Another horrendous massacre unfolded this week: 59 plus dead and 500 plus injured in Las Vegas massacre. I thought within myself, ‘Is this for real?’. Am I seeing some recycled news? Stephen Paddock went to the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Hotel and shot at a crowd of 22,000 people attending a music festival. President Trump called this a ‘pure act of evil’.
One man could go out with a machine gun and kill indiscriminately over a large group of people! This 64 year old man, at an age when he should be playing with his grandchildren, stocked up his hotel room with over 10 guns. This is the deadliest shooting in modern US history.
There will be calls for prayers, moments of silence, candle lights, facebook sympathies, twitter hashtags, politicians debating gun control, people lining up to donate blood….they are all good. but we should look at the worldview that brought us to this day.
First the killer: This man had no fear of God. There is no fear of God in our society. In the olden days, we used to have Ten Commandments in public places. One of the Ten Commandments is ‘Thou Shalt not Kill’. But sadly, we removed Ten Commandments from all public places and also from our collective conscience. In Biblical worldview, there are three things: Essence, Edicts and Enforcement. Remembering these three things help us from succumbing to our violent inclinations.
Essence: What are we made up of? Our culture tells us that we are just evolved animals. I was in Washington DC last week. I went to Smithsonian Natural History museum. They filled this museum with all sorts of exhibitions on Darwinian evolution. Millions of children and adults walk through the halls of this museum every year. As they walk from one end of the museum to the other end, they are given one message in unmistakable terms. As a human being, you are no special. You are just another animal born out of purely accidental mutations. There is no purpose, no meaning to your life. Christian worldview rejects Darwinian worldview. We are made in the image of God. We read in Genesis chapter 1:27, ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them’. Every human being bears the image of God. That is why we have no right to take away our own life or the lives of others.
Every human life is sacred. A few days ago I was walking in Arlington Cemetery. When I entered inside, there was a sign beside the road: ‘These are hallowed grounds. My wife and i went around and saw different graves. On one grave there is just one word, ‘Sacred’. That grave is sacred because there is a loved one buried in that place. This cemetery is sacred and hallowed because the people who were buried here mean a lot to us. They have a special relationship to us. God wrote the word ‘sacred’ on every human being because He has a special relationship with every human being. He imprinted His image on every human being. That is why murder is most heinous of all crimes because it violates the very image of God on the other person.
Edicts: Our values reflect in our laws. God’s values are reflected in His laws. Atheists often mock Ten Commandments as ‘dos and don’ts list of an angry God’. In fact, Ten Commandments were given by a loving God to protect our sacredness.
Don’t swear, your speech is sacred,
Honor your father and mother because family is sacred,
don’t kill because human life is sacred,
don’t commit adultery because marriage is sacred,
don’t steal because property is sacred,
don’t bear false witness because truth is sacred,
don’t covet your neighbor’s wife because sexuality is sacred.
The rapid secularization in our time removed the concept of sacredness from our conscience.
Enforcement: Not only God told us our sacredness and gave us commandments, He also told us to fear Him. We read in Psalm 111:10, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever’.
This 64 year-old killer who took away 58 precious lives had no fear of God. He had no wisdom of God. He had no understanding of God’s commandments. He had no praise of God in his life.
We are raising a generation completely devoid of the knowledge of God, completely devoid of the fear of God, completely devoid of the lack of understanding the commandments of God. So, the Christian worldview gives us Essence, Edicts and Enforcement. We should understand our essence that we are created in the image of God; We should follow the edicts, the commandments of God, and then we should enforce them in our lives with the fear of God. In fact That is exactly how America started.
During our Washington trip, my wife and I went to to Mt.Vernon, the house of George Washington, the first President of the United States. This house is located on the banks of the Potomac River in Virginia. We stood in the eastern facade and enjoyed the scenery of the beautiful Potomac River flowing beside the house. We walked through different rooms inside Washington’s house. Then we walked to Washington’s grave. On the wall behind the grave, I found the verse from John chapter 11: verses 25,26. “I am the resurrection and the life sayeth the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live”
That is what George Washington believed. Jesus is our life and resurrection. America owes its greatness to Jesus Christ. America’s ideals were born out of Christian worldview. Washington once said, “Gambling is the child of avarice, the brother of iniquity, and the father of mischief”.
