I live in a state that has an education lottery. When the matter was up for a vote, I opposed it. So is it wrong for me (or at least inconsistent) to accept college scholarship money from that same lottery?
Thank you for writing. Your question would fit into the category of "Christian liberty." I address this in more detail in my article "Making Moral Choices."
Since the Bible does not say such things as "Thou shalt not gamble" or "Thou shalt not receive a scholarship from lottery money," this question falls into the area of moral neutrality.
The Apostle Paul articulates the principles guiding our liberty in Romans 14-15. The specific example that he uses involves the eating of meat sacrificed to idols. While this issue is of no moral concern today, it does provide key biblical principles which we can apply in determining our response to issues not specifically addressed in the Bible.
One of the principles he develops is that each Christian must decide what is right or wrong for him or her when dealing with an issue of moral neutrality. Paul teaches that if you believe a particular action to be wrong for you, then it is wrong. He says in Romans 14:4, I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
He taught that all things were clean. In other words, there was no sin in eating meat sacrificed to idols (it was morally neutral). But he also teaches that if a person believes it is sinful to indulge in a practice, then it is indeed sinful for them.
Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind (Rm. 14:5). If there is doubt, then it is better to refrain from participating rather than engaging in what has become a sinful action for the person. Doubt or uncertainty is a sufficient reason to refrain from a particular activity or behavior.
I sense from your question that you may feel it is wrong for you to accept scholarship money from this source. If so, then that is reason enough not to accept a scholarship. However, if you can receive the money with a clear conscience (Rm. 14:6), I would think you are free to do so.
© 2005 Probe Ministries
About the Author
Kerby Anderson is president of Probe Ministries International. He holds masters degrees from Yale University (science) and from Georgetown University (government). He is the author of several books, including Christian Ethics in Plain Language, Genetic Engineering, Origin Science, Signs of Warning, Signs of Hope and Making the Most of Your Money in Tough Times. His new series with Harvest House Publishers includes: A Biblical Point of View on Islam, A Biblical Point of View on Homosexuality, A Biblical Point of View on Intelligent Design and A Biblical Point of View on Spiritual Warfare. He is the host of "Point of View" (USA Radio Network) heard on 360 radio outlets nationwide as well as on the Internet (www.pointofview.net) and shortwave. He is also a regular guest on "Prime Time America" (Moody Broadcasting Network) and "Fire Away" (American Family Radio). He produces a daily syndicated radio commentary and writes editorials that have appeared in papers such as the Dallas Morning News, the Miami Herald, the San Jose Mercury, and the Houston Post.
What is Probe?
Probe Ministries is a non-profit ministry whose mission is to assist the church in renewing the minds of believers with a Christian worldview and to equip the church to engage the world for Christ. Probe fulfills this mission through our Mind Games conferences for youth and adults, our 3-minute daily radio program, and our extensive Web site at www.probe.org.
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