With much fanfare the new casino opened at the race tracks in Wilkes Barre this past week. Over 1500 stood outside in the rain to be the first to crash the doors. It boasts almost 1100 “gaming” machines and is open 365 days a year. But of interest is that this casino is only temporary while the much larger (2000 machines) casino is being built.
Where do we begin on this subject? Does anyone know or care that the church has spoken on the issue of gambling (we won’t call it “gaming”)? Here is a short primer:
1) Gambling (specifically) is not addressed in scripture. As such the church is a bit at a disadvantage in speaking on the issue. It cannot state plainly and simply that every lottery ticket bought and every throw of the lever is a sin. It is conceivable that an individual can participate in gambling and not sin.
2) The church (at least our LCMS) has voted in convention and issued excellent statements concerning the very real and dangerous implications gambling can have for us personally and as a society.
There are many things to consider for the Christian when it comes to gambling and our participation in it:
1) Issues surrounding the 9th and 10th commandments concerning coveting.
2) Issues surrounding the 7th commandment concerning stealing (getting something for nothing – at the expense of someone else!)
3) Issues of good stewardship of what is God’s.
4) Issues of not encouraging OTHERS into sin (even if you can keep yourself free of it!)
5) Issues of the health of the society in general.
Frankly, I cannot, for the life of me, consider how a Christian can in good knowledge and sound mind participate in any kind of gambling. (Of course there is a difference between Mohegan Sun and the Bingo game at the nursing home for a few pennies or even the fund raising raffle for a beautiful painting.)
I do know that there are many in the congregation who participate in gambling activities, and I can only hope that they might be persuaded with reason and sound examination of scriptures and their own hearts, that these activities are most likely not something they should participate in. There are going to be some who will get rather upset with the judgments of the church on this matter. Of course the more strenuously a person objects, the more evidence there is that that person has a real problem gambling!
Consider this fact: The gambling industry in the US: $550 Billion.
And then THIS fact: Total contribution to charity: $158 Billion ($88 Billion to Religious charities)
Yesterday the Catholic Diocese released a study which proposes the closure of a huge slew of its area schools due to lack of students. Unfortunately, enrollment in our Lutheran schools nationwide has also taken a rather terrific nose dive over the last few years. All this is further evidence that, generally speaking, many have forsaken the Christian faith (no matter what they say or like to believe about themselves!).
The question for each of us: What will be our personal commitment be to the faith and the acting out of the life that Jesus gives us through his cross and the forgiveness of sins? Let us stand to the end for the God who stands for us and holds NOT our sins against us!
LORD, COME QUICKLY!
Attached is a document of interest concerning gambling!