you live.

#37  Posted by Diana Hayes  |  Thursday, May 26, 2011at 7:39 PM

I have a question along the lines of the websites where you have to buy bids in order to bid in an auction. Is this gambling? In order to win you do have to put forth money and either you or another will lose money in order to win the auction. Unless you are the only bidder, someone will loose money. Look forward to comments on this. Thank you.

#38  Posted by Taemin Jin  |  Thursday, May 26, 2011at 10:19 PM

Re:#33

Quoting Bob:

...While I would readily agree that someone who buys a truck that he can't afford and thus causes financial problems for his family is guilty of sin, I fail to see how this is at all relevant to the question of gambling...

My response:

I think it's relevant in that buying a truck is not necessarily sinful, but it could be. I think the commenter was trying to reveal that what can make gambling sinful is not necessarily the activity itself, but the heart behind it, as well as the wisdom that must be taken into account.

Quoting Bob:

This whole discussion really shows how confused many people are and how unwilling many are to actually give their whole life to Christ. If we weren't so caught up with ourselves, then it would be much easier to realize that although gambling may not be a direct problem for us, it may severely hurt our witness and it may cause a brother to stumble - and the Bible has quite a bit to say about that.

My response:

This is not necessarily true, and I think it's unfair for you to say this. I think at least a few of the people who have commented defended gambling have done so out of an honest desire for a Biblical answer, and not out of a rebellious spirit. You're on the internet, responding to commenters on a blog whom you know nothing else about, yet you condemn them of confusion, insubordination to Christ, of being caught up with themselves, of being insensitive to other brothers, and of refusing to take scripture literally. You even end by saying that there isn't much hope of them ever coming to grips with real truth! Please be more careful with your words.

I think it's worth noting that when deciding whether or not a certain action would cause a brother to stumble, there are a couple of the factors in play:

1) The weaker brother only stumbles so much as he is exposed to the action. There is a difference between me having a drink at home or at a church event, for example.

2) The weaker brother is not the same across cultures. There is a difference between me having a drink wherever I am, and you having a drink, whoever you are, wherever you are. I might be able to tell the people at my university to not dance at a certain event because of sinful associations in the culture, but I can't go to an African tribe and tell them the same thing.

It's also worth saying that this whole "does gambling cause my brother to stumble" argument is actually moot if Phil is correct - he is not saying that it is wrong because it causes others to stumble (although he would not deny that) but that the very essence of it is evil in every possible situation.

#40  Posted by Andrew Young  |  Friday, May 27, 2011at 4:44 AM

So I'm sitting there gambling away and I think to myself, does this glorify God...

Guys this isn't rocket science.

#41  Posted by Mike Sexton  |  Friday, May 27, 2011at 8:51 AM

Good points have been made on both sides of the issue. I'm prayerfully considering which direction my own belief on this matter runs.

But sometimes I have a major problem with discussions like this. Not with the discussions themselves, but with the way we so often "carry" ourselves in them. Not limiting this to the issue of gambling but of what may often be considered "gray areas" or adiaphora in general, should we not be more careful with the way we speak?

For instance, which do you think would cause a novice believer to stumble more; Their seeing you buy a lotto ticket, or having you snidely, question their salvation/devotion because they have yet to understand the fullness of biblically sound Christian liberty and graceful restraint? I think that the second might do the most, but both do harm and should be avoided.

Keep in mind, the fact that because they are an immature believer it may well include their stern adherence to what they believe to be right...even if it is something that is an unwise gray area or even an outright wrong. What is our duty then? Is it to treat them with understanding, boldly, but kindly give them the truth and pray for the Spirit to bring them to a fulness of understanding? Or do we close our eyes and blindly swing our swords, cutting whatever is closest to us?

I don't mean to over speak or to single anyone out...this is really just a plea for a bit more compassion when handling the law in the presence of weaker believers. As one who holds to the doctrines of grace, commonly considered a Calvinist, I regret every instance in my past where I have waylaid poor, unsuspecting Arminians, convinced that they only believe that way because they are immature and that it was my job to knock the maturity into them. I never stopped to consider that many of them viewed (and still do view) me as the immature believer for what I believe. The same issue has arisen with the view of drinking alcohol before, often with the same results...namely the occasional prideful wedge driven between that person and I that kept us from walking together in fellowship, sharpening and encouraging one another. The process can be painful, but it doesn't have to be fatal.

