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Gambling Sinful?

Q. My folks love to gamble in Vegas. They go there at least three times yearly. They are Christians but don't see anything wrong with what they are doing. I don't like it but want to honor them as my parents. I'm thirty-two years old so I'm not a youngster. Should I say anything to them about their behaviors?


It's true the Bible doesn't say much about gambling as we know it. There are a few instances where lots are thrown to help make decisions (which are assumed to be answers from the Lord). Then there is the instance of the soldiers who gambled for Jesus' clothing by throwing dice (Matthew 27:35). But, apart from this there isn't much.

When In Rome Do As The Romans Do

When in doubt it's helpful to follow Romans chapter 14 (sorry for the pun above). This chapter tells us that if something is questionable, don't do it for the sake of others who may have a problem with it. It says,

"Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don't argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it's all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don't. And those who don't eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn someone else's servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord's help, they will stand and receive his approval" (Romans 14:1-4, NLT).

This passage should be adequate advice for your parents to follow. They may not think the Bible says anything that prohibits gambling. But, they are offending many Christians who feel gambling is a sin. According to Romans 14 they should avoid gambling in order not to offend other Christians who have a problem with it.

Fruits of Gambling

It's also helpful to look at the "fruits" of gambling. Casinos are known to often be run by shady, immoral characters. There is a lot of greed around gambling centers. Prostitution flourishes in this atmosphere. Chorus girls do not dress or act in a way that brings honor to the Lord. These centers are not exactly family-friendly. Smoking and drinking are standard side activities.

"What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?" (Matthew 16:26, NLT).

Addictive Compulsions

Another "fruit" of gambling is the compulsive behavior that takes root around gambling centers. They are serious offenses. These include addictions to gambling, addictions to smoking, addictions to drinking, addictions to sexual sins, addictions to drugs, and addictions to get-rich-schemes.

The Bible clearly warns us,

"For you are a slave to whatever controls you" (2 Peter 2:19).

These addictions to sinful behaviors would be reason enough to avoid markets specializing in gambling casinos.

Good Stewardship

While the Bible may not expressly forbid gambling, it does say a lot about good stewardship of the resources God has given to us. Get-rich-quick schemes are not good stewardship.

"People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (1 Timothy 6:9-10, NIV).

If your parents are Christians then one would hope they could hear what a son or daughter says to them regarding gambling and its fruits and the general advice given in Romans chapter 14. You can bring up some of these points lovingly and without severe judgment upon their lifestyle.

The writer of Proverbs states,

"The earnings of the godly
enhance their lives,
but evil people squander
their money on sin."

(Proverbs 10:16, NLT)

However, beyond this you are an adult and will account for your own life just as your parents will account for theirs. You can do little more than to illuminate these points.

For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body" (2 Corinthians 5:10, NLT).

When we each stand before the Lord in judgment, only those things done for Christ will remain. Will gambling be among those? I doubt it.

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