When I was in graduate school I had a landlady who insisted that her “boys” (all were over 20) be in by 12:00 each night. The only thing that keeps people out later than that, she insisted, was gambling and card playing (one and the same to her). One night my roommate and I happened to come in about 12:30 am. She caught us before we could ascend the stairs to our room and said, “I have only one question to ask: were you boys playing cards?” Fortunately for us we hadn’t been. That incident is reminiscent of a bygone era when all forms of gambling (or anything even resembling it) was morally repugnant to decent people. For that reason an objection to any of the myriad ways in which our society immerses itself in gambling is dismissed as coming from an antiquated moral system. That is why it is interesting to note the many dissidents in our society who are raising their voices loudly in opposition to gambling from simply practical concerns. An Arizona Republic columnist mentioned three important objections: (1) Dollars spent on gambling aren’t spent on other products and services. (2) Higher crime rates accompany gambling enterprises, and (3) Addicts and problem gamblers are increasing (it has been a fast-growing teenage addiction, with the rate of pathological gambling among high school and college age youth about twice that of adults).
I want to add to the practical arguments a third consideration—a spiritual one. I think it is the most compelling one for Christians who seriously seek to lead lives that please their Master. I find that many Christians are also caught up in the gambling craze as if it were simply an innocent pastime. The Lord warns us that the “love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (I Timothy 6:10). Certainly every form of gambling from the “one-armed bandit” to the lottery is addictive at worst. The child of God can’t afford to just open his life to fleshly desires that crowd out the things of the Spirit. Let’s be honest enough to recognize that we are in a battle for our souls. What may be acceptable to a society unmoved by any spiritual considerations of the subject may be deadly to a child of God struggling to grow in grace. Greed is a serious obstacle to Christian growth. The Apostle Paul refers to it as “idolatry” (Ephesians 5:5) and places greed right next to adultery in the damage it can do (I Corinthians 6:9-10). God is moving his children to take the lead in calling our nation back to Him. This is not the time to be exposing our lives to Satan’s traps.
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship