Addiction

Should Christians Gamble?

In college, I went to the Kentucky Derby with my friends. The main reason we went was to socialize, not bet on horses. After watching a few races, we decided to put down a measly sum of money. $10 to be exact. Was that wrong for us to do? Would the Bible condemn that action?

While there are no specific references in Scripture that condemn gambling, betting, or lottery, the Bible does warn us not to be tempted by the love of money (1 Tim. 6:10; Heb. 13:5). Scripture also condemns receiving money without labor (Prov. 13:11; 23:5; Eccl. 5:10). All of us know the gambling industry personifies both. Therefore, I think gambling should be avoided by Christians. Let me explain why.

Anyone who gambles can develop addictions if they are not aware of the risks and do not gamble responsibly. Signs that indicate someone has a problem is when behavior hinders relationships, finances, and the workplace. Gambling addiction has been known to be a “hidden problem” because there are no obvious physical signs or symptoms like drug or alcohol addiction. Here are 4 things to ask yourself to determine whether you may have a gambling problem:

  1. Feel the need to be secretive about your gambling. You might gamble in secret or find ways to lie about how much you really spend on betting. For instance, you may go to the convenience store everyday to get a lottery ticket but tell people that’s not “really gambling.”
  2. You may have trouble controlling your gambling. When you begin gambling, is it hard for you to walk away from it? Are you compelled to keep spending your money until you bet the last dollar? Do you borrow money from others so you can win your loss back?
  3. If you gamble even when you don’t have money, this is a concern, especially if you have children and a spouse to take care of. When you feel pushed to borrow or even steal things for gambling money, you have a problem.
  4. People closest to you in life will share their concerns, eventually when you can’t hide it anymore. Denial keeps problem gambling going, but after a while it becomes obvious. When friends and family show concern, it’s best to get professional help.

If gambling is a struggle, I would encourage you to seek help. Get counseling from a Christian counselor who can remind you of the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome temptation. Remember, all of us struggle with sin. It’s when we admit it and are willing to repent from it that God will help us in our time of greatest need. I will end with this verse to remind you of God’s great love. God bless.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Slaying the Dragon: How to Counsel Porn Addicts with Grace

Case Study: Let’s say your friend, whose name we will call Erik, admits to you his need for help in the area of porn addiction. He discovered it on a trip out of town when some of his friends showed it to him on their phones. Since then, Erik has frequently looked at pornography.

The problem got worse when he went to college and had no internet restrictions on his laptop computer. A few days ago, Erik felt convicted by God that as a Christian he must begin to deal aggressively with this sin. He even told his dad about the problem. His dad doesn’t know what to do and they have decided to seek counseling from you. What would you do? 

Erik has admitted his need for counseling because of his struggle with pornography. My first goal would be to reassure Erik that he made the right decision to seek help. By confessing his sin to dad and a counselor, he has followed James 5:16. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Now Erik is able to put off his sin nature and put on the righteousness of Christ since others will keep him accountable. 

After gathering data about Erik, my first advice for him would be to memorize Scripture pertinent to his struggle. Because people often feel powerless to overcome porn addiction, Erik should know this is a lie from Satan. The Scripture teaches in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 

As Erik memorizes this reference, which is a sword that fights against sin, the Bible will prepare him to win this battle. For example, if Erik is on the computer and no one is around, he may be tempted to go to a bad website. However, it’s no longer his fear of being caught that drives him. The Word of God will convict him now since he knows there is “a way of escape.” The fear of being caught is not a strong enough motivating factor for repentance. It has to be your conscience condemning you and godly sorrow that leads to true change in a person’s heart.  

Another important tool Erik should use to overcome his battle against pornography is the concept of “putting off” and “putting on.” Jay Adams calls this dehabituation—habits to put off, and rehabituation—habits to put on. Breaking a habit is a two-sided problem that requires the process of replacing our bad habits with good habits.[1] That’s why the Apostle Paul said “not to conform to this pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:1).”