Discussions like this can be such a blessing for all involved, but only if we understand clearly the nature of what is being discussed, and if we approach it with the grace and mercy for which this forum is named.

My brothers and sisters, I hope I haven't over-stepped my bounds. If I have, please forgive me. I only mean to sound a gentle reminder to all of us that we are at different stages in our spiritual development, and that toddlers learn to walk much better when they are encouraged when they fall, rather than when they are kicked because of the same.

#42  Posted by Jane Wilson  |  Friday, May 27, 2011at 10:46 AM

I appreciate the discussion and definitions. They are helpful. I also think that gambling is an issue of the heart. Just a quick reference to my own experience with gambling and the Holy Spirit. I remember being a young mother, morning sick, and craving McDonald's cheeseburgers. (I'm just being honest!) I would take my two tots along and we'd get 3 dollar burgers... but because of the "Monopoly" game season at McD's I was tempted to just buy the drink that I never bought (to save money) because the little game pieces were on the drinks, and fries. Now... technically I was not gambling because I got an actual product for my money. HOWEVER, the Holy Spirit went to work on me right away. After the 3rd drink over the course of the "game"... I was so convicted. I knew that I never would have bought those if the game pieces were not on them (and it was fun- seeing what might turn up toward a big gift or million dollar prize!). But God knew what was going on in my heart. The hope of winning a big, quick, unearned reward. Yes, I drank the pop, but I also "lost" $3. our of our slim budget. I was doing something I never would have done (we didn't have much money, and I really could not afford the drinks) in an attempt to win. This is embarrassing to recount as it seems such a piddly amount, but I knew the issue was not the amount. The issue was the heart. I do believe that God looks directly at our hearts to see our motives in order to PROTECT us from the devises of the evil one to plant those seeds that foster greed and lust for money/gain in our hearts. God is faithful. He will convict. Praise the Lord!

(And yes, every dollar does count. Maybe some can afford to bet $15. on a whim... but there are others who NEED that $15. to make ends meet. Another principal is that Christians provide for their own, and desire to have some to share with those in need, especially those in the body of Christ.)

#43  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Friday, May 27, 2011at 10:48 AM

It's not about who is a better sinner, or who do some remarkable works, or as Darrel have been trough some terrible things. It's all about God. Can you find anything that is more satisfying than to serve and glorify the Almighty God? He who called us out of total misery, to a new and glorious life?

Whatever you bring forth, I wont buy it.

You can have all the world. I want Jesus.

#44  Posted by Bob Browning  |  Friday, May 27, 2011at 12:42 PM

To Darrel in 35 and Taemin in 38.

First let me say that I regret I that I have a hard time adding a positive tone to my thoughts as they appear in black-and-white. This is why I try not to get into posting debates because inevitably the way I write comes across negatively because I don't bother to sugar coat when I'm typing.

That said, I feel I owe Darrel an apology. Sir, I truly meant no disrespect to you personally, nor am I setting myself above anyone here. To quote Paul, "Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst."

The points that I tried to make were in response to Darrel's "post" but were not directed toward Darrel himself. However, it apparently came across that I was being judgmental of specific people on this blog. That was not my intent and I guess I should have been clearer about that up front.

That said, I would appreciate it if everyone who may have taken offense would please reread my post with an open mind. I am not saying that anyone specifically is guilty. However, in response to Taemin's accusation that I am judging people that I don't know, I would like to point out the following. We are all replying/posting based on our own personal experiences. While it is true that I know nothing of anyone's personal life here, I do have friends and family that hold many of the diverse views represented here. Thus, my comments are drawn from my personal experience just as everyone else's are. If you understand that I am not attempting to judge anyone, but I am simply engaging in conversation, and if you are willing to concede that I too have personal experience to draw from, then hopefully you can see that I said nothing in an attempt to demean a fellow slave to Christ. (and just FYI, I am not going around beating my friends/family over the head about this either, as there are much more pressing matters that we should be busy with)

I will close by saying that I think Andrew in 40 and Rudi in 43 have spoken volumes in much less time than any of us have said in all our effort.

God bless.

