I am referring to the fact that here in the State of Michigan we now have a state lottery. Perhaps others of our readers also reside in states which conduct such lotteries. In Michigan this thing seems to have captured the imagination of the public. The state, of course, adopted the lottery as a means of revenue for the never-satiated appetite of the state treasury—which only means, of course, that the state, not the individual, is the big winner.
But this is not my point.
My point is that this is a temptation—for all of us, but perhaps especially for youth.
True, perhaps the fact that winners will inevitably be exposed to the glare of publicity in the news media will act as a restraint upon some. The names and faces of the winners—especially the big winners—are spread all over the state.
But this is not what should restrain a Christian.
What should restrain the Christian from participation is the plain fact that the lottery is gambling; and gambling is sinful.
Time was, of course, that gambling was rather generally looked upon as a disreputable pursuit. It was associated with the criminal, underworld element of society. When one thought of gambling, he almost automatically thought of the “Syndicate.” Or he thought of Las Vegas and its slot machines and gaming tables. Or he thought of that segment of society that haunted the race tracks and/or the betting parlors associated therewith.
Now all this is changed.
For one thing, the state itself has become involved. Gambling is not an illegal pursuit. It is not limited, in its legal form, to the pari-mutuel booths at the race track. No, the lottery is a state function. I suppose one could even pursue the sophistry that the lottery is a good thing: for it adds to the state’s coffers at a time when state governments are looking for more sources of revenue and when all of us are interested in keeping taxes down.
For another thing, you can now gamble in a most respectable way. You need not visit a bookie. You need not be seen in a locale where your very appearance would contradict your Christian confession. You need not associate with criminal elements. No, today you can go to the local supermarket, where you shop weekly for your groceries, and purchase your lottery tickets!
It has become very respectable!
And everyone is doing it!
And it costs only fifty cents per ticket!
And that fifty-cent ticket could conceivably win you a small prize, but it could also conceivably win fifty or two hundred thousand dollars!
And would that not be a relief in this day when it is sometimes very difficult to “make ends meet?” In fact, could you not do much for the cause of the kingdom, should you “happen” to win the big prize?
But nothing has changed!
Gambling is sin! Its motive is covetousness, and its nature is a violation of the Christian stewardship-demand of the eighth commandment.
Whether you are a habitue of the gaming parlor or of the race track, or whether you merely gamble where all respectable people gamble, at the neighborhood supermarket and under the aegis of the state, gambling is sin!
And principally it makes no difference whether you purchase one fifty-cent ticket or whether you squander your week’s wages and your family’s living on a fistful of tickets. The sin is the same.
Moreover, that the state has adopted the lottery is but one more indication that the state itself, which ought to consider itself God’s minister, has become corrupt.
Beware of this sin!
Be not tempted! Flee temptation!
Walk worthy of the calling wherewith ye have been called.