Gambling, card games, sports betting, games of luck or chance, poker tournaments, and even raffles. These are all forms of contests that have been labeled as “gambling” by many people. And with the label of “gambling” comes a taboo within North American evangelicalism. So that begs these questions: Is gambling a sin? Should Christians participate in any such events or contests? Why or Why not?
In this episode, Kenny gives a thorough response to the topic of gambling. The Bible does not directly label these contests or games as sinful, but as with many things in life, we need to examine the topic more closely before indulging.
Kenny opens the episode giving us an important warning about gambling addictions. Just like addictions to drugs or porn, addictions to gambling have destroyed families, therefore we must be extremely cautious and careful before participating. Kenny encourages anyone dealing with a gambling addiction to immediately seek help from a church elder or visit www.gamblersanonymous.org.
The Bible does not specifically condemn gambling, so Kenny makes the point that he does not have any specific issues with people participating in contests where money is on the line such as a sports pool or a poker tournament (and Kenny makes the admission that he himself has participated in some such activities), but there are several important elements to remember before choosing to gamble in anyway whatsoever:
1- The Bible warns us about the dangers of loving money (see 1 Timothy 6:10 and Hebrews 13:5).
2- The Bible encourages us to stay away from attempts to “get rich quick” (see Proverbs 13:11 and Ecclesiastes 5:10)
3- Gambling is often a waste of money, but so are many other things we indulge in or purchase (ie: going out to eat, cable television, owning a more expensive car than what we actually need, many forms of entertainment, etc.). Seek to be consistent in your convictions.
4- The Bible tells us that all things are “permissible” but not all things are “beneficial” (see 1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:23). This should always be our guide when these topics arise.
After highlighting these important reminders, Kenny then closes the episode by reminding each person to also consider their own personal evangelism opportunities and Christian witness. We must always ask the question: “Will this hurt or help my chances to preach the Gospel?”
There is a strong argument to be made for either position. Some people say that some forms of gambling could harm your credibility, and therefore harm your opportunities for evangelism. However, other people might state that participating in such activities could lead you to building relationships that help bring the Gospel to unsaved people that otherwise might not have heard it.
Kenny feels that each person ought to prayerfully seek wisdom from the Holy Spirit as to what he/she ought to do, but none of us ought to be flippant or careless when making this sort of decision.