Gambling is probably the oldest game in the world, dating back long before the Bible. So, it’s no wonder the Holy Book has something to say about betting, drawing lots, dice and games of chance. There are many biblical scenes where gambling takes place. But the Bible does not use the word “gambling” and does not say that gambling is a sin, immoral or prohibited. However, it implies strongly that the things we associate with gaming could lead us away from God and Christian values. The Bible discourages love of money, greed, gain without labour and temptation. But does not directly associate these sins with gambling.
For the Love of Money
The most famous biblical quote about the love of money is Timothy I 6:9-10, where Paul says that “money is the root of all evil”. The Bible perceives anything promoting a love for money as evil. Other biblical verses that talk of the evils of loving money, include Hebrews 13:5: “keep your life free from love of money and be content with what you have”. This suggests that being content with what you have will help you stay on a righteous path. Those who crave riches are often tempted to do anything to get them. Timothy I 6:9-10: “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation”. The church discourages gambling and sees it as a gateway to temptation. If we idolise money, it becomes our master, instead of God, and “No one can serve two masters” Matthew 6:24.
The Bible Warns Against Greed
According to Christian teachings, greed is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. These are the most dangerous sins, as they can lead directly to other immoralities. The Bible is full of verses cautioning us against greed. Luke 12:15 says, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed,” and Ecclesiastes 5:10 “Whoever loves money never has enough”. Proverbs 28:22 says, “Greedy people try to get rich quick but don’t realise they are heading for poverty.” When Proverbs 15:27 says, “the greedy bring ruin to their households” it reminds us how gambling addiction can ruin families. Greed is much more than simply hoping to win a game. It is an obsessive, uncontrollable urge that overrides common sense. Wanting to win, or wanting more than you already have, does not mean you are greedy. The Bible makes no connection between gambling and greed.
Lead Us Not into Temptation
Matthew 6:13 tells us to avoid temptation, but there is no mention of a connection between temptation and gambling. God gave us free will, and we are left to determine whether an activity will lead us to temptation. Gambling establishments are often characterized as dens of iniquity. They are associated with immoral activities, prostitution, drugs and alcohol, just waiting to tempt players. The Bible encourages us to flee temptation and avoid places of an unsavoury nature. “Bad company corrupts good character” 1 Corinthians 15:33.
Thou Shalt Not Covet
The 10th commandment warns us not to covet our neighbour. In other words, we shouldn’t yearn for things that belong to others and should be happy with what we have. Coveting the possessions and riches of others opens Pandora’s box of sins and temptations. In today’s consumer society, we’re encouraged to always want more, but does gambling have anything to do with coveting? The Bible doesn’t make a connection between gambling and coveting. But it’s easy to understand how people might gamble for money to buy the material possessions they covet. The scripture implies that wanting more money is coveting your neighbour and his riches.
Gambling in the Bible
The Bible makes it clear that casting lots, rolling dice, and flipping coins were going on way back then. In the Bible, a game of chance often decides the division of property, candidates for office, or God’s will. One of the best-known examples in the Old Testament is the Book of Esther, where Haman casts lots to decide when to massacre the Jews. In the New Testament (Matthew 27:35), Roman guards roll dice to divide up Christ’s clothing between them.
Does Gambling Go Against Christian Values?
Many churches hold bingo games and lotteries to raise money for a worthy cause. but conservative Christians are often against all forms of gambling, even the most innocent church bingo games. They see gambling as an activity that leads us into temptation and away from Christ. Christian values encompass living a God-fearing life. Galatians 5 tells us the Christian attributes we should live by are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, and faithfulness. Gambling does not necessarily break these Christian principles. But if done irresponsibly, without self-control and discipline, gambling could lead us away from Christian values and towards temptation.
Gamble and the Bible
The Bible talks of greed, coveting, and the love of money, but not gambling specifically. Even when Jesus cleared the Temple, there was no mention of gambling, only of people selling cattle, sheep, doves, and people exchanging money. The Bible does not say gambling is a sin, but the misuse of gaming could result in committing sins prohibited in the Bible. If gambling is done in moderation, and with understanding, it does not enter the realm of sins mentioned in the Bible. Corinthians I 6:12 says, “I have the right to do anything, you say, but not everything is beneficial. Ï have the right to do anything, but I will not be mastered by anything”. And that is the key to safe gambling while maintaining Christian values.