Questions From Readers
● At places of business persons are sometimes offered a ticket that makes them eligible to be included among those from whom some will be selected to receive a gift. Is it proper for a Christian to share in such a “drawing”?—U.S.A.
Generally the purpose of such drawings is to encourage people to come into the store or to stimulate interest in a certain product. The drawing itself consists of making what is supposed to be an impartial selection of customers to whom prizes are given. Gambling is not necessarily involved, as no one pays out money or other valuable consideration to obtain the ticket. Then, too, acceptance of the ticket does not in itself imply that the god of ‘Chance’ or ‘Good Luck’ is being invoked. One who accepts the ticket (or puts his name in the drawing) might reason: ‘The business is going to give away a gift as part of an advertising device. If I happen to be selected, I am willing to accept the gift.’
The Christian, based on the dictates of his conscience, will have to decide for himself whether he will accept a ticket, which merely serves as part of an advertising scheme. He could ask himself: Would my acceptance of the ticket stimulate the same greed that prompts people to gamble? Could this give occasion for stumbling others? Might I be enticed to invoke “Lady Luck”?—Isa. 65:11, Byington.
True Christians appreciate that greediness and idolatry are disapproved by Jehovah God. (1 Cor. 6:9, 10) They are also under command ‘not to be stumbling others.’—Phil. 1:10.
But suppose someone accepts the ticket as just an advertising scheme, and eventually is selected the winner in the “drawing,” only to discover that the “gift” is a state lottery ticket. What now? Suddenly that which seemed to be a simple advertising scheme has turned out to be part of a gambling game. One is under no obligation to accept it. Would he accept stolen diamonds just because they are a “gift”?
So, if a Christian decides that it would be in his best interests and also in the best interests of others not to accept a ticket, there is no reason for others to question his decision. On the other hand, if a Christian is convinced that his acceptance of such a ticket would not give rise to any problems, that is his decision to make. As God’s Word declares: “Each of us will render an account for himself to God.”—Rom. 14:12.
● Is it compatible with maintaining a Christian conscience for one to accept employment that involves being armed, carrying either a gun or a club?—U.S.A.
Jehovah God himself allowed human governments to exercise authority for law enforcement, by means of arms if necessary. Regarding such governmental authority we read: “It is not without purpose that it bears the sword; for it is God’s minister, an avenger to express wrath upon the one practicing what is bad.” (Rom. 13:4) Hence no Scriptural objection can be raised against the existence of armed law-enforcement agencies nor against a government’s authorizing certain men to carry weapons when protecting property and/or people.
However, whether a Christian would choose employment, such as that of policeman, guard or night watchman, if he were required to carry a gun or another weapon is something that he would have to determine for himself. He would want to consider: Do I want to take on the burden of making quick and difficult decisions in a crucial situation where human life is involved? Am I willing to come into circumstances that could require me to use a weapon, perhaps doing so in a way that would incur bloodguilt before Jehovah?
Furthermore, a Christian’s main objective is to assist others to come to an accurate knowledge of the truth. He wants to teach others how to “be peaceable with all men.” (Rom. 12:18) In view of this, he might ask himself, Is my carrying a weapon in my employment going to appear to others as a contradiction of Christian teaching? Is there reason to believe that it will be a cause for stumbling? The Christian must make his own decision based on God’s Word and his knowledge of existing circumstances. If he feels his holding such a weapon-carrying job really would be detrimental to the spreading of Bible truth, the Christian would wisely choose other employment. The Scriptural counsel is not ‘to be stumbling others.’—Phil. 1:10.
Whatever the Christian’s decision, it should be in harmony with his Scripturally trained conscience. But he never need feel pressured by concern for lack of life’s necessities. The assurance of God’s Word is: “Jehovah is a lover of justice, and he will not leave his loyal ones.” (Ps. 37:28) “I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.”—Heb. 13:5.