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Is the lottery immoral? What about the stock market?

This is a cross-post from my post on the Ready to Harvest blog.

The news is out that someone has won the multi-billion Mega Millions lottery jackpot. Several others have won one or three million dollars as second place winners. Everyone has had dreams of what they would do if they suddenly were very rich- helping others, getting a nice house or vehicle, moving or enjoying vacations. It is fun to purchase a lottery ticket and –despite the odds- thinking that perhaps that winner could be you.

So what are the reasons given why a person shouldn’t be giving their money into the lottery system? Is there anything immoral about it? Why is gambling one of those things on the list that Baptist preachers have always spoken against? Let’s cover a few reasons.

  1. Many people don’t play to lose

Perhaps if you are in the middle class, and you go to purchase a lottery ticket, you are playing to lose. You realize that you will lose, but it’s fun to keep the dream of winning alive. You have some spare dollars, and you throw them in. It’s no surprise when the numbers don’t line up with your picks. No harm, no foul right? But the truth is, no matter how badly the odds are stacked against the lottery player, there are thousands upon thousands of players who are not playing to lose. They are putting in money they can’t afford to lose, because they want to get it back. They aren’t voluntarily giving it to the winner. The system exploits their weaknesses. You might say “but they do have a choice! They didn’t have to buy the ticket!” to that, I answer:

  1. The lottery preys on the addicted

Maybe you have bought a ticket only once every couple of years when the jackpot gets really high. But there are plenty of people who are caught in the lottery trap. They have already put tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars into the lottery, and they feel their only hope to win it back is to keep playing. You may say these people could quit any time, but to them, their only hope for not being foreclosed upon, the only hope for their family eating is if they buy a ticket and win big. You may say that their foolishness and addiction is not your fault – which is true. But if you win anything from the lottery, their money is in your hand. You are now responsible. You have stolen from them what they wanted to use to feed their children. They didn’t want to give it away. A lottery winner has taken -legally- what doesn’t belong to them morally.

  1. The lottery is a wasteful zero-sum game

The lottery system is in general, a transfer of wealth from the poor to the government, and some going back to the poor. Most of the money that goes into the lottery goes into the hands of the government. Some directly, and a large amount through taxing the winners’ winnings. Additionally, the lottery employs people to make the tickets, perform the drawings, etc. Millions of hours are spent shipping and selling the tickets. In the end, all that has happened is money has been thrown away with this administration, a bunch has gone to the government, and some has gone back to the “winners.” It is a zero-sum game. No wealth is generated. The only money that exists is that put into the pot by those buying tickets. It doesn’t produce anything, it lowers the standard of living for all involved but a very, very few. So not only is the lottery a form of legal theft and exploitation of the poor, but it is wasteful with the money that was taken through coercion.

  1. The lottery encourages covetousness

There’s nothing wrong with wanting something that you don’t have. Driving through a lot full of vehicles for sale and hoping to earn enough to buy one is not immoral. Wanting to get the newest phone is not immoral. Covetousness is wanting something that is not yours because it belongs to someone else –  it is not for sale. A biblical example is the wife of your neighbor. There’s no legitimate way to get your neighbor’s wife, so a desire to have her is immoral.

The lottery is a deception. It promotes a desire for wealth in the individual to trick him into putting up some of his own money to gain back the large sum. Therefore, the money one is craving when they think about winning the lottery is indeed money they could possibly get legally, but not morally. The money they want is the money that belonged to the poor neighbor who was tricked and coerced into giving it up. He would not have willingly handed you that money. He only handed it in in expectation of more being handed him. Because of this, everyone who plays the lottery is coveting and desiring to get what doesn’t belong to them. It also doesn’t belong to the government. It rightfully belongs back in the hand of the person who lost it.

 

Now, with this in mind about the lottery, let’s ask about the stock market. Is the stock market the same as the lottery? Is it gambling?

First, let’s understand the stock market, and what it is. Imagine that your friend opens a business and asks if you would be willing to put in $10,000 to help start the business, and you can have 50% of the company. Perhaps the company will do well and you, getting a cut of the business’s profits, will make many times over what you put in. Or perhaps, the next year the company will do poorly, become insolvent, and you will lose your entire investment. Is this gambling? It clearly isn’t. If you “win” in this situation, it is not because you took something that didn’t legitimately belong to you, it is because people willingly did business with your company, and as a result, both you and they were made better off. If the company does poorly, it is not because someone has taken illegitimately what belonged to you, but because of your inability or the company’s to run the business in a profitable way. You took on a risk, just as a farmer takes a risk planting seeds when the seed could be washed away or eaten by the birds, or his plants could die from disease or drought. So the small-business investment is not gambling.