#45  Posted by Scott Carlson  |  Friday, May 27, 2011at 1:02 PM

Everything that is not clearly identified in Scripture as a sin should be governed by principles of Christian freedom. Obviously, this would involve gambling. I am not really a gambler, though when flying through Vegas, I have put a dollar in a slot machine on two or three occasions.

As Christians we have freedom from the law (Romans 7:6) and freedom to enjoy good things that God has given us. (1 Corinthians 10:23) The issue of any sin is first and foremost an issue of the heart and secondly an issue of the body. (Mark 7:15) Therefore, everyone must be convinced in his own mind. (Romans 14:5)

What principles govern our Christian freedom?

1. Faith (Galatians 5:6) Does this activity build my relationship with God?

2. Glory (1 Corinthians 10:31) Can we give thanks to God for the activity or substance?

3. Love (Galatians 5:6) Can I love God or my brother while doing this activity?

4. Purity (ROMANS 13:14; 14:14, 22, 23) Can I preserve my purity and still partake?

5. Not Causing Others to Stumble (Romans 14:13-15; 1 Corinthians 10:32) Am I being insensitive to someone who is weaker than me?

6. Not Judging (Romans 14:1-13) Am I judging someone else when I should be more worried about my own conscience?

7. Not Enslaving (Romans 14:16-18) Am I holding someone else to my personal standard?

8. Not Peddling Freedom (Romans 14:19ff.) Am I doing this activity to "show off?"

The purpose of Christian freedom is to live life freely in Christ for His glory and not to waste valuable worship time worrying about whether any little thing I might do is a sin and even more, not to live licentiously. If we are listening to the Word accurately, teaching the Word accurately and following these principles we will grow closer to Christlikeness, not further from it.

This is a good discussion, but in the end, the morality of gambling is still far from certain, because Scripture doesn't speak clearly to the issue. Personally, I would hesitate to say that all gambling is a sin. That being said, I think that Phil has brought some good thoughts to the table for us to consider and those thoughts should give us an occasion to reflect and consider if I should gamble or not. Maybe, because of what Phil has written, your conscience is pricked regarding the issue of gambling for the first time. Praise God. Maybe you are still not convinced. That is fine too. Pray that God would make the issue clear to you so that you can best love God and the brethren.

#46  Posted by Robert Le Mere  |  Friday, May 27, 2011at 2:37 PM

#38

2) The weaker brother is not the same across cultures. There is a difference between me having a drink wherever I am, and you having a drink, whoever you are, wherever you are. I might be able to tell the people at my university to not dance at a certain event because of sinful associations in the culture, but I can't go to an African tribe and tell them the same thing.

I am sorry, maybe I am missing something. If God is never changing, than why is it that many beliefs are based on cultural standards? If it is wrong in God's eyes in America then why is it not wrong in Africa. How can there be different Biblical standards based on where you live? Does that mean because women in certain countries do not where shirts that this is suddenly ok in God's eyes because that is their cultural standard. I thought Christians are supposed to live by God's standards not the whims and desires of whatever cultural area they happen to be in.

There just seems to be so much of the whatever you believe to be right in your eyes philosophy versus what is right in God's eyes.

Do not lean on your own understanding...

#47  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Friday, May 27, 2011at 2:53 PM

Robert,

If it is wrong in God's eyes in America then why is it not wrong in Africa.

Maybe I'm missing something, but I can't find it in the Bible where it says drinking and dancing are wrong. I mean, I can't find anything that overturns Psalm 150:4; Ecc 3:4; Jer 31:4. (but let's not get into that debate)

I think you are missing something, Robert. Things that truly qualify under Christian freedom do differ culture to culture. That's why 1 Cor 8 and Rom 14 were written. Taemin wasn't talking about sin issues, but about grey areas where wisdom and discernment are required.

What you mentioned is a different issue. There are cultures where women do not wear shirts and it is immodest for women to bare their knees. Obviously that cultural standard didn't start with women... but I digress. I think you could make clear biblical arguments on that issue, whereas you couldn't on issues that 1 Cor 8 apply to.

But as Taemin said, this issue is moot if/since gambling is a sin.

#48  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, May 27, 2011at 4:08 PM

What about the parable that Jesus mention. About the master gave 10 talent,5 talent,1 talent to his 3 servants. If the two earn double and the last servant hid the money. The last servant end up big trouble. I am not sure if this relates but sorta does in a way.

