The vocation of card sharking?

Recently, we discussed what occupations would be off-limits for Christians–that is to say, not a true calling from God, a.k.a. “vocation.”  We talked a little about blackjack dealers.  Well, what do you think about this, a group of card counters who give the money they win to “ministry”?

By day, Mark Treas leads worship and baptizes new believers. By night, he plays blackjack at Caesars Palace and other Vegas casinos.

It’s all in a day’s work for Treas, who calls himself a Christian card counter. He’s part of a highly successful team of professional blackjack players known as the Church Team. The group was composed of 90 percent active Christians, included pastors, worship leaders, and church planters.

At times, the team acted like any other fellowship group, gathering for quarterly meetings, keeping each other accountable, and encouraging each other to be lights in the dark casino environment. But they spent their nights in Las Vegas, winning more than $3 million in three years and getting kicked out of casinos across North America.

Colin Jones, the co-founder of the Church Team, said the group’s overarching goal was to use their activities as a platform for living out their faith: “The way we see the world, everything a Christian does is a ministry, whether you’re a plumber or a priest.”

But many question if card counting is compatible with a Christian worldview. Even the players themselves mention the gray areas and differing opinions about their work.

Card counting is a strategy in blackjack where the player mentally tracks what cards are played to calculate the probability of a certain hand. While not illegal, casinos consider the practice cheating and will ban players they catch beating their system.

Jones and Ben Crawford first picked up the basic techniques of card counting as a hobby, but when friends from church expressed interest, they created the Church Team as a business venture in 2006.

Using money from outside investors and their own bank accounts – some risking mortgages and life savings – the Church Team rolled in $3.2 million from 2006-2009, with investors making a 35 percent annual return on their money. The players were confident in the statistics behind card counting and compared playing blackjack to playing the stock market. . . .

Many players . . .[say]  they hate the way casinos exploit people. Liberating money from casinos was an extra motivator, and one player said that he considered playing blackjack “a calling,” not a hustle.Jones also said that professional gambling can actually keep players from falling into gambling addictions. “Most addictions have everything to do with trying to escape reality. But when you’re a professional blackjack player, you’re not escaping reality at all. You’re exhausted after eight hours of sitting at a table using your mind to play.”

They also tried to hold each other accountable while working in an environment with a lot of temptations: “We felt that if people were falling into sin because of this job we’d shut the business down,” said Jones.

But as unhappy casinos continued to kick out the card counters, more “gray areas” arose.

Casinos have a business’s right to deny service to any customer, including card counters, and players sometimes disguised themselves to avoid detection by security. In the documentary, Crawford is seen donning a range of costumes, including an MIT professor and a black-lipped goth.

via Holy card shark | World on Campus: news for college students from a Christian perspective..  [Free subscription required]

This particular group has disbanded.  Notice the attempt to invoke vocation (“everything a Christian does is a ministry, whether you’re a plumber or a priest”) without really understanding what that doctrine entails (plumbers and priests are masks of God in loving and serving their neighbors, but how is a card shark a mask of God and how is he loving and serving his neighbors who run the casinos?).

Which is worse, gambling or cheating at gambling?  An honest blackjack dealer or a dishonest Christian player in a disguise?  Gambling or a theologically  problematic understanding of ministry?

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.

  • Pete

    My understanding is that these “card counters” aren’t really cheating per se – simply employing techniques that result in increasing their odds of winning. The casinos (already on shaky, though not entirely indefensible ground in terms of vocation) seem to be the bad guys in this. You can play as long as you’re not good enough to alter the odds in your favor.
    I may be naive in this, though – I think I saw once where these card counters work as a team which would seem to be cheating.

  • Pete

    My understanding is that these “card counters” aren’t really cheating per se – simply employing techniques that result in increasing their odds of winning. The casinos (already on shaky, though not entirely indefensible ground in terms of vocation) seem to be the bad guys in this. You can play as long as you’re not good enough to alter the odds in your favor.
    I may be naive in this, though – I think I saw once where these card counters work as a team which would seem to be cheating.

  • Michael B.

    Where in the Bible is gambling prohibited?

  • Michael B.

    Where in the Bible is gambling prohibited?

  • http://www.quietedwaters.com Josh

    An additional sticking point in their approach: “Using money from outside investors and their own bank accounts – some risking mortgages and life savings – the Church Team rolled in $3.2 million from 2006-2009.”

    There are very real issues about the gambling and the question of whether this practice was cheating. But it is also troubling that believers were willing to risk their mortgages and life savings in this venture. Faithful stewardship, combined with 1 Timothy 5:8, lead me to think it unwise to risk everything on a card-counting trick that still leaves your ultimate fate to chance.

  • http://www.quietedwaters.com Josh

    An additional sticking point in their approach: “Using money from outside investors and their own bank accounts – some risking mortgages and life savings – the Church Team rolled in $3.2 million from 2006-2009.”

    There are very real issues about the gambling and the question of whether this practice was cheating. But it is also troubling that believers were willing to risk their mortgages and life savings in this venture. Faithful stewardship, combined with 1 Timothy 5:8, lead me to think it unwise to risk everything on a card-counting trick that still leaves your ultimate fate to chance.

  • LAJ

    @2 Wanting to get rich quick without working for it is the problem with gambling. If you win, you are also profiting from your neighbor’s loss.

  • LAJ

    @2 Wanting to get rich quick without working for it is the problem with gambling. If you win, you are also profiting from your neighbor’s loss.

  • Ken

    I think the Bible is explicitly clear about gambling. We are to be good stewards of what is given to us. Gambling is not being a good steward.

  • Ken

    I think the Bible is explicitly clear about gambling. We are to be good stewards of what is given to us. Gambling is not being a good steward.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Unless you win.

    Is not investing a form of gambling (as was stated above)?

    ___

    We are all derelict in the way we handle God’s gifts. Sin is not so much doggy-stuff on the ground that we avoid…or not. It’s all over us.

    So now we have Christian non-gamblers that are feeling pretty good about themselves (they don’t step in that stuff). And Christian gamblers that are starting to think that maybe they ought clean up their act. A little Christian moralism never hurt anybody. Or has it?

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Unless you win.

    Is not investing a form of gambling (as was stated above)?

    ___

    We are all derelict in the way we handle God’s gifts. Sin is not so much doggy-stuff on the ground that we avoid…or not. It’s all over us.

