The view of gambling has changed considerably from what it was when the issue was raised in 1954. Gambling was discussed in The Watchtower of 15 September 1954. The magazine said that while gambling does not accord with the teachings of Jesus, the organization has no right to ask anyone to stop gambling. The conscience of each one must decide.
In 1961, the book for judicial committees and traveling representatives Questions in Connection with the Service of the Kingdom expressed a new view of gambling. It was now viewed as extortion, and could lead to disfellowshipping.
In 1972, the view of gambling was changed yet again. Instead of being considered extortion, it would from then on be viewed as a form of greed. Also, the specific situations in connection with gambling that were considered wrong and could result in disfellowshipping were expanded. In 1994, the GB decided that the use of free lottery tickets was a violation of God’s law, and in 1996 it widened its stance so that this was the case with every form of gambling.
However, the book for elders “Shepherd The Flock Of God” (2019) expresses a reversal of the previous views of gambling. While being employed in a gambling enterprise is still counted as a disfellowshipping offense, although the reason for this is not stated, petty gambling for entertainment is no longer considered wrong.
The different viewpoints of gambling that have been presented in the Watchtower literature over the years are excellent examples of the arbitrariness of the extra-biblical rules and laws made by the GB. The reasons for all the changes have been neither linguistic nor biblical, as I will show below. They simply represent subjective changes of viewpoint in the minds of the members of the GB. Sadly, many Witnesses have been disfellowshipped because of these arbitrary changes.
The current stance of the GB is that gambling is a form of greed, and the comments in the margin of Colossians 3:5 in the Online NWT with References define greed as “an insatiable desire to have more.” A great weakness in the Watchtower literature is that it has never explained how the elders are supposed to know that a person is greedy. Such vague, rudderless instructions have led to arbitrariness in judicial cases where greed is considered. For example, it is not stated why a Witness who works in a gambling enterprise will be disfellowshipped. If the stock answer is given, that “greed” is involved, we must then ask what kind of greed it is and in what way? This is never explained or made clear to the elders.
I show that the NWT13 rendering “greedy people” for the Greek word pleonektēs in 1 Corinthians 6:9 is inaccurate and misleading. The noun pleonektēs is a verbal noun and a nomen agentis (”agent noun”), which means that it substantivizes the meaning of the verb pleonekteō. Because the basic meaning of pleonekteō is “to exploit,” pleonektēs should be rendered as “exploiters” instead of “greedy people.” A Christian cannot be disfellowshipped because of greed, but he or she can be disfellowshipped because of exploitation.
The book for elders “Shepherd The Flock Of God” chapter 12, point 31, says regarding greed, gambling, and extortion:
- Greed, Gambling, Extortion: (1 Cor. 5:10, 11; 6:10; 21; 1 Tim. 3:8; it-1 pp. 789, 1005-1006) Elders do not generally involve themselves in what an individual does with regard to petty gambling solely for entertainment. However, if such petty gambling affects his spirituality or becomes a cause of stumbling for others, counsel should be given. If he does not respond favorably to the counsel and his conduct continues to have a negative effect on him or others, he could not be viewed as exemplary in the congregation. (Isa 65:11; w11 3/1 pp. 12-14; w02 11/1 p. 31; g 3/15 pp. 14-15) If an individual’s gambling reveals a course of greediness, perhaps causing harm to himself or others, and he ignores repeated counsel, judicial action would be appropriate.
- An individual continuing in employment directly involved with gambling or employment making him a clear accomplice or promoter of gambling would be subject to judicial action, usually being allowed six months to make the needed adjustments. (lvs pp. 204-209) In questionable cases, consult the Service Department.
- If a business gives out prizes or prize money to winners of a contest or to potential customers for advertising, accepting the gift is an individual’s decision to make. However, a person needs to be careful that accepting such a prize does not stir up greed. —Rom. 14:21; 1 Cor. 10:31-33; w73 p. 127; g75 7/8 p. 28.
- A Christian who greedily and unrepentantly extorts a high bride prize may be dealt with judicially–1 Cor. 5:11, 13; 6:9, 10; Heb. 13:5; w98 9/15 pp 24-25.
1954: GAMBLING DOES NOT ACCORD WITH THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS — BUT THE ORGANIZATION HAS NO RIGHT TO ASK ANYONE TO STOP GAMBLING
Gambling in churches was first mentioned in The Golden Age of 6 April 1938, page 14. The first time the view of the Bible was mentioned was in Awake! of 22 June 1952, pages 13-16, and the description of gambling was negative.
Nowhere is gambling justified in the Bible. It is, however, rooted deeply in pagan mythology, which is condemned in God’s Word as demonic and rotten. In Plutarch’s treatise On Isis and Osiris reference is made to Mercury’s playing at tables with the Moon, “and wins from her the seventieth part of each of her illuminations.” …
The Bible definitely condemns unlawful gain. “For I the LORD love justice, I hate robbery and crime.” (Isaiah 61 :8, An Amer. Trans.) The gambler does not work with his hands the thing that is good and pleasing, and he is not free from cheating and stealing. (Ephesians 4:28; Genesis 29:15).
The Question from Readers column in The Watchtower of 1 February 1954, page 94, has the following questions: “Is gambling a violation of Bible principles? Is it wrong for a Christian to have secular employment in a gambling project, such as a legalized lottery or gambling project?” The article argues that gambling does not accord with the teachings of Jesus. Nevertheless, the article shows that even to be employed in a gambling enterprise is something that each Christian must decide.
Gambling appeals to selfishness and weakens moral fiber; it tempts many into habits of cheating and crookedness… Can a Christian be employed in a gambling enterprise that is legally recognized and allowed? He may think that he can do so if he refrains from gambling himself or allowing his spiritual brothers to gamble through his services. One may be able to conscientiously do this, while another would not be able to do so in good conscience. Each one will have to decide individually whether he can or cannot do so conscientiously. It is doubtless preferable to be separate from the atmosphere surrounding such activities, and the Christian may wisely arrange to make a change in his occupation. It is a matter each one must decide for himself and in accord with his circumstances and conscience. The Watch Tower Society does not decide as to an individual’s employment, as we previously stated in the September 15, 1951, Watchtower, page 574.
