Gambling or God’s law of good?

A Christian Science perspective: Only one can lead to true happiness.

I’ve been struck by how appealing commercials for gambling at resort casinos can sound. Behind the glitter, of course, are many sad stories about the effects of gambling and the basic misconception that it can provide satisfaction or lasting reward. Lotteries, another form of gambling, are highlighted in the Monitor editorial “One more reason state lotteries are a ticket to nowhere” (CSMonitor.com, March 26). The editorial points out that “lotteries reinforce a superstitious belief in luck as a path to easy riches.”

When people are convinced there’s a financial benefit linked with a questionable activity, the lure of money often pushes aside concern about the wisdom of that activity. Yet the Bible, with its accounts of God’s provision, opens up possibilities for good that can only bless all involved; no one loses. The Scriptures give ample reason to believe that divinely inspired answers can be found that will more than care for legitimate needs.

What the Bible shows about God’s omnipotence and the benefits of being faithful to Him excludes gambling as a reasonable option for happiness. The Scriptures also undermine the conviction that life is essentially based on chance.

While a surface view of things does suggest that much in life is random, out of our control, Christ Jesus presented a higher view of existence in which chance plays no part, and he proved its practicality. He showed the supremacy of unchanging, perfect, divine law over the claims of chance and injustice. His ministry tells us that each individual can demonstrate something of God’s care for His creation through a growing conviction that God is our loving divine Parent to whom we can confidently turn for help. After instructing his followers to seek first the kingdom of God and assuring them of the benefits of doing so, the Master said, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

Christian Science, discovered and founded by Mary Baker Eddy, shifts thought away from the notion that chance could have anything to do with our well-being. It lifts us to a higher perception of God as infinite Love and man as God’s blessed spiritual likeness, under the jurisdiction of divine law. In her work “No and Yes” Mrs. Eddy writes, “God’s law is in three words, ‘I am All;’ and this perfect law is ever present to rebuke any claim of another law” (p. 30).

While we all may struggle at times with the belief that chance is a fact of life, spiritual insight affirms that man is actually governed by the divine law of good, not by random occurrences. This truth becomes increasingly practical through prayer and through more consistent living of the biblical precepts found in the Ten Commandments and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

The appeal of gambling is a deception. But possibilities for good abound when we follow the natural, God-given inclination to rely on God’s impartial law of love to care for every need.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.