    So now we have Christian non-gamblers that are feeling pretty good about themselves (they don’t step in that stuff). And Christian gamblers that are starting to think that maybe they ought clean up their act. A little Christian moralism never hurt anybody. Or has it?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    If you play black jack, then at some level you are counting cards. It’s part of the game. And it is a game. Yes it can be abused. But a man walking into a casino with fifty dollars in his pocket playing the game for the evening and getting a few free drinks is not anymore guilty of being a bad steward of his funds than a man taking fifty dollars to the local fair and trying to win a teddy bear for his daughter or wife at one of those carnival games. And the amount of money played is not the issue here either.
    I do think it quite a bit problematic though, when you decide you are going to “do this for the church” And have people investing in your gambling proess. when the casinos kick you out, you have no right to go back in in disguise.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    If you play black jack, then at some level you are counting cards. It’s part of the game. And it is a game. Yes it can be abused. But a man walking into a casino with fifty dollars in his pocket playing the game for the evening and getting a few free drinks is not anymore guilty of being a bad steward of his funds than a man taking fifty dollars to the local fair and trying to win a teddy bear for his daughter or wife at one of those carnival games. And the amount of money played is not the issue here either.
    I do think it quite a bit problematic though, when you decide you are going to “do this for the church” And have people investing in your gambling proess. when the casinos kick you out, you have no right to go back in in disguise.

  • Ken

    Curious to see how you can compare gambling to investing…

    I think the problem today with some Christian is this post-modern view that truth is relative to the culture. Seems like if someone stands up for something, they will be classifed as moralists.

  • Ken

    Curious to see how you can compare gambling to investing…

    I think the problem today with some Christian is this post-modern view that truth is relative to the culture. Seems like if someone stands up for something, they will be classifed as moralists.

  • http://thinkingwithareformedmind.blogspot.com/ Steven A Mitchell

    As Pete points out, card-counting isn’t cheating. Casinos are the only persons in the universe that consider card-counting to be cheating. Of course, the reason why is because it causes them to lose their advantage; blackjack is the only [common] gambling game where a player can be skilled enough to cause the house to lose its advantage. If you happen to tilt that balance, the casino will toss you out. Now, that said, often card-counting teams employ a great deal of deception in order to go undetected by the casino. THAT aspect could be problematic for a Christian.

    Re: LAJ’s point, I think this particular situation presents a problem for that rubric. For starters, there are ‘legitimate’ jobs which have a much greater profit:work ratio than does card-counting. The criticism may work for the lottery or roulette, but the best card-counters put in months — if not years — of work to achieve the skill set.

    I’m also a bit skeptical of that rubric as a legitimate one anyhow. I’ve always found it interesting how insistent Protestants in particular are about this merit-based ethic. But that’s much too big a discussion for a comments board.

  • http://thinkingwithareformedmind.blogspot.com/ Steven A Mitchell

    As Pete points out, card-counting isn’t cheating. Casinos are the only persons in the universe that consider card-counting to be cheating. Of course, the reason why is because it causes them to lose their advantage; blackjack is the only [common] gambling game where a player can be skilled enough to cause the house to lose its advantage. If you happen to tilt that balance, the casino will toss you out. Now, that said, often card-counting teams employ a great deal of deception in order to go undetected by the casino. THAT aspect could be problematic for a Christian.

    Re: LAJ’s point, I think this particular situation presents a problem for that rubric. For starters, there are ‘legitimate’ jobs which have a much greater profit:work ratio than does card-counting. The criticism may work for the lottery or roulette, but the best card-counters put in months — if not years — of work to achieve the skill set.

    I’m also a bit skeptical of that rubric as a legitimate one anyhow. I’ve always found it interesting how insistent Protestants in particular are about this merit-based ethic. But that’s much too big a discussion for a comments board.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I have to say, I find the Bible to be all but explicitly silent on the issue of gambling. But hey lets all judge how others spend their money and if it differs from the way we spend our money than lets call it sin. I can’t afford lobster so you lobster eaters are sinning for buying it, shrimp is more economical.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I have to say, I find the Bible to be all but explicitly silent on the issue of gambling. But hey lets all judge how others spend their money and if it differs from the way we spend our money than lets call it sin. I can’t afford lobster so you lobster eaters are sinning for buying it, shrimp is more economical.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    no I don’t care if it was your anniversary. You should have ordered the tough New York Strip then. Really why are you even eating out at a restaurant.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    no I don’t care if it was your anniversary. You should have ordered the tough New York Strip then. Really why are you even eating out at a restaurant.

  • kerner

    At one time the LCMS condemned life insurance as gambling with your life. The attitudes of Christians toward Gambling have always fascinated me.

    Bror, I’m sorry. I don’t see why gambling and losing for fun is OK, but gambling well, and winning, for money, is wrong. And we’re supposed to feel sorry for our “neighbors” the casino industry? Oh please. When a whole industry is built on making a profit off of people making bad decisions on statistical odds, those few who can make good decisions by understanding the statistical odds don’t seem to be the bad guys to me.

    Come to think of it, Gambling on a game DOES seem a lot like the insurance industry and other forms of investment. The only difference seems to be that you are betting in an entertainment environment instead of betting on the rise or fall of the value of commodities. So, why should being good at this be a good or bad thing morally? Or, why is a card counter a better or worse person than an actuarial?

  • kerner

    At one time the LCMS condemned life insurance as gambling with your life. The attitudes of Christians toward Gambling have always fascinated me.

    Bror, I’m sorry. I don’t see why gambling and losing for fun is OK, but gambling well, and winning, for money, is wrong. And we’re supposed to feel sorry for our “neighbors” the casino industry? Oh please. When a whole industry is built on making a profit off of people making bad decisions on statistical odds, those few who can make good decisions by understanding the statistical odds don’t seem to be the bad guys to me.

    Come to think of it, Gambling on a game DOES seem a lot like the insurance industry and other forms of investment. The only difference seems to be that you are betting in an entertainment environment instead of betting on the rise or fall of the value of commodities. So, why should being good at this be a good or bad thing morally? Or, why is a card counter a better or worse person than an actuarial?

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Like all things, gambling becomes wrong when it becomes your God.

    More on topic, note it is the casinos who consider it cheating. They are biased. They make their money by attempting to stack the odds against the player. Card Counting evens the odds and it means they do not make as much money so they declare it cheating. When I play, I count. I also play with a low limit. Last time I played, I left with a heavier wallet.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Like all things, gambling becomes wrong when it becomes your God.

    More on topic, note it is the casinos who consider it cheating. They are biased. They make their money by attempting to stack the odds against the player. Card Counting evens the odds and it means they do not make as much money so they declare it cheating. When I play, I count. I also play with a low limit. Last time I played, I left with a heavier wallet.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    I would posit that most gamblers are violating “thou shalt not covet” pretty badly. Isn’t that the point of spending good money for a piece of paper called a “lottery ticket” or spending all night in a smoky, sleazy gambling parlor–the adrenaline rush of the possibility of making it big? You also will be presented with a number of other temptations to lust and drink heavily, both of which are also proscribed by the Scriptures.

