Last night, three people in two states -- two in New Jersey and on in Minnesota -- won the $448 million Powerball jackpot.
The odds of winning the jackpot were about one in 175 million. In other words, there’s roughly one winner for more than half the American population.
But what does God – and what does wisdom – say about gambling?
According to a position paper from The Village Church in Dallas, Christians are called to eat and drink and do all things to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). If you choose to exert the freedom to gamble, you’re called to do so in a manner which is in subjection to this command.
In all areas where the Scripture does not explicitly condemn or condone an activity, we hope to apply the principle of Christian liberty. This is true in watching certain movies (whether rated R or not), drinking alcohol, smoking and gambling, just to name a few of the more common historic hot-button issues.
It’s true that we would be best served to refrain from some things which are not inherently evil. 1 Corinthians 6 and 10 both say, in effect, that “all things are permissible, but not all things are profitable.” Now, these passages are in reference to issues of conscience, those “gray areas” of the Christian life, so don’t take this verse to mean that adultery or murder or drunkenness or other explicitly condemned behaviors are included in the “all things” which Paul mentions.
It’s also worth noting Proverbs 10:2 calls winnings from gambling “ill-gotten gain.”
In addition, after quoting “all things are permissible” the Scripture says “but I will not be enslaved by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12).
Dave Ramsey, America’s preeminent Biblical financial advisor, says in a statement that “this is pretty ridiculous, folks.”
The other day, Ramsey went into a gas station to pay for his fill-up and saw a line of people. For a moment, he thought he was going to have to stand in line to pay for gas, but then he realized that the line was for purchasing Lotto tickets.
“Have you ever seen those lines? Next time you do, look at the people in the line -- Darryl and his other brother Darryl,” Ramsey asserts. “These are not rich people. These are not smart people. Rich people and smart people would be in the line if the Lotto was a real wealth-building tool, but the truth is that the Lotto is a rip-off instituted by our government.”
Gambling is a tax on the poor and people who can't do math, Ramsey states.
“This is not a moral position; it is a mathematical, statistical fact,” Ramsey states. “Studies show that the ZIP codes that spend four times what anyone else does on lottery tickets are those in lower-income parts of town.”
The Lotto, or gambling of any kind, offers false hope -- not a ticket out. Jesus Christ -- and a plan to get out of debt -- offers hope that works, Ramsey wrote.