There are many causes of poverty in every culture. Some are caused by environmental issues, a lack of education, corrupt leaders, or addictions. Many Americans living in poverty today have wasted their money on lottery tickets, casinos, and sports betting. The gambling epidemic in today’s culture has expanded to the point where even children are encouraged to gamble.
Thirty-three states have legalized sports betting, and three more will be added shortly. There are virtually no restrictions on who can buy state lottery tickets. You can find get-rich-quick promotions in the media and “loot boxes” offered as prizes to players of online games available to all ages. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, up to 80% of high school students report gambling for money in the past year.
As our culture has become more materialistic and secularism has eroded moral values, the number of people with gambling issues has increased. Some states have recognized the gambling epidemic and are enacting laws to combat it. For example, Virginia passed a law requiring schools to have classes on gambling and its addictive potential. Gambling bills have been brought before the Maryland legislature, but so far, none have passed.
The problem for all ages is that gambling is a waste of money. Christians need to set the example and help people learn how to use the resources God has given us. In 1 Timothy 6:9-10, Paul tells Timothy, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…” The silence of the Church on the gambling epidemic has allowed it to saturate our culture. Let us listen to Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every appearance of evil.”
— John N. Clayton © 2023
Reference: Associated Press article by Wayne Perry for 6/45/23, in the South Bend Tribune on page 4A.