    And card counting? Well, you’ve got the above–don’t tell me a 35% return on investment doesn’t incite latent love of money–and you’re misrepresenting yourself as a dumb bunny when you’ve instead chosen to stay sober and even the odds a touch. I’m not quite seeing it as “Robin Hood.”

    For what it’s worth, investment is not gambling, though both involve risk. Investment puts resources into an enterprise that will generate a profit if done correctly. In gambling, the house always wins–unless it’s run really badly. Investment has the design of putting a valuable good or service into other peoples’ hands; gambling has the design of taking valuable goods out of other peoples’ hands.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    I would posit that most gamblers are violating “thou shalt not covet” pretty badly. Isn’t that the point of spending good money for a piece of paper called a “lottery ticket” or spending all night in a smoky, sleazy gambling parlor–the adrenaline rush of the possibility of making it big? You also will be presented with a number of other temptations to lust and drink heavily, both of which are also proscribed by the Scriptures.

    And card counting? Well, you’ve got the above–don’t tell me a 35% return on investment doesn’t incite latent love of money–and you’re misrepresenting yourself as a dumb bunny when you’ve instead chosen to stay sober and even the odds a touch. I’m not quite seeing it as “Robin Hood.”

    For what it’s worth, investment is not gambling, though both involve risk. Investment puts resources into an enterprise that will generate a profit if done correctly. In gambling, the house always wins–unless it’s run really badly. Investment has the design of putting a valuable good or service into other peoples’ hands; gambling has the design of taking valuable goods out of other peoples’ hands.

  • Mary

    Several years ago my son’s Sunday School teacher drove to a local mall and parked her car in the vast empty parking lot. She then proceeded to put a loaded gun to her head and pulled the trigger.

    The shock and grief
    rocked our church and grade school. She was very involved in the school and church. No one knew the dark side of her gambling addiction. She would go to the local gambling boats and gamble away the grocery money, the house payments and anything she could get her hands on.

    Her husband didn’t even know until after her death that their house was close to foreclosure. She left behind two children, her son was my son’s friend.

    I don’t believe that gambling is a sin, but don’t expect to see me at the boats.

  • Mary

    Several years ago my son’s Sunday School teacher drove to a local mall and parked her car in the vast empty parking lot. She then proceeded to put a loaded gun to her head and pulled the trigger.

    The shock and grief
    rocked our church and grade school. She was very involved in the school and church. No one knew the dark side of her gambling addiction. She would go to the local gambling boats and gamble away the grocery money, the house payments and anything she could get her hands on.

    Her husband didn’t even know until after her death that their house was close to foreclosure. She left behind two children, her son was my son’s friend.

    I don’t believe that gambling is a sin, but don’t expect to see me at the boats.

  • Joe

    I am not sure I could justify starting an LLC aimed at counting cards but the idea that walking into a casino for a bit of entertainment is sinful seems rather ridiculous to me. I haven’t been in a casino in a decade or more, but I used to play a little blackjack now and again. I’d have a set limit I could afford to lose, just like I have set limit I can afford to spend on a nice supper, and when I hit the limit I would call it a night. If I won a little money, great. It was a nice bonus to the evening.

  • Joe

    I am not sure I could justify starting an LLC aimed at counting cards but the idea that walking into a casino for a bit of entertainment is sinful seems rather ridiculous to me. I haven’t been in a casino in a decade or more, but I used to play a little blackjack now and again. I’d have a set limit I could afford to lose, just like I have set limit I can afford to spend on a nice supper, and when I hit the limit I would call it a night. If I won a little money, great. It was a nice bonus to the evening.

  • –helen

    “Investment”, as it has been done since oversight has been abandoned, is “gambling” for the average joe who will never see good returns.
    Stacking the deck, as Goldman-Sachs did by advising Greece one way and then betting against their own advice in the market was more reprehensible than lowering a casino’s profits for a night.
    IMHO, of course.
    Investment used to mean putting money to work at producing a product, providing jobs and improving the economy, with a reasonable return to the lender.

  • –helen

    “Investment”, as it has been done since oversight has been abandoned, is “gambling” for the average joe who will never see good returns.
    Stacking the deck, as Goldman-Sachs did by advising Greece one way and then betting against their own advice in the market was more reprehensible than lowering a casino’s profits for a night.
    IMHO, of course.
    Investment used to mean putting money to work at producing a product, providing jobs and improving the economy, with a reasonable return to the lender.

  • http://greenearsandsham.wordpress.com Josh Grenier

    This is a terrific sermon by Phil Johnson on a possible reason gambling is a sin and different from other forms of lawful money increasing by risk schemes. Below it is a link to an article on his blog with the same type of information. I personally am still on the fence but he makes some very valid reasons and I’m beginning to lean his toward his way of thinking. Give a listen (or read.)

    http://www.thegracelifepulpit.com/Sermons.aspx?code=081-000-PJ

    http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2009/11/is-gambling-ok-dont-bet-on-it.html

    Yes, he is baptistic, but don’t hold that against him. There are a few good baptist’s in the world you know!

  • http://greenearsandsham.wordpress.com Josh Grenier

    This is a terrific sermon by Phil Johnson on a possible reason gambling is a sin and different from other forms of lawful money increasing by risk schemes. Below it is a link to an article on his blog with the same type of information. I personally am still on the fence but he makes some very valid reasons and I’m beginning to lean his toward his way of thinking. Give a listen (or read.)

    http://www.thegracelifepulpit.com/Sermons.aspx?code=081-000-PJ

    http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2009/11/is-gambling-ok-dont-bet-on-it.html

    Yes, he is baptistic, but don’t hold that against him. There are a few good baptist’s in the world you know!

  • DonS

    If you’re counting cards effectively, you are not gambling. You are going to win, at least in the long term. The odds are with you.

    I’m with those above who do not believe it is a sin to go to a casino for a little entertainment. Again, as with other things not specifically proscribed in Scripture, sin isn’t a bright line rule — it’s your attitude and priorities. If gambling becomes your obsession, then it is idolatry, as well as poor stewardship (again, unless you’re counting cards, in which case temptation to greed will be your bigger concern).

    That said, I’m not comfortable with forming a business entity and taking action to count cards for the purpose of “liberating money” from casinos and giving it to the church. It is not the job of Christians to exact retribution for the perceived sins of others, and that motivation in itself can lead to sin. Particularly, as well, once the casinos had kicked them out, going back in disguise was lying and deceptive. Those sins are black and white.

