Mega-Million Craze, Gambling, and the Confession of Faith

Discussion in 'The Confession of Faith' started by Backwoods Presbyterian, Mar 30, 2012.

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  1. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    Gambling and Lotteries are a violation of the 8th Commandment.

    Also see WSC #73-75 and WLC #140-142.
  2. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The big lotteries do more than simply take people's money by appealing to their greed (though they do that, sure enough).

    More fundamentally, the big lotteries take people's money by offering hope in something other than Christ. People play for the hope that they might win, following after the lie that winning all that money would change their lives and save them from all their troubles. They play for salvation. But the salvation they seek is in the god of material wealth.

    And so playing the lottery for a monster jackpot is also, in most cases, a violation of the First Commandment.
  3. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Bill Nye (long before he was "The Science Guy") once gave an explanation of the odds of winning the lottery and quipped that the lottery was a tax on people who weren't very good at math.
  4. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    Dave Ramsey calls the lottery the stupid people tax. Still, I'll admit to doing some mega daydreaming.
  5. J. Dean

    J. Dean Puritan Board Junior

    The confession says "wasteful gaming." How would one define that? Because we could become REALLY Pharisaical/legalistic about that if we're not careful

    Certainly I agree that a person taking money intended for other resources (church offering, bills, savings funds, etc) is sin, but I'm not going to condemn somebody who takes one dollar and uses it for a lottery ticket every once in a blue moon.
  6. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    I am against gambling and the lottery, but let's pursue this point a bit. Would you suggest that this scenario is roughly equivalent to an individual who takes one dollar and uses it to purchase a can of diet Coke (i.e., no nutritional value, fleeting pleasure) every once in a blue moon?
  7. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm against gambling of all kinds, but let's not get legalistic about diet Coke! I prefer regular myself.
  8. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I will go one further and admit I would have bought a ticket for the drawing if able to do so.
  9. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    Benjamin, rather than assert to the reader that participation in Lotteries is a violation of the eighth commandment and, as you have done, referenced the Catechisms, I would rather have seen you go the extra step and do what you have left the reader to do for himself; that is I would like to see you show just how Lotteries, clearly and specifically, are just such a violation as intended by the Westminster Divines.

    I am not saying that you are mistaken. I am saying that you ought to follow through on this.
  10. Zach

    Zach Puritan Board Junior

    I think Piper hits the nail on the head with this. However, like Jessica I can't say it wasn't a temptation when my brother asked if I wanted to play one with him.
  11. baron

    baron Puritan Board Graduate

    It does change your life, and not always for the best. I remember in the movie Cabin in the Sky where Lucifer Jr. says give the man money, watch him act funny. I also remember a quote by Luther that wealth was a curse from God. Though I can no longer find it. John Newton prayed that he might win the lottery in England.

    Most of us have a dollar and a dream as they say.
  12. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    No legalism here! I was asking our brother if he sees the purchase of one lottery ticket to be similar to purchasing a Coke: since we will all agree that it is lawful to spend a dollar on Coke, why not spend a dollar on a lottery ticket? Both will likely amount to the same long-term benefit: nothing.

    Again, I am against gambling in all cases, and am just entertaining this question for the sake of the discussion.
  13. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    I am not a gambler. (why do we feel the need to preface our comments with that caveat?) But I do not agree with Bens interpretation of the 8th commandment.

    Our version of the LC says "wasteful Gaming". The principal is not that "Gaming" is forbidden, or else it would have said so. But that gaming is sinful when it becomes "wasteful". A very crucial distinction.

    I understand that it is much simpler to simply say "no gambling", but that warps the meaning of the LC and says more than Scripture.
  14. Loopie

    Loopie Puritan Board Freshman

    Just a thought here: how should gambling/lottery be viewed as different from investing in the stock market? (I am not trying to advocate gambling with this statement)

    The reason I say this is because in some cases there is really no difference. I mean, by gambling a person is spending money for the prospect of making more money, whether it is playing games at a casino, or buying a lottery ticket. But at the same time, a person invests in the stockmarket (spends money) for the prospect of making more money (selling stocks, or living off of dividends).

    Perhaps this is different if you had a vested interest in the company, or if it was a company that you believed was a benefit to society. Maybe you have family members that work for the company, and so you want to see that company grow and develop.

    Yet this does not seem to be the case with most investors. I myself have several mutual funds, but I honestly don't pay attention to the hundreds of different companies that make up each mutual fund. I invest in a mutual fund with the desire for that fund to increase in value so that I can at some point down the road gain more money for it (money for my kids' college funds, or emergencies, and things like that).