There are two important expressions in the quotation above. First, “The Watchtower Society does not decide as to an individual’s employment.” Second, a Witness could be employed in a gambling enterprise if his or her conscience allows it.
Both before and after 1954, the Watchtower literature consistently expressed a negative view of gambling for the same basic reasons. The only change in connection with gambling was that it suddenly and inexplicably became a disfellowshipping offense. That modern activities that are not mentioned in the Bible are classified as disfellowshipping offenses confirms the arbitrary nature of the GB’s decisions.
The book for elders “Shepherd The Flock Of God” (2019) also implies that judicial cases in connection with gambling to a great degree are based on the opinion of the three men constituting the judicial committee. One committee will disfellowship a person while another committee will not disfellowship him or her in situations that are very similar.
1961: GAMBLING IS VIEWED AS EXTORTION, AND IT WOULD LEAD TO DISFELLOWSHIPPING
The first time, of which I am aware, that gambling was classified as extortion was in the booklet Questions in Connection with the Service of the Kingdom, 1961, page 60. It was written for judicial committees and traveling representatives:
Selling lottery tickets or having a gambling enterprise for betting in connection with money is a form of extortion. The Bible shows that extortioners must be disfellowshipped from the congregation.
The Watchtower of 15 October 1970, page 614, says directly that gambling is extortion.
Once again, that liberating force is the Word of God at work in the individual. The truth is that gambling is extortion, has its roots in greed and laziness, and is demoralizing, often leading to other wrongs. Knowing that all these are things condemned by God, the person wanting His approval has no difficulty in deciding to rid himself of such an undesirable habit.—1 Cor. 6:9, 10; Prov. 21:25.
1972: GAMBLING IS NO LONGER VIEWED AS EXTORTION BUT AS GREED
Several brothers, including myself, had problems with the previous definition of gambling as extortion, and in 1972 there was a change in viewpoint. Now, gambling was viewed as “greediness.” But as I will show, this definition does not fit any more than the definition “extortion.”
The new view of gambling as an expression of greed was presented in The Watchtower of 1 October 1972, page 592.
9 Gambling is not mentioned specifically in the Bible. What, then, should be the Christian’s attitude toward it?
10 Some might link it to extortion, mentioned at 1 Corinthians 6:10. However, the objection may be raised that “to extort” (a word having the same source as the word “torture”) carries the basic idea of using force, threats or other pressure (as by the abuse of official authority) to obtain something from an unwilling person. While individuals who lose money in gambling are not pleased to lose it, they generally gamble willingly and with full recognition that they run the risk of losing money. So, then, if gambling is not extortion, on what basis would the Christian refuse to approve it?
11 There is more than one Scriptural reason for doing so. Gambling certainly merits being classified as a form of “greediness,” and greediness and covetousness are classed along with idolatry in God’s Word. (1 Cor. 6:9, 10; Col. 3:5) It clashes with the basic Scriptural precept that we should love our neighbor as ourselves, and that man should do honest, productive labor to obtain gain. What productivity results from gambling? Its history shows that it is almost inevitably contributory toward crime in one fashion or another. And why? Because it is unloving. It incites selfishness and fosters lack of concern for others. The gambler wants the money of others without giving them any genuine service in return. Though some may class gambling with entertainment, the evidence shows that as often as not it creates tension, anxiety, resentment and even murderous anger.
The Watchtower of 1 January 1973, page 30, agrees that gambling “is a form of greediness.” And The Watchtower of 1 October 1974, page 582, says that gambling “often makes them greedy, dishonest and almost unbelievably inconsiderate of others. It also destroys self-control.” The Watchtower of 1 September 1980, page 30, has the following questions: “What guidance does the Bible provide concerning gambling? For example, would it be bad for a Christian to put up small money stakes in a card game played just for entertainment?” The answer was:
The Scriptures do not provide a basis for any rigid rule against every “bet,” no matter how small. Yet they do help us to see that gambling is a serious wrong, one that can result in exclusion from the Christian congregation and from God’s kingdom…
Though the Bible does not discuss gambling in detail, it does provide us with principles that help in evaluating gambling. These make it clear that the Christian should be conscious of motive regarding gambling and of the effects gambling often produces.
It is widely acknowledged that gambling often leads to or incites greed. This is important to Christians, for the Bible strongly condemns “greediness.” God informs us that “greedy persons” will not inherit his kingdom, and that covetousness is to be classed with idolatry. Hence, sincere Christians want to avoid practices that might cause them to manifest greediness and thus to fall far short of the glory of God.—Col. 3:5; 1 Cor. 6:9, 10; Rom. 3:23…
Experience shows that many who became greedy, compulsive gamblers began by making petty bets ‘for entertainment.’ They saw that they could win small amounts and were tempted to try to win larger amounts. The greedy compulsion can addict a person, even leading to a life that previously would have been unthinkable.
And if a Christian unrepentantly pursues a course of greediness, it might even be necessary to remove him from the congregation, in harmony with the directions in God’s Word, which says, “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” Paul adds: “Do you not know that unrighteous persons will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men, nor thieves, nor greedy persons, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit God’s kingdom.”—1 Cor. 5:11-13; 6:9, 10.
The question is not directly answered. But the words that “greedy, compulsive gamblers began by making petty bets ‘for entertainment’” imply that any form of gambling is wrong. The Watchtower of 15 December 1980, page 29, said that even gambling for small amounts of money “can lead to cultivating greed.” The Watchtower of 15 December 1988, page 7, said:
Should a religious leader who claims to be a follower of Christ promote gambling? Hardly! Gambling in any form appeals to one of the worst qualities in humans—greed. Those who promote it encourage people to believe that it is right to profit from the losses of others. Yet, God’s inspired Word flatly states that greedy persons will not inherit God’s Kingdom.—1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Ephesians 4:19; 5:3.
