Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What does God think about Gambling?

In my last blog post, I stated that there was no difference between gambling in a casino, and speculating in the stock market.  By that I meant that both are considered gambling.  Both require taking (usually high) risk to gain wealth quickly.  Speculating in stocks is gambling.  Even if you argue it requires extensive research, and perhaps skill, but so does the game of poker or black jack.

I personally dislike gambling, and leaving things to chance.  Which is why for the question "What does God think about Gambling?" I needed to do a bit of research.  And the bible doesn't speak specifically of Gambling, as it didn't speak specifically of the Stock Exchange.  But it does speak a lot about money.  In my previous article I already quoted several places in scriptures that warned against the love of money and encouraged the good stewardship of money which comes from God and is given to us to look after.  And in a way, he is testing us, to see what we do with it (see Matt 25:14-30).

And so although you can make the very valid case that gambling is not a sin, because you can gamble for its own sake and enjoyment, and not for money's sake, in reality this is far from the truth.  In practice, people only go to gamble for the chance of making money quickly, and money is the driving force.  Factor in the many people addicted to it, who are often in the low income brackets.  Because of this, I think Christians ought to discourage gambling.

What then is the difference between investing and speculating (and gambling)?.

Investing in the stock market is investing in business ownership.  When you buy stocks, you buy part ownership of the company.  The stock market was initially created for a market to raise capital, for businesses.  It would be good if there were no speculators, but that would be near impossible to ban.  So when we buy stocks, we ought to be buying stocks from companies we believe we want to be a part of, companies we think that are producing goods and services which are beneficial to the world.  Yes I believe even stock investors have a social responsibility, to invest in socially responsible companies, not just ones making a lot of money. The point of investing in the stock market is not only a means of wealth generation, but a way of investing in our country's (world's) economy.  Market forces are what drives this capitalist world, Supply and Demand, and we are that demand.  Making choices on what companies to invest in, is similar to our shopping habits and consumer behavior.  Do we invest in a company that supports child slave labour?  Do we consume these products?  This is something I need to take a look at in my own life.

And finally, wealth creation.  What does the bible say about making money?  I've mentioned already that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  God cares about why you are making money.  Are your motives for investing in the stock market driven by personal wealth?  And God cares about how you are making money.  The bible's model for creating wealth is in Proverbs 13:11:
Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it - Proverbs 13:11
We are to earn wealth by working for it honestly.  Would God be pleased if you stole money from a bank to give to the poor?  No.  He would never ask you to commit sin even if it were for a good cause.  God doesn't need your money.  Our all powerful God never compromises.  There is never a good reason to cheat or break the law, even if it seems like its the only way, or if it is for a good cause.
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." - Hebrews 13:5

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