  • DonS

    If you’re counting cards effectively, you are not gambling. You are going to win, at least in the long term. The odds are with you.

    I’m with those above who do not believe it is a sin to go to a casino for a little entertainment. Again, as with other things not specifically proscribed in Scripture, sin isn’t a bright line rule — it’s your attitude and priorities. If gambling becomes your obsession, then it is idolatry, as well as poor stewardship (again, unless you’re counting cards, in which case temptation to greed will be your bigger concern).

    That said, I’m not comfortable with forming a business entity and taking action to count cards for the purpose of “liberating money” from casinos and giving it to the church. It is not the job of Christians to exact retribution for the perceived sins of others, and that motivation in itself can lead to sin. Particularly, as well, once the casinos had kicked them out, going back in disguise was lying and deceptive. Those sins are black and white.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bror (@9, 10), I’ve missed you! Funny, and insightful!

    Bubba (@13), your comment made me laugh as well, but in a different way. See how you sanctify investment (it “has the design of putting a valuable good or service into other peoples’ hands”) while failing to apply your own thinking on coveting!

    Here, I’ll do it for you:

    I would posit that most investor are violating “thou shalt not covet” pretty badly. Isn’t that the point of spending good money for a piece of paper called a “stock certificate” — the adrenaline rush of the possibility of making it big? [Either way, you'll end up with your eyes glued to an electronic reader board to monitor your fortune.] You also will be presented with a number of other temptations to think of yourself more highly than you ought and to lust after wealth, both of which are also proscribed by the Scriptures.

    Huh. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bror (@9, 10), I’ve missed you! Funny, and insightful!

    Bubba (@13), your comment made me laugh as well, but in a different way. See how you sanctify investment (it “has the design of putting a valuable good or service into other peoples’ hands”) while failing to apply your own thinking on coveting!

    Here, I’ll do it for you:

    I would posit that most investor are violating “thou shalt not covet” pretty badly. Isn’t that the point of spending good money for a piece of paper called a “stock certificate” — the adrenaline rush of the possibility of making it big? [Either way, you'll end up with your eyes glued to an electronic reader board to monitor your fortune.] You also will be presented with a number of other temptations to think of yourself more highly than you ought and to lust after wealth, both of which are also proscribed by the Scriptures.

    Huh. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Of course any “vocation” is valid! Anyone remember this: this ?

    But, it must be pointed out that investing is not akin to gambling in any way whatsoever. Gambling is always a zero sum game by virtue of mathematics. Investing, on the other hand, is the practice of venturing capital for the sake of creating wealth. While either can be motivated by greed or other bad motives, the actual ding an sich is completely different.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Of course any “vocation” is valid! Anyone remember this: this ?

    But, it must be pointed out that investing is not akin to gambling in any way whatsoever. Gambling is always a zero sum game by virtue of mathematics. Investing, on the other hand, is the practice of venturing capital for the sake of creating wealth. While either can be motivated by greed or other bad motives, the actual ding an sich is completely different.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @John I am not sure your distinction works. Gambling is not always a zero sum game. Other wise there wouldn’t be winners and losers. There really is little to know difference between investment and gambling.

    In either scenario, you are making a semi educated guess than an investment of time and money will pay dividends. Neither is guaranteed and for the most part the odds are stacked against you. Additionally, the end goal of both is creating wealth for the investor. The only difference is who the consumer is.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @John I am not sure your distinction works. Gambling is not always a zero sum game. Other wise there wouldn’t be winners and losers. There really is little to know difference between investment and gambling.

    In either scenario, you are making a semi educated guess than an investment of time and money will pay dividends. Neither is guaranteed and for the most part the odds are stacked against you. Additionally, the end goal of both is creating wealth for the investor. The only difference is who the consumer is.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @20 should be “no” not “know”, doh!

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @20 should be “no” not “know”, doh!

  • DNeuendorf

    A vocation is valid which serves your neighbor – providing value for the income received. If the “value” provided is a negative, then that’s not service. Therefore a stripper can be called an entertainer, but the “value” she provides is harmful to her customers. That’s not a calling from God. Running a gambling venture is also called entertainment (gaming), but it cannot be separated from the harm it brings to a large part of its clientele.

    But somewhere in here it gets harder to judge. Some customers come in for a good time and go home just fine. Others lives are ruined by a product that promotes addiction and abuse. And yet, the same might be said of a bartender, a football coach, even a restaurant. The critical difference may be this: that a gambling house only makes its money by the amount of harm it does to others. The more people lose, the more the house wins. The same is not true of most other risky ventures. The football team does not profit more when players are injured, nor does a restaurant make more profit from obesity. (Hmmm… back to the fine line again. A bar might profit from an increase in alcoholics, but surely not from drunk drivers.)

    What about for the gambling client? I believe it’s possible, between friends, to have a betting game in which no one will ever be harmed and it can remain only fun. But I cannot see any way in which that can happen with commercial gambling. Normally, my win must come from someone else’s loss, and I have no way of making whole (that is, of showing Christian care for) the person who has been harmed.

    Final difference: in this case the game is only between the house and the gambler. No others are involved. And the two are, allegedly, involved in a competition of skill, not pure chance. That might mitigate some of the potential evils of the game – but the others remain. Can a person practice card counting and at the same time care about the people who own the casino? People who are also those for whom Christ died?

  • DNeuendorf

    A vocation is valid which serves your neighbor – providing value for the income received. If the “value” provided is a negative, then that’s not service. Therefore a stripper can be called an entertainer, but the “value” she provides is harmful to her customers. That’s not a calling from God. Running a gambling venture is also called entertainment (gaming), but it cannot be separated from the harm it brings to a large part of its clientele.

    But somewhere in here it gets harder to judge. Some customers come in for a good time and go home just fine. Others lives are ruined by a product that promotes addiction and abuse. And yet, the same might be said of a bartender, a football coach, even a restaurant. The critical difference may be this: that a gambling house only makes its money by the amount of harm it does to others. The more people lose, the more the house wins. The same is not true of most other risky ventures. The football team does not profit more when players are injured, nor does a restaurant make more profit from obesity. (Hmmm… back to the fine line again. A bar might profit from an increase in alcoholics, but surely not from drunk drivers.)

    What about for the gambling client? I believe it’s possible, between friends, to have a betting game in which no one will ever be harmed and it can remain only fun. But I cannot see any way in which that can happen with commercial gambling. Normally, my win must come from someone else’s loss, and I have no way of making whole (that is, of showing Christian care for) the person who has been harmed.