The assertion that gambling in any form appeals to greed clearly is wrong. For example, the neighbor boy is a member of a sports club. He asks us to buy a lottery ticket to support his sports club. To do that would not reflect “an insatiable desire to have more,” which is the definition of “greed.” And I would say that most situations of gambling do not lead “to an insatiable desire for more.” It is also wrong that one who is gambling is profiting from the losses of others. This is, for example, not true in connection with charitable organizations that use different forms of gambling to get money to do their charitable work. In no way do I defend gambling, but most of the generalizations about gamblers that have been presented in The Watchtower are wrong. To be sure, some persons who gamble are, indeed, greedy, but that is not the case with many others.
The Awake! magazine of 8 June 1992 discussed gambling and had a great number of negative characteristics of gamblers. A reader wrote the following letter:
Gambling Your series “Gambling—Does It Pay?” (June 8, 1992) was excellent in showing the effects of compulsive gambling, but it was not balanced. To illustrate: Drunkenness is wrong, but drinking is not wrong in itself. Similarly, gambling can be a legitimate activity when it’s done in a balanced way. The occasional gambler is not necessarily lazy or desirous of dishonest gain.
The editors answered in the following way:
We do not agree that occasional gambling can be compared to moderate drinking. The latter is not condemned in the Bible. However, the Bible categorically condemns both greed and any appeals to “the god of Good Luck.” (Isaiah 65:11; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) A person who gambles even on a casual basis [occasionally] may still be motivated by the greedy desire to get something at the expense of others. Indeed, experience shows that compulsive gambling often begins as a casual pastime. Christians therefore wisely avoid all forms of gambling.—ED.
This answer repeats the mistaken sterotype that the motive for engaging in any form of gambling, be it lotto or buying a lottery ticket for a sports club or a charitable organization, is to get something at the expense of others. It also connects gambling with greed. The Awake! magazine of 8 august 1994, page 15, says:
The Bible does not discuss gambling in detail. Nevertheless, it does provide us with principles that help us determine how God views gambling. Experience has shown that gambling reflects greed. The Bible strongly condemns greed, warning that ‘no greedy person would have any inheritance in God’s kingdom.’ (Ephesians 5:5)…
What if a person is offered a free lottery ticket or free money to use for gambling? In either case, accepting such an offer would still be supporting a gambling operation—an operation out of harmony with godly principles.
The quotation shows that any contact with any form of gambling is wrong. Even to use a free lottery ticket is said to be wrong. The brochure What Does God Require of Us? (1996) agrees that gambling in any form is wrong.
Every form of gambling is tainted by greed. So Christians do not take part in any kind of gambling, such as lotteries, horse racing, and bingo. (Ephesians 5:3-5)
The Watchtower of 1 November 2006, page 7 says:
Though popular among many, gambling is a form of greed, since it is an attempt to make money through the losses of others. Jehovah does not approve of those who are “greedy of dishonest gain.” (1 Timothy 3:8) If you wish to please Jehovah, then, you will refrain from any form of gambling, including lotteries, bingo, and betting on horse races.
The Watchtower of 1 November 2011, page 31, says:
Since we are living in a world that already has too many snares and temptations, why unnecessarily expose ourselves to yet another? (Proverbs 27:12) Gambling—with or without children present, for small or for large sums—endangers spirituality and should be avoided. Christians who enjoy board or card games as recreation would be better advised to keep a penciled score or to play the game simply for fun without keeping score. Wise Christians who care about their own spirituality as well as that of their friends and family avoid the practice of gambling—even for small sums of money.
The Awake! magazine of March 2015, page 13, says:
The basic nature of gambling—winning money at the expense of others—is at odds with the Bible’s warning to “guard against every sort of greed.” (Luke 12:15)…Gambling is based on an inherently selfish goal: winning money that other players have lost.
From 1961 to 1972, gambling was viewed as extortion. But then it was realized that this definition was wrong. In 1972 the issue was reconsidered, and gambling was reinterpreted to be a form of greediness. But both definitions were chosen, first “extortion” and then “greediness,” evidently to establish a connection between gambling and a scripturally sanctioned reason to disfellowship. And because the rendering in the NWT13 translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 shows that “greedy people” and “extortioners” must be disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation, these two definitions were the obvious candidates to establish that connection. But, as I will show below, even the rendering “greedy people” is inaccurate and misleading.
While the definition “extortion” was eventually discarded, a wrong description that has not been changed, but has been repeated in several references to gambling, is expressed in the last quotation above: “[gambling] is an attempt to make money through the losses of others.” These words may indicate that those who have written articles about gambling do not have an accurate knowledge of what gambling really is.
When poker is played, one player wins the money each time, and the other players lose their money—but this is voluntary. However, in most gambling enterprises, this is not the case—it is those who are betting who, in almost all cases, lose their money. Therefore, to declare that the method in which a gambler makes money is through the losses of others is completely wrong! Not only is the GB’s description of gambling inaccurate, but the view that gamblers attempt “to make money through the losses of others” is the very basis for the GB’s definition that gambling is a form of “greed.” So, when this premise is wrong, the conclusion that gambling is a form of “greed” is wrong as well. This is linguistically confirmed in the next section.
|The conclusion that gambling is a form of greed is wrong because the premise of that definition, that gamblers attempt to make money through the losses of others, is wrong. Moreover, almost no Christians will ever be guilty of “greed,” that defines as “an insatiable desire to have more”.|
THE DISFELLOWSHIPPING OFFENSE ACCORDING TO 1 CORINTHIANS 6:10 IS EXPLOITATION AND NOT GREED
The translators of NWT13 have rendered plural of the Greek word pleonektēs as “greedy people.” This is an inaccurate and misleading rendering, and I will show below that the rendering “exploiters” is much better. Thus, greed is not a disfellowshipping offense but exploitation is.
The noun pleonexia (“exploited gain”)
The noun pleonexia occurs ten times in the Christian Greek Scriptures. In five of these passages, pleonexia occurs without any defining context (Mark 7:22; Luke 12:15; Romans 1:29; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5) So we must look at the five passages that have some context for help in determining the lexical meaning of that Greek word. One of these is particularly illuminating, and that is 2 Corinthians 9:5, and I quote from NWT13:
5 So I thought it necessary to encourage the brothers to come to you ahead of time and to get your promised bountiful gift ready in advance, so that this might be ready as a generous gift, and not as something extorted. [italics mine].
