Tuesday, March 8, 2016

                        by Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.
 Everyone stands to lose when the reckless spirit of chance invades a government, a segment of the community and society at large! Some lose more than others because gambling has been designed to take from the many and give to the few: but everyone loses something of value and dignity, even if they win!
    There are several reasons for this - the first being that gambling has always been associated with the ‘slippery slope crowd’, crooks, loafers, con-men and the mob! Plain and simple - gambling is shady business, which is nothing to be proud of!
    Oh, it’s true that our governments - both federal and provincial - have put their stamp of approval on the lotto, VLT’s and recently on casino operations, yet a person’s conscience still says that good reputable people are not proud of their gambling hang-ups and addiction!
   Society as a whole has taken a strong stand against gambling. President George Washington stated, “Gambling is the child of avarice (greed), the brother of iniquity (evil) and the father of mischief (trouble)”.
     Moses spoke against the sin of covetousness or greed 4,000 years ago - “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. (Ex. 20:17)
In no uncertain terms Jesus Christ condemned the sin of covetousness: And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15)
Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mark 7:22-23)
     “...But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 5:10-11; 6:10)
    “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness... For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” (Eph. 5:3-5)
  “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.” (2 Tim. 3:2)
   In an Edmonton Sun column, February 11, 1990 entitled ‘AT ODDS WITH GAMBLING’ I stated, “Gambling is as ancient as the Egyptian Pharaohs who lived more than 4,000 years ago. Many of them were compulsive gamblers who had their dice buried with them in their pyramids. And archeologists state that often their dice were loaded.

Gambling was so rampant in ancient China that Confucius - who lived 500 years before Christ - condemned the practice.

    “Warlords and mandarins often gambled away vast empires and some bet their right arms.” According to this heinous practice, the great philosopher warned, “If you don’t want your own right arm chopped off, then don’t chop off someone else’s”.
    The lottery may have been invented by Caesar Augustus, whose lavish parties featured gigantic sales where his guests were obligated to purchase items by lot, not knowing their value.
    Nero included slaves and property in his lotteries and Heliogabolus sometimes surprised his guests with six dead flies, 10 ostriches or a dead dog as their lottery prize.
     The Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus Christ gambled for His seamless robe as He hung on the cross. I have seen the various gambling games of the Roman soldiers engraved on the excavated floors of Pilate’s hall in Jerusalem.
     Jewish rabbis warned against gambling, calling it robbery. And Maimonides - the famous Jewish philosopher - stated that a gambler “spends his time in things which do not contribute to the well-being of his fellow man”.
     There is no doubt that state-run lotteries have removed the age-old stigma from all forms of gambling. But what are the results?
     Dr. Bernard Greenblatt, a Las Vegas psychologist, states: “Family life is not strong in Las Vegas. There is a great deal of instability. As a result, we have one of the highest homicide rates in the United States and one of the highest suicide rates, just about double the national average.
     “We have all the classic signs of a breakdown in society: high alcoholism, drug abuse, prejudice against blacks, homosexuality, juvenile delinquency. This is not a healthy community. I am concerned about what happens to people who grow up in a community whose orientation is extremely materialistic.”
    During the first week of December, 1995, the Minneapolis Star Tribune carried a 5-series report titled, ‘Gambling’s Toll in Minnesota’. Here are some excerpts from that report:
America is becoming a nation of gamblers. Once confined to Atlantic City, Las Vegas and Reno, gambling is now legal in 48 states - all but Hawaii and Utah - and casinos run full tilt in 24. Almost 100 million Americans bet $400 billion last year and lost $39 billion to the house.
To win legal status, the industry promised some tax-poor states a river of money for public programs. But along with the wealth came an alarming rise in suicides, bankruptcies and crime. Here is the experience of one state, where the first full-service casino was welcomes in 1988.
TAXPAYER TAB. The list of violent gambling-related crimes is also growing. Redwood Falls police officer Derek Woodford was shot by a gambler from Gary, Ind., who had broken into a local bank after a day of gambling at Jackpot Junction in Morton. Woodford spend 13 days in the hospital recovering from three bullet wounds.
Gambling has long been recognized, as well, as a root cause of embezzlement. In most gambling-related cases, authorities say, the court file shows the same thing: no previous criminal record.
“Prior to 1990, we had zero cases of gambling-related embezzlements,” says William Urban, president of Loss Prevention Specialists, Inc., a Minneapolis company that helps employers deal with internal thefts. Since then the company has investigated gambling-related losses of “well over $500,000”.
HIDDEN SUICIDES. More and more, some problem gamblers pay the ultimate price. The Star Tribune confirmed six gambling-related suicides in Minnesota - five in the past three years. Almost certainly, this is only a fraction of the total.
In addition, at least 122 Minnesota gamblers have attempted suicide, according to directors of the six state-funded gambling-treatment centers...Other deaths that may be related to depression over gambling losses are not listed as suicides at all.
Gambling has significant social and economic impact. It results in ruined lives, families and businesses; in bankruptcies and bad loans; in suicides, embezzlements and other crimes committed to feed or cover up gambling habits - and increases in costs to taxpayers for investigating, prosecuting and punishing those crimes.
Few of these problems have been documented as communities and states across the nation instead focus on gambling as a way to boost their economies and increase tax revenues. But for Minnesota the social costs of gambling are emerging in vivid and tragic detail.”
 What a sad commentary on a state which succumbed to the temptation of putting in gambling casinos for economic reasons, less than eight years earlier! RUINED LIVES, FAMILIES & BUSINESSSES - BANKRUPTCIES, BAD LOANS, SUICIDES & EMBEZZLEMENTS!
   Some years ago, a news report claims that 14,000 Edmontonians responded with a resounding YES" to the question, “Do you have a VLT related gambling problem? Without doubt, that number has escalated dramatically in recent years!
   However you cut it, that is a huge problem; spirtually, socially, psychologically, domestically and economically! During more than fifty years in the Gospel Ministry I can guarrantee you that without help from our Saviour, compulsive gamblers have a most difficult time to stop the habit.
     Jesus Christ makes it easy, because He saves sinners from all sin, including Gambling! (John 3: 16, 36; 1 John 1: 7, 9). Amen.