The Social Principles of the United Methodist Church state that, "Gambling is a menace to society, deadly to the best interests of moral, social, economic, and spiritual life, and destructive of good government. As an act of faith and concern, Christians should abstain from gambling and should strive to minister to those victimized by the practice. Where gambling has become addictive, the church will encourage such individuals to receive therapeutic assistance so that the individual's energies may be redirected into positive and constructive ends. . . ." (¶ 163G).
What’s going to happen if good Methodists buy lottery tickets? Or even bad Methodists buy one ticket? I personally think, “Who cares.” If they have little problems with gambling addiction or big problems, our business is to love them and reveal to them the goodness of God, and to communicate to them and all that our Father is always in a good mood.
Should they repent because they’re participating in an activity that is a menace to society? I won’t be calling them to repent. That’s somebody else’s call. I honestly don’t care. Our behavior, rules and laws do not make us righteous. Righteousness comes from relationship.
I’m tired of sisters and brothers all along the spectrum being known for what we’re against. I would imagine that students and experts in and defenders of The Social Principles would say that these principles document a church stating what is good and what is positive – the dignity and personhood of every human being. I agree. I’m a United Methodist clergyperson. I just have distain for the waging finger and the “You better be careful.”