The noun pleonexia that is translated as “extorted” could also have been translated as “exploited.”
Jesus spoke Hebrew, and his words in Mark 7:22 and Luke 12:15 are translated into Greek. In both passages, the noun pleonexia occurs, and all English translations of which I am aware put the word “greed” in the mouth of Jesus. The problem is that there is no word in Classical Hebrew with the meaning “greed” (an insatiable desire to have more”). So Jesus could not have spoken about “greed” and, therefore, the Greek noun pleonexia cannot have the meaning “greed” in these two passages.
However, the Hebrew word that the Septuagint translates with pleonexia is bætsa‘ with the meaning “dishonest gain.” Thus, in the above-mentioned passages, Jesus must have referred to “dishonest gain” and not to “greed.” The contexts of all the other seven examples of pleonexia in the Christian Greek Scriptures also fit the rendering “dishonest gain” or “exploited gain,” which is my translation. Therefore, the arguments above indicate that pleonexia is not an abstract noun referring to a strong desire, but is a concrete noun with the meaning “exploited gain.”
The verb pleonekteō (“to exploit”)
There is also a verb that is related to pleonexia, and that is pleonekteō. The Greek-English Lexicon of Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich defines the verb as “take advantage of, outwit, defraud, cheat.” This means that while the noun pleonexia points to the result of a wrong desire, namely, to acquire “exploited gain,” the verb pleonekteō points to the actions that lead to this result, namely, defrauding or cheating.
I will now scrutinize the meaning of this verb, and I start by discussing its use in the Septuagint. It occurs in two passages, and I quote from NWT13:
Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing prey; they shed blood and kill people to make dishonest gain (H: bātsa‘ bæsΩa‘; G: pleonexia, pleonekteō).
Woe to those who make evil gain (H: bātsa‘ bætsa‘; G: pleonekteō, pleonexia). for his house.
Ezekiel 22:27 and Habakkuk 2:9 have the Hebrew verb bātsa‘ (to make dishonest gain) as an infinitive construct with the noun bætsa‘ (dishonest gain) following. The Septuagint translates the verb bātsa‘ with the Greek verb pleonekteō, and this shows that pleonekteō is used with the meaning “to make dishonest gain.” The Hebrew noun bætsa‘ is translated by the Greek noun pleonexia, and this shows that pleonexia has the meaning “dishonest gain” in these verses in the Septuagint.
The fact that pleonexia is used in the Septuagint with the concrete meaning “dishonest gain” supports my conclusion above that pleonexia in the Christian Greek Scriptures is a concrete noun with the meaning “dishonest gain” or “exploited gain.”
The noun bætsa‘ with the translation pleonexia in the Septuagint occurs in Judges 5:19, where NWT13 has the translation “spoil (of silver) and in Psalm 119:36 (118:36 LXX), where NWT13 has “selfish gain.” The noun pleonexia also occurs in the Septuagint in Isaiah 28:8, and here it may also be rendered as “dishonest gain.”
I will now discuss the use of pleonekteō in the Christian Greek Scriptures, and I use NWT13:
2 Corinthians 7:2
2 We have corrupted no one; we have taken advantage (pleonekteō) of no one.
2 Corinthians 12:17, 18
17 I did not take advantage (pleonekteō) of you through any of those whom I sent to you, did I?… 18 Titus did not take advantage (pleonekteō) of you at all.
The NIV uses the verb “exploit” in 7:2 and 12:17, 18 instead of “take advantage of.” The verb pleonekteō in these passages refers to the wrong action of gaining something at the expense of others. And in view of the meaning of planekteō in the Septuagint as “to make dishonest gain,” the rendering “exploit” clearly is fitting.
This stronger meaning also is fitting in 1 Thessalonians 4:4-6 (NWT84)
4 that one of YOU should know how to get possession of his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in covetous sexual appetite (pathos “passion” and epithymia “lust”) such as also those nations have which do not know God; 6 that no one go to the point of harming (hyperbainō) and encroach (pleonekteō) upon the rights of his brother in this matter.
Paul admonishes the Thessalonians not “to encroach upon the rights his brother in this matter.” The word “encroach” has the meaning “to intrude on the rights of another person,” “to take advantage of or exploit another person.” And the reference is “in this matter.” Which “matter”? Every Christian has the right to live a life in sanctification and honor. If a Christian gives in to “covetous sexual appetite,” he may try to get another Christian, male or female, to have sexual relations with him, thus destroying his or her right to live a life in sanctification and honor. In this way, he will take advantage of or exploit the other Christian.
We should note the use of the verb hyperbainō (“to transgress, sin against”). This indicates that the verb planekteō implies sinning against someone. Because of the use of the verb planekteō both in the Septuagint and in the Christian Greek Scriptures, I suggest the rendering “to exploit” rather than “to take advantage of.”
The noun pleonektēs (“exploiter”)
There is also a concrete substantive that is related to the verb pleonekteō, namely, pleonektēs. This is a verbal noun because it is made from the verb. English examples of verbal nouns are “speaker” from “speak” and “rider” from “ride.” Verbal nouns are also nomen agentis (“agent nouns”), and they refer to a characteristic or an occupation. For example, the Greek word alieus (“fisherman”) comes from the verb alieuō (“to fish”) and hiereus (“priest”) comes from the verb hierateuō (“to serve as a priest”). Both alieus and hiereus shows what the persons are and not what they do.
Supporting the view that pleonektēs is an agent noun, is its ending -tēs. Regarding the ending -tēs in Classical Greek, Wiktionary says: “tēs: Added to verb stems to form masculine agent nouns.” The index in A Grammar of the New Testament of Other Early Christian Literature by Blass, Debrunner, Funk, page 299, has the entry, “tēs: nomina agentis in 109 (8).” Paragraph 109 (8) lists several nouns ending in –tēs and says that “these words…were formed with almost the same facility as verbal forms.” There are also other Greek endings that can form agent nouns from verbs, for example -tōr and –os.
