Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Saying "no" to Gambling in Illinois
I am usually silent on this issue but with the Governor's newest budget proposals I feel that I have to speak out. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Governor is expanding the place of gambling and using it to balance the budget. Rather than cutting spending, which is what every responsible family and institution is doing these days, Illinois is going to expand spending on some things that should simply wait. Among them 5 million dollars to Northwestern University, a private institution!
So why shouldn't we gamble?
While no passage of scripture explicitly forbids gambling, we can with confidence claim that gambling is wrong. We needn't be squeamish about calling calling gambling wrong because we have the intent of God revealed to us in Scripture.
Rev. Hershael York writes "...With good reason, Christians are hesitant to label sins that the Bible doesn’t mention, yet we often have to distill principles from the Bible that we apply to contemporary situations. Pornography, computer hacking, or cheating on tests aren’t mentioned in the Bible either, yet believers who want to live like Jesus know intuitively and correctly that these behaviors run counter to the will of God. While biblical texts may not mention them explicitly, biblical principles speak to them directly."
So why is gambling wrong?
First Gambling predominantly affects the poor. Not that wealthy people don't gamble but that the industry is based upon taking peoples money in games of chance largely stacked against them. this disproportionally affects the poor who have much less of a margin for mistakes in handling their money. Gambling houses, poker machines are in it to win. They don't go broke because the odds are stacked in their favor. YOU are the only one that is gambling... they are not.
Secondly, the concept of gambling is contrary to the way God intended man's economy to function. The Scriptures are replete with references like (Genesis 1:28-30, Colosians 3.23, 1 Thessalonians 4.11,5.12-13, 2 Thessalonians 3.10) We are created to work, to labor, to invest ourselves. It is so woven into the NT that help and mercy were not shown to those poor who were able bodied but didn't work! When you paint my garage for money- it is a win-win situation. Services or goods for money. Gambling is based on a win lose situation. There are winners (they be few!) and losers (by the score!).
Further,gambling plays to the basest instincts of men and women. It is based upon the sin of covetousness (Ex 20.17). This greatly overlooked sin of the ten commandments is the heart of gambling.
Also,gambling ignores the biblical principle of stewardship. This principle teaches that we are to be held responsible for the way we spend our life, our energy, and our money.
Gambling is addictive behavior. Even if it is not for me and you there are others who are being enticed into gambling by the way it is marketed. We never hear of the thousands of people who have lost cars, homes, and reputations due to gambling. But we are regularly treated to the visual of a person receiving an oversize check- why is that? When we gamble we participate in the ruination of lives.
So now the new governor wants to increase the number of video poker machines by 45000. They will be in bars, truck stops and restaurants through out the state. Your kids will hear of all the winners and never see the cost of gambling. And our children will pay the price of this lifestyle of greed. They are being taught that there is an easy way that doesn't involve working, investing, etc. This is directly contrary to the scriptural admonitions to work hard and live productive and quiet lives. Too bad we can't teach the government to do what we all have to do... tighten our belts, spend less on frivolous things, and work hard to benefit the rest of society.
Until then Illinois will be full of losers and very few winners!