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