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Monday, June 27, 2011 | Comments (8)

You’ve probably heard this argument before from advocates of gambling: “If gambling is sin, then so is investing in the stock market, buying a house, and even starting your own company. They all involve the same element—risk taking.” That argument may appear convincing on the surface, but can it survive closer scrutiny? Today we'll let John MacArthur answer that question.

Listen to this 8-minute clip:

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#1  Posted by Luke Fulliton  |  Monday, June 27, 2011 at 2:24 PM

I agree with what John said. Yay!!

He said, “Where there's reasonable manageable risk, you don't have gambling.” The guys at MIT did this with the game Black Jack. They got the game down to a science and the odds became in their favor. And that is in a nut shell why they win at Black Jack. They know the game through and through to where there is little chance left in the game. That is the way a lot of gambling games can be handled. Most people just don’t put the time and effort needed in to the game in order to bring the odds in their own favor instead of the casino’s.

John is also correct when he said, “ It's an activity in which a person risks something of value to forces of chance completely beyond his control or any rational expectation.” Some games in gambling are like this, and some are not. The games in casinos that are pure chance are as much waste of cash as taking your money to the candy store. You’ll come out with less cash then you went in with. But other games in casinos can be managed to bring the odds in ones own favor and not the house’s, thus leaving the casino with more cash then one went in with. The guys at MIT figured this out, and that is why they were kicked out of the casinos in Las Vegas.

I would still argue that, as a Christian, one is free to waste money either at a candy store or a casino, so long as neither become foolish spending.

#3  Posted by Brent Fokken  |  Monday, June 27, 2011 at 2:49 PM

The following is from the Making Hard Decisions Easy by John MacArthur and is very applicable to this discussion.

“Look at verse 16 of 1 Peter 2, "Don't use your freedom for a cloak to cover your evil." A veil over your evil intent, be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, is this really something that benefits me spiritually, is for my spiritual profit? Is this something that builds me up? Is this something that is not unnecessary bulk but something helpful? Is this something that will not lead me into bondage? Or am I really cloaking over my evil desire? Look at your motive...look at your motive.”

“You see, Galatians 5:13 says that it's a very common thing to turn liberty into...what?...license. And you have to guard have to guard that. Let's call this the principle of, so we can stick with our "E" here, equivocation...e-q-u-i-v-o-c- a-t-i-o-n. That means to lie or falsify. And there are people who literally falsify their motives. "Well, I'm free to do that. I certainly am." And they're equivocating their lying, they want to cover their evil intent. The guy who says, "Hey, God made horses, I'm free to go to Santa Anita. I go out there and enjoy God's creation. Those horses just run and I say, 'Praise You, Lord, look what You've made,' while I'm dropping money all day long." And what you have there is a cloak of liberty put over the top of an evil intent, which is to gamble, which, of course, is to take the stewardship that God has given and throw it into the air at the discretion of chance.”

Those who participate and or defend gambling, replace the word “it“ with gambling in the following questions;

“Will it be profitable to me spiritually? Will it build me up? Will it slow me down in the race? Will it bring me to bondage? Will it be simply a covering for my sin? Will it replace the Lordship of Christ in my life? Will it set a helpful example for others? Will it lead others to Christ? Will it be like Christ? And will it...what's the last one? Glorify God?”

Can you honestly, seriously affirm gambling with all of these questions, let alone any of them?

#6  Posted by Matt Tocco  |  Tuesday, June 28, 2011 at 6:26 AM

When you invest your own labor and resources into your own business that "risk" should be viewed as a normal part your vocation. Or, when we change jobs (either intentionally or out of necessity) there is "risk" involved but is still a vocation choice.

However when we risk what we've earned from our chosen vocation on someone elses business (I'm not referring to purchasing goods for consumption) it is a gamble and it makes no difference if it's a casino, the purchase of stock, or the lottery.

A farmer can point to his farm and say "by the will of God (obviously it's all God's), this is mine to steward for Him" (Unless the bank actually owns it and he's making payments under the ruse of a mortgage - we've seen clearly throughout the country recently how little of a home a person can own if they stop making the mortgage payments). But we can't buy stock in Bob's widgets, go to Bob's Widget factory, and point to a part of the factory that we own anymore than we can point to a "one armed bandit" and say that we own the left leg of the machine because we just deposited $200 in it.

The only sure bet communicated in God's Holy Word, and therefore not a gamble, is investing in God's people and in His work here on earth. God has guaranteed His reward, a significant return on investment, a doubtless divine payout.

We need to work at our vocation as if we were working directly for Christ Jesus, we need to feed the homeless not the slots, and we need to invest in our church, in people, in Bibles for those who don't have them, and in missions, not Wall Street. Those are the only sure investments guaranteed and backed up by our Creator - no gambling involved.

