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Is gambling wrong?

What does a properly Christian ethic rule on the issue of gambling? That is, if our motive is actually and truely to "love our neighbour" in service to Christ, can we go ahead and engage in the activity of gambling?

This is not a question seeking the 'morals' of gambling, divorced from the imperative of a gospel-driven motive. I'm actually wanting here to avoid legalism: rather than making an absolute rule about gambling, I want to ask whether the activity can ever actually be good, and loving, if I'm my decision is driven by a faith-response to the gospel of obedience to Christ's command to love.

Most of the work is done in the defining:
"Gambling may be defined as the determination of the possession of money, or money-value, by an appeal to an artificially created chance, where the gains of the winners are made at the expense of the losers and the gain is secured without rendering in service or in value an equivalent of the gains obtained."

(A Dictionary of Christian Ethics, John Macquarie)
The thing that makes gambling a clear case is that it always involves your gain made at the expense of your neighbour, without giving back anything in return, much less something that would proportionately compensate your fellow human with the equivalent value of what you have taken from them.

In other words, it is an absolute contradiction to Christ's command to "love your neighbour as yourself". If I gamble, my gain involves your inevitable loss, and even if you are willing and able to sustain that loss, and whatever my motives in doing it, whatever my intentions, I have still preferred my gain at your loss.

The Spirit of Christ's command is to prefer my neighbour's gain if in conflict with my own. At the least, 'each one should look out not only for his own interests, but also to the interests of others'.

So I conclude that gambling is wrong, always. Do you agree?

1 comment:

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