The meme that “Samoa is Founded upon God” rings hollow to many of our guests who question how churches can run bingo, and the government sanction Lotto. The hypocrisy is glaringly obvious to them, as it is to me.
We can all do the simple mathematics and know that when gambling, few win – many lose.
The underlying general cause of the gambling scourge is pride. The specific causes of gambling are self-centredness and greed – notably our desire to gain reward higher than the value of the work expended (at the expense of others), or to profit from others doing this.
This form of wealth redistribution – profits to the operator of the various schemes; losses to the majority and excesses received by a few, is contrary to the entire heart and teaching of the bible. That one can “take” from fellow men who can often ill afford what they have “lost” is a clear form of covetousness. It is also a form of theft and does not demonstrate love or compassion towards our brothers and sisters that Christ commands of His followers.
Our consciences become seared when others around us share in our ungodly activity. When something becomes normal it becomes acceptable and something acceptable becomes defensible within the context of one group or society. You see this when drunks encourage others to get drunk with them, or people of one nation egg others of the same nation on to racism and starting wars.
Though people may attempt to justify their conduct, there is no valid biblical justification for gambling.
We all know it’s a lie that “people only invest what they can afford” as the poorest are the biggest partakers of gambling. That people have a free will to gamble or not, avoids the basic question, “Is gambling good or bad?” or in a Christian context, “Is gambling right or wrong, by the bible?”
Legislative justification for poor conduct along the lines of “We can’t upset the churches” or “People should have the right to participate”, also avoids the responsibility for making laws for the good of the people, and in a country that claims to be “Founded upon God”, in accordance with the teaching of Scripture.
The government could have proven that Samoa has not strayed from its lofty ideals and godly foundations when confronted by the Council of Churches over the intention to permit gambling in some resorts.
I’m with the churches on this one. Commercial pressure from certain interest groups can be resisted. Gambling, according to the bible, is just systemised stupidity and to put it negatively cannot be blessed. Put the other way, gambling in all its forms brings a curse – on the architects, the suppliers and the consumers (both winners and losers).
An opportunity to bring blessing to Samoa could have been created with one simple statement:
“Cabinet hereby asks the Council of Churches to produce a statement defining gambling and detailing the basis on which gambling should not be permitted in Samoa.”
One of the easiest ways to disperse an enemy is to divide him, so pandemonium may have occurred. Any church leader who condemned gambling in casinos would then naturally have had to accept new laws to prohibit bingo and thus likely have their own income streams undermined.
Should all church leaders agree on something however, Cabinet would have a clear mandate to act with confidence. Samoa’s leadership missed a great opportunity to make a stand for a clear biblical value.
It has to be asked then, in what direction is she heading, and to what extent do her leaders truly believe in the meme?
Dennis A. Smith (www.dennis.co.nz) is a Samoa-based author, blogger and CEO of the SWAP Foundation, home of Samoa voluntourism.This post has 634 words.