    Final difference: in this case the game is only between the house and the gambler. No others are involved. And the two are, allegedly, involved in a competition of skill, not pure chance. That might mitigate some of the potential evils of the game – but the others remain. Can a person practice card counting and at the same time care about the people who own the casino? People who are also those for whom Christ died?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DNeuendorf said (@22):

    …nor does a restaurant make more profit from obesity.

    Really? They don’t make more money from people who order more food — even if it’s more food than they really should eat? Restaurants haven’t steadily increased portion sizes over the past few decades (coincident with an increase in waistlines)? They don’t teach their waiters to suggest appetizers or desserts in addition to entrees? Or their staff to ask if you want fries with that?

    In short, I can think of any number of ways that restaurants make profits from obesity. Or, to put it in spiritual terms, from gluttony.

    But for some reason, restaurants almost never come in for criticism from Christians in the same way that bars and casinos do.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DNeuendorf said (@22):

    …nor does a restaurant make more profit from obesity.

    Really? They don’t make more money from people who order more food — even if it’s more food than they really should eat? Restaurants haven’t steadily increased portion sizes over the past few decades (coincident with an increase in waistlines)? They don’t teach their waiters to suggest appetizers or desserts in addition to entrees? Or their staff to ask if you want fries with that?

    In short, I can think of any number of ways that restaurants make profits from obesity. Or, to put it in spiritual terms, from gluttony.

    But for some reason, restaurants almost never come in for criticism from Christians in the same way that bars and casinos do.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    tODD; well, you’ve more or less defined covetousness in such a way that would damn all productive work. Congratulations on eliminating the last letter of the Decalogue!

    Biblically, though, covetousness is defined more as an inordinate desire for gain–the kind that would allow a person to excuse apparent sin for the sake of that gain.

    With investing, again, I’ve got others benefiting, no one taken advantage of, and I look at my statements once a month. Some hard core people will definitely cross into covetousness, but that’s not what most do. Haven’t had an adrenaline rush out of investing in a while.

    OK, gambling; I win, you lose, addictive adrenaline rush, pervasive inducements to drunkenness and fornication, leave the family behind to go to Vegas……

    …..if you’re not seeing the difference, tODD, you’re not paying attention.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    tODD; well, you’ve more or less defined covetousness in such a way that would damn all productive work. Congratulations on eliminating the last letter of the Decalogue!

    Biblically, though, covetousness is defined more as an inordinate desire for gain–the kind that would allow a person to excuse apparent sin for the sake of that gain.

    With investing, again, I’ve got others benefiting, no one taken advantage of, and I look at my statements once a month. Some hard core people will definitely cross into covetousness, but that’s not what most do. Haven’t had an adrenaline rush out of investing in a while.

    OK, gambling; I win, you lose, addictive adrenaline rush, pervasive inducements to drunkenness and fornication, leave the family behind to go to Vegas……

    …..if you’re not seeing the difference, tODD, you’re not paying attention.

  • Joe

    Bernie Maddoff. Now, tell me again how inherently different gambling and investing are?

    Or would we rather go with, both enterprises could be legitimate vocations but that man has the ability to sin within (or against) his vocation.

  • Joe

    Bernie Maddoff. Now, tell me again how inherently different gambling and investing are?

    Or would we rather go with, both enterprises could be legitimate vocations but that man has the ability to sin within (or against) his vocation.

  • kerner

    In the speculation market, bet it stocks, commodities, or real estate, the investor is betting against the judgment (or perhaps the covetousness) of others. The investor buys something he thinks is worth more than he is paying for it (too bad for you, foolish seller neighbor). Or, he sells something short for more than he thinks it’s worth (too bad again, foolish buyer neighbor).

    So, if a California resident sold his house in July of 2008, and held onto his cash for a year before buying a nicer house for less money, is he a bad Christian for selling to his neighbor who is now underwater in his mortgage, or for buying his new house for a price that eliminated most of his neighbor’s former equity?

    And speaking of statistical analysis. What is the moral difference between a card counter who makes money for his investors and an insurance actuarial who makes money for his own investors?

  • kerner

    In the speculation market, bet it stocks, commodities, or real estate, the investor is betting against the judgment (or perhaps the covetousness) of others. The investor buys something he thinks is worth more than he is paying for it (too bad for you, foolish seller neighbor). Or, he sells something short for more than he thinks it’s worth (too bad again, foolish buyer neighbor).

    So, if a California resident sold his house in July of 2008, and held onto his cash for a year before buying a nicer house for less money, is he a bad Christian for selling to his neighbor who is now underwater in his mortgage, or for buying his new house for a price that eliminated most of his neighbor’s former equity?

    And speaking of statistical analysis. What is the moral difference between a card counter who makes money for his investors and an insurance actuarial who makes money for his own investors?

  • kerner

    I mean,” be it stocks…”

  • kerner

    I mean,” be it stocks…”

  • Michael B.

    Kerner wrote “And we’re supposed to feel sorry for our “neighbors” the casino industry? Oh please”

    Agreed. I’m not saying casinos should be illegal, but that doesn’t mean they’re exactly moral.

  • Michael B.

    Kerner wrote “And we’re supposed to feel sorry for our “neighbors” the casino industry? Oh please”

    Agreed. I’m not saying casinos should be illegal, but that doesn’t mean they’re exactly moral.

  • helen

    Dr Luther @12
    Like all things, gambling becomes wrong when it becomes your God.

    Which might be said of those who shuffle financial paper, create no good thing,
    but consider they have “earned” a king’s ransom, even when their company has lost money.
    Is it worse to out-manipulate a casino than to take home a fortune because you’ve persuaded the government to rig the interest rates in your favor? [Small savers pay; large "investors" collect.]

  • helen

    Dr Luther @12
    Like all things, gambling becomes wrong when it becomes your God.

    Which might be said of those who shuffle financial paper, create no good thing,
    but consider they have “earned” a king’s ransom, even when their company has lost money.
    Is it worse to out-manipulate a casino than to take home a fortune because you’ve persuaded the government to rig the interest rates in your favor? [Small savers pay; large "investors" collect.]

  • DNeuendorf

    1. The deleterious effects of overeating are not exactly on a par with drunkenness. And encouraging patrons to enjoy and appetizer or a dessert, or serving large portions (driven, generally, by the customers’ desires) is hardly the same as the free drinks in a casino. Anyone who refuses to see the difference is not arguing seriously.