#7  Posted by Elery Fraser  |  Tuesday, June 28, 2011 at 12:58 PM

@ Matt Tocco

I truly respect and more than anything, appreciate your "honest" assessment of the situation. I too believe that both are in the same boat and was a little discourage to see men of faith condemn gambling and justify "investing" in the stock market. Then again, we are to trust in God only for man will always fail you at some point. God Bless you.

#8  Posted by Tim Eriksen  |  Tuesday, June 28, 2011 at 1:00 PM


To equate ownership in a business, other than one you own 100% of, with playing the lottery is incorrect. While there is certainly risk involved in any business venture, it does not make it sinful or wrong. To take on risk is not the same as gambling. Please listen to the audio clip if you haven't already.

You also seem to argue that it is okay to take on risk if you own 100% of the business but wrong if you own less than 100%. Can you give some biblical or even logical support for this argument?

#9  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 7:51 AM

Some people will be fools no matter what they do with their life.They might even be foolish in the ministry in which they participate.As a result, their contribution may not accomplish much for the Gospel.But you don't throw out the ministry because of some goofball in it.Some people will always lack wisdom&leadership.

Now I have seen some invest in others (businesses, stocks, real estate, etc).They do their homework.They wisely take their time&are quite selective.They take what I call educated calculated risks.

On the flip side,I have seen some jump on an investment opportunity too quickly (their greed puts a sense of urgency to everything they do with their money)& lose not once but multiple times.Being lazy is another factor that keeps them from doing their homework & seeking wise counsel concerning any investment.

About gambling such as lotto's or casinos:I have not been able to find any wisdom there.I can't see where it even produces wisdom.Unless you lose your shirt&then have a new testimony to share w/others.And I have never seen where it teaches leadership.Seems there are so many better ways to teach a son how to be a man, to show a son what it looks like to have fun, find joy&how to relax & never have to defend it.

I'm talking about the PROCESS of gambling versus investing.I'm including educated betting versus educated investing.In the process of doing either,is there opportunity to build character?I like things that teach me&equip me in more ways than originally thought while going THROUGH the process.

I think anytime a person persists on defending an activity that is mostly corrupt,mostly has no benefits if any at all,&wants to defend an activity because of it's exceptions or perhaps the opposite,they want to point out the exceptions of what is acceptable,well,I think that is a person at risk!I think they may very well be an accident in the making.

Foolish people are everywhere&in everything as are highly educated people.But I'm having a hard time finding wisdom in both.The gambler can have more degrees than a thermometer.Unfortunately that doesn't mean he has wisdom.

Consider this please.There are some really corrupt pastors, corrupt churches in this country.Would you use that to justify the "harmlessness" of having your palm read or reading tarot cards to find out about your future or following your horoscope?Some really find that fun&have no intention of letting it influence any major decisions.I'm sure they don't,just like I'm sure a gambler never has a lustful thought that perhaps he could quickly win enough money for that financial consideration he has. Nah.

Finally,have you ever noticed when some fight so hard on a technical level to justify their sinful pleasures,that if they stay in the fight long enough,they become the legalists?Little to do w/character,almost nothing to do w/spiritual growth or matters of the heart.It's about technicalities.I always wondered if anyone else noticed that?

#10  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 8:14 AM

For those that consider it pure entertainment because they are disciplined about how much money they are willing to lose, I have a new idea.

Since we all pretty much understand the law of probability, knowing that the gambler, no matter how much he bets, eventually loses....I think we all agree on that???....why not play a game where you go in, being fully aware, expecting to lose? Don't make it about "if I win" but rather make your bets on "WHEN I lose"? How about that?

You could loosen the lug nuts on your car wheels and have the family place bets on how long you can drive around before one or all of your wheels fall off? Just like gambling, you know it's bound to happen, you just don't know when. You're betting on "when" you lose. If you must bet for entertainment, that's a more realistic, honest way to bet, right? Doesn't that sound like fun? Get the whole family involved.

Disclaimer: GTY does not endorse nor encourage such activity as described above.Ditto for Rebecca Schwem. This should be done only by professional gamblers and or professional stunt people. READ QUICKLY as after reading this, this comment will explode so my grandsons don't read it and get any ideas as well as any TV networks looking for some goofy game show idea.On the other hand.... in the event it does become a game show, I reserve all creative rights.And you guys are my witnesses!

#11  Posted by Gregory Montell  |  Friday, July 1, 2011 at 9:20 PM

Hey Matt and Tim, I guess we are in the minority on this one,this is what happen when a contrast between two subject are convoluted with many bias argument. What is happening to wall street with investing? How many people lost their homes they had for years? What happen Enron, Washington Mutual,Bear Sterns, I could keep point is simple investing has its dangers too and when investment bankers become greedy, many people feel the effect of their greed. Let's not be one sided on this issue.

PS. I don't gamble but invest.