The fact that pleonektēs is the verbal noun made from the verb pleonekteō, shows that pleonektēs has the substantivized meaning of the verb pleonekteō. The basic meaning of pleonekteō is “to exploit,” and therefore, the verbal noun pleonektēs must have the meaning “exploiter,” i.e., one who is exploiting someone.
It is interesting that the members of the GB support the principle behind the arguments above. How so? Point 31 in the Shepherd book says:
If an individual’s gambling reveals a course of greediness, perhaps causing harm to himself or others, and he ignores repeated counsel, judicial action would be appropriate.
Greed is a desire or a state of mind, and because we cannot read the minds of others, we cannot know whether the person is greedy, i.e., “has an insatiable desire for more” in one or more situations. The quotation above, however, directs the attention away from reading minds to a concrete “course of” actions. The quotation shows, for example, that if the person’s gambling is “causing harm to himself or others,” these actions can be interpreted as evidence that the person is greedy.
Thus, the GB and I agree that the disfellowshipping offense expressed by pleonektēs is connected with ‘a course of action.’ The difference is that the GB believes that the disfellowshipping “offense” is the desire greed, but it is almost impossible to determine on the basis of a person’s actions that he or she has “an insatiable desire to have more.” There can be a great number of unspecified actions that might reflect a greedy desire on a person’s part. In keeping with this, I believe that pleonektēs refers to exploitation stemming from one specific and limited action related to greed, namely, covetousness, and not from greed in the broad generic sense. The consequences of the two different views will be discussed later.
Being permeated by serious wrongdoing
In 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, ten disfellowshipping offenses are listed, as seen in table 1.1. The nouns pornos and moikhos both refer to sexual immorality. The noun moikhos refers to adultery, and pornos refer to sexual immorality in general and can include moikhos. The nouns malakos and arsenokoitēs both refer to homosexual actions. This means that there are seven different categories of disfellowshipping offenses that are listed by Paul: Sexual immorality, idolatry, theft, exploitation, drunkenness, reviling, and extortion.
Table 1.1 List of disfellowshipping offenses in the NT
|pornos||A man or woman who engages in sexual immorality. (1 Cor. 6:9)|
|eidōlolatrēs||One who takes part in idol worship. (1 Cor. 6:9)|
|moikhos||A person who commits adultery. (1 Cor. 6:9)|
|malakos||The passive male partner in homosexual intercourse. (1 Cor. 6:9)|
|aresenokoitēs||The male partner in homosexual intercourse. (1 Cor. 6:9)|
|kleptēs||A thief. (1 Cor. 6:10)|
|pleonektēs||Exploitation (Wrongly written in the Shepherd book as “Greed,” 1 Cor. 6:10)|
|methysos||A drunkard (wine) (1 Cor. 6:10)|
|loidoros||A reviler, an abusive person. (1 Cor. 6:10)|
|harpax||A rapacious person, a robber. (1 Cor. 6:10)|
I will now take a closer look at the nature of the seven different categories of disfellowshipping offenses. The important thing to note is that the disfellowshipping offenses are listed as nouns and not as verbs. Verbs describe actions and nouns describe characteristics. This means that the expression “disfellowshipping offenses” that I have used many times may be somewhat misleading. How so?
As I have shown above, the nouns are verbal nouns as well as nomen agentis (“agent nouns”). The word harpax (“extortion”) is an adjective. It is substantivized and functions as a verbal noun and a nomen agentis. The characteristics of verbal nouns are that they express the verbal action in a nominal way. An alieus (“fisherman”), a word coming from alieuō (“to fish”) is not a person who have been fishing one, two, or three times. But a fisherman is one whose occupation is fishing.
In a similar way, a kleptēs (“thief”) is not a person who has stolen on one, two, or three occasions. But John 12:6 (NWT13) says that Judas was a thief because “he used to steal money put in it [the contribution box].” This means that to qualify for disfellowshipping, a person must be permeated by one or more of the actions described by the agent nouns. Such actions have now become a part of his or her personality. That is the reason why the term “disfellowshipping offenses” is really a misnomer that can be misleading because it is the bad personality of the person that qualifies for disfellowshipping, not what he does. But I am not aware of any other term that can describe the seven nomen agentis in a better way.
It is interesting that an article in The Watchtower of 1 May 1983, page 8, to some extent agrees with the conclusions above:
First, it should be noted that there is a difference between being unwittingly overtaken by drinking too much on one occasion and being a drunkard—making it a practice to become intoxicated.
Merriam-Webster defines “drunkard” as “one who is habitually drunk.” This definition corroborates the definition of the nomen agentis methysos as “one who is permeated by overdrinking,” or of pleonektēs as “one who is permeated by exploitation.”
But the problem is that the elders are not taught and do not understand the real meaning of the disfellowshipping offenses listed by Paul. My experience is that if a Witness is guilty of a particular wrongdoing three times or more, even if there are several months between the incidences, the person most likely will be disfellowshipped. But in most cases, this is a violation of Paul’s description of the nature of disfellowshipping offenses.
|Greed is a desire or a state of mind, and no one can be disfellowshipped because of his state of mind.
Greed is not found in the list of disfellowshipping offenses in 1 Corinthian 6:9, 10, and therefore a Witness cannot be disfellowshipped because of gambling as a supposed expression of greed.
The word pleonektēs should not be translated as “greedy people” but as “exploiters.”
A person can be disfellowshipped when he or she is permeated by exploitation. But gambling is not the same as exploitation.
. A detailed study of pleonekteō, pleonexia, and pleonektēs is found in the article “Greed” in the category “The eleven disfellowshipping offenses.”
A SYNTHESIS OF THE OLD VIEWS AND THE VIEW OF 2019
It is fascinating to follow the changing views of gambling from 1954 up to the present. And it is just as fascinating to see how the view expressed in the book for elders “Shepherd The Flock Of God” (2019) contradicts most of what was previously written— it represents a complete reversal of previous definitions and outlines a new view of gambling.