    2. The crimes of Bernie Madoff and the work of most investors have nothing in common. That is a straw man. Madoff’s clients did not invest in an industry, product, service, or discovery that would appreciate in value. They (evidently unwittingly) invested in a ponzi scheme by which early investors were paid from the contributions of later investors. There is a reason why that is illegal. Actual investment, on the other hand, benefits society even when the investors make a large profit. There are certainly many ways to make an illicit (although legal) profit from investing. But the basic scheme is for some people to offer their capital, putting it at risk, in order to allow another person or people to build a product, sell an idea, or provide a service. If they are successful, then the investors profit, the owners profit, the workers profit, and the consumers profit. That is, they all get something of value that they sought from the exchange.

    3. Just because people cheat in the market does not make the market, or free interprize itself, immoral. Yes, using political influence to skew the market in your favor is immoral – though increasingly common. But actuaries provide a critical service by allowing people to reduce their risk by sharing it with others who have the same risk in a risk pool. People who “shuffle paper” may not create products, but they may be enabling others to do so.

    4. Arguments about the morality of economics or the moral implications of labor are too important to be reduced to simple ad hominems. Condemning “fat cats” or capitalists or the greedy rich, or equating investors with Bernie Madoff is simplistic, and it demeans the real moral deliberation that we each need to do every time we approach a transaction in our own daily lives. These things are not easy – and they should not be. Your neighbor’s welfare is a very important thing – so spending some time trying to determine how you ought to live to help your neighbor and not to harm him is worth doing. And it is inconsiderate of that moral wrestling to presume to judge, so quickly, whether others are acting out of love or avarice.

    Rich people are not evil. And poor people are not virtuous. But rich and poor people together face the challenge of how to use well the gifts and opportunities they have received from God – gifts that none of them deserve.

  • DNeuendorf

    1. The deleterious effects of overeating are not exactly on a par with drunkenness. And encouraging patrons to enjoy and appetizer or a dessert, or serving large portions (driven, generally, by the customers’ desires) is hardly the same as the free drinks in a casino. Anyone who refuses to see the difference is not arguing seriously.

    2. The crimes of Bernie Madoff and the work of most investors have nothing in common. That is a straw man. Madoff’s clients did not invest in an industry, product, service, or discovery that would appreciate in value. They (evidently unwittingly) invested in a ponzi scheme by which early investors were paid from the contributions of later investors. There is a reason why that is illegal. Actual investment, on the other hand, benefits society even when the investors make a large profit. There are certainly many ways to make an illicit (although legal) profit from investing. But the basic scheme is for some people to offer their capital, putting it at risk, in order to allow another person or people to build a product, sell an idea, or provide a service. If they are successful, then the investors profit, the owners profit, the workers profit, and the consumers profit. That is, they all get something of value that they sought from the exchange.

    3. Just because people cheat in the market does not make the market, or free interprize itself, immoral. Yes, using political influence to skew the market in your favor is immoral – though increasingly common. But actuaries provide a critical service by allowing people to reduce their risk by sharing it with others who have the same risk in a risk pool. People who “shuffle paper” may not create products, but they may be enabling others to do so.

    4. Arguments about the morality of economics or the moral implications of labor are too important to be reduced to simple ad hominems. Condemning “fat cats” or capitalists or the greedy rich, or equating investors with Bernie Madoff is simplistic, and it demeans the real moral deliberation that we each need to do every time we approach a transaction in our own daily lives. These things are not easy – and they should not be. Your neighbor’s welfare is a very important thing – so spending some time trying to determine how you ought to live to help your neighbor and not to harm him is worth doing. And it is inconsiderate of that moral wrestling to presume to judge, so quickly, whether others are acting out of love or avarice.

    Rich people are not evil. And poor people are not virtuous. But rich and poor people together face the challenge of how to use well the gifts and opportunities they have received from God – gifts that none of them deserve.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bubba said (@24):

    tODD; well, you’ve more or less defined covetousness in such a way that would damn all productive work.

    Um, no. I have, however, pointed out that covetousness is possible in all sorts of situations — including “productive work” that some people want to pretend is beyond reproach. I’m not “damning all productive work” by a long shot. But let’s not forget what Paul said: “I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” Do you believe that this somehow doesn’t apply to “productive work”?

    Anyhow<sarcasm>, oh no! You’re accusing me of applying the Law so that it seems like everyone‘s guilty! Gosh! Isn’t the Law supposed to be something easy that we can all accomplish, a list of boxes we can check off? And while we’re on the topic, didn’t Jesus define murder and lust too broadly, as well, in the Sermon on the Mount?</sarcasm>

    Congratulations on eliminating the last letter of the Decalogue!

    I’m fully appreciating the irony of being accused of “eliminating” parts of the Decalogue because I’m applying them to everyone — even good, upstanding American capitalists. Yes, I’m being accused of this by a man who seems to think that the commandment(s) on coveting only apply to “some hard core people”. I mean, honestly, which of us is doing damage to the Commandments here? Hello?

    Biblically, though, covetousness is defined more as an inordinate desire for gain…

    Oh, well, if it’s “defined” that way “biblically”, then you’ll have no problem citing the actual definitions for me — you know, from the Bible. Meanwhile, I’m going to go with this Biblical passage: “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”. Does that apply to self-righteous capitalists who think they’re doing the world (if not God) a favor with their money-making activities? Of course it does! In fact, it probably applies to everyone, from the rich on down to the poor, but as you’re apparently denying the sin of covetousness at work in capitalism, I will focus on the capitalists.

    With investing, again, I’ve got others benefiting, no one taken advantage of…

    “No one taken advantage of”? Criminy, that’s a bit naive, isn’t it? I believe others have already addressed this point.

    Some hard core people will definitely cross into covetousness, but that’s not what most do.

    sure, sure. And some “hard core people” will cross over into adultery or murder, but that’s not what … oh, wait, no, the Sermon on the Mount makes it clear that most of us are guilty of these things. It’s like you’re trying to define sins as minimally as possible so you can claim you and others aren’t sinning or something.

    Haven’t had an adrenaline rush out of investing in a while.

    Oh, well then. Maybe you don’t struggle with sin in economic situations. Lucky.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bubba said (@24):

    tODD; well, you’ve more or less defined covetousness in such a way that would damn all productive work.

    Um, no. I have, however, pointed out that covetousness is possible in all sorts of situations — including “productive work” that some people want to pretend is beyond reproach. I’m not “damning all productive work” by a long shot. But let’s not forget what Paul said: “I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” Do you believe that this somehow doesn’t apply to “productive work”?

