If ever we enjoyed a TV Western it was “Alias Smith and Jones.” Hannibal Heyes and Jedediah “Kid” Curry were the coolest guys on television. It was Hannibal Hayes who first introduced me to Five Card Stud. Being so young it was no big deal to lose countless matchsticks to my siblings. But for the adult gambling can easily become a habit that is hard to shake. Even before I was a Christian, I never really gambled much. I had other things I needed to do with my money. But I saw others gamble. Penny-poker was gambling’s ‘harmless’ beginnings. Before long someone had upped the ante into dollar bills. Soon enough though, nights of poker would end with the exchanging of handwritten checks. I decided that gambling was just an expensive way to make enemies.
My guess is that many Christians define gambling as something that only happens at a casino. Lotto would be a harmless take-it-or-leave-it thing. I have told my brethren from time to time that “gambling is a misappropriation of God’s money.” I also added once, “And I know some of you still have last night’s Lotto tickets somewhere.” No one ever said anything. As far as I am concerned, gambling is a government encouraged scourge. Pokies (one arm bandits) are everywhere, Lotto is passed off as a community service and the Auckland Casino is always full. I do believe that gamblers are addicted to losing—it is only logical, especially since the odds are stacked against them and they know it. As a social ill, it is a curse. Every Saturday night at 8 o’clock, poorly nourished, poorly dressed and poorly housed kids are sitting with their parents with bated breath listening for the Lotto numbers on TV. Often, Christians don’t have a clue as to what really goes on. Christians are accountable to God for what they do with their money. It is to be worked for, and then put to godly use in the Kingdom of Christ. It is a blessing from God. I just can’t see any form of gambling as constituting ‘godly use.’ I always enjoyed the thought of being the next Hannibal Hayes of Five Card Stud. But then I grew up. Yes, I could play poker for the rest of my life without a thought of gambling. But I know the devil. He would happily wager a bet that he could use my innocent pastime to corrupt somebody somewhere. No thanks!