The main points of the old view
When we look at table 1.2 below, we see that both the definitions of gambling and gambling as a disfellowshipping offense have changed. These changes unmistakably show that the GB’s views of gambling are arbitrary human commandments.
First, there is no biblical or linguistic reason given for the change from viewing gambling as extortion (1954-72) to viewing it as greed or a form of greed (1972-2019), and now to do an about-face and say that gambling is not greed but can lead to greed (2019).
Second, there is no biblical or linguistic reason given for the change from saying that a Witness could be employed by a gambling enterprise (1954—1961) to declaring that such employment is a disfellowshipping offense (1961—2019).
Third, there is no biblical or linguistic reason presented for the change from viewing all kinds of gambling as wrong, even “gambling” when you get a free lottery ticket (1961-2019) to now viewing petty gambling as acceptable when done for entertainment (2019).
Fourth, because gambling is not mentioned in the Bible, there is no basis for claiming that gambling is a disfellowshipping offense (1961-2019)
Table 1.2 The changed viewpoints of gambling
|Participating in gambling in any form is a matter of conscience.|
|Gambling is not a disfellowshipping offense.|
|Gambling is extortion.|
|Gambling is a disfellowshipping offense because it is extortion.|
|Gambling is not extortion but greed.|
|Gambling is a disfellowshipping offense because it is greed.|
|Some forms of gambling can lead to greed.|
|Only being employed in a gambling enterprise, or showing greed when gambling can a person be disfellowshipped. Most forms of gambling are not disfellowshipping offenses.|
Both extortion and exploitation (but not greed) are disfellowshipping offenses when a Christian is permeated by these works of the flesh. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) So, when the leading brothers decided to start disfellowshipping gamblers from the congregation, they sought to connect gambling with a biblical disfellowshipping offense in order to justify this punitive action. First, they used “extortion,” and later, they used “greed.” This vacillation alone shows how arbitrary this disfellowshipping offense is. Those who were disfellowshipped because of gambling from 1961 to 1972 were disfellowshipped on the false basis of extortion, because The Watchtower of 1 October 1972 later showed that gambling is not extortion.
The explanation for disfellowshipping between 1972 and 2019, when gambling was defined as “a form of greed,” was also arbitrary. This is so because most expressions in the Watchtower literature do not use gambling and greed interchangeably. Moreover, “greed” is not a disfellowshipping offense according to Paul.
We note the expressions related to gambling: “a form of greediness,” “often leads to or incites greed,” “appeals…to greed,” “reflects greed,” and “is tainted by greed.” These expressions show that these articles from the Watchtower literature do not make gambling and greed interchangeable, except in one instance. This alone indicates that there is no scriptural basis for disfellowshipping a Witness who has been gambling, because of a supposed link to greed with reference to 1 Corinthians 6:10. Moreover, “greed” is not a disfellowshipping action according to Paul.
THE NEW VIEW OF THE BOOK “SHEPHERD THE FLOCK OF GOD”
The conclusions regarding gambling in this book for elders are rather surprising because they contradict most of what has been written about gambling in the Watchtower literature since 1954, and the book presents a new view. It is also surprising that “extortion” is mentioned in the heading when the view that gambling was extortion was abandoned in 1972.
Greed, Gambling, Extortion: (1 Cor. 5:10. 11; 6:10; 1 Tim. 3:8: it-I pp. 789, 1005- 1006) Elders do not generally involve themselves in what an individual does with regard to petty gambling solely for entertainment. However. if such petty gambling affects his spirituality or becomes a cause of stumbling for others, counsel should be given. lf he does not respond favorably to the counsel and his conduct continues to have a negative effect on him or others, he could not be viewed as exemplary in the congregation. (Isa. 65:11: w11 3/1 pp. 12-14; w02 11/1 p. 31; g 3/15 pp. 14-15) lf an individual’s gambling reveals a course of greediness, perhaps causing harm to himself or others, and he ignores repeated counsel, judicial action would be appropriate.
An individual continuing in employment directly involved with gambling or employment making him a clear accomplice or promoter of gambling would be subject to judicial action, usually after being allowed six months to make the needed adjustments. (lvs pp. 204-209) In questionable cases, consult the Service Department.
lf a business gives out prizes or prize of money to winners of a contest or to potential customers for advertising, accepting the gift is an individual decision to make. However, a person needs to be careful that accepting such a prize does not stir up greed.—Rom. 14:21; 1 Cor 10:31-33; w73 p. 127; g75 7/8 p. 28.
The Watchtower of 1 October 1974 concludes that any form of gambling, from petty bets to bets of huge sums of money, is connected with greed and is therefore wrong. And The Watchtower of 15 December 1980 agrees, and also shows that gambling for entertainment is wrong. The Awake! magazine of 8 August 1994 says that even to use a free lottery ticket is wrong because to do so would be tantamount to supporting the gambling operation. However, point 12.32 in the book for elders says:
Elders do not generally involve themselves in what an individual does with regard to petty gambling solely for entertainment.
lf an individual’s gambling reveals a course of greediness, perhaps causing harm to himself or others, and he ignores repeated counsel, judicial action would be appropriate.
These words are very important because they show that some forms of gambling can be acceptable. They also show that gambling is not interchangeable with greed, but gambling can lead to “a course of” greed. Thus, neither the expressions “extortion” nor “greed” can be used to show that gambling is a disfellowshipping offense. Therefore, a great number of those who during the 66 years since 1954 have been disfellowshipped because of gambling have been unjustly so, that ia, if we accept the Bible as the sole authority. This is confirmed by the words in the book for elders.
Point 32 shows that contrary to the view expressed in 1954, a person who works or is connected with a gambling enterprise is guilty of a disfellowshipping offense:
An individual continuing in employment directly involved with gambling or employment making him a clear accomplice or promoter of gambling would be subject to judicial action.
But what is the nature of the offense warranting such judicial action? It cannot be greed on the brother’s part because to have a job is not a means of unjust gain or a form greediness. So, is the view that by being an employee of a gambling enterprise, the brother is responsible for the greed of others? But that can hardly be the case because the book for elders says that gambling solely for entertainment is not wrong. And even the GB must admit that a great number of those who buy lottery tickets do that for entertainment with the hope of winning a prize. So why should the brother who is an employee of a gambling enterprise be disfellowshipped? This is not stated, and therefore, a judicial committee must rely on the decisions of the GB, who has written that such a brother should be disfellowshipped.
