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Christians and the Lottery


What do you think of the National Lottery?

I was in a petrol station a few days ago, and standing in a queue to pay for my fuel; a queue that was being held up by a woman purchasing her lottery tickets and a handful of lottery scratch cards. I complained to my wife, (After all, what is a wife for, if one can’t complain about the lottery addicts to her). She reminded me of an incident just a few days earlier, when she too had been in a queue in one of our major supermarkets, and the gentleman ahead of her had spent £82 (around $125 US) on lottery products. I’m convinced that the lottery is just as much an issue now as it was when it was launched in 1994.

Some ethical questions still haunt the lottery.
Apart from the obvious problems with gambling addiction, consider…

1. The Christian Response. Has our attitude to the lottery changed? When the lottery began in the UK, one of the organisations that wholeheartedly embraced it was Royal Mail, – agreeing that it would be a feature in local Post Offices. But many of those Post Offices were ‘Sub’ Post Offices – small local businesses owned and run by businessmen and women and contracted to Royal Mail. One man who ran a very successful local Sub Post Office refused to allow the lottery machine to be installed, on the grounds that he was a Christian, and on moral grounds, could not encourage gambling. For that courageous stand he lost his business and his livelihood.
Has the lottery been ‘normalised’ to such an extent that Christians, who maybe wouldn’t buy a ticket themselves, have no difficulty or at least no conscientious objection in selling them, – or if they do find the lottery distasteful, when balanced against the loss of employment, is it the lessor of two evils?

2. The Government and Lottery Ethics. And what of our government, which first plunged the nation into the gambling frenzy that is the lottery? Is the lottery not just a tax on the poor? One social commentator recently called the lottery, “A tax on those who can’t do maths.” He was referring of course to the fact that the odds of winning the lottery are so low, and that our government are well aware of this. The chance of winning the jackpot are 14 million to one. Logistically, to be certain of winning, you would need to buy a £1 ticket every week for 270,000 years. The government know this, and they know that the lottery is attractive to those on low incomes, – but they started it and they continue to profit from it. And they allow it to claim that its ‘for good causes’ when in fact only a minute amount of the money raised go to charities, and some of those are dubious enough.

3. Society’s Grasp on Reality. People don’t want to live in the real world. The lottery offers them (they think) the chance of a new life, a celebrity lifestyle, and in doing so it clouds reality, the reality that for most of us, material prosperity will only come through application at our studies, and hard work thereafter. And why is material prosperity so important anyway? Some time ago someone in the UK government had this brilliant idea that they could measure the nation’s happiness, as an alternative to measuring its wealth. But many people think that wealth and happiness are so inextricably linked that you can’t have one without the other. Many do not want to face the fact that material possessions do not guarantee happiness, and that one day we will leave them all behind and stand before God in judgement. Is not the lottery reinforcing society’s obsession with materialism?

So, what do YOU think of the lottery? Do you ever play it? If your boss asked you to sell lottery tickets would you refuse? Is it just not worth it to refuse any more? Is it just a bit of harmless fun, or a form of addictive gambling? Where does the Christian stand?

I’d love to hear your views.

One Comment
  1. There is only one way you will never win the cash lottery, if you do not ever buy a ticket.
    Life is full of risks with little reward. Lottery pays out to millions every week . Next week too

    \_ c”,)

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