What Does The Bible Say About Gambling

The Bible doesn’t provide a clear-cut answer to what its stance is on gambling. It contains passages that can be interpreted to support both sides of the coin. It’s worth studying scripture to get a full overview of the moral implications of gambling. Gambling is a controversial issue and the passages in the Bible have been interpreted differently by scholars throughout the centuries.

There are a few passages in the Bible that some use to support their belief that gambling is wrong or sinful. Romans 13:13-14 warns, “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” This passage implies that one should not seek to make money in ways that are contrary to worship.

Another passage often cited by those who oppose gambling is found in 1 Timothy 6. The verse states, “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.” This suggests that it is the pursuit of money, rather than the acquisition of it, which can lead to spiritual ruin.

On the flip side, some Bible verses can be read to suggest that gambling is permissible. Proverbs 13:11 reads, “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” This verse could indicate that even if riches are gained through gambling, it’s okay as long as it is done slowly and responsibly.

Ecclesiastes 11:2 reads, “Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.” This might imply that hedge your bets as long as it is within reason. The idea that difficult times could befall a person and they should take preventative measures is a reoccurring theme throughout scripture.

Gambling Harm Minimisation

Though gambling is considered taboo by certain religious people, some Christian or biblical scholars believe that gambling is not inherently bad, as long as it is done in moderation and responsibility. They rely on verses such as Proverbs 12:11 and Proverbs 16:19 as evidence to push their point. Proverbs 12:11 reads, “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.” Proverbs 16:19 reads , “Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.”

These verses imply that it is better to focus one’s efforts on productive endeavors, and to recognize the futility of trying to get something for nothing. Therefore, these fundamentalist theologians argue that gambling can be okay as long as it is used to supplement income gained in other, more constructive ways.

Other theologians argue that gambling can be seen as a form of entertainment, similar to going to the movies or dinner. These religious figures view gambling as a social activity and a way to have some fun, so long as it is done responsibly and without excess.

Ethical Implications

The bible is clear that gambling is not a way of addressing the issue of poverty. There is a moral responsibility to a those in a less than fortunate position. In James 2:15-17 it reads “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that.”

Though gambling may seem like a way to rise out one’s wealth in a hurry, the bible posits that this is not an effective way of looking out for one’s neighbour. Supporting those in poverty and misfortune is a moral obligation. At a time when the global gap between rich and poor is at its widest, committing to helping the less fortunate has never been more paramount.

Investment and Risk

For those less concerned about the spiritual implications, the bible does provide the option to engage in investment activities. In Luke 19:8-9 it reads, “And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have done any wrong to anyone, I restore fourfold.” This passage is often used to support the idea that as long as investing is done responsibly and ethically, it is an acceptable way of seeking finances.

If it is done too often and with the mindset of trying to get something for nothing, then it can be seen as a form of gambling. In this case, it can be argued that one should think carefully before engaging in any investing activities. Taking a calculated, risk-managed approach to investments is one way to ensure that they’re done responsibly, and in line with the values and ethics of the Bible.

Myths vs Facts

There are many myths about what the Bible says about gambling. One of the most prevalent is that the Bible strictly forbids gambling and considers it to be a sin. However, as we have seen, the Bible does not provide an all-encompassing answer to this question. It provides areas to consider, such as ethical considerations, investment risk and helping those less fortunate. This makes it impossible to give a simple yes or no answer as to whether gambling is sinful.

Another myth is that the Bible only mentions gambling and that it does not offer guidance for other forms of entertainment such as card games, board games and various forms of gaming. This is simply not true. Proverbs 15:11 reads, “He who disregards discipline despises his own soul, But he who heeds reproof gets understanding.” This implies that moderation should be exercised in all activities, not just gambling.

Finally, the Bible does not offer a one-size-fits-all approach to gambling. Each person must answer this question for themselves based on the values and beliefs they hold. It’s important to take an honest look at one’s motivations for gambling, and to be aware of the potential risks. The Bible makes it clear that there is a moral responsibility to gamble responsibly and ethically.

Consistency of Interpretation

Interpreting the Bible is a difficult task, as its passages can be interpreted in multiple ways. It’s important to keep in mind that the Bible was written centuries ago, and some of the moral guidance it offers may not be applicable in today’s world. It’s also important to remember that the Bible is not a all-encompassing answer to every moral question. Each person must search for the answers for themselves based on active research.

The Bible does not offer a one-size-fits-all answer to what its stance on gambling is. Some believe gambling is wrong, while others believe that it can be done responsibly, as long as it is done in moderation. Ultimately, the decision is left up to each individual to make for themselves.

Risky Lifestyle

Gambling carries a certain risk of deep losses and bankruptcy. One should avoid the temptation of gambling to escape poverty. In Proverbs 23:18 it reads, “For surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” This suggests that there is a better way to make money than gambling, a way that is rooted in faith and hope.

Though it might seem that gambling is an easy solution to a lack of money, the Bible explicitly mentions that it can lead to spiritual ruin and extreme losses. Above all, it is important to remember that gambling can have devastating consequences, and should be avoided if at all possible.

Compulsive Gambling

Compulsive gambling is a serious problem that can have negative effects that can be felt for years. The Bible has a few verses that condense on this. Philippians 4:5-6 reads, “Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

This verse suggests that one should seek spiritual guidance when feeling anxious or distressed. This is especially true in the case of compulsive gambling. The combination of stress and an uncontrollable urge can have serious detrimental effects.

It is important to remember that compulsive gambling carries extreme risks and should be avoided if possible. Escaping compulsive gambling needs a spiritual approach. If one finds themselves spiralling into disarray, they should turn to divine help as soon as possible.

Social Factors

It’s important to consider the social factors which come with gambling. Proverbs 15:27 reads, “Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household, but he who hates bribes will live.” This suggests that gambling could lead to trouble within close relationships and family members. It could lead to arguments, debts and frustrations.

In a broader sense, it could lead to one not fulfilling their obligations. Gambling can often lead to people making irresponsible decisions. This could include not taking care of one’s loved ones, putting them at risk due to gambling addiction, and not making payments on debts.

It’s important to remember that gambling can have dire consequences for those closest to us. It’s important to be aware and keep tabs on our behaviour, and to be mindful of the effect our actions can have on others.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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