Tainted money

A man won $6 million in the Florida lottery. Doubtless grateful to God, he wanted to give a tithe to his church. But the Baptist congregationturned down the $600,000 since it came from gambling. Is that integrity or legalistic scrupulosity?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I say hooray for them! Lottery money comes mostly from the easily duped among the poor. I consider it dirty money, and have never bought a lottery ticket.

    Yeah, I know, I’m self-righteous.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I say hooray for them! Lottery money comes mostly from the easily duped among the poor. I consider it dirty money, and have never bought a lottery ticket.

    Yeah, I know, I’m self-righteous.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    I’ve read this story before, over the years. I love how the journalist found a pastor “willing” to go on record saying that he would accept the money! Funny! I wonder how the journalist chose the pastor with the opposing view.

    I don’t have a problem with the lottery, although I personally choose not to spend my money on it. My dad is from Canada and for years we envied our Canadian cousins. Nobody makes people buy the tickets and there is a lot of other “dirty” money that probably ends up in the collection plate.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    I’ve read this story before, over the years. I love how the journalist found a pastor “willing” to go on record saying that he would accept the money! Funny! I wonder how the journalist chose the pastor with the opposing view.

    I don’t have a problem with the lottery, although I personally choose not to spend my money on it. My dad is from Canada and for years we envied our Canadian cousins. Nobody makes people buy the tickets and there is a lot of other “dirty” money that probably ends up in the collection plate.

  • Joe

    I think it would have been a good thing to take the money and put it to a use that was good pleasing.

  • Joe

    I think it would have been a good thing to take the money and put it to a use that was good pleasing.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Is it ever God-pleasing to tell a reporter about your gift of praise to God for all His benefits? Always better for your soul to give gifts (big and small) quietly.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Is it ever God-pleasing to tell a reporter about your gift of praise to God for all His benefits? Always better for your soul to give gifts (big and small) quietly.

  • WebMonk

    Hmmm, every week churches accept tithes from people who lose at the lottery, so why are they balking at accepting money from people who happen to win in the lottery? Do churches refuse to accept money from the people who blow hundreds of dollars each week on lottery tickets? Nope.

    I’m sure churches are also accepting money from businessmen who cheat in business. I’m not sure that lottery money is any more heinous than money gotten from unscrupulous businessmen/individuals.

    I realize there is a difference in the public statement that accepting lottery money makes, as compared to accepting money from a businessman who is known for unscrupulous practices, or by accepting money from people who waste money on lottery tickets. I just don’t see the difference as sufficient.

    I happen to think that the story of Annanias and Sapphira is germane to the decision making here. Did the church refuse to accept the money? It doesn’t seem that way, but the offered money certainly wasn’t something that atoned for the sin. Likewise for the lottery money – if the practice of gambling is considered sinful, I think the church is still allowed to accept the money, but it doesn’t excuse the person’s sinful acts. I realize the A&S money wasn’t lottery money, but I don’t think there’s a fundamental difference introduced by the source of the money.

    I certainly can see the refusal to accept money as part of a larger goal of discipline and teaching to the member and church.

    With all that said though, if the Spirit is leading a church to refuse the money from the lottery winnings, then by all means they should refuse it. I just don’t see a blanket admonition in scripture that churches cannot accept money from lottery winnings.

  • WebMonk

    Hmmm, every week churches accept tithes from people who lose at the lottery, so why are they balking at accepting money from people who happen to win in the lottery? Do churches refuse to accept money from the people who blow hundreds of dollars each week on lottery tickets? Nope.

    I’m sure churches are also accepting money from businessmen who cheat in business. I’m not sure that lottery money is any more heinous than money gotten from unscrupulous businessmen/individuals.

    I realize there is a difference in the public statement that accepting lottery money makes, as compared to accepting money from a businessman who is known for unscrupulous practices, or by accepting money from people who waste money on lottery tickets. I just don’t see the difference as sufficient.

    I happen to think that the story of Annanias and Sapphira is germane to the decision making here. Did the church refuse to accept the money? It doesn’t seem that way, but the offered money certainly wasn’t something that atoned for the sin. Likewise for the lottery money – if the practice of gambling is considered sinful, I think the church is still allowed to accept the money, but it doesn’t excuse the person’s sinful acts. I realize the A&S money wasn’t lottery money, but I don’t think there’s a fundamental difference introduced by the source of the money.

    I certainly can see the refusal to accept money as part of a larger goal of discipline and teaching to the member and church.

    With all that said though, if the Spirit is leading a church to refuse the money from the lottery winnings, then by all means they should refuse it. I just don’t see a blanket admonition in scripture that churches cannot accept money from lottery winnings.

  • Frank Fichtl

    the lottery is a means of benefiting from the misfortune of others. This is a form of volatiln of the seventh commandment. Is is also a desire to have the pocessions of others and therefore a violation of the tenth commandment. All gambling falls within these area. The 7th commandment exorts us to help our neighbor to keep and care for their property. This is why the lottery is wrong and not self-rightousness. I applaud this church for their integrity.

    As for taking money from people who lost wages, this does not fall anywhere near the same argument. The church does not know where a “loss” may happen but when the source of the money is known to be from a bad premise then they must refuse the funds.

  • Frank Fichtl

    the lottery is a means of benefiting from the misfortune of others. This is a form of volatiln of the seventh commandment. Is is also a desire to have the pocessions of others and therefore a violation of the tenth commandment. All gambling falls within these area. The 7th commandment exorts us to help our neighbor to keep and care for their property. This is why the lottery is wrong and not self-rightousness. I applaud this church for their integrity.

