State Sponsored Robbery
State-sponsored and state-approved gambling is wrong because the marketing and advertising of gaming is inherently deceptive. The next time you see a TV commercial or hear a radio spot promoting a state lottery, note well the sales pitch. It won't tell the truth. Do these commercials, for instance, tell you (or even imply!) that your chances of winning are so remote that you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than winning or that a woman has a better chance of bearing triplets than of "hitting it big"? Do lottery commercials mention the devastating consequences gambling has proven to have on marriages and children? Not hardly. The commercials promise you a great time, lots of fun, happiness, and imply that you might even get rich. Bear in mind, too, this is the message coming from your own government, the institution legally and morally bound to look out for your best interests. The ads spout nothing but outright deception-which the Bible vehemently warns against. Here are a few examples of just how vehemently: <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Leviticus 6:2, 5-"When someone sins and offends the Lord by deceiving his neighbor in regard to a deposit, a security, or a robbery; or defrauds his neighbor, . . . [h]e must make full restitution."
Proverbs 6:19 lists, as two of six things the Lord hates: "a lying witness who gives false testimony, and one who stirs up trouble among brothers."
Proverbs 11:18-"The wicked man earns an empty wage."
States, of course, are not the only guilty parties. I wonder if the Indian tribes and businessmen who make their living from gambling have ever read these verses. Indeed, state-sponsored or other legal gambling spreads strife among families, and gambling businesses always use deception to get people to buy that lottery ticket or go to the casino.
The Bible also is rife with warnings against taking advantage of the poor. Yet, numerous national studies show that the ones who pay the dearest price for the vice of gambling are low-income families:
Lotteries "are more aggressive than most other forms of gambling, since individuals in lower income brackets spend proportionally more money on them than do persons with higher income," according to the National Policy on Gambling.
In Georgia, those who make less than $25,000 a year spend three times as much on lottery tickets than those who make $75,000 or more per year. On the national average, lottery gamblers with household incomes under $10,000 bet nearly three times as much on the lottery as those with incomes of more than $50,000.27
Economics professor and lottery expert Robert Goodman says that after three to five years, many people stop playing the lottery because they can no longer afford it.28
For the poor, this imbalance of spending is not simply a matter of shifting priorities among a household's discretionary income. Here, we are talking about households that have no discretionary income. What is lost through gambling is lost from providing the basic necessities, clearly an affront to 1 Timothy 5:8: "Now if anyone does not provide for his own relatives, and especially for his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." Many low-income people take money that should be used for milk, food, housing, healthcare, and clothes and squander it on their state lottery.
Again, in 2 Corinthians 12:14, Paul points out that "children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children." Gambling, however, takes away from the resources parents should be using to care and provide for their children. And there's more:
Proverbs 14:21-"whoever shows kindness to the poor will be happy."
Proverbs 14:31-"The one who oppresses the poor insults their Maker, but one who is kind to the needy honors Him."
Proverbs 22:16-"Oppressing the poor to enrich oneself, and giving to the rich-both lead only to poverty."
State-sponsored gambling clearly oppresses the poor. And that's very bad economic news indeed. To make matters worse, gambling of all kinds also incites the worst of motives in people:
Exodus 20:17 says we are not to covet that which belongs to others. But when people play the lottery or gamble, they are coveting or desiring that which is not rightfully theirs and that which they have not earned through legitimate work or investing. As Christians we are to "put our hand to the plow" and earn money through the sweat of our brow, not by being involved in get-rich schemes, ill-gotten gains, or greedy ambition.
Proverbs 12:11 promises, "The one who works his land will have plenty of food, but whoever chases fantasies lacks sense." While most people today are not farmers, the biblical principle is clear that we are to pursue an honest occupation to earn money to support our families.
Proverbs 28:20 warns, "A faithful man will have many blessings, but one in a hurry to get rich will not go unpunished."
2 Thessalonians 3:1012 admonishes: "In fact, when we were with you, this is what we commanded you: 'If anyone isn't willing to work, he should not eat.' For we hear that there are some among you who walk irresponsibly, not working at all, but interfering with the work [of others]. Now we command and exhort such people, by the Lord Jesus Christ, that quietly working, they may eat their own bread."
Ephesians 4:28 notes, "The thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need."
Gambling simply does not fit a biblical worldview. Whether it distorts the truth (and it does) or degrades life for the poor (and it does), gambling violates biblical principles. In particular, government support of gambling represents a clear abdication of the government's responsibility to treat citizens justly. Unfortunately, there are other dire issues in which contemporary American government is also in danger of abdicating its duty.
This is an excerpt from Brannon's book, "One Nation Under Man: The Worldview War Between Christians and the Secular Left. You can purchase this book now by going to http://www.worldviewweekend.com/
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