In today’s culture the concept and act of gambling is often looked down upon as being something that destroys people’s lives and many Christians or other Bible believers claim that it is a Sin. They claim that all forms of gambling are sinful and you can not be a Christian if you are a gambler. Unfortunately the Bible does not directly address the issue of gambling and therefore it is left up to interpretation as to whether or not gambling is wrong in the eyes of God.
There is no doubt that people can let gambling take control of them leading them down a terrible road. Gambling addicts make poor choices and suffer the consequences. However, it is quite obvious that not everyone is a gambling addict and that some people gamble for excitement while others even gamble to make their living. Are these forms of gambling wrong in the eyes of God?
Gambling as a form of excitement when looked at seriously does not differ much from other forms of entertainment. In fact, gambling has the bonus of providing the chance for you to actually come out ahead with more money than you started with. What other forms of entertainment can do that? Not movies, golf, or football that is for sure. However, gambling is often associated with really bad things such as smoking and heavy drinking. Smoking harms your body and heavy drinking leads to drunkenness which is a sin. If we stay clear of such things and keep gambling as a form of enjoyment within our means then is truly is no different than going to see a movie.
The best argument presented against gambling from a Biblical standpoint is the idea that when you gamble you are coveting. That is, you are coveting or “craving for” money that is not yours or that belongs to someone else such as in poker. While this argument may sound very good up front, upon examination it falls down with a crash. For starters, it ignores the fact that you are risking some of your own money in order to win something rather than just flat-out “coveting” money.
For example, if we are to take this argument of coveting and apply it to other areas of life, then Christians should not be allowed to invest in things such as the stock market. After all, the only reason someone invests in something is in hopes of gaining more money in return. Is this considered “coveting?” What about a Christian starting up their own business? A person only starts a business with the intention of making money off of their customers. Are Christians sinning when they do these things?
In summary, while there are certainly bad and sinful ways of gambling there are also perfectly harmless ways. It all depends on how you handle the act of gambling for yourself. Just as with anything else when taken too far it can become extremely sinful. But to mark all gambling as sin is to become very inconsistent in your view of the world as we have briefly demonstrated.