The Lottery is Covetousness


The lottery is a form of gambling that involves drawing numbers for a prize. The chances of winning are extremely slim, and even the winners usually end up worse off than before. The lottery is a form of covetousness, and Christians should not participate in it. Instead, they should learn to recognize its evils and avoid them.

The short story “The Lottery” by William Wharton tells the tale of a small-town American community that conducts an annual lottery. The villagers gather on June 27 and begin to fill the town square with stones for the lottery. They chant an old proverb: “Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.” The villagers are excited but nervous, for the winner of the lottery will determine how good the harvest will be.

Despite the low odds of winning, people still play the lottery. The reason is not that they have a strong desire to win, but rather that they are entrapped by the lie that money will solve all their problems. It is a dangerous lie that leads to a vicious cycle of consumption, debt, and anxiety. Moreover, it is not in line with God’s teachings against covetousness: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, his wife, his servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that is his” (Exodus 20:17). In addition to the obvious sin of covetousness, playing the lottery also makes people feel like they are doing something morally right. It gives them a false sense of merit, since luck plays a significant role in the outcome of any lottery drawing.

A person who wins the lottery will have to pay taxes on the winnings, which is often a significant percentage of the total jackpot. The remainder of the winnings will be divided among commissions for the lottery retailer and the overhead for the lottery system itself. Ultimately, the lottery is designed to make the retailers and the state government wealthy at the expense of its participants.

People buy lottery tickets with the hope that they will win a large sum of money. However, they should understand that their chances of winning are very slim and should consider the monetary and non-monetary benefits of the ticket. If the expected utility of the monetary and non-monetary benefits is higher than the disutility of a monetary loss, purchasing a ticket is rational.

Moreover, the money that a person gets from winning the lottery may be less than the advertised amount. For example, in some countries, winners must choose whether to receive their winnings as annuity payments or one-time payments. In the latter case, the lump sum is typically smaller than the annuity because of the time value of money.

Lotteries are a popular source of funding for various projects. They have been used in many cultures throughout history. Benjamin Franklin held a lottery to raise funds for cannons for the defense of Philadelphia. George Washington was involved in a lottery to fund his Mountain Road project. Currently, there are several states that use lotteries as an alternative to raising taxes.