On January the 19th of this year a tornado swept through the town of Wetumpka, Alabama, leaving parts of the small community destroyed. Wind Creek Casinos donated $100,000 to the police department and two churches that were heavily damaged, the First Presbyterian Church and the First Baptist Church.
The pastor of the Presbyterian Church said they were well insured and would give their $50,000 donation to help rebuild the community, the police department welcomed their $25,000 donation to restore damaged facilities.
But the pastor of the First Baptist Church said the members of his church voted to return their $25,000 to the casino saying “we can’t keep this. If it keeps one person from listening to us with the gospel, we can’t keep it.”
Some questions arise. Is gambling a sin, and if so, should the proceeds from gambling be an acceptable donation to a church?
We are clearly warned in the Scriptures not to take unnecessary financial risks, Proverbs 6:1-5, Paul told Timothy “the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil,” First Timothy 6:10, and Jesus said we cannot “serve God and wealth,” Matthew 6:24.
Nowhere in Scripture is gambling denounced as a sin, but since it involves taking an unnecessary risk, is motivated by “the love of money,” and can distract us from serving God, I’m going to go with it being a sin.
Of course, others may feel differently, so here is another scenario. A fellow church member plays and wins the lotto, and the following Sunday makes a huge donation to the church obviously from his winnings. Should the church question the means and motives by which it was acquired, and return it?
I am sure some may disagree with me but there is a distinction between money attained illegally and money acquired immorally. Money donated from an illegal source should be turned over to the authorities and returned to its legal owner, I think it would be impractical to try and ferret out the means and motives behind every dime donated to the church.
Several years ago, I was the interim pastor at a church when the time had come to elect deacons to serve the church. Any church member in good standing was eligible. The board of deacons said they thought one man should not be considered, he was a janitor at a brewery. I asked if he had a reputation as a drunk, and they replied, no. I then asked was he a faithful tither, and they replied, yes. I asked does the church accept those tithes from his brewery salary to be put in the church’s bank account, and they said, yes. I told them if he is nominated and elected he will serve as a deacon, or I would not serve them as pastor.
I cannot say I am not concerned with the questionable way some make a living, but I am not any less concerned with hypocrisy. How we handle money brings many issues to light.