by Kenneth O. Peterman
Going to dinner at a casino is not a sin as far as I can determine, but the greater question is: is it wise?
I’m sure some Christians will argue that casinos offer great bargains on food and entertainment and they may very well be right. And, I suppose, there are some Christians who might be able to take advantage of these offers without gambling or getting involved in wrong.
The question is not whether they can do it but should they?
First Thessalonians 5:22 encourages us not only to avoid sin but also to avoid the very appearance of wrong doing when it says, Abstain from all appearance of evil. I doubt whether anyone would question that casinos are identified with the darker side of life: the entertainment, the seductive dress of the waitresses and many of the patrons, the greed of the gamblers, the emphasis on drinking, and the pleasure seeking all indicate more of an appearance of evil, than of godliness.
Years ago while attending an antique show in Atlantic City, New Jersey, I decided to walk into one of the casinos on the Boardwalk. It didn’t take very long to realize that I wasn’t exactly in the most edifying environment. Actually, the Scripture encourages that we choose the very opposite surroundings: Flee youthful lust: but follow righteousness . . . (2 Timothy 2:22); Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. (1 Peter 2:11); Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. (Titus 2:12) These verses operate far from the world of the casino.
Although the original question assumes the individual only wants to eat and not to gamble, he must remember that the overall character and purpose of a casino is to gamble—nothing more, nothing less! The more you hang around the casino, the more likely you are to gamble. The effect of the environment might be more devastating than you think. The situation could be very much like the man who bought a baby boa constrictor as a pet. He enjoyed the snake as it was growing, and often allowing it to entangled itself around his body when showing it off to friends. Without realizing it, the snake became much stronger than the man thought and the next time he allowed the snake to entangle his body, his friends were horrified when they heard his bones begin to crush as the man struggled in vain to get out of the snake’s grip. But it was too late. Could this type of thing happen to someone who becomes enamored with a casino?
Just for the sake of argument, let’s suppose you can handle dining at a casino without being tempted to gamble. What about the influence on your family members and friends? Do you have the right to exercise your liberty in light of the possibility of stumbling a weaker brother or sister in the Lord? First Corinthians 8: 9 says otherwise, But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak. Do you want other believers to copy your example and possibly fall into temptation? Do you want those in your family to follow your lead? Do you really want your children to grow up in such a compromised atmosphere?
Ask yourself: Is the advantage of enjoying a dinner at a casino worth the possible disadvantages to yourself, to your family, and to other believers?
It’s your decision, but why not exercise your liberty and go to another restaurant.