What Does the Bible Say about Gambling?
- Thursday, May 22, 2003
Bennett grew up in a different environment and says that he's gambled all of his life even enjoying church bingo when growing up. This philosophy contends that gambling might be permissible if four conditions are met:
· What is staked must belong to the gambler and must be at his free disposal. It is wrong, therefore, for the lawyer to stake the money of his client, or for anyone to gamble with what is necessary for the maintenance of his wife and children.
· The gambler must act freely, without unjust compulsion.
· There must be no fraud in the transaction, although the usual ruses of the game may be allowed. It is unlawful, accordingly, to mark the cards, but it is permissible to conceal carefully from an opponent the number of trump cards one holds.
· Finally, there must be some sort of equality between the parties to make the contract equitable; it would be unfair for a combination of two expert whist players to take the money of a couple of mere novices at the game."7
However even those who subscribe to this philosophy concede that gambling can lead to problems. For example, if gambling leads to a squandering of time and money then it may be "a source of sin and ruin to others." Like other addictions, gambling can arouse excitement in the participant and may lead into conduct which is difficult to control.8
Under this view, the acceptance of gambling is then conditioned upon the presence of all four of the above requirements and the self-discipline of the gambler. Such a philosophy allowed Mr. Bennett to gamble without being morally conflicted. If you can handle it, that's fine, but if you "can't handle it, don't do it."
Ultimately Bennett has vowed that his gambling days are over because he admits having done too much of it and not providing the example he wishes to set for others. And regardless of positions on gambling in general, ultimately that is a decision upon which everyone could agree.
1 J. Kerby Anderson, "Gambling," http://www.probe.org/docs/gambling.html,
2 Ephesians 4:28 and 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
3 Genesis 47:17 and 1 Kings 5:10-11
4 Matthew 7:11 and Ephesians 4:28
5 Exodus 20:14-17
6Ronald A. Reno, "Gambling and the Bible," http://www.family.org/cforum/research/papers/a0008570.html
7 T. Slater, Catholic Encyclopedia - "Gambling" http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06375b.htm,
J. Terry Price is
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