Is playing poker a sin?
Poker is a card game considered sinful by some Christians due to its association with gambling. However, does this mean poker itself or playing poker is sinful?
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The Bible does not say that card games or games of chance such as poker are evil. Instead, the Bible teaches clearly about avoiding the love of money. Because the potential to gain or lose money in poker is often part of the game's attraction, it is important to evaluate what Scripture teaches on this topic.
First, money is not evil. It is the love of money that is a root of various kinds of evil. First Timothy 6:10-11 states, "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs." Hebrews 13:5 adds, "Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have." This love of money can clearly influence both Christians and non-Christians.
Second, the Bible warns against "get rich quick" schemes. Proverbs 13:11 observes, "Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it." In other words, those who gain money quickly tend to waste or spend it quickly.
Third, wealth does not satisfy. Ecclesiastes 5:10 shares, "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income." If love of money is the motivation for a person who plays poker, then it would clearly be wrong for that person.
Two additional principles should also be mentioned from Romans 14. The first is that in debatable areas, each person should be convinced what is acceptable: "One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind" (Romans 14:5).
Further, believers should seek to not cause others to stumble or sin because of their choices: "Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother" (Romans 14:13). Even if you feel poker is fine, there may be times to refrain if and when it would cause someone else to be tempted toward evil.
In summary, poker is a card game that is neither good nor evil by itself. However, because of its association with money and gambling, it is important to examine one's own motivations in playing, to carefully decide if poker is an acceptable use of one's time, and to consider the spiritual impact on others when deciding whether to play poker.
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