A porn addict has several habits. To hide his addiction, he may lie about where he is going so he can quickly sin while no one is watching. After he is done, he may cover up his sin by deleting browsing history. So not only does the “lust” need to be dealt with, but the sin of lying is an issue. A verse that may help Erik to put on a good habit is truth rather than falsehood. Psalm 52:3 states, “You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth.” Erik will now need to be honest with people or God will convict him. 

In the life of a porn addict, Erik may have went from curiosity to experimentation, and from experimentation to obsession. He may be preoccupied with thinking about porn all the time and looks forward to having temporarily relief when he performs this lustful action. Erik now has to “put off” the habit of idolatry. An idol is anything that gives you ultimate fulfillment or satisfaction apart from God. It becomes a false savior. What most porn addicts find out is this momentary satisfaction leads to guilt and shame. In order to put off idolatry, Erik needs to put on worshipping the one true God. Matthew 6:33 states, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Because Erik has been exposed to multiple pictures and videos of sexual immorality that degrade women, He will need to put off how he views and treats women. No longer should Erik be flirting with women or having dirty thoughts. Instead, he needs to rewire his brain through the grace of Jesus Christ to look at women as God’s holy creation, not objects of sexual worship. Erik should “put on” this verse in his mind: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Lastly, Erik needs to know that pornography is not just a sexual addiction. Pornography causes people to lie to cover up their sin. Porn treats women with disrespect. It’s degrading to them. Porn addicts worship and serve the god of pleasure and fornication rather than the God of the Bible. Porn is a big issue. It destroys marriages and friendships.

If you or someone you know is struggling with this sin, get them help. It’s not too late. The good news is that Jesus Christ can help you overcome this sin. He can also heal you from the scars of shame and guilt left behind from many years of this addiction. Pray and ask God to help you now. If you have anything else that you think would help Erik overcome this problem, please feel free to comment below. 

            

 


[1] Jay Adams, The Christian Counselor’s Manual, p.188-189.

Breaking the Chain of Addiction

Broad_chain_closeup“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Introduction: I chewed tobacco for seven years of my life. At first, I enjoyed this drug because it offered me false security, pleasure, and relief from difficult circumstances. When I studied for an exam, I could put a chew in my mouth. After I ate dinner, I grabbed my can of Grizzly Wintergreen and chucked it in my mouth.

However, one day I realized my desire to chew spiraled to an addiction. I couldn’t handle not having it. It got so bad I would fall asleep with it in my mouth. While I talked to people, I concealed it in my mouth and swallowed it instead of spitting it in a bottle. Knowing the health risks and embarassing habit it was, I wanted to break this chain of addiction.

At first, I tried nicorette gum. It mimicked the feeling, but I missed the taste and experience of having dip in my mouth. I resorted to the patch, but that made me dizzy, upset my stomach, and it cost about $50 dollars! I had no choice but to quit cold Turkey. I was only a believer for about a year and underemphaized the power of God to destroy this addiction. After humbling myself, I prayed, asked God for help, and within a couple of days, I overcame the addiction. I have been free from this addiction for more than six years.

For me to say, “I can master all my power, revise my way of living, and defeat this common foe” is noble, but futile. A corpse could well say I will, with my own strength, rise out of this coffin and be a living being again. Of course, this is nonsense. You need a power outside yourself. For most people, it’s impossible to break the chains of addiction that are binding you apart from God. Only when you die to self, and allow Christ to transform you by His Spirit, are you able to live in victory over any form of addiction (Gal. 2:20).

Application: Whatever addiction is binding you, pray that God would erase your desire. Call on friends to keep you accountable. If necessary, flee from the addiction or the location that brings the most temptation. You can also get counseling at most churches. Make sure to find out whether the church teaches Biblical Counseling. For more information, you can visit the Association of Biblical Counselors.