Should You As A Christian Do Betting Or Gambling?

When you walk around Kampala and other big cities in Uganda, you can easily notice that betting; casinos, lottery, and other gambling businesses are on rise. Actually, even in the middle of economic crises, betting seems to be growing steadily upwards!

In one of the comments by Pastor Andrew of Kampala Baptist Church, he said; “When I walk around Kampala, I see many women working hard for their families and lives, but I see most men of the same age in betting clubs, eyes wide-open on football screens and others just gambling and making noise outside bars. With such lazy men, can we develop?”

Anyway, betting is on rise, no need for statistics about that. While there are so many of our fellow friends who participate in betting and are at the same time good Christians (how good is good?), the question still lingers; should a Christian do betting?

As always, The Complete You Ministry has done the study and searched the bible and other authentic sources to bring you answers, follow closely.

The bible has no clear instructions regarding betting and thus the issue of gambling has remained in discussion for some good time just like the issues of alcohol and biblefamily planning and the bible, and even polygamy issues. Actually, as noticed by J. Terry Price (2003), the silence of the bible on this issue provides the fertile ground for discussion and disagreements!

And so because there are no clear bible verses regarding gambling, many authors cite the possible side effects of gambling or motives for gambling and then look for what the bible says about such motives or effects.

For example, in their article entitled ‘what does the bible say about gambling’, the writers at present one of the weakest arguments I have come across on this topic!

In their article, they cite verses like Mark 8:36 (For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul?), Hebrew 13:5 (keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have..), 1 Timothy 6:10 (the love for money is the root cause of evil), and Matthew 6:21 (where your treasure is there shall be your heart also) and claim that they talk about gambling and its effects! 

For God’s sake, the above verses have nothing to do with gambling! And if they have something to say, it is to us all as Christians. And I think each one of us is prone to the sins highlighted whether we are gamblers or not.

So once again I don’t think those verses specifically address gambling; they are important verses for each one of us.

Many gambling critics cite that gambling is based on chance and luck and yet our God is sovereign and controls every happening (Matt. 10:29-30), defies work ethics of being creative and benefiting others (Ephesians 4:28), promotes materialism, something for nothing kind of attitude, and success over the failure of others (Matt. 6:24, Colossians 3:23-24, 2 Thessalonians 3:7).

Gambling also is socially destructive in the way that it is addictive, can make someone have debts, waste money, have no time for his social and family duties, engage in crime and other immoral activities like prostitution and alcohol drinking as observed from different casinos.

But there is a problem!

I. All the above evils that come out of gambling can come out of anything else. Generally, we should not waste money, time or even lose a grip on our social and family duties. And yet we all can fall short of these, whether we do gambling or not.

II. What if someone controlled his ethics, time and behavior and does not fall short of the above qualities?

III. Some claims really make no sense. For example, who does not want to get rich quickly? Is it true that gamblers are not workers, investing time, thinking, knowledge, and even some inputs like money?

IV. The bible has examples depicting some kind of gambling; casting lots done in Leviticus to choose between the sacrificial goat and the scapegoat, Joshua used lots to determine the allotment of land to various tribes, Nehemiah cast lots to determine who was to stay inside the walls of Jerusalem, and the apostles cast lots to determine the replacement of Judas. Did God say that they were wrong to use chance games on such occasions? But what lies behind such casting that makes it count? God (Proverbs 16:33)

Read our former article on Luck or chance in people and God.

Let us see if you are following;

First, we have acknowledged that there are no biblical verses that specifically address gambling and betting. Secondly, we have acknowledged that betting and gambling may have side effects or be motivated by actions and behaviors that are evil according to the bible. And lastly, we have realized that still those evils are possible with anything else, and God does not condemn men taking chances.

Waoh! So what should be our take home?

Take home

William John ‘Bill’ Bennett is an American conservative pundit, politician (belonging to republicans), a political theorist and author of many books, including the famous one, THE BOOK OF VIRTUES. As cited by J. Terry Price, this guy is considered as a morality ‘guru’ as even reflected in his books and yet he lived almost his whole life gambling. 

You can read an article that was published about Bill Bennett’s gambling problem here.

When he later quitted gambling, many thought he did stop on the basis of morality issues, but it was not for Bill himself later said that he never thought of gambling as immoral!

As Christians, we cannot justify gambling simply because the evils associated with it can as well happen when we are doing something else.

Also, it is important to note that some compulsions like too much love for money, getting rich quickly and through unfair ways, wishing for the failure of others, wasting our resources, talents, abilities and time while not benefiting anyone or improving our world all are exacerbated during gambling activities.

As highlighted by Terry Price’s article, some gambling supporters theorize a philosophy that may allow Christians to do gambling without faulting! Below are some of the points to be covered if gambling is to appeal to Christians;

1. The gambler must stake what is his (not belonging to someone else or was meant for his family and children)
2. The gambler must act freely, without unjust compulsion
3. There must be no fraud in the transaction
4. There must be some sort of equality between the parties to make the contract fair to both (equitable).

The above principles enabled Bill Bennett to gamble without being morally conflicted, they say.

Personally, I would not advise a fellow friend or a Christian in general to get involved in gambling.

As we earlier saw during our study on alcohol and the bible, people may think they will control the behavior and remain under the above 4 moral principles of ‘right’ gambling, but you and I both know that there is no such discipline inside those casinos, betting houses, and lottery clubs. 

The adverts are always enticing. Also, there is usually fraud, cheating, and lying. And also, during such activities, a Christian is prone to other activities like prostitution, alcohol drinking, family neglect, and waste of resources.

Thinking about principle number one above, I don’t think we can ever have some money or resources at our exposure (in other words, not meant for our families, to help somebody, or not belonging to someone; we always make a decision about where to put our resources but you cannot say ‘this money had no other use and thus was available for betting’) for reckless activities.

In my opinion, a Christian who wanna be more than he is for the Lord and others should not engage in gambling though I see no direct and clear condemnation from the bible on those who do betting/gambling especially in a moderate and upright way.

The decision remains yours and is personal!

God bless you

The Complete You Ministry

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Born from Uganda, Nemeyimana Vicent (Nemvicx) has become what people call, "coming from nothing to something". Professionally, he is both a nurse and public health officer and currently works with Mulago National Referral Hospital. In 2016, he wedded his wife and great sweetheart, Amulen Winfred (also a professional Midwife and counsellor). Besides their professions, Nemvicx is an inspirational writer, singer, motivational speaker, author of several digital books. He a theologian and blogger at (The Complete You Ministry).

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