A Theology of Gambling Part 2 – Money

Part 1

What isn’t an opinion, however, is the constant use of lots to resolve disputes both human and divine. God does not seem to condemn the use of lots in most situations, nor does it seem to contain any negative connotation in most uses. Proverbs 18:18 tells us that lots can resolve situations peacefully, while Proverbs 16:33 states that God determines how the lots fall no matter what. For example, the disciples used lots to determine the disciple who would replace Judas Iscariot in Acts 1:

21 Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out [t]among us— 22 beginning [u]with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” 23 So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen 25 to [v]occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they [w]drew lots for them, and the lot fell [x]to Matthias; and he was [y]added to the eleven apostles.

Lots for selection and decision come up frequently, including most of the book of Joshua, any temple positions, and even every-day decisions. Clearly, many found it a reliable method to determine God’s will among God’s believers, strangely enough! Eventually it turned into some kind of game, and that also garnered it some negative implications In Christian culture due to where it appears. Roman soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ garments, as you might remember in all of the Gospels (Matthew 27 cited here):

35 And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting [p]lots.

The Bible does condemn the humiliation and horrific imagery of that situation, rightly, but the act of lots in itself plays such an integral part in most Scripture that one wonders when the practice fell out of favor. Technically, nothing bad happened here, and lots aren’t being used for a bad purpose, far as we know. Even Haman’s use of lots in Esther 3:7 does not come with a specific positive or negative response; everybody did it, and now no one does it in our time period. However, there is one thing to be learned about this game of chance: God determines the end result, either way. As a means to arbitrate conflict or just play a game, the Bible really does not say much in the way of straightforward answers.

gambling-dice-money

Money

While lots give us little clue as to what God thinks of gambling, we can certain pinpoint a motivating force behind gambling games: money. Assuming that one gambles because money remains their desire and focus won’t end well. Any person could tell you that the Bible tells us that money leads to all sorts of evil and pierces the human soul with many griefs on the way there. Many Christians see the pursuit of money and gambling as inextricably linked together, and thus avoid the whole enterprise. The risk, you might say, constitutes too much of a tightrope walk with too heavy an object in your hands for your legs to bear the strain of balancing on a pit of sin.

Let us take the most famous verse as such from 1 Timothy 6 and work our way down that pit. Here, Paul refers specifically to Christian ministers, helping them walk on the right path towards said vocation. To set one’s self beyond reproach, atop the scaffold to let others up the ladders to salvation, you cannot love money. That’s just a fact:

But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all [g]sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

We can clearly see how gambling earned a deserved reputation for being sin in its very roots: nearly every part of its play revolves around the use, and abuse, of monetary funds. The most basic of all traditional casino games, slots, basically consists of throwing money into a machine (up to a certain amount), pulling the lever/pressing the button, and letting the Fates decide what happens. There’s no god there but Fortuna, and the slot user waits with bated breath to see if, truly, they will get the SUPER MEGA BONUS JACKPOT. No one in their right mind considers that a good use of money, not to even consider that slots contains the lowest odds of any game. Automated games tend to do that!

And God, if the Bible says anything, does not allow for the love of the cash monies, or the desire of said cash monies in exclusion to him. The god of Fortune exists as yet another idol to topple, to melt in the Refiner’s fire. Jesus says as much Himself in Matthew 6:

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is [k]clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is [l]bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and [m]wealth.

Part 3

About Zachery Oliver

Zachery Oliver, MTS, is the lead writer for Theology Gaming, a blog focused on the integration of games and theological issues. He can be reached at viewtifulzfo at gmail dot com or on Theology Gaming’s Facebook Page.