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Gambling Playing PokerIn January, Wind Creek Casinos gave over $100,000 to three different organizations in the Wetumpka, Alabama area after a tornado ravaged the community. Employees of Wind Creek Casinos helped in the cleanup, but the organization wanted to do more, so it gave $50,000 to the First Presbyterian Church, $25,000 to the police department and $25,000 to the First Baptist Church. The church donations totaled $75,000, a mighty sum for the small town of ~8,000 people.

The First Presbyterian Church accepted the donation but declined to use the money to rebuild the damaged church, citing the building’s insurance. Instead, pastor Jonathan Yarboro asked the casino if they could use the donated funds to help rebuild the community at large. The casino granted the church’s request.

The police department building was also severely damaged, as was a lot of equipment. The police accepted the donation and say that they will use it wisely.

The First Baptist Church returned the donation. A vote was taken by the members in February to determine the course of action. Almost 300 congregants attended the vote, and voted to reject the donation. The churchgoers believe that accepting the check would be a conflict of interest and hypocritical, given that they believe gambling is a sin.

The Root of All Evil?

The Bible never explicitly says that gambling itself is a sin. But it does have a lot to say about money:

“Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.” Proverbs 13:11

“Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.” Proverbs 28:19

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5

Ecclesiastes 5:10 says that the person who loves money never has enough. In Exodus, the 10 Commandments warns the Israelites not to covet what their neighbor has. 1 Timothy emphasizes the scripture from Hebrews, calling the “love of money the root of all kinds of evil.” The Roman soldiers gambled for Jesus’ clothes at his death. This was prophesied in Psalm 22:18.

Many Christian churches believe gambling is a sin. Some denominations even prohibit pastors from going to the casino to have a meal. And that makes sense- the Bible clearly warns against the love of money in multiple verses.

Other Christians, however, aren’t so convinced gambling is an evil. After all, if all parties consent to the rules of the game, if you act virtuous and don’t imperil others, where’s the harm in a poker game amongst friends?

And where do you draw the line on what gambling is? Is buying a lotto ticket gambling? Is playing fantasy football gambling? Is _insurance_ a form of gambling?

Both sides make good points. Gambling might just be one of those tricky gray areas.

Does It Matter Where Tithe Money Comes From?

The First Baptist Church hopes that the casino’s money they rejected can be used to help the community- but it won’t flow through their church. It raises an interesting question about accepting money that might have been gotten in a manner the church disapproves of.

If a longtime church member came into millions from the lottery, would you accept a tithe from them? Playing the lottery is a gamble, but there are people who do beat the odds. Theoretically, it might be easy to say you’d turn down money but consider it from the donor’s point of view. If a long-time member wanted to give to the church, wouldn’t they be offended if you refused?

Where to draw the line is something each organization will have to decide for themselves.

Category: Church

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