    Should we consider investing in the stock market to be gambling? We never know when we are going to lose our money, and it is a risky decision. I am curious as to everyone's thoughts on this.

    On one last note, should we refrain from playing poker with a group of friends where everyone puts in 5 bucks? I am not talking about casinos or lotteries, but simply a group of guys sitting around a table at home. Thoughts?
  15. hammondjones

    hammondjones Puritan Board Freshman

    That kind of money will be your ruin.
  16. Rich Koster

    Rich Koster Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I wouldn't want to win $500,000,000 and have my name made public. That would make the rest of my life miserable. Why? I'd have to spend the rest of my days dodging every parasite and con artist that could make contact with me. My days would be consumed with "Hey aren't you the guy who won the lottery?"

    Ecc 5:11 (ESV) When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes?
  17. Zach

    Zach Puritan Board Junior

    Kevin and Eric both touch on interesting questions. I think you are right Kevin, that not all gambling in necessarily wasteful gaming. This mega-millions craze is though. First of all, the odds are astronomical and one who bought a ticket might as well have thrown away his money. Secondly, as Jack pointed out, it's fueled by idolatrous thinking that if they just had this jackpot they would find that satisfaction that only comes through knowing Jesus. But, I wouldn't say that "gambling" on a stock with careful consideration regarding your investment is wasteful gaming (partly because it is not really gaming) or that playing cards with friends is necessarily wasteful gaming. As long as one isn't playing poker hoping that the $20 they win from their friends will make all their problems go away I don't see an idolatry issue. What is troubling me as I think through this is that I don't see a very clear line in the sand between what is wasteful and what is not wasteful. The important question to ask is are we being good stewards of the resources the Lord has blessed us with? I went through a brief period where I had a lot of "fun" buying a few scratch off tickets with friends at work. However, (despite actually winning more than I spent) I was convicted that I was not being a good steward of the resources the Lord had given me.
  18. J. Dean

    J. Dean Puritan Board Junior

    What I'm calling into question is the phrase "wasteful gaming," because that phrase could be interpreted in a very broad sense.

    In one sense, I would equate it to the extent that it's not money spent on something "productive." The idea is not to wastefully use up our resources, and if by "wastefully" we define that as squandering cash (or other assets) on frivolous things when bills, food, and real necessities (or good causes) require our expenditures, then I fully agree.

    But if you're getting french fries or a candy bar on the way home from work, and you have a little extra money to do so, I have a hard time condemning that. To do so starts flirting with the philosophy of utilitarianism, and hearkens to the days of Roman Catholic monasticism which pushed a severe and unscriptural sense of self-denial.

    Solomon in Ecclesiastes tells us that a man should enjoy the fruits of his labor. While there's certainly the kingdom of God and daily responsibilities to put at the top of our lists, that doesn't necessarily negate the use of resources for personal pleasures. As C.S. Lewis mentioned (and I'm paraphrasing here), pleasure may be twisted by Satan, but all the same it is God's invention, not the devil's. We need to remember that. I see this principle with regard to the lottery as well.

    What we read in our confessions, creeds, and doctrinal statements needs to always be read in light of (and under the authority of) Scripture, and not our own preferred interpretation. Every denomination and movement makes this claim; but it's our responsibility to really fulfill that claim by making sure what we say and believe is really supported by the whole of Scripture.

    Two last things:
    1.) For the record, I have probably "gambled" less than ten times my entire life, and the most I ever spent at one time was five dollars in a casino. I have no desire to gamble, chiefly because I know that it's statistically near impossible to "make it big."

    2.) Diet Coke was condemned in the ninth Council of Soda Popolous as heretical, due to its horrible imitation of sugar.
  19. KingofBashan

    KingofBashan Puritan Board Freshman

    Am I wrong that this boils down to a Romans 14 issue?

    One person believes he may spend his dollar on anything, while the weak person spends his dollar only on vegetables. Let not the one who spends his dollar on anything despise the one who spends his dollar only on vegetables, and let not he one who spends his dollar only on vegetables pass judgment on the one who spends his dollar on anything, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another (ie Christ)? It is before his own master (Christ) that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. - Altered wording of Romans 14:2-4

    Is spending a dollar on the lottery testing the providence of God or is it a harmless use of a spare dollar? Is it done from greed and false hope or is it done for recreation? Is it done in poor stewardship or is it done calmly even if playfully? Every man must live the best he knows how to honor the Lord (Rom 14:7-8), and in the mean time be patient and loving towards his brothers. One man abstains from certain beverages, and another man enjoys them - neither is to pass judgment on the other, or to boast to the other. They are to live so as to promote mutual upbuilding and peace. In the same way, one man abstains from certain purchases while another man enjoys them - neither is to pass judgment on the other, or to boast about his freedom to the other. They are to live in peace.

