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On ‘witnessing’ and gambling

In Transition, a guide for graduates moving into the next phase of their career, it is said that there are six levels of witness in the workplace, three of which are about bringing a biblical perspective to bear on personal / general / business issues.  ‘General’: “the things people talk about at the water fountain, the coffee machine, in the canteen - from the latest news scandal to court cases and national disasters.”  Such as gambling this week?  What did you say for or against the UK government?

There are web sites carrying key threads of the Christian discussion, for example probe, Christian Answers Network and Assemblies of God.  Together with your own prayer, study and discussion with others who share your Christian values, such can help you to decide whether or not to gamble.

Within this, it is important to distinguish between forms of gambling.  Is the office sweepstake on the big race (where the whole stake is redistributed and the sums involved are small - “only a bit of fun”) the same as putting money into the one-armed bandit in the pub? What about card games where personal skill is the long-term determinant of the outcome and, some would argue, betting is the way of keeping score?  What about betting on sports events, which at least involves some skill on the part of the punter - but might put the integrity of the game at risk?

Then there is the stance a church takes.  Is a beetle drive gambling, after all there may be a prize awarded on the outcome of chance events?  Or bingo organised as entertainment after the senior citizens’ lunch?  What about raffles and tombola, often used to give people a further opportunity to donate to church or charity funds?  Most contentiously, should a church apply for National Lottery funding for a project?  Is such a grant ‘the devil's money’, ill-gotten gains from a “tax on the poor”?  Or is the stake given freely and in the knowledge that 28% of it will benefit ‘good causes’, with the indirect effect that Jo(e) Public's direct giving drops, expecting charities to claim from the Lottery Fund?

Suddenly the personal decision about gambling is less straightforward.  But if we are to contribute Christianly to the discussion at work, these sort of intelligent points will arise and a simplistic “the Bible says ... ” is unlikely to impress unless, supported by rational, nuanced argument backed up by a lifestyle that is integral with espoused points of view.

Let's give Martin Luther the last neat word: “No one gambles with another in order to give away to the other what is his own (for he could do that without gambling), nor in order to lose what is his own, nor in order to seek the gain of the other man as though it were his own. This is why gambling is always contrary to love and is motivated by greed because a man seeks, to the harm of another, what does not belong to him.”

Yours in Christ

Peter Nicholls

 

... if we are to contribute Christianly to the discussion, these sort of intelligent points will arise and a simplistic “the Bible says ... ” is unlikely to impress unless supported by rational, nuanced argument - backed up by a lifestyle that is integral with espoused points of view.

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