    As for taking money from people who lost wages, this does not fall anywhere near the same argument. The church does not know where a “loss” may happen but when the source of the money is known to be from a bad premise then they must refuse the funds.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Before my folks walk in to church on Sunday morning, they bring their wallets. The source of that money, all of it is utterly sinful. Then they confess their sins and Christ forgives them. Then He fills them with His Word and in Thanks and praise they put their money in the offering plate. An hour earlier the source of it all would be utterly sinful, at this time it is a sacrifice of praise.

    It seems to me that if we didn’t allow sinful money in the church, I would have been stopped at the door to empty my pockets every time. Frank, I’m sure you would have been let right on in with all your righteous mammon.

    Also not a big fan of lotteries, though. We always called it the idiot tax back in Idaho. We’re all too righteous for that kind of stuff here in Utah. But still plenty of Nevada money goes into lots of Utah church coffers, I’m told (though it would be easier on their wallets if they didn’t keep sneakin’ across the state line to gamble).

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Before my folks walk in to church on Sunday morning, they bring their wallets. The source of that money, all of it is utterly sinful. Then they confess their sins and Christ forgives them. Then He fills them with His Word and in Thanks and praise they put their money in the offering plate. An hour earlier the source of it all would be utterly sinful, at this time it is a sacrifice of praise.

    It seems to me that if we didn’t allow sinful money in the church, I would have been stopped at the door to empty my pockets every time. Frank, I’m sure you would have been let right on in with all your righteous mammon.

    Also not a big fan of lotteries, though. We always called it the idiot tax back in Idaho. We’re all too righteous for that kind of stuff here in Utah. But still plenty of Nevada money goes into lots of Utah church coffers, I’m told (though it would be easier on their wallets if they didn’t keep sneakin’ across the state line to gamble).

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I think the church is right on here, and that the proper use for a tithe (or more) of gambling winnings is to fund groups working to end lotteries. They do indeed oppress the poor by giving them false hope, and also by diverting their energies from the things that will actually help–things like “work.”

    Very different, by the way, that a “Holiness” church would volunteer to accept the money. That’s not historically what that movement was all about.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I think the church is right on here, and that the proper use for a tithe (or more) of gambling winnings is to fund groups working to end lotteries. They do indeed oppress the poor by giving them false hope, and also by diverting their energies from the things that will actually help–things like “work.”

    Very different, by the way, that a “Holiness” church would volunteer to accept the money. That’s not historically what that movement was all about.

  • Another Kerner

    Ill-gotten gain?

    I have reviewed Luther’s small catechism with explanation by Joseph Stump (Copyright 1935 United Lutheran Publication House).

    Under the heading “What is Forbidden” by the 7th Commandment, the explanation reads as follows:

    “Unfair dealing and Fraudulent Means: …….Withholding lost or borrowed property, evading taxes, refusing to pay debts, willful idlemess and beggary, Betting and gambling, Lotteries and chancing, Bribery, useless lawsuits………..”

    Under the positive side of the commandment….. it reads:

    “Property…………It may be rightfully acquired by original claim, inheritance, gift, or labor of body or mind.”

    In days long gone, gambling and prostitution were not “legal” and were considered “vice” by law enforcement.

    Gambling: Vice or Virtue?

    There are probably few Christians who would consider gambling a virtue.

  • Another Kerner

    Ill-gotten gain?

    I have reviewed Luther’s small catechism with explanation by Joseph Stump (Copyright 1935 United Lutheran Publication House).

    Under the heading “What is Forbidden” by the 7th Commandment, the explanation reads as follows:

    “Unfair dealing and Fraudulent Means: …….Withholding lost or borrowed property, evading taxes, refusing to pay debts, willful idlemess and beggary, Betting and gambling, Lotteries and chancing, Bribery, useless lawsuits………..”

    Under the positive side of the commandment….. it reads:

    “Property…………It may be rightfully acquired by original claim, inheritance, gift, or labor of body or mind.”

    In days long gone, gambling and prostitution were not “legal” and were considered “vice” by law enforcement.

    Gambling: Vice or Virtue?

    There are probably few Christians who would consider gambling a virtue.

  • WebMonk

    Frank – “The church does not know where a “loss” may happen but when the source of the money is known to be from a bad premise then they must refuse the funds.”

    How long have you been in church, and how big is it? Unless you’re in a megachurch where the pastors don’t really know the congregations (but the lower-level leaders do, so I guess even in megachurches) people know exactly who plays the lottery. The percentages vary according to local variables, but Christians playing the lottery are just about the same proportion as non-Christians playing the lottery, and it’s no secret.

    I also have major issues with basing the acceptance of money just on the public knowledge about the money – not a standard the Bible comes even close to supporting. I’d also be a bit interested on what sort of scripture or scriptural principle it can be said that churches shouldn’t accept any money that has come to the donor by way of sinful practices.

    But besides that, sort of along the lines of what Bryan said, why is it OK to accept money from sinners who are losing money because of their sin, but it’s not OK to accept money from those who are gaining money because of their sin?

    Like I said before, I can see the refusal of accepting money be a _part_ of disciplining people in the church, but I don’t see any sort of scriptural basis for accepting the person as a welcome member in high regard but not accepting his tithing because he got it because of some sin.

  • WebMonk

    Frank – “The church does not know where a “loss” may happen but when the source of the money is known to be from a bad premise then they must refuse the funds.”

    How long have you been in church, and how big is it? Unless you’re in a megachurch where the pastors don’t really know the congregations (but the lower-level leaders do, so I guess even in megachurches) people know exactly who plays the lottery. The percentages vary according to local variables, but Christians playing the lottery are just about the same proportion as non-Christians playing the lottery, and it’s no secret.

