Question:

My fiancée was given lottery tickets at work. We share the same stance on the principles of gambling. My family also likes to give lottery tickets for Christmas. This is my first Christmas being a member of the Lord's church. How would you suggest Christians handle gifts like that? I would assume the same way one would with alcohol, but I would like to see another perspective.

Thank you for all that you do, and for running such an awesome website to help with all aspects of a Christian life.


Answer:

I supposed it could be argued that it is gift giver's money which is being gambled and not your own. Essentially the gift giver is giving worthless gifts which might possibly have value for a few recipients, since the odds of winning are minimal.

Still, whatever value the gift has, comes from those losing money. Let's say that Aunt Bertha has a habit of giving items she as stolen as gifts. Obviously Aunt Bertha is in the wrong, but what about those receiving the gifts, especially assuming they knew they were stolen items?

"When a person sins and acts unfaithfully against the LORD, and deceives his companion in regard to a deposit or a security entrusted to him, or through robbery, or if he has extorted from his companion, or has found what was lost and lied about it and sworn falsely, so that he sins in regard to any one of the things a man may do; then it shall be, when he sins and becomes guilty, that he shall restore what he took by robbery or what he got by extortion, or the deposit which was entrusted to him or the lost thing which he found, or anything about which he swore falsely; he shall make restitution for it in full and add to it one-fifth more. He shall give it to the one to whom it belongs on the day he presents his guilt offering" (Leviticus 6:2-5).

Profiting from another person's sin is just as wrong as the sin itself. It is part of the reason behind the law refusing contributions from prostitutes. "You shall not bring the hire of a harlot or the wages of a dog into the house of the LORD your God for any votive offering, for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God" (Deuteronomy 23:18).

In the case of gambling, it is a sin that financially harms those involved gambling. Profiting from it would promote it. Personally, I would hand the tickets back with a kind "Thank you. It was good of you to think of me, but I don't gamble and I don't want to encourage gambling. These would do me no good since I would never collect on them." Then they would get the hint to stop buying those things for you.