Warning, Will Robinson

Warning, Will Robinson

It is hard to get an accurate number, but the number I keep seeing is that Americans placed $1,000,000,000 in legal bets on the Super Bowl. That is billion with a “b”.  If you add up all the off shore betting, illegal bets, etc. that number is estimated at $7,600,000,000.  On one game.  The one billion on legal betting is doubled from last year. That is due to more legalized gambling on line.  NJ leads the way! (Finally we are number one in something besides pot holes)  That is a whole lot of chedda!  One article I read said that Americans would gamble over $200,000,000,000 this year. Of course, they have all promised to give their winnings to charity because they are just in it for the fun.
It wasn’t too long ago, before we all discovered the wonders of grace, that conservative Christians were against gambling.  After reading Proverbs and Ecclesiastes and hearing the warnings about the allure of getting rich quickly, after listening to I Timothy preach about the love of money being the root of all evil, and after living through the devastating losses from family members who gambled their money away in cards, they thought it best to shy away from this shady business.  I remember when I grew up, my dad, having grown up with cards, would not allow us to have cards in the house.  He eventually saw that the cards were not the problem, but he did see the dangers of games of chance.  We were not running a casino in our house but he did not want us to get too used to playing cards. In the first church I served in, a lovely lady used to tell the tales of living in Atlantic City.  She lived there before the casinos and she shared how much it changed, not in a good way, when the casinos and mob moved in. I once came back from a youth outing with a number of stuffed animals I won at shooting baskets.  I berated for gambling.  I countered their argument with the fact that I was so deadly in my jump shot that there was not gambling involved. I was pretty cocky back then.  Gambling was seen as seedy and on the dark side of life and even these games of chance at an amusement park was seen, by some, as sinful.
Today, I know many believers who throw a shekel or two at the opportunity to win.  They may, at times, dream of winning big but, most of the time, their sights are set on just having a good time.  They take a limited amount of money and when that is gone, they are done.  If they win, they brag about their system, and if they lose they say it was all about fun anyway.  After all, others spend money on movies, or golfing for entertainment and this is their entertainment.  I happen to love the argument that football games are more entertaining if you have a few dollars invested in it.  Hmmm, sounds like church.  Most of the believers I know, are simply using some of their extra money to find a distraction from the stresses of life.  Some may do it by golfing, while others gamble a little bit. No harm, no foul.
But...those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.  I am not a big fan of the slippery slope principle.  It is pulled out, too often, by those with Pharisaical tendencies to push their agenda. But in this incident, with history being our guide, let’s give it a nod.  Too many lives, in the past have been ruined by gambling.  It can become a compulsive habit.  They run PSA’s for good reasons. The thrill of two dollars is quickly gone and now we need to bet twenty to get the same thrill.  Everything in gambling is designed to encourage you to do more and more gambling.  Have you ever heard those radio adds that give you the first $100.00 bet for free?  It is just like the drug dealers that give you the first sample for free (at least that is what I see on TV).  The school near my home, a number of years ago, was taken with Texas Hold ‘Em poker.  Teacher and students were playing.  It was innocent and fun.  All until a few of the students got in real debt and it had to be stopped.  Gambling can be a problem for some.  So believers, be careful.  Do not become a stumbling block for others.  Use the grace and liberty God has given us wisely.  And never bet on the Browns.

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