LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–While acknowledging gambling is not addressed explicitly by any one New Testament passage, Paul Jones nonetheless traced an anti?gambling thread through Scripture in an address during the Southern Baptist Convention Christian Life Commission’s 1997 national seminar in Louisville, Ky.
Jones, executive director?treasurer of the Christian Action Commission of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, said the biblical tapestry provides a basis for the Southern Baptist Convention’s continuing stand against gambling.
By placing “ultimate significance in luck and risk and chance,” Jones said “gambling is a denial of the sovereignty of God.”
Speaking March 4 on the campus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary during the Christian Life Commission’s golden anniversary seminar, Jones said gambling “presumes that the focus of man’s existence are the false gods of fortune and destiny.”
“Gambling is an excellent expression of contemporary idolatry,” Jones said, adding that “gambling violates the biblical principles of stewardship with regard to property and its use.”
The church has stumbled as an effective voice against gambling, Jones said. The rapid growth of gaming in the United States is a strong indication “the church has failed to assume its prophetic role and evangelistic witness to a culture that invites the church to conform to its pattern.”
Gambling is causing political corruption, as well as having a negative effect on the family, and working to destroy legitimate business due to the diversion of funds to the casinos in Jones’ home state of Mississippi, he explained.
“Man is not the owner, but the caretaker of what God has put in his charge,” Jones stated. “What a person has is not for his hedonistic use or egotistic fulfillment, but always is an acknowledgment of man’s accountability to God because of God’s goodness to man.”
According to Jones, man is measured by his stewardship of God’s possessions. The scriptural admonitions to provide for the needs of the family, to contribute to the work of the Lord, to meet the needs of others and to pay taxes are the proper uses of money and property, Jones said.
He emphasized the biblically mandated method for obtaining money and possessions is through legitimate labor, which “is a divine attribute that has been given to man as his opportunity to participate with the Creator.”
Gambling deprives man of this opportunity, Jones said, noting it “denies the validity of work,” by emphasizing the false notion that anyone can “get rich without work.”
Because it naturally leads to a desire to gain more, Jones argued gambling causes its participants to violate the Tenth Commandment against covetousness, further degrading man’s relationship with God.
“Gambling emphasizes materialism since it focuses on the things of life without relationship,” Jones said. “Exploitation in the gaining of wealth is repugnant to the ethical standards of the Christian faith.”
Participants in gambling run afoul of the warning of James 5:1-6 given to the seekers of false gain, Jones added. In that passage, he said exploitation of persons and property for personal gain is decried.
Jones, recalling Romans 12:1?2, challenged believers to recall Paul’s admonition to avoid being conformed “to the patterns of this world,” but to instead “be transformed by the renewing of (our) mind(s).”