George Washington, the father of the nation, did not mince words. He did not call gambling entertainment. He called it the child of avarice, the brother of iniquity, and the father of mischief.
Even hundred years ago, we said, ‘Amen, brother’ to the words of Washington. At the beginning of 20th century, gambling was illegal throughout the United States. Many states prohibited gambling with constitutional provisions. Even Nevada, now the capital of gambling world, outlawed gambling in 1909. New York closed its race tracks in 1910. Today we have over a 1000 casinos across the United States. Only two states outlawed gambling – Hawaii and Utah. No gambling allowed in Utah. Why? It goes to their Mormon heritage. Mormonism teaches that gambling is a sin. Even though Mormonism is a cult devoid of the true gospel of Christ, it retained some nuggets of biblical teaching. Christians always viewed gambling as sin. But our culture started to reject biblical teaching.
Hugh Hefner died last week at the age of 91. He made Las Vegas his second home. He prided himself as the person who founded sexual revolution. He used to admire Nietzsche the German philosopher who declared, ‘God is dead’. After his death last week, Rev.Franklin Graham made a statement on his Facebook page: ‘He (Hugh Hefner) wanted to be known as the one responsible for the sexual revolution. That’s a sobering thought. This was a revolution in direct rebellion against God’s Word and His laws”.
Those words summarize the spirit of Las Vegas: a revolution in direct rebellion against God’s Word and His laws. Nevada became the first state to legalize gambling. From 1931 to 1976 it is the only place in the US where casino gambling was made legal. The population grew around Las Vegas. The casino managers were making lot of money. Others wanted a share in the pie. Soon, New Jersey opened its gambling centers in Atlantic City. Native Americans were also enticed into gambling trade. In 1986, native Indians opened gambling centers on reservation lands near Palm Springs, California. The State officials wanted to shut them down. The case went all the to the United States Supreme Court in 1987.. Gambling owners argued that California state laws do not apply to native Indian lands. Just go to Supreme Court and argue based on civil rights, sovereignty and democracy. You can get any perversion legalized.
Supreme Court agreed with gambling companies. In 1988, Indian Gaming Regulatory Act came. Then there was an explosion of casinos across tribal lands. The gambling is wreaking havoc across native Americans. Native Americans and blacks are three times more likely to be affected by gambling problems than whites.
This gambling culture spread from Las Vegas across the United States and also across the globe. Millions of people are flocking to gambling centers in Macau, China, Monte Carlo, Monaco, London, Singapore, Paris.
Some people say it is just entertainment. People having fun. Don’t be judgmental. But, if you look into statistics, you will see a very different picture. They prove the words of George Washington to be true. As he said, gambling is the child of avarice, brother of iniquity and father of mischief.
Child of Avarice: Gambling is a child of greed. When you gamble you are going after other person’s money. Greed is the desire for money than is needed. According to American Gaming Association, in 2006, there were 460 commercial casinos in 11 states, plus 372 tribal casinos in 28 states, and 36 racetrack casinos in 11 states. American Gaming Association? They changed the name from gambling to gaming. Our culture is adept in changing names.
Pornography is renamed as adult entertainment.
Fornication is renamed as love
Adultery is renamed open marriage.
Gambling is renamed as gaming.
These gambling centers making over 60 billion dollars a year in profits. That is 208 dollars per adult. Profits for casinos means loss for millions of gamblers. 12.6 billion dollars in Nevada alone, 5.2 billion dollars in Atlantic City. Gamblers lure more and more Americans with each passing year. 51 percent of adult Americans played the lottery within the past year, while 31 percent gambled at a casino, and 3 percent gambled on the internet. Casinos register over 320 million customer visits over a year. That is almost like one visit per each American.
There is also lawlessness. Even to this day, federal regulations prohibit sports betting. But Americans wager over $154 billion a year on sports illegally. People wager over 36.5 billion dollars just on major league baseball. NFL teams and casinos co-exist. We got 32 NFL teams, right? 26 NFL teams, that is, 81 percent play home games at a stadium located within an hour’s drive of a casino. 100 percent of NFL players are within reach of illegal online sports betting site
If you like baseball, go to the game, enjoy the game and go home. But when you bet on a game, you are seeking monetary gains illegally. That is nothing but greed.