God bless.

#49  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, May 27, 2011at 7:23 PM

one had 10 talent- worked it to earn 10 more- not a gamble.

one had 5 talent- worked it to earn 5 more- not a gamble.

one had 1 talent- not worked it- hid it- a gamble. Lack of trust, love of money, not wanting to obey his master.

This is like when the guy in the book of Joshua hid the spoils from Jericho and it cost his life. Did'nt listen to Joshua and keep the spoils for himself.

Casino is like a bomb. Lose all. Sad.

#50  Posted by Steven Xue  |  Friday, May 27, 2011at 8:11 PM

Dan

Are you telling me that because the one servent chose to keep the money safe therefore he was gambling? That makes no sense at all. First of all that money didn't belong to any of the three servants therefore it wasn't there's to spend. Secondly if the other two servants had lost the money their master would have been condemning them instead. And what exactly is the meaning of this story: That we should not be financially responsible? That it is a sin to take precautions when it comes to safeguarding other people's possessions?

Also if you're suggesting that the servant was motivated by lack of trust, love of money and not wanting to obey his master, well you're wrong. The master gave each of them some money to hold on to, not to invest in some risky venture. What that one servant did was an act of prudence not lack of trust. If you're arguing that the servant was wrong in not trusting his ability to invest, then I suggest you put all your money in the stock market right now or else you also have a lack of trust. And finally, he was motivated by love of money. That money wasn't his to begin with, his job was to hold onto it until his master returns (as according to that master's orders).

I don't know how you can compare this parable to what Achen did in Jericho? Achen stole the goods from the Israelite treasury, that servant was given the money to keep safe and to return to his master later on. I mean seriously there is no comparison here.

#51  Posted by Darrel Robertson  |  Friday, May 27, 2011at 8:28 PM

To Bob Browning in post #44....Bob no need to apologize, I over react many times, you have every reason to post your thought and actions,I am one lucky person, if Luck is a word I can use, in having the Lord choose me to be his son, I look in the mirror every morning askin him .."what do you see in this mess" but God dont make junk so I must say I am blessed, and I FOR one should be making tresures in Heaven, I have a room there but not to much hagging on the walls yet.

So Bob I do have my problems and one of them is overreacting, but for these post on Gambling yes my view is different than some here I have friends that are from Vegas and they have some fine Churches in the area. But The Brother that put these post together on Gambling have every reason to warn believers of the pit falls, because there is many. In the Navy seals we trained very hard and extencive in how to manuver in the thick of battle, and there are times supprises arise and when they do we were trained to not be heros but the only thing that will get us through is the protection and reliance on each other.

And I cant help but think some where someone is getting blindsided with "how do I deal with" "should I gamble?"....and is wrestling with this issue....may I say DONT DO IT!. Personally I dont have checks in my spirit that its a sin, but that dont mean it can lead one to do other sins....now what is SIN?...can it be a ...willfull disobeident act against the LORD? If so then may I say dont follow through with should I or shouldn I....just dont.

There can be pitfalls in many of lifes pleasures, i knew a fella that chose fishing 6 days a week and not being a husband to his wife,So down the road to Divorce they went.

Folks Vegas was not built on winners, and if your conscience is putting you to the test on this issue, then make conscience your friend and dont ever put your desires over it.

My last post was awful after I wrote it I had some prayer, and my lord took me to the wood shed over it....AGAIN!! there was to much ..ME.. and I was not thinking of thoes souls that could be affected by my freedoms or stupidity...Every Church has its wright to place a warning lable to any thing that can lead one to stumble.

#52  Posted by Steven Xue  |  Friday, May 27, 2011at 9:06 PM

Ok I’ve mentioned this in the blog previous to this one but I don’t think anybody is checking it out anymore. This is a repeat of my last comment for the previous blog with a few modifications.

First of all I want to say that Phil makes a good case for the stock market. When it comes to investing in the stock market there is a huge amount of risk involved. But overall the stock market is structured differently to a casino because it involves a return to all investors who have committed to a certain organisation. Also many companies reward their shareholders with dividends, which is something no casino would ever do. Furthermore by investing you are helping the economy. I agree with all this.