    I also have major issues with basing the acceptance of money just on the public knowledge about the money – not a standard the Bible comes even close to supporting. I’d also be a bit interested on what sort of scripture or scriptural principle it can be said that churches shouldn’t accept any money that has come to the donor by way of sinful practices.

    But besides that, sort of along the lines of what Bryan said, why is it OK to accept money from sinners who are losing money because of their sin, but it’s not OK to accept money from those who are gaining money because of their sin?

    Like I said before, I can see the refusal of accepting money be a _part_ of disciplining people in the church, but I don’t see any sort of scriptural basis for accepting the person as a welcome member in high regard but not accepting his tithing because he got it because of some sin.

  • Anon

    The lottery is an agreement between people to each contribute a dollar on the condition that all but one of them will lose that dollar and one of them will gain all of them, making a significant difference for them. As such a freely-entered into cooperative agreement, it is not a violation of the 7th commandment, nor of the 10th commandment. The disagreement on this arises from misidentifying and miscategorizing the nature of the situation. what the lottery is, in my opinion, is poor stewardship. The chance of winning is vanishingly small, though God is certainly able to control who is the receiver. In that thinking, purchasing more than one ticket would be poor stewardship, and a case could be made either way about purchasing one ticket, depending on how expensive it was, and how disposable that amount is.

    We are not under the Mosaic Law of the Tithe, nor has it morphed into a legalistic three times what God gave to Israel in Deut. 14, nor has it morphed from net to gross. If it had, referencing another topic, farmers would all starve to death. We are under a new law with the New Covenant; we are to give freely and cheerfully, not legalistically. And we are not to let our brothers remain in need if we have the means to help. Indeed we are told that if we do not care for our relatives, and all Christians are our brothers and sisters, then we are worse than heathens and unbelievers.

    The giving of false hope to the poor is something that the promoters of the lotteries do. That does seem to be sin, it is done for reasons other than benefiting those who pay in to the kitty. The governments of the several States are the ones doing that, not the ones paying into the kitty.

  • Anon

    The lottery is an agreement between people to each contribute a dollar on the condition that all but one of them will lose that dollar and one of them will gain all of them, making a significant difference for them. As such a freely-entered into cooperative agreement, it is not a violation of the 7th commandment, nor of the 10th commandment. The disagreement on this arises from misidentifying and miscategorizing the nature of the situation. what the lottery is, in my opinion, is poor stewardship. The chance of winning is vanishingly small, though God is certainly able to control who is the receiver. In that thinking, purchasing more than one ticket would be poor stewardship, and a case could be made either way about purchasing one ticket, depending on how expensive it was, and how disposable that amount is.

    We are not under the Mosaic Law of the Tithe, nor has it morphed into a legalistic three times what God gave to Israel in Deut. 14, nor has it morphed from net to gross. If it had, referencing another topic, farmers would all starve to death. We are under a new law with the New Covenant; we are to give freely and cheerfully, not legalistically. And we are not to let our brothers remain in need if we have the means to help. Indeed we are told that if we do not care for our relatives, and all Christians are our brothers and sisters, then we are worse than heathens and unbelievers.

    The giving of false hope to the poor is something that the promoters of the lotteries do. That does seem to be sin, it is done for reasons other than benefiting those who pay in to the kitty. The governments of the several States are the ones doing that, not the ones paying into the kitty.

  • WebMonk

    Anon – small change that doesn’t affect your point at all.

    The winner gets only the majority of the total money, not all of it. Theoretically the rest goes to various government good deeds.

  • WebMonk

    Anon – small change that doesn’t affect your point at all.

    The winner gets only the majority of the total money, not all of it. Theoretically the rest goes to various government good deeds.

  • J. Gutz

    It’s a breath of counter-cultural fresh air to hear of a church that has the courage to turn down money when so many churches and denom’s are looking for ways to swell the coffers. Kudos to them.

  • J. Gutz

    It’s a breath of counter-cultural fresh air to hear of a church that has the courage to turn down money when so many churches and denom’s are looking for ways to swell the coffers. Kudos to them.

  • allen

    Well, let’s say I win the lottery and put the money in an interest-bearing account to live on. Of the proceeds, I set aside a percentage for the church. Is that sufficiently laundered, or must more “generations” pass before it is clean again? Or is it ever?

  • allen

    Well, let’s say I win the lottery and put the money in an interest-bearing account to live on. Of the proceeds, I set aside a percentage for the church. Is that sufficiently laundered, or must more “generations” pass before it is clean again? Or is it ever?

  • WebMonk

    allen, that’s an excellent point! How about one step further? Use the lottery proceeds to pay for all your expenses, but keep working and then tithe 100% of your job’s income.

    That’s certainly clean and doesn’t come from lottery money at all! Voila! Yet another way to legalistically circumvent a bunch of legalistic rules!

  • WebMonk

    allen, that’s an excellent point! How about one step further? Use the lottery proceeds to pay for all your expenses, but keep working and then tithe 100% of your job’s income.

    That’s certainly clean and doesn’t come from lottery money at all! Voila! Yet another way to legalistically circumvent a bunch of legalistic rules!