    Anyhow<sarcasm>, oh no! You’re accusing me of applying the Law so that it seems like everyone‘s guilty! Gosh! Isn’t the Law supposed to be something easy that we can all accomplish, a list of boxes we can check off? And while we’re on the topic, didn’t Jesus define murder and lust too broadly, as well, in the Sermon on the Mount?</sarcasm>

    Congratulations on eliminating the last letter of the Decalogue!

    I’m fully appreciating the irony of being accused of “eliminating” parts of the Decalogue because I’m applying them to everyone — even good, upstanding American capitalists. Yes, I’m being accused of this by a man who seems to think that the commandment(s) on coveting only apply to “some hard core people”. I mean, honestly, which of us is doing damage to the Commandments here? Hello?

    Biblically, though, covetousness is defined more as an inordinate desire for gain…

    Oh, well, if it’s “defined” that way “biblically”, then you’ll have no problem citing the actual definitions for me — you know, from the Bible. Meanwhile, I’m going to go with this Biblical passage: “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”. Does that apply to self-righteous capitalists who think they’re doing the world (if not God) a favor with their money-making activities? Of course it does! In fact, it probably applies to everyone, from the rich on down to the poor, but as you’re apparently denying the sin of covetousness at work in capitalism, I will focus on the capitalists.

    With investing, again, I’ve got others benefiting, no one taken advantage of…

    “No one taken advantage of”? Criminy, that’s a bit naive, isn’t it? I believe others have already addressed this point.

    Some hard core people will definitely cross into covetousness, but that’s not what most do.

    sure, sure. And some “hard core people” will cross over into adultery or murder, but that’s not what … oh, wait, no, the Sermon on the Mount makes it clear that most of us are guilty of these things. It’s like you’re trying to define sins as minimally as possible so you can claim you and others aren’t sinning or something.

    Haven’t had an adrenaline rush out of investing in a while.

    Oh, well then. Maybe you don’t struggle with sin in economic situations. Lucky.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DNeuendorf said (@30):

    The deleterious effects of overeating are not exactly on a par with drunkenness.

    Likely a popular sentiment in ever-fatter America, especially among the alcohol-is-evil crowd, but I’m inclined to go with Scripture on this one:

    Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.

    Of course, the legalist will be baffled as to how one can sin while eating, but the man who takes God’s Law seriously will not be so surprised.

    And encouraging patrons to enjoy and appetizer or a dessert, or serving large portions (driven, generally, by the customers’ desires) is hardly the same as the free drinks in a casino. Anyone who refuses to see the difference is not arguing seriously.

    That’s a real fine debatin’ style you got there, pardner! State, without explanation, that a comparison is “hardly the same”, and then declare that anyone who disagrees isn’t “serious”. Who needs facts when you’ve got fiat?

    Anyhow, your point #2 appears to entirely miss the point by discussing what is legal, as if that had anything to do with what is moral.

    Condemning “fat cats” or capitalists or the greedy rich, or equating investors with Bernie Madoff is simplistic…

    Yeah! So everyone going on about “fat cats” should just shut their piehole! … Oh wait, that’s just you. No one else has used the term.

    Anyhow, if I quote 1 Timothy 6 or, well, much of the book of James, is that “simplistic” and “demeaning”?

    Rich people are not evil.

    Correction: rich people are not uniquely evil. Big difference, that.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DNeuendorf said (@30):

    The deleterious effects of overeating are not exactly on a par with drunkenness.

    Likely a popular sentiment in ever-fatter America, especially among the alcohol-is-evil crowd, but I’m inclined to go with Scripture on this one:

    Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.

    Of course, the legalist will be baffled as to how one can sin while eating, but the man who takes God’s Law seriously will not be so surprised.

    And encouraging patrons to enjoy and appetizer or a dessert, or serving large portions (driven, generally, by the customers’ desires) is hardly the same as the free drinks in a casino. Anyone who refuses to see the difference is not arguing seriously.

    That’s a real fine debatin’ style you got there, pardner! State, without explanation, that a comparison is “hardly the same”, and then declare that anyone who disagrees isn’t “serious”. Who needs facts when you’ve got fiat?

    Anyhow, your point #2 appears to entirely miss the point by discussing what is legal, as if that had anything to do with what is moral.

    Condemning “fat cats” or capitalists or the greedy rich, or equating investors with Bernie Madoff is simplistic…

    Yeah! So everyone going on about “fat cats” should just shut their piehole! … Oh wait, that’s just you. No one else has used the term.

    Anyhow, if I quote 1 Timothy 6 or, well, much of the book of James, is that “simplistic” and “demeaning”?

    Rich people are not evil.

    Correction: rich people are not uniquely evil. Big difference, that.

  • Joe

    “Just because people cheat in the market does not make the market, or free interprize itself, immoral. ”

    And, just because some people loss all self control at the blackjack table does not make all gamming immoral.

  • Joe

    “Just because people cheat in the market does not make the market, or free interprize itself, immoral. ”

    And, just because some people loss all self control at the blackjack table does not make all gamming immoral.

  • DNeuendorf

    All people are evil – conceived in sin. But rich people are not inherently evil by virtue of their wealth. Nor does poverty necessarily cause people to be good or to sin less. My point is that every station in life, and people in every vocation, are enmeshed in sin. I’m trying to gently suggest that it’s not so simple as to just pick professions (like gambler or stockbroker) and call those evil – and then identify other professions (farmer, baker, cobbler) and call those good because they produce a visible beneficial commodity.

    Yes, Jesus said it was especially hard (essentially impossible) for the rich to enter heaven. But of course he also said that with God all things are possible. If all this arguing about gambling is an attempt to justify someone – then it’s fruitless. Living by the law, we will all be judged as sinners, no matter what our occupation. We live by grace, by the gift of Jesus’ forgiveness.

    But then that leaves us with the hard question still, a challenge to examine our behavior. Now that we live in grace, how CAN we serve or neighbor in our profession?

  • DNeuendorf

    All people are evil – conceived in sin. But rich people are not inherently evil by virtue of their wealth. Nor does poverty necessarily cause people to be good or to sin less. My point is that every station in life, and people in every vocation, are enmeshed in sin. I’m trying to gently suggest that it’s not so simple as to just pick professions (like gambler or stockbroker) and call those evil – and then identify other professions (farmer, baker, cobbler) and call those good because they produce a visible beneficial commodity.

    Yes, Jesus said it was especially hard (essentially impossible) for the rich to enter heaven. But of course he also said that with God all things are possible. If all this arguing about gambling is an attempt to justify someone – then it’s fruitless. Living by the law, we will all be judged as sinners, no matter what our occupation. We live by grace, by the gift of Jesus’ forgiveness.