However what you guys fail to understand is that almost all of the people, who put their money into the market, don't do it out of the kindness of their hearts. Their key motivation for investing is to make a profit. Also like many of you have suggested there is certain amount of risk involved. Just like gambling their fortunes are determined by how well the market does, and if their stocks plummet they will lose money without getting anything in return (if they sell their stock when it plummets they will lose more money than they put in). While trading stocks does require a degree skill and understand of the market, ultimately like gambling it is unpredictable and people can just as easily lose a lot more than they can ever gain.

A friend of mine once compared trading on the stock market to going to the Kentucky Derby and betting on a horse. You do your research and put your money on the horse you think will win, but you cannot predict the outcome of the race. Your horse might win and you might gain quite a bit of money but at the same time the stakes are against you and you can just as easily lose.

So you see ultimately investing in the stock market is technically gambling. It may help the economy (then again some countries and states in the U.S rely on gambling as their primary source of income), but the people who invest are motivated by greed and the sin of coveting and a lot of times the risk can outweigh the supposed profit.

#53  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, May 27, 2011at 10:08 PM

#42 Jane, I liked your story. It reminded me of the simple stories that Jesus would tell to give us a visual to make His point. Your story did just that. It was so easy to relate. I remember those contests too.

My daughter told me she used this visual for my 9 year old grandson who is a believer. The kid can witness to anybody. And yet, sin beckons him from time to time. He is intrigued by it. He was wanting to watch a movie my daughter didn't think was appropriate. They talked about it. He rationalized as many adults are doing here. She told him the danger of letting sin get a foothold. Then she gave him this little demonstration.

She stood in front of his bedroom door with it ajar and her foot partially in the doorway. She told him to try and close it. Then she demonstrated,both feet outside the door and told him to try to close it again....and of course he was able to.

I thought it was such a good visual for this kid about letting sin get it's foot in the door. And that's what you did with the contest. You knew, although playing that game of chance was small by comparison to other games played where the stakes are much higher,that it had more to do with letting even a little sin get it's foot in the door. And I "bet" that even though you chose not to participate in the game any longer, you don't look back and feel you were gypped out of a really good time? Good for you!

#54  Posted by david king  |  Saturday, May 28, 2011at 2:16 AM

Hi every one, well its an interesting read about gambling. But here is a story that happened here in the UK 8 years ago with our national lottery and was reported in our news papers. A business man one day was walking past his local church in Norfolk and he was pondering on what to do with his business as it was in a lot of debt and on the verge of going bankrupt, he suddenly stopped turned and looked up to the top of the spire of the church and he asked god if he could win the lottery for that week as he had six people who worked for him and he said "Lord if I go under then I will have to make these workers unemployed and there familys will suffer hardship ". The following week he won £2.8million pounds from a £1 bet, he saved his business and kept the 6 workers plus he gave them a bonus payment and he has been to his church every sunday since he won the lottery, so I wait to see what your responces are to this story and yes it is true not a made up one.

#55  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Saturday, May 28, 2011at 4:43 AM

Steven,

If I wrote that from the scriptures and put it on there. Why did

they put it on. Maybe it makes sense.

See, when we work hard for a living, we recieve alot like crops and etc. Gambling is easy and don't have to work it and become lazy. The third servant never work it and end up in a bad place

Helps.

Putting my money in the stock market. I can't take it to hearafter.

#56  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Saturday, May 28, 2011at 7:15 AM

The parable of the master who entrusted his servants with talents is applicable to our understanding of what we should do with the money God has entrusted to us. The master expected his servants to invest his money for his benefit. The servant who hid his money in the ground was condemned as he did not act in his master’s best interest. God wants us to use what he has entrusted to us (talents, resources, money) for His purposes. Wise investing can grow those resources. All investing has risks but hiding one’s money under a mattress or burying it somewhere is foolish as it is easily stolen. Money simply put in an interest bearing bank account is safer but the interest earned typically does not match inflation. Investing wisely (carefully weighing the risk) is not wrong if one’s motivation is right. Providing for the needs of oneself and one’s family is our God given responsibility as long as we are trusting in God rather than self while doing it. Our hearts should also be steadfast in living for God’s glory rather than the pleasures of this world.

