Jerry Jenkins, Gambling, Moody, and one of the last evangelical taboos.
You know Jerry Jenkins, the author and current chairman of Moody Bible Institute. But do you know Jerry Jenkins, the professional gambler? An article over the weekend at World Magazine focuses on Jenkins, who has admitted that he enjoys playing in professional poker tournaments. Jenkins says he’s just a recreational player, but that he realizes that people have an issue with that. (In August, Moody Bible Institute changed their policy to now allow staff members to use tobacco, consume alcohol and gamble while off duty… but the school says the change was not made because of anyone’s personal habits or lifestyle). Jenkins says that he’s won a little over $8,000 at two casinos, but that he usually about breaks even. He also says that he won’t gamble any more near Chicago (the home of MBI) because “It’s too close to Chicago.” According to the interview and quotes, Jenkins doesn’t look at his poker playing as gambling: “I don’t play for what I would consider significant amounts of money. And I wouldn’t gamble, either. I mean, I don’t play slots,” he said. “I consider poker a skill game.” Here’s an interesting paragraph: Jenkins, 64, declined to state his income on the record, but said he is a “high-income person” and has enjoyed a few “pretty flush years with the Left Behind series. … You can do the math. I’ve sold 70 million books. So to break even making $8,000 playing poker, it’s kind of pocket change for me.” He gives most of his income away, he said. And here’s another paragraph from the article that asks some good questions: Some evangelicals see no problem in playing for small amounts of cash. Others have tended to avoid poker because of its association with gambling. From the Westminster Larger Catechism in the 1640s (which criticizes “wasteful gaming” in its question 142) to the present, many have seen gambling as a violation of the 8th commandment, “You shalt not steal”—but debates about what is wasteful, what is gambling, and what is stealing have also raged. Does a particular game create hardship to losers and their families? What is the motivation involved? What is moralism and what contributes to human flourishing or diminishing? So… what do YOU think? 1. Is gambling wrong? 2. Is poker ‘gambling’? 3. Is the evangelical taboo of gambling now becoming a thing of the past? What do YOU think? Leave a comment below. Todd