    Even more than this, they are to be willing to deny their own freedoms voluntarily for the sake of love. Rom 14:13-19. A man who has little temptation to greed, knows how to manage large sums of money, places all his hope in Christ, about to spend $1 on a coke but decides to buy a lottery ticket instead should not go around despising those brothers who are tempted by greed, would be destroyed by large sums of money, and are immature in their hope. Likewise, he should be willing to forego the lottery ticket for the sake of the weaker brother if he cannot purchase it in a way that will not destroy the faith of his weaker brother. Similarly, the weaker brother, if he did indeed find out the first man bought a lottery ticket, should not judge his stronger brother but consider Christ his judge and focus on his own faith and obedience.

    Every man will give an account to God for his own actions and "blessed is the man who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves" (Rom 14:22) but v23 "whoever doubts is condemned if he spends his dollar on the lottery, because the transaction is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin."
  20. RyledPiper

    RyledPiper Puritan Board Freshman

    One dollar or a thousand dollars should not be the issue as using one dollar for p0rnography would be sinful. The issue is whether or not it is sinful by its very structure. Once we decide that, we can decide at what point it becomes idolatrous, assuming its morally right at all. I tend to believe that it's best left to those who are bad at math.

    P.S. I also loved Piper's latest blog posting on the subject.
  21. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Proverbs 13:11, "Wealth [gotten] by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase."

    The purpose of spending even one dollar on a lottery ticket is to have a "chance" (which is a myth in the first place) of gaining wealth without labour. Another factor is being missed here as well. To spend money on the lottery is to lend financial support to a system of theft.

    Why would the lottery be a violation of the Eighth Commandment? That's a fair question. The Eighth Commandment requires just weights and balances. Trading a dollar for a ticket that is not worth any money is trading a dollar for nothing. You think you are trading the dollar for a probability, but the probability is actually a certainty. You will either gain a fortune that your dollar wasn't worth (at the expense of others, many of whom are addicted to gambling and failing to provide for their families), or you will gain a ticket that isn't worth a dollar. The vast majority of people who play the lottery receive nothing of equal worth for their bet.

    The reason buying a lottery ticket for one dollar is different from throwing that dollar away is because in addition to trading it for nothing, you are lending financial support to the people who run the lottery and profit from usury.

    Does anyone think it isn't sinful to own the lottery?

    Deuteronomy 25:13-16,
    "Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small.
    Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small.
    [But] thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
    For all that do such things, [and] all that do unrighteously, [are] an abomination unto the LORD thy God."
  22. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner! (no pun intended)

    It is a desire to obtain wealth (at the expense of others, who lose) without having to work for it.
  23. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Of course, Tim.

    When we buy a lottery ticket we're bringing God, who is in charge of providence, into the whole sordid business of coveting something for nothing, the worship of Mamon for its own sake, and the worship of "Lady Luck".

  24. J. Dean

    J. Dean Puritan Board Junior

    Not so fast. This is a proverb; not a command. As I understand it, there is a difference between the two, like the difference between a "descriptive" vs a "prescriptive" passage.
  25. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    This is why I wouldn't play. I don't want that much moolah.
  26. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    I didn't see right off if this was linked before but this q&a at has some helpful material, even if it gives no definitive answer. On the third commandment issue raised, John M. Mason wrote a series on Lots.
    Q and A
    Mason: Considerations on Lots
  27. Miss Marple

    Miss Marple Puritan Board Junior

    "2.) Diet Coke was condemned in the ninth Council of Soda Popolous as heretical, due to its horrible imitation of sugar. "

    Those of us who are members of the dietCokian sect take umbrage at that remark.
  28. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    So, what do you do with a passage like Proverbs 6:6-11, which condemns the practices of the sluggard and warns that his ways will lead to poverty and ruin? Do you pass it off and say because it is a "proverb" and not a "command" that it has nothing meaningful to say about laziness?

    The point was that wealth obtained apart from labor (get rich quick, and at the expense of others) is not honest gain. It doesn't take a "thou shalt not play the lottery" for a statement in Scripture to have moral implications.
  29. Jesus is my friend

    Jesus is my friend Puritan Board Junior

    Doesn't anyone like Coke Zero or am I the only one?
  30. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    I don't often drink soda, but when I do, I drink Coke Zero.
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