Dan, you are right that Achan took a foolish risk in stealing from God and it cost him his life. 1 Timothy 6:10 would apply to both Achan and gamblers. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

#57  Posted by Tom Jourdan  |  Saturday, May 28, 2011at 9:06 AM

My brothers and sisters - those that are trying to equate the stock market with gambling - wake up! Let me say first- of course, one can gamble in the market. Just as TV is not sin in of itself at all. One can sit down and find plenty of sin and commit plenty of sin against our Holy God while watching TV. Investing in the stock market is plain and simple - investing. Gambling in a casino is plain and simple - gambling. To have questions about whether gambling is a sin all the time is one thing and up for discussion. But to equate the stock market to gambling is at best ignorance(lack of knowledge) and at worst - a radical justification on one's part to "lasso" others into their own sinful delusion that gambling is ok because LOOK - your gambling too in the stock market. I say stop your foolishness if you fall into the worst part. And if into the first part just keep learning and always trust teachers and those that are ahead of you in the faith that strive at all times to put the Holiness of God first in their life and make every every attempt to conduct their own life in holiness and the fear of God(1Pt1:15-17). Do this and the Holy Spirit will teach you in all His ways and give you understanding.

The stock markets as have been pointed out many times is about work. Let me try a different way. The way the market is designed to work if I understand it correctly is no different than me getting together with a couple of friends or not friends. I give them my earned money that God has given me(yes, Steven God gives me everything even though I worked for it). Let's call this X dollars(capital investment-not a gamble). Now, if my two friends use my "X" dollars to build a successful business we would have had an agreement that my investment plus an agreed amount of return would be given to me at some agreed point in time. If they are unsuccessful in their business venture I can lose all or part of "X" dollars. That is by definition - investing. Investing is using one's own money from work to invest in another persons' work in the expectation of profit.

The stock market is the same thing - just on a larger scale. It really is that simple.

In Him and always in His Love,

Tom Jourdan

#58  Posted by Edward Howell  |  Saturday, May 28, 2011at 10:15 AM

#56 Hi Mary, I have always understood that parable to mean the talents where spiritual gifts. If is means money then some saint don't even have enough to sustain themselves. But we know that the members of the body of Christ were all given gifts for the building up of the church.

I want to say although I don't gamble I have posted that gambling is not a sin if done with the right attitude. That is one that honors Christ. I can hear many of you say how can gambling for entertainment honor Christ. We it does to the same extent going to sports events, golf, or other public events for entertainment. Gambling like drinking and dancing, eating or watching tv is a sin when taken to the extreme as to dishonor God and Jesus Christ our Savior.

Regarding watching tv I would like to say about 15 years ago shortly after I was saved my wife and I was setting watching tv. A commercial came on and it struck me that if Jesus was setting their would I watch that. I pondered it for awhile and came to the conclusion that how could someone who is born again sanctified to our Holy Father watch things He hates. I ask God to make me hate the things He hates and love the things He loves. I decided to filter what I watched. I found that it was not as simple as that. Even the history channel or Discovery Channel bombards out minds with anti God evolution. I decided to just quit watching any television and I didn't for many years. We now have cable so we can have broadband internet and I have started watching the old classics with my wife but even then I have to get up and walk away from some of them and she usually turns it off. I get my news and weather from the internet and there are so many good resources on the net. Since I don't always know who is sound in their doctrine I rely on the links from Fred Butlers site (thanks Br. Fred, I love you brother) and also Pyromaniacs. I have found Real Truth Matters from both their sites. Br. Michael Durham rightly divides the Word of God like Br. John MacArthur does but I don't always agree on things that are in the gray area like this topic.

#59  Posted by Arturo Gomez III  |  Saturday, May 28, 2011at 12:12 PM

Thank you #3, #13 and #18. I have often come to the conclusion that I will one day be done with being entertained and or seeking it (t.v., sports, etc). It is rather costly and very much so a distraction from our true "calling" as true believers, if in fact we are. And where in Scripture was Christ ever seeking entertainment? He came seeking that which was lost!