    But then that leaves us with the hard question still, a challenge to examine our behavior. Now that we live in grace, how CAN we serve or neighbor in our profession?

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Dr. Luther @20
    Gambling is always a zero sum game. Winning and losing is a necessary component of a zero sum game (more here). The point is that what is won by one entity is always lost by another entity. Gambling only redistributes wealth, it never creates wealth.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Dr. Luther @20
    Gambling is always a zero sum game. Winning and losing is a necessary component of a zero sum game (more here). The point is that what is won by one entity is always lost by another entity. Gambling only redistributes wealth, it never creates wealth.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    tODD, if what you are saying is true, we ought to find investors walking home (instead of driving) from Ameriprise or Edward Jones because they’d been induced to sell their cars and homes for another “hit” of buying mutual funds in the same way that anyone who drives to Reno or Vegas sees people walking home in the desert because they did the same to gamble.

    Sorry, the reason it doesn’t happen is because investing is not a form of gambling. Again, one provides the prospect of gain by providing capital to businesses. The other provides the prospect of gain by taking from others without compensation.

    Yes, there are bad actors, and–who knew?–they can usually be spotted as they promise something (e.g. Madoff’s 10% returns in a flat market) obviously too good to be true. That does not, however, change the fact that any knowledgeable investor knows that what he is trying to do is to provide working capital to businesses in exchange for the prospect of a profit on that capital–something the Scriptures clearly commend.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    tODD, if what you are saying is true, we ought to find investors walking home (instead of driving) from Ameriprise or Edward Jones because they’d been induced to sell their cars and homes for another “hit” of buying mutual funds in the same way that anyone who drives to Reno or Vegas sees people walking home in the desert because they did the same to gamble.

    Sorry, the reason it doesn’t happen is because investing is not a form of gambling. Again, one provides the prospect of gain by providing capital to businesses. The other provides the prospect of gain by taking from others without compensation.

    Yes, there are bad actors, and–who knew?–they can usually be spotted as they promise something (e.g. Madoff’s 10% returns in a flat market) obviously too good to be true. That does not, however, change the fact that any knowledgeable investor knows that what he is trying to do is to provide working capital to businesses in exchange for the prospect of a profit on that capital–something the Scriptures clearly commend.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bike,
    Here are a few verses where lending money at interest is forbidden. Now can you find me a verse where it says that Gambling is a sin?
    Exodus 22:25 (ESV)
    “If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him.

    Leviticus 25:36-37 (ESV)
    Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. [37] You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit.

    Deut. 23:19-20 (ESV)
    “You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest. [20] You may charge a foreigner interest, but you may not charge your brother interest, that the Lord your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

    Neh. 5:7 (ESV)
    I took counsel with myself, and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. I said to them, “You are exacting interest, each from his brother.” And I held a great assembly against them

    Neh. 5:10 (ESV)
    Moreover, I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us abandon this exacting of interest.

    Psalm 15:5 (ESV)
    who does not put out his money at interest
    and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
    He who does these things shall never be moved.

    As a matter of fact though, you don’t see investors walking home broke in the desert outside of Vegas or Reno, Don’t know that i have seen anyone walking there except for a broke down car, and I have gone those ways quite a bit. What you do see is investors jumping from bridges and office windows, and otherwise committing suicide.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bike,
    Here are a few verses where lending money at interest is forbidden. Now can you find me a verse where it says that Gambling is a sin?
    Exodus 22:25 (ESV)
    “If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him.

    Leviticus 25:36-37 (ESV)
    Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. [37] You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit.

    Deut. 23:19-20 (ESV)
    “You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest. [20] You may charge a foreigner interest, but you may not charge your brother interest, that the Lord your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

    Neh. 5:7 (ESV)
    I took counsel with myself, and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. I said to them, “You are exacting interest, each from his brother.” And I held a great assembly against them

    Neh. 5:10 (ESV)
    Moreover, I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us abandon this exacting of interest.

    Psalm 15:5 (ESV)
    who does not put out his money at interest
    and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
    He who does these things shall never be moved.

    As a matter of fact though, you don’t see investors walking home broke in the desert outside of Vegas or Reno, Don’t know that i have seen anyone walking there except for a broke down car, and I have gone those ways quite a bit. What you do see is investors jumping from bridges and office windows, and otherwise committing suicide.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Bror, I think you’re confusing investing with consumer credit. Capital investiture is not lending money at interest, it is purchasing a portion of a business. We have many money tools in America – some of them are good and wholesome, while some of them – including “sub-prime” lending, consumer credit in some forms, and most of our in-kind welfare disbursements – are poor tools, and maybe even unethical. But I don’t think it helps the conversation to conflate them all, nor to use the associative fallacy to tar and feather all (or even most) folks in the financial sector.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Bror, I think you’re confusing investing with consumer credit. Capital investiture is not lending money at interest, it is purchasing a portion of a business. We have many money tools in America – some of them are good and wholesome, while some of them – including “sub-prime” lending, consumer credit in some forms, and most of our in-kind welfare disbursements – are poor tools, and maybe even unethical. But I don’t think it helps the conversation to conflate them all, nor to use the associative fallacy to tar and feather all (or even most) folks in the financial sector.

  • Dave

    Here is a link to the confession of a former Christian Card Shark that I found refreshing. Apparently after many years he saw what was wrong with this vocation:

    http://mscottfoster.com/2012/04/10/confessions-of-a-christian-blackjack-player/

  • Dave

    Here is a link to the confession of a former Christian Card Shark that I found refreshing. Apparently after many years he saw what was wrong with this vocation:

    http://mscottfoster.com/2012/04/10/confessions-of-a-christian-blackjack-player/

  • http://www.mscottfoster.com M. Scott Foster

    Gene,

    I recall reading something by you, on Tolkien as I recall, as I sat by myself on the 33rd floor of the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, NV. I never imagined what I was doing at the time would ever be mentioned on your blog.

    While on the team, I look hard to find anything on the doctrine of work. There wasn’t much out there. I eventually stumbled upon Dorthy Sayers’ “Why work.” It was one the things that helped moved me out of card-counting (among others things).

    Ex-Church Team member,
    Michael

  • http://www.mscottfoster.com M. Scott Foster

    Gene,

    I recall reading something by you, on Tolkien as I recall, as I sat by myself on the 33rd floor of the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, NV. I never imagined what I was doing at the time would ever be mentioned on your blog.

    While on the team, I look hard to find anything on the doctrine of work. There wasn’t much out there. I eventually stumbled upon Dorthy Sayers’ “Why work.” It was one the things that helped moved me out of card-counting (among others things).

    Ex-Church Team member,
    Michael