Consider, for example, a Witness whose job is to maintain the playing machines that are placed in different shops. Persons can put in a small coin in such a machine, push the button, and see if he or she will win several small coins. This gambling is done for entertainment, which now is allowed by the GB. But the Witness is guilty of a disfellowshipping offense because of his job in maintaining the machines that the GB allows other JW to gamble on for entertainment purposes. What kind of sense does that make?
And what does it mean to be “a clear accomplice or promoter of gambling”? This will be a subjective assessment of the elders in the congregation. And I expect that in many cases two elders will make a telephone call to the Service Department, and the brothers in this department will decide the case according to the detailed rules the GB has given them. The problem with this consultation procedure is that the brothers in the Service Department will not personally be intimately acquainted with the situation. So, whether a Witness will be disfellowshipped or not depends on the stock answers provided by the Service Department coupled with how the elders assess such an ambiguous situation; but not all of these elders will be familiar with the details of this situation.
|Contrary to what was published in The Watchtower of 1954, the book for elders mandates that a brother who continues to be employed by a gambling enterprise will be disfellowshipped. No scriptural reason is given for this disfellowshipping policy change.|
I will return to the last part of point 31 in the book of elders. We read:
lf an individual’s gambling reveals a course of greediness, perhaps causing harm to himself or others, and he ignores repeated counsel, judicial action would be appropriate.
How are the elders supposed to know when a person’s gambling changes and suddenly “reveals a course of greediness”? The elders cannot read the mind of a person who is gambling, and his actions for the most part are outside of their purview since the elders do not accompany him when he goes gambling. And even if they could see his gambling activities, such can be misinterpreted. This means that whether or not there is a course of greediness is highly subjective, and elders in different congregations will assess each situation differently. And that a person’s gambling should cause harm to himself and others would only occur if he or she loses a great deal of money, which almost never will happen. So, we must conclude that the decisions made in judicial cases dealing with gambling, both in the past and in the present, are badly flawed. The Witnesses involved in such cases are not treated in a just way.
Point 33 shows that contrary to the Awake! magazine of 8 August 1994, a person who gets “a free lottery ticket or free money to use for gambling” is not “supporting a gambling operation.” The reversal of so many sides of gambling that we see in the Shepherd book for elders epitomizes the indisputable fact that it is the arbitrary and changing views of the GB that are influencing the lives of the Witnesses rather than the words of the Bible.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE TWO DIFFERENT VIEWS — GREED VERSUS EXPLOITATION
The basic consequences of the different views on gambling over the years are that the application of the concept “greed” as a disfellowshipping offense leads to confusion and to the unjust treatment of members of the congregation. But the application of the alternative concept “exploitation” as the true disfellowshipping offense promotes clarity and fosters just treatment of the congregation members. I will look at the details.
The first problem leading to the confusion is the lack of education of the elders in connection with judicial cases. The book God’s Kingdom Rules, page 114, says: “Christian elders are carefully trained to care for judicial matters in Jehovah’s way.” This simply is not true! At a course for elders around 1990, it was discussed in detail how judicial cases should be handled. Since then, elders have attended courses approximately two days per year. Judicial cases have occasionally been discussed. But there has been no systematic or “careful training” for those who will make up judicial committees. When a serious sin is revealed, the body of elders decides which three elders should consider the case. These are not trained in any way. Their only “training” is to read the Shepherd book for elders, but we cannot learn how to treat in a godly way humans who have sinned by reading a book.
The second problem leading to the confusion is that persons who do not know the details of a case strongly influence the decision and outcome of the case. Chapter 12, point 32 in the Shepherd book says, “In questionable cases, consult the Service Department.” This possibility has existed for many years. But it is clear that the role of the Service Department has changed. During my 35 years as presiding overseer and coordinator in the Majorstua Congregation in Oslo, Norway, we contacted the Service Department in two or three cases. In each case, we got good advice. And the letters we received each time said that the Service Department could only point to biblical principles that we had to consider and not make any judgments in the cases or influence our judgments. The judicial committee knew all the details in connection with the case—not the brothers at the Service Department—therefore, only the committee could make that judgment call.
My experience is that the Service Department today has a much bigger share in the judgment of a case than before. This accords with the trend toward more and more autocratic procedures that continue to extend the GB’s reach into most decisions in connection with the congregations, even the small ones, either directly or through its representatives.
The problem with this is that the brothers in the Service Department lack much of the data that the judicial committee has. The procedure is that two of the elders of the committee make a phone call to the Service Department and outline the case, and they may also write a letter. But it is impossible to get a clear picture of the case by one or two phone calls or by one or more letters. So, I am afraid that the brothers in the Service Department often influence significantly the decision of a case without having the necessary data.
Moreover, the Service Department also has written instructions and rules made by the GB that are not written in the literature available to the elders. One example of this is how to treat drug addicts who want to quit their bad habit and are part of a methadone program—this is discussed in detail in the study “Methadone and Disfellowshipping” in the category “Reversed view of disfellowshipping offenses.” In this and other cases, it is, in reality, the brothers in the Service Department who make the decisions.
The third problem leading to the confusion is that the GB’s view of what is right and wrong in connection with gambling has changed several times and has even gone back and forth. I will outline some situations.
From 1954 and for some years, working in a gambling enterprise, or in connection therewith, was not viewed as a disfellowshipping offense. But at least from 1961, as directed in the book for judicial committees, this was reversed. The sin of the gambler was defined as extortion. So, the issue for the committee to consider was whether the Witness no longer had a part in any kind of gambling and regretted what he or she already had done. In that case, the Witness would not be disfellowshipped. So, the subjective issue was whether the committee believed that the remorse claimed by the Witness was genuine.
In 1972, The Watchtower showed that to say that gambling was “extortion” was wrong, and the new definition was now “greed.” I will use two examples in connection with “greed” to show how bad the application of the rules and laws made by the GB may be for individual Witnesses.