  • Sam

    Whether this church refuses to take such money is its business, not mine, but if it did so to avoid the alleged taint of lottery winnings, it’s got to be consistent.
    While the lottery may well be bad public policy and playing it may be foolish, I fail to see how either buying or selling a ticket is a sin. Everyone knows the odds of winning are terrible, so there is no fraud. Its appeal is the prospect – remote, to be sure – of quick riches.
    But what about the stock market? I own stock; I hope it goes up. I bought it (gambled) on the hope it would go up and make me richer. Should I care how the company makes its stock go up? What if it does so by firing a lot of workers or by cutting back on their health benefits? What if the company invests in a company that manufactures hard liquor? (I pose that question to any So. Baptist reader.)
    If my company does those things and the stock goes up, can I sell it for a profit and give a portion to my church? Yep, with no questions asked. Capitalism is all about investing (gambling), whether in a stock or a lottery ticket. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  • Sam

    Whether this church refuses to take such money is its business, not mine, but if it did so to avoid the alleged taint of lottery winnings, it’s got to be consistent.
    While the lottery may well be bad public policy and playing it may be foolish, I fail to see how either buying or selling a ticket is a sin. Everyone knows the odds of winning are terrible, so there is no fraud. Its appeal is the prospect – remote, to be sure – of quick riches.
    But what about the stock market? I own stock; I hope it goes up. I bought it (gambled) on the hope it would go up and make me richer. Should I care how the company makes its stock go up? What if it does so by firing a lot of workers or by cutting back on their health benefits? What if the company invests in a company that manufactures hard liquor? (I pose that question to any So. Baptist reader.)
    If my company does those things and the stock goes up, can I sell it for a profit and give a portion to my church? Yep, with no questions asked. Capitalism is all about investing (gambling), whether in a stock or a lottery ticket. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Allen, I think the place you need to be right now, if you’re playing the lottery, is to consider what it does to the poor. Do the Scriptures condone this?

    And this is where the pastor of this man does so well; he has become aware of the sin of one of his congregants (though the article doesn’t say whether he was a “member in high regard”), and hence he starts the discipline process by refusing to accept the money.

    In an age where churches struggle to meet budgets, this says a lot.

    And where does it say that a church can, or ought to, refuse such donations? Well, how did Peter greet Ananias and Sapphira when they brought part of the proceeds of a sale of land to the church, but presented it as the full price? What does Paul say to the believer whose dinner host notes that the meat on the table is from a pagan offering?

    As such, I’d suggest that the best approach for knowingly receiving ill-gotten gain–say from drugs, gambling, prostitution, theft, whatever–is to say “no thank you, why don’t you invest your money in preventing others from abusing others this way?”

    So the only quibble I have with the pastor is that it’s not clear that he followed up on this–his job is, after all, to direct others to repentance.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Allen, I think the place you need to be right now, if you’re playing the lottery, is to consider what it does to the poor. Do the Scriptures condone this?

    And this is where the pastor of this man does so well; he has become aware of the sin of one of his congregants (though the article doesn’t say whether he was a “member in high regard”), and hence he starts the discipline process by refusing to accept the money.

    In an age where churches struggle to meet budgets, this says a lot.

    And where does it say that a church can, or ought to, refuse such donations? Well, how did Peter greet Ananias and Sapphira when they brought part of the proceeds of a sale of land to the church, but presented it as the full price? What does Paul say to the believer whose dinner host notes that the meat on the table is from a pagan offering?

    As such, I’d suggest that the best approach for knowingly receiving ill-gotten gain–say from drugs, gambling, prostitution, theft, whatever–is to say “no thank you, why don’t you invest your money in preventing others from abusing others this way?”

    So the only quibble I have with the pastor is that it’s not clear that he followed up on this–his job is, after all, to direct others to repentance.

  • Sam

    Again, where’s the sin in buying a lottery ticket? Dumb, yes, but a sin? Does sin lie in the supposition that my purchase so contributes to driving up the jackpot that it becomes a temptation to others? Or in the supposition that I am a bad steward of my cash? But wouldn’t that supposition arise everytime I buy a .85 candy bar? Is that a sin? At least with the lottery I have some hope, albeit slim, of a return on my investment. Not so with the candy bar, though I do love them, especially the dark chocolate ones, and will give them up when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.
    But seriously, since we agree that we should help the poor, let’s work with our legislatures to limit the practices of companies that prey on them, e.g., predatory lenders, credit cards companies with usurious interest rates, mortgage companies, etc.

  • Sam

    Again, where’s the sin in buying a lottery ticket? Dumb, yes, but a sin? Does sin lie in the supposition that my purchase so contributes to driving up the jackpot that it becomes a temptation to others? Or in the supposition that I am a bad steward of my cash? But wouldn’t that supposition arise everytime I buy a .85 candy bar? Is that a sin? At least with the lottery I have some hope, albeit slim, of a return on my investment. Not so with the candy bar, though I do love them, especially the dark chocolate ones, and will give them up when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.
    But seriously, since we agree that we should help the poor, let’s work with our legislatures to limit the practices of companies that prey on them, e.g., predatory lenders, credit cards companies with usurious interest rates, mortgage companies, etc.

  • Booklover

    This reminds me of a situation in *Gone With the Wind.* Belle Watling, who ran the local house of ill-repute, gave Rhett a large donation to aid the South in the Civil War. Rhett accepted it with gratitude. Scarlett frowned upon it. I believe Melanie accepted it also, but then Melanie’s balance always tilted on the side of mercy over judgment. :-)

  • Booklover

    This reminds me of a situation in *Gone With the Wind.* Belle Watling, who ran the local house of ill-repute, gave Rhett a large donation to aid the South in the Civil War. Rhett accepted it with gratitude. Scarlett frowned upon it. I believe Melanie accepted it also, but then Melanie’s balance always tilted on the side of mercy over judgment. :-)

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry Bishop

    It is best to turn down the money. Does the pastor and his local church care more about money or pleasing God? If someone tells you where the money comes from then you cannot as a church condone the sinful action.

