Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Should Christians Play The Diversity Visa Lottery or Gamble?

This is a common question I have heard a number of times especially from those who contend that the diversity lottery is the same as any other lottery and gambling. Showing the major difference is paramount to a proper perspective. Any game where there are odds of winning and losing money is bad whereas the Diversity Visa Lottery has no such odds. In PMUC and Lotto or Mega Millions etc the probability depends on luck; meanwhile, gambling depends on luck and skill. Some have asked me: "if gambling is bad why then does God honor their (gamblers) prayers whenever they pray before they play. Some thieves do pray before they go out to steal.

What then is evil if someone relies on their luck and skill to make money for themselves? By relying on luck, we do not reject the command to trust in the Lord (Prov 3:6) because the just shall live by faith (Heb 2:4; Prov 16:3; Rom 1:17). Well this point could go in favor of  or against gambling since playing the DV lottery or gambling has an element of faith. If you do not have faith you are going to win, you will not play.

The second difference between the Diversity Visa Lottery and the other lotteries and gambling is that it does not destroy the Good-Neighbor Concept: “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Mt 22:39). Does our luck and skill cause untold suffering to our neighbor when we win away their wealth? Is that loving your neighbor as yourself? Flashingback to the Diversity Visa Lottery; whether you win by luck and skill or just luck alone you cause no suffering to anyone. The organizers wanted to avoid corruption in the selection process of individuals who should come to the US and also to make sure that those who came are individuals who wanted really to come. The neighbor who did not win lost nothing per se in terms of their material resource.

While the other types of lotteries and Gambling could be addictive, the Diversity Visa Lottery is not because of its frequency. The consequences of cash lottery and gambling could be sampled in this verse: “but they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” (I Tim 6:9). On the other hand, you do not lose a dime or franc if you did not win the lottery. Anyone who pays for the lottery has been duped, and no one could become addicted! Many would argue that just because something leads to addiction does not mean it is bad. True, if it was then sex, food and money would be bad. However, gambling is inherently evil because it covets a neighbor’s property thereby breaking the 9th commandment whereas sex, money and food are not.

Another argument is that what is bad if the victim is able to amortize the loss? Activating Paul’s admonition to the Ephesians and Thessalonians we read: “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Eph 4:28; 2 Thes. 3:12). The last time I checked; gambling and lottery are not forms of work. Would any company hire you because you wrote in your resume that you are a lottery and gambling specialist? If you did include that they would even be scared of you because their assets would be in the wrong hands. You smile; don't you? The presence of lotteries and bingo games in churches do not make it biblically normative because they are reaping where they did not sow.

A young man complained that he would like to work, but he can’t find work. Paul told the Philippians to pray for God to supply their needs (Phil 4:6, 19). Here is where most churches are faltering: they are getting richer while the Christians and the people are getting poorer. Just because they had a good steal and were not caught does not mean God honored their prayers. That is why the preacher said: “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all“ (Eccl 9:11).

Many have argued that life itself is a lottery. No, it is not, as you make your bed ,so shall you lie in it. Since we cannot prove for certain that there is a God and that heaven does exist apart from what we read in the Bible and people ask you "what if it does". Doesn’t it create the possibility of a lottery or gambling per se? This would not find a proper grasp in that we still have not engaged in any material loss out of our bodies per se. Thus it circumvents around ratiocinations and shrewdness rather than gambling. Any situation where rationality is called upon is not gambling. It merely shows that man is a rational being and not an automaton.

Consequently, I want to encourage those who refuse to play the DV Lottery because it is sin that per this scriptural perusal, you will find it holy and acceptable unto God. On the other hand, those who gamble or play cash lotteries, should refrain from such ungodly practices. Those who are addicted should seek proper help. Remember, “the blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it (Prov 10:22). “... remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day (Deut 8:18).

Until then, keep playing until you win.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk

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