#60  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Saturday, May 28, 2011at 5:37 PM

“License, what the ambitious call and the ignorant believe to be liberty” a quote from one of America’s founding Fathers. The ambitious were those whom we now call “politicians”. In Jeremiah and Ezekiel’s day they were those prophets and priests who were greedy for gain and who spoke peace, peace when there was no peace (see Jeremiah 6:13,14). Those “ambitious” ones and all who listened to them were taken away in judgment. None escaped. When I look ahead, through the eyes and words of the Apostle John, I see the throne of God and I hear four living creatures day and night never ceasing to say “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty.”(Revelation 4:8)

Everyone, it seems speaks of “liberty”, or salvation, or even mercy but who speaks of holiness? Mercy without pursuit of holiness is unthinkable. It is unbiblical. It is illogical. How could anyone who has no love for (hungering and thirsting after) holiness ever possibly think they could be happy in heaven where only righteousness and holiness exists? -His Unworthy Slave

#61  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Saturday, May 28, 2011at 8:08 PM

Why was I wrong about the parable, Steven.

Can't justify the last servant for doing good when Jesus says he

was wicked. , for it's front of my eyes when I read the parable. God puts it in our mind to know what God reveals the truth of the parable.

#62  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Saturday, May 28, 2011at 9:13 PM

Someone who was friends with a blind person said to him “it must be nice not having to deal with lust” the blind person told him you don't understand what lust was.

Anything can be made into gambling, I just saw a secular TV show about an ex gambler who constantly made bets in his mind about his golf performance because he couldn’t go to the casino anymore but he still wanted the rush, he and his friends decided he still needed more GA meetings.

Sinful gambling doesn’t have anything to do with odds, money changing hands, or any dictionary definition. It has to do with the idol that it becomes in your mind, anything that takes Gods rightful place in your life is sin.

#63  Posted by Steven Xue  |  Sunday, May 29, 2011at 6:50 AM

Dan

Are you telling me because Jesus said the servant was wicked therefore what he did was unjustified? That is just absurd. In Matthew Chapter 25 the master gave his three servants some money to hold onto because he was going on a trip. The two servants decided to take a risk with their master's money while the third one believed it was in his master's best interest to keep the money safe. What exactly has that servant done wrong that makes him worthy of condemnation? Are you telling me that Jesus hates it when people are financially conservative, especially when they are dealing with money that’s not theirs? I would have done the same thing. I’m not the type of person who likes taking risks, either with my own money or somebody else’s. So does that make me wicked or sinful, would Jesus have condemned me for that?

#65  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Sunday, May 29, 2011at 5:21 PM

Who says that they were taking risks? I can't make a story out of the parable. I can't add words to God's word.

The Tragedy of Wasted Opportunity, Part 1 and Part 2 sermons would help you out on this website.

#66  Posted by Eileen Harris  |  Sunday, May 29, 2011at 6:22 PM

#63 Steven

Yes, Dan is correct, if Jesus, say's the servant is wicked, than he is wicked. You see Dan and I will take Jesus word over anyone else's anytime!

If you should re-read the "Parable of the Talents", over again and (I recommend you do), you will see that the Master gave 3 servants, 3 different amounts of talents according to their abilities. As you know, the word ability comes from the word "able" which means, having sufficient power, skill, or resources to accomplish a task. The first two servants understood this, used what their Master gave them and made it grow, thus proving their Masters faith in them. The last servant being lazy, decided to do nothing with what his Master had given him. When the Master returns and rewards the first two servants for accomplishing their tasks, the third servant comes up with his excuse for being lazy, by maligning the Master's character. The Master, then say's to the servant, if I am as you say I am, then you should have known better. The Master is not agreeing with the servants characterization of himself, just taking away the servant's excuse.

The last servant wasn't being fiscally conservative, he was being lazy, the first two servants didn't gamble their Master's talents but traded with them. Two very different words and meanings, but I suspect you understand that.

The way you portrayed the third servant was incorrect, thereby making moot the question, "Would Jesus, condemn me for that."

#67  Posted by Ben Ray  |  Monday, May 30, 2011at 6:04 PM

Psalms 15:1-5 A Psalm of David. LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly,........ He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.

#68  Posted by Robert Le Mere  |  Monday, May 30, 2011at 7:42 PM

Gabriel and everyone else,

Things that truly qualify under Christian freedom do differ culture to culture.