    The dilemma is that Christians no longer know if gambling is a sin or not. If someone tried to tithe a large amount of money that was gained from prostitution, everyone would agree that the church should refuse the money.

    While gambling is not specifically forbidden by the Bible, the love of money, and coveting are. Here are some verses for consideration: 1 Timothy 6:7-10 (NASB)
    For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry Bishop

    It is best to turn down the money. Does the pastor and his local church care more about money or pleasing God? If someone tells you where the money comes from then you cannot as a church condone the sinful action.

    The dilemma is that Christians no longer know if gambling is a sin or not. If someone tried to tithe a large amount of money that was gained from prostitution, everyone would agree that the church should refuse the money.

    While gambling is not specifically forbidden by the Bible, the love of money, and coveting are. Here are some verses for consideration: 1 Timothy 6:7-10 (NASB)
    For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I would argue it’s a sin because by adding your buck or whatever to the pool, you’re helping to create the incentive for people to trust the lottery instead of working for a living, deepening poverty.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I would argue it’s a sin because by adding your buck or whatever to the pool, you’re helping to create the incentive for people to trust the lottery instead of working for a living, deepening poverty.

  • Sam

    Begging the question is a logical fallacy that we so dearly love. So ponder this: if buying a lottery ticket is a sin because it’s premised on greed, then all things that are done premised on greed are sins.
    Now, who here invests to lose money?

  • Sam

    Begging the question is a logical fallacy that we so dearly love. So ponder this: if buying a lottery ticket is a sin because it’s premised on greed, then all things that are done premised on greed are sins.
    Now, who here invests to lose money?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Yo, dudes, do we know where the money came from to buy the jar of nard which that scandalous woman poured over Jesus’ feet and then wiped with her hair! By the comments here I’m getting the impression that many of you think Jesus should have kicked her rear out of there. But no, the Lord did not do this, but accepted the offering. She had done a wonderful thing. I don’t think she let the media know about it though.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Yo, dudes, do we know where the money came from to buy the jar of nard which that scandalous woman poured over Jesus’ feet and then wiped with her hair! By the comments here I’m getting the impression that many of you think Jesus should have kicked her rear out of there. But no, the Lord did not do this, but accepted the offering. She had done a wonderful thing. I don’t think she let the media know about it though.

  • rlewer

    No one, even the poor, is forced to play the lottery. It is a free choice.

    It can be a fun game or an obsession. Each person makes his own choice of reasons also. The LCMS document is well balanced.

    If God decides to provide for His Church through my $1, that is His business also.

  • rlewer

    No one, even the poor, is forced to play the lottery. It is a free choice.

    It can be a fun game or an obsession. Each person makes his own choice of reasons also. The LCMS document is well balanced.

    If God decides to provide for His Church through my $1, that is His business also.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01763924682909630509 Orianna Laun

    O. Henry has a great story about “tainted money” in which tens, fives, and ones talk about where they’ve been. The irony at the end is what some think is tainted and what is actually tainted.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01763924682909630509 Orianna Laun

    O. Henry has a great story about “tainted money” in which tens, fives, and ones talk about where they’ve been. The irony at the end is what some think is tainted and what is actually tainted.

  • Don S

    Having served on a number of church boards over the years, I can appreciate how hard it was for the church to turn down such a sizable gift.

    It would have been very easy for this particular church to rationalize accepting the gift. But it also would have been wrong for them. They obviously considered accepting money gained from gambling to be a sinful thing to do, and to rationalize its acceptance would also have been sin.

    This does not mean it would necessarily be a sin for a different church body, not having that conviction, to accept the money. As someone commented above, Jesus did not question the source of the nard that the scandalous woman used to perfume his feet. He accepted the spirit of the woman’s gift, and the spiritual benefit to her by His acceptance of her gift.

    A critical issue is the spirit of the giver. He offered a gift of 10% of his winnings, apparently intending to keep the other 90% for himself. So, obviously, either he does not consider gambling to be sin, or, alternatively, was attempting to use the gift to assuage his guilt for his actions. Is a church, by accepting such a gift, knowing its source, causing the giver to stumble?

  • Don S

    Having served on a number of church boards over the years, I can appreciate how hard it was for the church to turn down such a sizable gift.

    It would have been very easy for this particular church to rationalize accepting the gift. But it also would have been wrong for them. They obviously considered accepting money gained from gambling to be a sinful thing to do, and to rationalize its acceptance would also have been sin.

    This does not mean it would necessarily be a sin for a different church body, not having that conviction, to accept the money. As someone commented above, Jesus did not question the source of the nard that the scandalous woman used to perfume his feet. He accepted the spirit of the woman’s gift, and the spiritual benefit to her by His acceptance of her gift.

    A critical issue is the spirit of the giver. He offered a gift of 10% of his winnings, apparently intending to keep the other 90% for himself. So, obviously, either he does not consider gambling to be sin, or, alternatively, was attempting to use the gift to assuage his guilt for his actions. Is a church, by accepting such a gift, knowing its source, causing the giver to stumble?

  • Anon

    I have only noticed one passage of Scripture in this discussion, and that was tangential.

    I do see a lot of human reason and presuming to know the motives of others.

    The pre-Tridentine Roman Catholic Church also had many rules derived from very careful thinking, which nonetheless wound up being contrary to Scripture, in spite of the best intentions of the natural law philosophers.

    What would happen if we did not presume to know the motives of the lottery winner? What if we limited ourselves to condemning only what Scripture forbids? I suppose then some might call us Lutherans or something, but hey.

  • Anon

    I have only noticed one passage of Scripture in this discussion, and that was tangential.