The gambling industry is also fomenting political corruption. You probably heard about Former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards. He was convicted of receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from people applying for riverboat casino licenses. A governor reeking hundreds of thousands of dollars just from casino applications. That is nothing but greed.
Brother of Iniquity: Secondly, Washington called gambling the brother of iniquity. How true! Over the years, Las Vegas got the nickname, Sin City. Hugh Hefner made this city his second home and made a production hub for pornography. Prostitution has been legalized in certain counties of Nevada. As people gamble, scantily clad women walk around serving alcohol. We read in 1 John chapter 1:15, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
Lust of the flesh: People get body sensations as the slot machines turn around, as roulette machines move, they get carnal excitement. That is the lust of the flesh.
Lust of the eyes: Those mega buildings, flashy lights, fire works, water fountains, immodestly clothed women. That is lust of the eyes.
Pride of life: Gamblers proudly shouting, ‘I won this game, I won that game, I made this much money’. That is pride of life.
Any thing you love more than God is your idol. Our culture has no love for God. But it made many false gods. People try to fill their lives with these false gods. In the process, they become slaves to these false gods. Jesus warned us in John 8:34, ‘Everyone who sins is a slave of sin’.
Many people are becoming slaves to gambling. According to National Center for Responsible Gaming, 1.6 percent of the adult population in the US – that is up to 4 million Americans – has a gambling disorder. This gambling disorder affects people in different degrees. The Atlantic Magazine has a heart breaking story about a business executive. He was happily married with three daughters. He had a nice home, nice cars and a nice family. One day he was accidentally hooked on to gambling. He lost control over this habit. He was stealing money from his business to feed his gambling addiction. Soon, his sin found him out. He lost his job. Then he started to burn the family’s money from credit cards, mortgage accounts, savings account, 401 K retirement plans. He used up even the money they were saving for his kids’ education. He realized his addiction, he found himself in a hopeless and hopeless situation. He called his wife and said, ‘I love you’ and then shot himself and committed suicide.
A precious family was destroyed by gambling. Gambling is not a simple problem. If you are a child who lost a father, you lost the only father you would ever have. That’s a big loss. A recent study showed that people in Las Vegas are 2.5 times more likely to commit suicide than other comparably sized metro areas; people in Atlantic City, NJ are 1.75 times more likely to commit suicide than non-gambling towns; people in Reno, NV are 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide than non-gambling towns.
Apostle Paul told us, ‘the wages of sin is death’. Our culture rejected God. It tries to fill its emptiness with things like alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography and gambling. But the emptiness only grows like a bottomless pit. We might wonder, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Reno….people there should be more happy, they have all the pleasures they can indulge in. Why are they more likely to commit suicide? G.K.Chesterton said “Meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain. Meaninglessness comes from being weary of pleasure.”Jesus said, ‘man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that cometh out of the mouth of God’
Bread here does not mean just food. It means all our appetites, all our pursuits, all our materialism, all our longings are not sufficient to give us meaning and fulfillment. ‘man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that cometh out of the mouth of God’
Father of Mischief: Thirdly, George Washington described gambling as the father of mischief. It’s not a real business. Casino industry brags that it is a $240 billion dollar industry, generating 38 billion dollars in tax revenue and supporting 1.7 million jobs. Recently, a research study was done among the economists. They were given two statements and were asked to say agree or disagree. A Wal-mart store typically generated more benefits to society than costs: 73 % agreed and 15% disagreed. A casino typically generates more benefits to society than costs: 17% agreed and 53% disagreed. So 53 % economists think that casinos generate more harm than welfare to the society.
First, casinos have a negative impact on retail spending. For every $1000 spent at casinos, there was a $142 dollar drop in total retail spending within 5 miles of the casino and a drop of $225 in the zone from 5 to 10 miles from the casino. So, people are wasting their money on casinos which they could be spending on buying groceries or buying some other stuff like clothes and consumer goods.