Welcome to the world of Post-Modernism!!!!! There are no more absolutes, no right and wrong, no good or evil. You wonder where the people that you disagree with about gambling, the Rob Bells of the world who preach that there is no literal hell and the fact that over half the "Christians" in this country do not believe that Jesus lived a sinless life, you really struggle with where they are coming from or why they can't see the "truth"? I am sorry, I forget that it is all about motivation, all about if the individual feels it is a sin,how you interpret the Bible and which versus you choose to follow and those which you choose to ignore and now throw in which culture you live in and perhaps which sect of that particular culture you happen to be born in to.

I can understand why the non-christians of our country call us hypocrites. They see all these Christians, all these people that claim to be of the same faith, all saying and doing different things. From the start they feel it is impossible to read and understand their Bibles because they see Christians disagreeing, arguing and dividing over what the scriptures say. If we cannot agree on the simple things the scriptures say that are straight forward and stop trying to find every loophole to do what we want instead of what God commands we are going to continously lose the battles to what the world and other religions have to offer.

But what do I know, I can see that the way the Christians in America do things and have been doing things since God was removed as the focus of teaching in this country has been doing so wonderfully well. The all you need is love approach that has permeated the church in this country has completely removed any sense of sin and repentance has brought about a Christian culture of all I have to do is believe and I am in. They whole part about you becoming a new person and turning from the ways of this world to the ways of the Lord has become almost obsolite.

If you think I am way off base just take a look at the churches that are growing in this country. I have been to churches where the name of Jesus is barely spoken, but they offer tons of Bible studies and support groups along with childrens church and don't forget theater seating with bands, tv screens, coffee shops, and food that is all readily available during the services. It is all good though because everyone feels great , upbeat and entertained when they come out of church. Unfortunately, they have almost no understanding of how far they are seperated from God and how much they really need Jesus. How much they need to repent and get down on their knees and ask for forgivenes. They need to give their whole life to Jesus, not just parts of their life, but the whole thing. If anyone has seen Facing the Giants, the coach told them they had to honor God in everything not just on the football field.

#69  Posted by Craig Hurst  |  Tuesday, May 31, 2011at 11:31 AM

Phil, you wrote:

"In gambling, existing wealth merely changes hands. In other words, one person's gain always comes at the price of hurt caused to others. That is the reason an immoral principle underlies all gambling."

and

"To gamble is to play a game of chance for stakes. And a stake is a prize that is obtained at another gambler's expense. Remember: in gambling, whatever one person wins is lost by another."

I want to draw attention to the fact that the winner(s) of gambling are so at the loss of another. I am not disputing this fact however, the way it is being put forth makes it look like this is legal theft of some sort.

It is not immoral for me to win your money in a bet if you willingly put it out there to potentially be lost. All participants in a gambling game are willful participants and are not coerced to do so.

To say that one wins at another's expense is true but not in the sense that they are immorally being taken advantage of and they just dont know it. Anyone who gambles knows that once they walk in the casino doors the odds are against them before they put their money down on the table. But they know this going into the game and they willingly subject themselves to a game that is not in their favor.

I could be wrong, but it seems you are putting more moral responsibility on the winner for winning money that was willfully risked, rather than on the individual gambler themselves for foolishy risking the money in the first place.

I look forward to seeing the development of this argument as time goes on.

Consequently, I am against gambling in most cases but I dont see a problem with my friends and I each throwing in a fixed amount of money ($5 or $10) and playing until someone wins it all. If there is always a reasonable cap that would be no more than us spending it on an activity like bowling or playing paintball I dont think this would be immoral.

Any thoughts on the above scenario?

#70  Posted by Peter Heffner  |  Wednesday, June 01, 2011at 12:23 AM

I still had questions on the stock market. I realize this may not effect most investments that anyone here would make, but it may effect some types.

What about certain types of speculation, such as that on real estate which may drive up home prices to unnatural levels? Or leads to overdevelopment of the countryside, even while fueling illegal immigration and loss of work for natives?

What about speculation that drives up prices of important industrial materials such as copper?

Or silver and gold, which are then hoarded and kept away from the real consumer?

What if volume speculation, although the majority of which be 'rightly' motivated, causes a stock market crash? What if that leads to a recession or fall of a government or a depression?

In these historical examples, others have paid dire costs for the risks others took.

I suppose this could be addressed in a general statement.

#71  Posted by David Ellingson  |  Wednesday, June 01, 2011at 5:21 PM

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