    I do see a lot of human reason and presuming to know the motives of others.

    The pre-Tridentine Roman Catholic Church also had many rules derived from very careful thinking, which nonetheless wound up being contrary to Scripture, in spite of the best intentions of the natural law philosophers.

    What would happen if we did not presume to know the motives of the lottery winner? What if we limited ourselves to condemning only what Scripture forbids? I suppose then some might call us Lutherans or something, but hey.

  • Jack K

    What of a congregation member who works in a store as a cashier and actually takes the money from the customer and hands him/her the ticket? What part is the member taking in this ‘sin’? Does the member’s participation in the sale of lottery tickets make his/her income ill gotten gains and therefore make offerings from him/her questionable?

    See how far this can be carried?

    Didn’t 100% of every congregation’s offerings last week come from sinful people?

  • Jack K

    What of a congregation member who works in a store as a cashier and actually takes the money from the customer and hands him/her the ticket? What part is the member taking in this ‘sin’? Does the member’s participation in the sale of lottery tickets make his/her income ill gotten gains and therefore make offerings from him/her questionable?

    See how far this can be carried?

    Didn’t 100% of every congregation’s offerings last week come from sinful people?

  • Reg Schofield

    Please stop saying its the poor only buying tickets. I know of many people who would be considered in the middle class and fairly well off , who buy them like candy . Plus when do we draw the line . What about a business operator who under pays his staff , who brings his offerings to church each week . While he profits at the expense of not paying his employee’s a livable wage . Don’t tell me it doesn’t happen , I know in my area numerous business owners who have done very well , while paying the workers as little as possible . Isn’t this just as sinful , in fact I would say more so .

  • Reg Schofield

    Please stop saying its the poor only buying tickets. I know of many people who would be considered in the middle class and fairly well off , who buy them like candy . Plus when do we draw the line . What about a business operator who under pays his staff , who brings his offerings to church each week . While he profits at the expense of not paying his employee’s a livable wage . Don’t tell me it doesn’t happen , I know in my area numerous business owners who have done very well , while paying the workers as little as possible . Isn’t this just as sinful , in fact I would say more so .

  • WebMonk

    I’m with you on that Anon – what does the Bible say about it? Ananias and Sapphira’s money was apparently accepted. If the lady with the nard had been a prostitute, and the nard paid for by her work, would Jesus have turned her away? No. (I realize there are other issues there, but I don’t think they fundamentally change the point.)

    Paul told people to abstain from meat if the host particularly mentioned it was from idols. Why? Not because it was sinful to eat it, but because it was tantamount to participating in the sinfulness of idol worship.

    Based on these (as they’re what has been mentioned so far) it seems that accepting lottery money is not wrong unless it is an endorsement of sinful behavior by the church.

    Before the question of whether or not the church should accept the money can be answered, it first needs to be determined if playing the lottery is sinful in some special way. It certainly can be sinful (in much the same way as anything can be sinful), but is playing the lottery one of those things that it is sinful for everyone across the board in every situation? (such as adultery/murder)

    Then, if it is a sin, is playing the lottery some sort of special type of sin with which the church can’t associate? Churches accept money from adulterers, alcoholics, liars, and cheats – knowing full well that the people are doing those things. Is there something about accepting money from people playing the lottery that endorses the sin?

    A final question that was brought up, is how laundered does ‘sin money’ have to be before it is accepted by a church? (if churches can’t accept sin money) Can the prostitute who goes to church not donate to her church? What if she has a part-time job – the prostitution money supports many of her bills and frees up extra money that she may give. Is that laundered enough?

  • WebMonk

    I’m with you on that Anon – what does the Bible say about it? Ananias and Sapphira’s money was apparently accepted. If the lady with the nard had been a prostitute, and the nard paid for by her work, would Jesus have turned her away? No. (I realize there are other issues there, but I don’t think they fundamentally change the point.)

    Paul told people to abstain from meat if the host particularly mentioned it was from idols. Why? Not because it was sinful to eat it, but because it was tantamount to participating in the sinfulness of idol worship.

    Based on these (as they’re what has been mentioned so far) it seems that accepting lottery money is not wrong unless it is an endorsement of sinful behavior by the church.

    Before the question of whether or not the church should accept the money can be answered, it first needs to be determined if playing the lottery is sinful in some special way. It certainly can be sinful (in much the same way as anything can be sinful), but is playing the lottery one of those things that it is sinful for everyone across the board in every situation? (such as adultery/murder)

    Then, if it is a sin, is playing the lottery some sort of special type of sin with which the church can’t associate? Churches accept money from adulterers, alcoholics, liars, and cheats – knowing full well that the people are doing those things. Is there something about accepting money from people playing the lottery that endorses the sin?

    A final question that was brought up, is how laundered does ‘sin money’ have to be before it is accepted by a church? (if churches can’t accept sin money) Can the prostitute who goes to church not donate to her church? What if she has a part-time job – the prostitution money supports many of her bills and frees up extra money that she may give. Is that laundered enough?

  • Matt

    Anon @ 27,

    “What if we limited ourselves to condemning only what Scripture forbids?”

    Then we would become foolish legalists. Consider the rich young ruler. He paid attention only the explicit rules written in scripture and came to believe he actually kept the Law perfectly. He missed the point that the rules were not the Law.

  • Matt

    Anon @ 27,

    “What if we limited ourselves to condemning only what Scripture forbids?”

    Then we would become foolish legalists. Consider the rich young ruler. He paid attention only the explicit rules written in scripture and came to believe he actually kept the Law perfectly. He missed the point that the rules were not the Law.

