So? How did you do?
It looks like three people will be sharing the $1.6 BILLION Powerball prize from last night’s drawing. That’s a lot of dough.
People were snapping up tickets like crazy this past week. There was even a dedicated lottery line at my regular Circle K. My son was there Tuesday and watched a man plunk down a stack of twenty-dollar bills to buy $240 worth of tickets. Apparently, he lost. I’ll bet he would like that money back today.
I guess they don’t have the lottery in Utah, so people were driving to Wyoming to buy their tickets. No – really – I’m not making this up.
Everyone seemed to be buying tickets. Everywhere I went, people would ask me if I had bought my ticket yet, and they always seemed to be disappointed n me when I told them, “Nope.”
BUT, what was odd, is that as the payout grew larger, and the hype grew louder, I must admit that I thought about it. Embarrassing? Yes. I consider myself a reasonably intelligent man, but somehow, my brain started shutting down, and I actually considered buying a ticket. You know, just for fun.
Because, you know, $1.6 BILLION is a lot of dough. Yes, I know that $200 million is plenty, and the odds are much better if you play the lesser lotteries, but, as I said, brains start shutting down as greed rises.
If I had bought a ticket, I could have been real part of the discussions about what I would do if I won. I could flex my covet muscles that I try not to use. I could dream big!
But alas, I did not join the party. I’m the boring guy. I’m the dad at the party.
So this morning, after I checked to make sure if anyone I know is an instant multi-millionaire, I decided to dig in a little bit to make myself feel better about having NOT played. Because while you can’t win if you don’t play- but you also can’t lose if you don’t play.
Here’s a little info that might make it easier to not lose money next time:
• The Church is opposed to gambling in any form – including government sponsored lotteries.Here is the statement from LDS.org:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is opposed to gambling, including lotteries sponsored by governments. Church leaders have encouraged Church members to join with others in opposing the legalization and government sponsorship of any form of gambling.
• In fact, if you win money gambling, then pay tithing on it, the Church will refuse it. That’s right – they would rather send it back than condone it.
• The prophets have been asking the saints not to gamble since Brigham Young denounced it – he even went as far as to tell the Relief Society that he would rather see homemade quilts “rot on the shelves,” rather than raffle them off.
• Playing the lottery is immoral. Elder Dallin Oaks denounced all forms of gambling – specifically calling out lotteries – as morally wrong. (In addition to being economically dumb, and “politically unwise.”) As Elder Oaks tends to do, he lays out a devastating case against the lottery in a talk given at BYU-I, Here is the link if you want to read the whole thing – if you didn’t buy a ticket this week, you will feel vindicated. “Gambling – Morally Wrong and Politically Unwise.”
• Elder James E. Faust actually used the idea of purchasing just ONE lottery ticket in a discourse on addictive behaviors.
“The purchase of just one lottery ticket.” This is more subtle than other addictions. You may not think gambling is an addiction because it is not a substance taken into the body, but as someone recently wrote, “Those who gamble risk more than just money. Their lives and families are at stake too.” (Link)
• There was an article in Time magazine this week that basically tells how winning the Lottery can ruin your life. If is interesting to see what has happened to “winners.” There are hundreds of other places to find similar stories. But it does makes sense: Since playing and winning the Lottery is immoral – why wouldn’t the after-effects be damaging?
• Not only have we been asked not to play, the First Presidency has asked us to active oppose lotteries. This is what they said in a letter to the church membership:
““We urge members of the Church to join with others with similar concerns in opposing the legalization and government sponsorship of lotteries.”
So, there you go. If you stood strong and didn’t buy a ticket, then you should be glad. If you did cave and buy a ticket, then I hope you enjoyed your “lemming moment.” A greedy, covetous, brainless lemming moment.
Just teasing. Kinda. Thankfully, my job is not to judge anyone in particular, but I am happy to point out when the ways of the word collide with the ways of the Lord in such a highly-publicized, socially accepted manner. “But I just bought a ticket for fun.” Yeah, whatever.
I know that buying a lottery ticket is a tiny thing, and I would like to think that it wouldn’t keep me out of heaven, but disregarding the counsel and warning of the prophets just might.
Elder Oaks quoted CS Lewis as Screwtape explained how Satan operates.
“You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. (The Lord) It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
You can’t win if you don’t play. Wanna bet?
Here are some links to General Conference addresses that specifically talk about lotteries:
Gordon B. Hinckley, “Believe His Prophets.”
Spencer W. Kimball, “Why Call Me Lord, and Do Not the Things Which I Say?”
Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Priesthood of God.”
Gordon B. Hinckley, “Gambling.”
James E. Faust, “It Can’t Happen to Me.”