Government boasts about tax revenue generated by gambling. In Nevada 47 % of its general fund revenue comes from direct gambling taxes. Other states also started casinos with an eye on tax revenue. Majority of casinos are built near state borders. It has a domino effect. When one state sees its people going to neighboring state to gamble, it says, ‘our people are going to other state, let us build our own casinos’. Government levying very high taxes on gamblers. 16.4 percent on commercial casinos, 38.5 percent on racetrack casinos and 4.7 percent on tribal casinos.
Gamblers siphoning off their valuable money to casinos and government. But its not all good news for government because it has to spend its revenue fixing broken lives and broken families resulted from gambling.
Let me summarize social costs per each pathological gambler:
Average social costs per pathological gambler:
Crime costs, including apprehension, adjudication, incarceration, and supervision are about $4000.
Productivity loss on the job averages about $800
Lost work time and unemployment costs about $1850
Bankruptcy costs average about $300
Illnesses tied to gambling addictions add almost $900
Social services like therapy and treatment costs are about $140
Government benefits like unemployment compensation, welfare, and food stamps add another $320.
Abused dollars exceed $3200. Abused dollars mean the money gambers steal from workplace
Family costs – including spending on divorce and separations – average about $70
To add up all these numbers, it is about $11700 dollars per pathological gambler per year.
So these are different average social costs per each pathological gambler.
Pathological gamblers had a bankruptcy rate of 19.2 percent, as compared with 10.7 percent for problem gamblers, 5.5 percent for low-risk gamblers, and 4.2 percent for non-gamblers.
So you see, even low-risk gamblers have a higher rate of bankruptcy than non-gamblers.
You see these are only losses in terms of dollars. Who can measure other non-quantifiable miseries of gambling
Like a loss of a happy marriage
Loss of reputation
Children deprived of necessary intimacy
Deprived of necessary nutrition, education and parental time. Billions of hours of precious time parents should be spending with their children and loved ones are wasted on lifeless slot machines, poker games, race tracks, roulette machines and online gambling. Which economist can measure that loss?
Finally as followers of Christ, how can we respond to our hedonistic culture?
- First recognize the problem. Right treatment requires right diagnosis. Our culture is empty. It tries to fill its emptiness with drugs, sex, pornography, gambling, and even violence. President Trump should do some soul searching. Not long ago he was busy constructing casinos in Atlantic City. He should recognize those casinos will only lead to emptiness and bankruptcy.
- Love the broken sinners. Jesus loves us in our brokenness. We should also show the same compassion towards the victims of gambling. God can give a new beginning to any sinner. 2 Cor 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
- Recognize that your body is the temple of God.
1 Cor 6:19-20
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
- Our best life is when we are controlled by the Holy Spirit, not by our appetites.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
- Our purpose is to do all things for the glory of God:
1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
- Redeem your time:
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Instead of wasting your time in front of a slot machine, you can preach the gospel to a lost soul, you can encourage a new believer, you can volunteer in a church group
Redeeming the time because the days are evil: Apostle Paul wrote these words to the believers in Ephesus. There was the famous temple of Diana in Ephesus. In Acts chapter 19, we read apostle Paul going to Ephesus and preaching the gospel to the pagans. People were turning from the false goddess Diana to the gospel of Lord Jesus Christ. This transformation enraged Demetrius, a silversmith. He was reaping profits by making silver statues and shrines of Diana. He became the rabble rouser against the apostles. He shouted, ‘ this Paul, he is converting people to Christ, but our wealth, our profits, our business depend on the worship of Diana. He is ruining our business’
The casino owners are like Demetrius. They erected false gods before our dc generation. They are making billions of dollars in profits and do not see the sinfulness of their practices.
They are building the city of man, the city of sin. As Augustine warned in his book City of God, the city of man is destined to crumble under its own weight. What we saw in Las Vegas this week is the city of man, the city of sin collapsing before our eyes. May God comfort and protect His children.
Dear Lord Jesus, you are the life and resurrection. You are the streams in the deserts of our lives. We remember the families of people who were brutally massacred in Las Vegas. Please comfort them and in their grief help them see their vulnerability and lostness. We pray that our generation seek you rather than the false gods of our time. We ask this in your precious name, Amen
Edward Morse and Ernest Goss; Governing Fortune: Casino Gambling in America (2007)
Modern Economic Issues, Professor Robert Whaples