  • G. Gutz

    I admire the willingness of this congregation to take an unpopular stand that goes against the mindset of the world and even many within the Church. It was pretty convenient that the reporter was able to find another pastor who supported the idea–how generous and understanding he was in accepting the gift. The Church does not need to be supported by “chance.”

    Is the bottom line “money” and is the Church willing to accept whatever means it takes in getting it since it’s all dirty and filled with sin? I vote then for indulgences, history shows it works even better than the lottery.

    Perhaps there is confusion over Holy Vocations and Orders which our Lord gives to His people.

    I’ve enjoyed reading the various comments.

  • G. Gutz

    I admire the willingness of this congregation to take an unpopular stand that goes against the mindset of the world and even many within the Church. It was pretty convenient that the reporter was able to find another pastor who supported the idea–how generous and understanding he was in accepting the gift. The Church does not need to be supported by “chance.”

    Is the bottom line “money” and is the Church willing to accept whatever means it takes in getting it since it’s all dirty and filled with sin? I vote then for indulgences, history shows it works even better than the lottery.

    Perhaps there is confusion over Holy Vocations and Orders which our Lord gives to His people.

    I’ve enjoyed reading the various comments.

  • WebMonk

    G.Gutz – The bottom line of this discussion so far has been about legalism more than greedy churches. Obviously churches can be greedy and chase dollars and public prestige above everything else, but most of the discussion has been about the opposite side – churches that may be rejecting perfectly valid things because of legalism and a sense of superiority.

    I too admire the church for its willingness to forgo a bunch of money – that always takes a good strength of resolution. Was that strength of resolution employed for a Biblical reason? I have no clue.

    “First Baptist Orange Park Pastor David Tarkington would not say exactly why the church refused the money, saying only he didn’t want to talk about members’ gifts.”

    Is there a Biblical admonition against churches accepting money that was gotten via legal but sinful methods? (and is participation in a lottery sinful?)

    In principle I tend to agree with the church that would have accepted the money. Who knows, maybe that church was willing to accept it because they’re greedy. But likewise they might have accepted because they rightly understand Scripture. Maybe the first refused out of legalistic beliefs, and maybe they refused because of valid, Biblical reasons. I don’t know in the detailed instances here, but as a general principle, I don’t see any prohibition in Scripture, and I do see principles that show the money is just fine to accept.

  • WebMonk

    G.Gutz – The bottom line of this discussion so far has been about legalism more than greedy churches. Obviously churches can be greedy and chase dollars and public prestige above everything else, but most of the discussion has been about the opposite side – churches that may be rejecting perfectly valid things because of legalism and a sense of superiority.

    I too admire the church for its willingness to forgo a bunch of money – that always takes a good strength of resolution. Was that strength of resolution employed for a Biblical reason? I have no clue.

    “First Baptist Orange Park Pastor David Tarkington would not say exactly why the church refused the money, saying only he didn’t want to talk about members’ gifts.”

    Is there a Biblical admonition against churches accepting money that was gotten via legal but sinful methods? (and is participation in a lottery sinful?)

    In principle I tend to agree with the church that would have accepted the money. Who knows, maybe that church was willing to accept it because they’re greedy. But likewise they might have accepted because they rightly understand Scripture. Maybe the first refused out of legalistic beliefs, and maybe they refused because of valid, Biblical reasons. I don’t know in the detailed instances here, but as a general principle, I don’t see any prohibition in Scripture, and I do see principles that show the money is just fine to accept.

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry Bishop

    Remember that sin starts in the heart and can have outward manifestations.

    Mark 7:21-23 (NASB)
    21 “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,
    22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.
    23 “All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

    Focusing on actions alone leads to legalism because one could “do the right thing” but be wrong in their motives and be sinning. The problem for us is that it is impossible for us to know truly what someone’s motives are. God alone knows the heart of man (cf. 1Sam 16:7)

    The church is doing the right thing in rejecting the money and setting an example of integrity because they don’t know the donor’s motives. Jesus, who is God, knew the prostitute’s heart and accepted her gift of worship!

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry Bishop

    Remember that sin starts in the heart and can have outward manifestations.

    Mark 7:21-23 (NASB)
    21 “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,
    22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.
    23 “All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

    Focusing on actions alone leads to legalism because one could “do the right thing” but be wrong in their motives and be sinning. The problem for us is that it is impossible for us to know truly what someone’s motives are. God alone knows the heart of man (cf. 1Sam 16:7)

    The church is doing the right thing in rejecting the money and setting an example of integrity because they don’t know the donor’s motives. Jesus, who is God, knew the prostitute’s heart and accepted her gift of worship!

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry Bishop

    Sam @ 22
    Jesus speaks favorably of investing in his parables of the talents, so investing per se is not a sin. Greed is a sin because it is related to coveting (see verses I posted above about being content with food and covering.)

    Can you invest without being greedy? Sure, once again it comes down to motives. Are you investing to be a good steward of what God has given you, to use the money for His kingdom, to provide for your family or yourself in old age… or are you just wanting more money to squander on yourself?
    John Piper gave an illustration of two people who were “successful” in their retirement and who had a boat of which they were proud… but the tragedy was this:

    When they stand before the Creator of the universe to give an account of their lives all they can say is, “Look at my boat, God.” http://5smoothstones.wordpress.com/2007/08/13/god-look-at-my-boat/

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry Bishop

    Sam @ 22
    Jesus speaks favorably of investing in his parables of the talents, so investing per se is not a sin. Greed is a sin because it is related to coveting (see verses I posted above about being content with food and covering.)

