In the State of Alabama, there is no state lottery. Being within the “Bible Belt,” it is popular theory the reason there is no lottery is because gambling is frowned upon in the Church. There are many churches that believe and/or preach that gambling is a sin. I guess, somehow, not legalizing gambling is our way of “fighting sin” and defending wholesomeness.
As if we could legislate morality.
I’ve been giving this some thought, since the Powerball is receiving so much publicity currently, and I have a question for those who oppose Alabama implementing a lottery from a religious standpoint:
In the Book of Acts, how did they determine between Joseph and Barsabbas who would replace Judas as an apostle?
Here is a hint; casting lots, drawing straws, or whatever your translation lists as the action for determining the winner, is no different. They are all ways to randomly select one among a group.
Can it be said there is a difference because the apostles prayed before they cast the lots, believing that God would let the person He wanted to be selected be the result of the casting of lots? Perhaps, but how is that different then the person praying before he purchased the lottery ticket?
Personally, I don’t feel it a wise investment to buy lottery tickets. That is a personal take on the topic, and it is a conclusion I’ve come to from my study of the Scriptures. Not because the Bible teaches that gambling is a sin, but rather it teaches about reaping and sowing. It teaches us to invest in markets that yield a return. There is likely no return in a purchase of a lottery ticket.
If you take the example of the talents, there was a man who was condemned for returning exactly what he had been given, so what do you think would be the Bible’s reaction to a loss; to basically throwing your money away? And, if you don’t win the lottery, is that not a loss? People glorify the winners, who are few, but ignore the losers, who are many.
Is this loss acceptable because it is such a small amount? I remember a poor widow who offered two mites in the church collection plate and was justified before God, so I’m pretty sure amount of loss does not matter to God; it is still a loss.
And before people start casting stones, saying that the Bible teaches over and over again about giving to others and to be other’s minded; I know that. There are plenty of places in the Bible that talk about accepting a loss for the sake of those who do not have anything. That’s not the point. When you buy a lottery ticket, it’s not with the intention of giving to someone less fortunate; it’s an economic decision. Maybe that’s the justification we come to when we don’t win, saying “well, I’m giving to someone else, so it’s selfless, right?”, but no one ever buys a lottery ticket with the purpose to lose.
However, just because I do not personally think it wise to buy lottery tickets does not mean I think there should not be a lottery. People are going to do what they want to do. In fact, history has shown, the more we outlaw something, the more people will be inclined to do it. If the 18th and 21st amendments are taken into consideration, the government determined it would be better to legalize alcohol and tax it so there could at least be regulation and revenue generated as a result of something people were going to pursue anyways.
If there is study done on the benefits for the state when a lottery is put into effect, I’m fairly certain the good would far outweigh the bad. If people are driving out of their way to the state line to purchase lottery tickets, they are taking money from our economy and investing it into another state’s economy. If we implemented our own lottery, our money would build our own economy. Our teachers could get raises, which would be an investment in our children, which would be an investment in our future.
People who are determined to gamble are going to gamble. That is a personal decision people make. If our goal is to cultivate and nurture a society of freedom, we have to let people make their own choices. We can either decide go govern morality from a legal standpoint, which will never work, or capitalize on people’s decisions, using the money to fund a better future.
After all, conviction comes from within. If our goal is to have a society of people who make better and wiser decisions, it’s not going to come from legislation. That’s the job of the evangelist (really, God), not the legislator.