The stock market is the same as the small-business investment. But it is actually a very, very small ownership percentage in a large business. Or perhaps an investment spread out in percentages of many businesses. So when you make money in the stock market, again, it is not at anyone’s loss, but because the company did well – it served its customers. When you lose, nobody has taken from you, but the company or companies you have invested in have receded in profitability for the time being.

Notably, this is not a zero-sum game. Everyone can see gains together or see losses together. A stock market investment doing well is not contingent on your neighbor’s failure.

A small percentage of stock market activity is “short selling” which is effectively betting against success. I won’t discuss it in this article, as it isn’t part of most investor’s activity. And obviously a person can do other immoral activity in the stock market, like insider trading, or investing in immoral companies. However, as a basic principle, it is not immoral, nor is it gambling, to invest in the stock market.

Let’s quickly look at the reasons given for why the lottery is immoral and see the difference compared to the stick market.

  1. In the lottery, #1 was “Many people don’t play to lose.” This meant that people who nearly inevitably would lose their entire investment were only investing because they thought they would gain. To some extent the same is true in the stock market. However, the difference has multiple parts: In general, losses are temporary. The person who invests wisely and waits will see things turn around. The lottery player ends up owning nothing, but the investor owns a percentage of a company. Though the value fluctuates, they still own that percentage. Nothing has been taken from them even if the value goes down. In the lottery, the whole system is built on people losing. This is what makes gain possible. In the stock market, everyone is in the same boat within a company’s stock. All are working together and working for company gain. Good decisions and management will lead to the company increasing in value, and the reverse leads to a decrease. A gain is a positive gain for all at nobody’s expense.
  2. #2 was “The lottery preys on the addicted” Notably, lotteries are real entities. These are organizations built to exploit. The companies people invest in are not concerned to exploit anyone. A person who puts money in is an investor, and the company will seek to do well and reward its investor. No shiny signs are placed in poor neighborhoods or in gas stations, nothing is done to try and force a person to be an investor. Those who are poor are found to not be investing in the stock market, but typically throwing their money away into the lottery. (This can often be why they are poor)
  3. #3 was “The lottery is a wasteful zero-sum game.” In contrast, gains and losses in the stock market are taken together. Money is used to grow the company. Stocks grow, not because of the loss of a person, but because of free trade and willing buyers consuming what the company produces.
  4. #4 was “the lottery encourages covetousness.” In contrast, desire for one’s stocks to do well is not covetousness. It is not desiring something that doesn’t belong to you. It is simply desiring for one’s own interest in companies to do well. This desire is a desire that all would benefit. It is a right desire. This desire does not come with a commensurate desire that others do poorly.

In conclusion, the preacher was right all along – the lottery is immoral. Let’s not encourage the use of it. Remember, legality doesn’t imply morality. Be a wise steward and have your motives and desires in the right place.

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Posted by on October 24, 2018 in Doctrine

 

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New free, printable Bible tracts!

I’ve added three new tracts that anyone can print on ReadyToHarvest.com.

YeahButDoesn't

Yeah, but doesn’t the Bible say?
This tract is aimed to address the real issues behind the skeptics who dismiss the Bible or the discussion of eternity. These people try to discredit the Bible due to things in it that they find questionable, and this tract gets down to the real issues.

 


KnowForSureKnow For Sure What Will Happen After You Die

This tract is designed to catch the attention of the religious but lost person who doesn’t know for sure if they are going to heaven. It gives a clear plan of salvation, and has a place on the back for a church or ministry stamp.

Poster ImageFound What I Was Looking For!
This is a wonderful, colorful, and interesting Bible tract that has a very specific use. Keep a couple of these in your purse or wallet, and if a cashier ever asks you “did you find everything you were looking for today?” Say yes, and then hand them one of these! The tract provides the plan of salvation in a way that those not familiar with the Gospel can understand. It has a space on the back to write or stamp your church information.

To view and download the tracts, go to http://readytoharvest.com/resources.html

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2016 in Free, ministry

 

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Are you interested in attending Master’s Baptist College in Fargo, North Dakota?

First off, make sure to watch the MBC video if you haven’t already, then read on to learn more about MBC!

Classes

IMG_1662If you’ve looked around on the internet, you have probably already read some about the classes at Master’s. There is a new class each week. Classes begin on Monday and run from 6:00 to 9:00 ever evening and from 8:30-12:30 on Saturdays. On Saturday there is also a Chapel service and ministry time. I am in many ministries, print shop, Sunday school, graphic design, compassion ministry, choir, etc., but there is also Bus, nursery, classroom helpers, grading mail-in Bible studies and more.

The classes themselves are enthralling. Some classes have a quiz at the beginning of each day, (Hi there, Bro. Venem!) Others have a requirement to turn in an edited and formatted copy of notes to be graded, Some have essays or term papers. All classes have a requirement to do something to pass, so if you plan on attending, plan to dig in to the word of God and study!