    Can you invest without being greedy? Sure, once again it comes down to motives. Are you investing to be a good steward of what God has given you, to use the money for His kingdom, to provide for your family or yourself in old age… or are you just wanting more money to squander on yourself?
    John Piper gave an illustration of two people who were “successful” in their retirement and who had a boat of which they were proud… but the tragedy was this:

    When they stand before the Creator of the universe to give an account of their lives all they can say is, “Look at my boat, God.” http://5smoothstones.wordpress.com/2007/08/13/god-look-at-my-boat/

  • WebMonk

    Barry – using your reasoning churches shouldn’t accept tithes/donations from _anyone_ because the church doesn’t know for sure the motive of the giver. After all, maybe I’m giving my money because I think God will give me a house and car in return! Ahhhh! My church shouldn’t accept my money!

    In this case the church probably does have a pretty good idea of the guy’s motives, at least as good as humans can have. (realizing we can only look at the outward manifestations)

    Maybe the guy was donating the money so he could dictate the actions of the church. Maybe the guy only played the lottery for entertainment on his birthday and wanted to give a tithe out of thankfulness. Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe.

    Without looking at all the extra variables that can pop up, is there a Biblical reason for a blanket rejection of moneys won in a lottery? No. Are there particular instances that a church can/should reject the moneys? Sure.

  • WebMonk

    Barry – using your reasoning churches shouldn’t accept tithes/donations from _anyone_ because the church doesn’t know for sure the motive of the giver. After all, maybe I’m giving my money because I think God will give me a house and car in return! Ahhhh! My church shouldn’t accept my money!

    In this case the church probably does have a pretty good idea of the guy’s motives, at least as good as humans can have. (realizing we can only look at the outward manifestations)

    Maybe the guy was donating the money so he could dictate the actions of the church. Maybe the guy only played the lottery for entertainment on his birthday and wanted to give a tithe out of thankfulness. Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe.

    Without looking at all the extra variables that can pop up, is there a Biblical reason for a blanket rejection of moneys won in a lottery? No. Are there particular instances that a church can/should reject the moneys? Sure.

  • Trey

    I have skimmed through most of the postings on here. Let’s make one thing clear gambling in and of itself is not a sin. It ultimately depends what one is trusting when gambling. If one is trusting putting God to the test so that they will receive earthly wealth then it is a sin or if they are squandering all they have to become rich. Now if a person buys a lottery ticket it is not a sin on its merits alone by when greed and covetousness proceed.

    As far as the church, not taking the money I am remiss to say it reminds me of the policy of the Southern Baptist Convention to boycott Disney and its products because they wickedly celebrate a day for homosexuality. While on its merits this is honorable if attainable. However it is impractical and impossible to shun every evil since we are our selves are the root of that evil. I would never buy anything or receive any gift because that person is a sinner. Thus, I receive gifts from God albeit in a hidden way through sinful men. This is not to say that we should not condemn sin and condone it, but to rightly distinguish between what is created by God and is good and what makes something evil, money is not evil, but love of it above God is evil. Thus, we corrupt the good gifts of God because of the old Adam.

  • Trey

    I have skimmed through most of the postings on here. Let’s make one thing clear gambling in and of itself is not a sin. It ultimately depends what one is trusting when gambling. If one is trusting putting God to the test so that they will receive earthly wealth then it is a sin or if they are squandering all they have to become rich. Now if a person buys a lottery ticket it is not a sin on its merits alone by when greed and covetousness proceed.

    As far as the church, not taking the money I am remiss to say it reminds me of the policy of the Southern Baptist Convention to boycott Disney and its products because they wickedly celebrate a day for homosexuality. While on its merits this is honorable if attainable. However it is impractical and impossible to shun every evil since we are our selves are the root of that evil. I would never buy anything or receive any gift because that person is a sinner. Thus, I receive gifts from God albeit in a hidden way through sinful men. This is not to say that we should not condemn sin and condone it, but to rightly distinguish between what is created by God and is good and what makes something evil, money is not evil, but love of it above God is evil. Thus, we corrupt the good gifts of God because of the old Adam.

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry Bishop

    Ok, you got me. My logic is shot.
    I simply wanted to point out that something like gambling “can” easily be a sin if it is connected to other sins of the heart like greed and coveting.

    The church accepting gambling money is obviously a dilemma, hence the post by Veith and the discussion.

    I do not want to impose legalism where the Bible does not speak (legalism does not earn salvation.) However, I fear that with many difficult areas of the Christian life we often make excuses for behavior rather than examining ourselves in light of Scripture and then asking God to forgive us where we have sinned.

    For example, the typical teenager in a church will ask questions like, “Is it ok to drink? Is it ok to gamble? How far can I go with my girlfriend before crossing the line?” Then we give a finely nuanced answer that says, “It’s ok in some specific situation.” Then the teenager understands this to mean that they can pursue these areas with abandon.

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry Bishop

    Ok, you got me. My logic is shot.
    I simply wanted to point out that something like gambling “can” easily be a sin if it is connected to other sins of the heart like greed and coveting.

    The church accepting gambling money is obviously a dilemma, hence the post by Veith and the discussion.

    I do not want to impose legalism where the Bible does not speak (legalism does not earn salvation.) However, I fear that with many difficult areas of the Christian life we often make excuses for behavior rather than examining ourselves in light of Scripture and then asking God to forgive us where we have sinned.

    For example, the typical teenager in a church will ask questions like, “Is it ok to drink? Is it ok to gamble? How far can I go with my girlfriend before crossing the line?” Then we give a finely nuanced answer that says, “It’s ok in some specific situation.” Then the teenager understands this to mean that they can pursue these areas with abandon.


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