Some classes will be done differently this coming school year I am sure, and some years different teachers teach the same class, but some of my favorite classes have been “New Evangelicalism”(a class warning about it) with Don Jasmin, the printer of the Fundamentalist digest, “Evangelism” with Evangelist Larry Clayton, a preacher for 50+ years who has helped churches start churches 100+ times. All of Academic Dean Bob Venem’s classes are outstanding, and I feel like I carry away a lot of knowledge, but also good ministry advice and wisdom when I complete the class. Junior year classes I have enjoyed the most were “American Baptist history” and “Comparative Theology”, both taught by Evangelist Ted Alexander. In my Senior year, Deputation and Church Planting with Pastor Austin Wartner was one of my favorites.

Church Involvement

One of the great blessings of Master’s Baptist College is that it is a ministry of the Fargo Baptist Church. Not only does the college teach the importance of ministries being part of a local church, but they practice what they preach by having the College as their own ministry. As outlined above in the classes section, the College does require that each student work in a church ministry. Not only this, there is a requirement that each week the student also go on a visitation ministry, whether it me new residents, bus visitation, follow-up, what have you. There are four required church services a week, and there are lots of other activities to be a part of in the church. Some are just for college students, there are monthly activities for those in the College and Career class, like outdoor fun, or trips to Thunder road. If a student is good at singing, they are encouraged to join the Church Choir, as well as the College Choir, and there are more opportunities to be involved for those who are enthusiastic about being in the will of God! Many students are involved in the addictions ministry, Reformers Unanimous. Other ministries are radio editing, nursing home, bus ministry, print shop, and church housekeeping.

Dormitories

There is really no better deal to be found when it comes to housing than $100 a month. Maranatha was another college I originally looked at, but I had to consider if it was actually wise stewardship to go into debt at the tune of  $17,800 a year for tuition an board! Tuition at Master’s is free, so $900/year isn’t bad at all, nor is the $1200/year that it costs if, like me, you stay in Fargo through the summer.
The “Ministry Training Center” as it is called, is the dorm complex. There are many dorm “pods” with a dining room, two bedrooms, and a bathroom. There is also a gym, with a large, second floor walking track that overlooks the gym floor. There is an exercise room, common room, and coffee shop. There are also classrooms, and laundry rooms. The whole things is very sufficient, and at this low cost, there is nothing to lose! A new building is under construction to house more students.

College Life

Not only is college inexpensive here, you can come out of it richer than you went in! While enrolled, I have worked a full time (that’s right, 40 hours a week) job, and was still able to have time to study and maintain good grades. Since you have the daytime off, you can work a regular shift. I work 7:45-4:45, others work earlier and some later. Some students work as truck drivers, grocery store workers, self employed, restaurants, call centers, assembly line workers, etc. Fargo has the best job market in the nation, so if you can’t find work at home, come work up here and get a Bible college education while you are at it!

Accountability

While students are attending MBC, they are expected to live to a set of high standards, both to improve their appearance before a watching community, and to help them to understand how to live under authority- something that will be very useful in any area of ministry. There are dress standards for men and women, required approval and chaperoning for mixed groups going off campus, and also approval for absences from classes or church services.

Students are required to attend all the church services and events, as well as devotions and chapel services, and be on time. Rooms are inspected daily, and the on-campus internet has a filter to remove ungodly content. Certain forms of entertainment are prohibited, such as going to cinemas or theaters, and movies are also prohibited on campus except for certain occasions. There is a required curfew and lights out time in the dormitories as well.

Academic standards require all students to maintain a certain GPA or risk losing the privilege of staying in the dormitories. All classes have multiple requirements that must be met to earn a good grade- none of the classes are passive, and you will never pass a class if you simply show up.

The rules are designed to be practical and preventative. The school does not require the students to obey the rules because each one is their own personal conviction, but instead to obey the rules while a student because of a conviction to be obedient. All the rules are carefully thought out, and make for an organized and godly atmosphere on campus.

Is it for you?

The biggest consideration anyone should make before deciding whether or not they should come to Master’s is whether or not God is leading them to college here. The college is for those who are willing to serve the Lord and surrender their lives to him. This may be as a Pastor, a Missionary, Song leader, Sunday School teacher, Second Man, or someone who works a secular job, but wants to be ready to give an answer when they are asked about the hope that is in them. If you are not willing to serve God with your life, you may want to take a second look at yourself before you decide to attend. If you know that God wants you to attend Bible College, pray, and ask God to show you if Master’s Baptist college is in His plan for your life.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have questions. Check out my website, I have a college page there too, and go to the contact page to send me your questions, I’ll be glad to answer.

Updated October 2013 with new class times, as well as other information that has changed in the last year.

Updated April 2015 to keep this page relevant and up to date.

Also- if you are worried about “Master’s” having an apostrophe, it is possessive, so the apostrophe does belong there.
 
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Posted by on July 7, 2012 in Master's Baptist

 

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