Suppose that the following situation occurs at the end of December 1988: A neighbor boy who is a member of a sports club approaches a Witness and asks him to buy a ticket in a lottery whose purpose is to support the sports club. The Witness buys a ticket for a small amount of money. The elders are informed, and a judicial committee is constituted. The Witness denies that his action is an expression of greed—only a small amount of money was paid, and the motive was to support the neighbor boy and the sports club to which he belonged. But the elders show him The Watchtower of 15 December 1988 where “gambling in any form” is connected with greed. The brother cannot accept that his action indicates greed, but in spite of this, he is disfellowshipped. The reason for his disfellowshipping is that he is not obedient to the decisions of the GB.
We may also consider a situation that may have occurred in September 1994. A Witness has received a free lottery ticket from a supermarket where he is a customer. After some time, he is informed that he has won 1,000 Norwegian kroner. Another Witness knows about this, and he contacts the elders. They summon the winning Witness and show him the Awake! of 8 August 1994 and tell him that he is guilty of a disfellowshipping offense. The Witness disagrees and says that he did not pay any money for the lottery ticket, so the elders cannot accuse him of a gross sin. If the Witness does not give in, what happens? He may be disfellowshipped for an unrepentant attitude. On what ground? The reason is disobedience to the GB because the GB has now decided to define the use of free lottery tickets as being tantamount to being an accomplice of a gambling operation. The GB demands absolute obedience, and those who are not obedient will be disfellowshipped.
What is ironic, is that if the mentioned situations from 1988 and 1994 had happened in 2019, there would have been no judicial action taken in connection with the Witnesses, because the GB has redefined what it means to be an accomplice of gambling. The book for elders says that “petty gambling solely for entertainment” is not wrong.
The fourth problem leading to the confusion, and that is the most important one, is that the concept of “greed” itself is not correctly understood by the members of the GB. Colossians 3:5 NWT says:
5 Deaden, therefore, your body members that are on the earth as respects sexual immorality, uncleanness, uncontrolled sexual passion, hurtful desire (epithumian kakēn), and greediness (pleonexia), which is idolatry.
In addition to pleonexia the verse has the word epithymia. The UBS Greek-English Lexicon defines this word as, “desire, longing; lust; passion; covetousness.” What is the difference between the references of epithymia (“covetousness”) and “greed”? The difference is that while covetousness can express a strong desire for something, when what is desired has been acquired, there is no more epithymia, no more desire to acquire it. But because “greed” is defined as “an insatiable desire to have more,” it can never be satisfied. Therefore, covetousness and greed are not synonymous terms that can be used interchangeably. However, the members of the GB confuse “covetousness” with “greed.”
|Covetousness can be weak or strong, positive or negative, desire to acquire something that belongs to another. And this desire can be satisfied upon the acquisition of the thing coveted. Greed, on the other hand, is a strong negative desire that is insatiable or too great to be satisfied.|
Those who become Witnesses study the Bible for several months before they are baptized. During this time, they work hard to be able to put on the new personality. What they learn at the meetings helps them to continue to work on their new personality. And the fellowship with other members of the congregation is also helpful in this regard.
Because of imperfection, however, some members of the congregation will sometimes have wrong desires, and some of them may at times be guilty of covetousness. But that members of the Christian congregations should be guilty of “greed” — experiencing strong or insatiable desires that cannot be satisfied — would hardly ever occur. Yet “greed” plays an important and pivotal role for the members of the GB in connection with disfellowshipping offenses.
The marginal comments to Romans 1:29 in the Online NWT with References show that the GB makes “covetousness” and “greed”, interchangeable, as does also the JW Bible encyclopedia, Insight on the Scriptures. But this leads to utter confusion, because “greed” in the view of the GB can be used in reference to many persons, but when used in the correct sense, “greed” can refer to only a very few Christians.
In addition to the fact that greed is an extreme desire that we would not expect Christians to have, how can we know that one is a greedy person—that he or she is experiencing “an insatiable desire to have more”? Because the elders cannot read the minds of the congregation members, they cannot know when someone has such an extreme internal desire. The instructions from the GB to the elders are to look for actions that may indicate greed. But how can anyone with certainty know that a particular action does indeed indicate that this person has “an insatiable desire for more”?
|There is no Hebrew or Greek word that rightly can be translated by the broad, generic word “greed.” Additionally, the very concept of greed as “an insatiable desire to have more” is foreign both to Hebrew and Greek thought. But the Greek word epithymia can be translated as “covetousness.”|
If we believe that the Bible is inspired by God, we must also believe that the disfellowshipping offenses that Paul was inspired to write down must be clear and easy to identify. This would exclude anything that falls under the category of a “desire” as being a disfellowshipping offense, regardless of how strong that desire might be. But this is exactly what the members of the GB claim, that the insatiable desire “greed” is a disfellowshipping offense. The elders have also been granted by the GB the authority to interpret when a member of the congregation “may” be guilty of greed. This means that Witnesses can be disfellowshipped on the basis of the gut feelings of the members of a judicial committee. This leads to confusion and injustice!
In contrast to the confusion mentioned above, the term “exploiters” both fits the meaning of the Greek word pleonektēs, and has a concrete meaning. Please look at table 1.3, where we see the seven different disfellowshipping offenses listed by Paul in 1 Corinthians, chapters 5 and 6. We see that the rendering “exploiter” is of the same nature as the six other disfellowshipping offenses. It is clear and easy to identify because it refers to a concrete course of actions carried out by a person. But “greedy person” does not fit because it refers to the hidden internal desires of a person—their state of mind.
Table 1.3 The seven disfellowshipping offenses listed by Paul
|Sexually immoral person|
|Exploiter (not “greedy person”)|
To know when a Witness is guilty of exploitation is rather easy because there are not scores upon scores of different interpretations of the term “exploiter.” So a member of the congregation will not be disfellowshipped on the basis of a generic, ambiguous concept that is interpreted by the gut feelings of the members of the judicial committee. But an assessment for possible disfellowshipping will be based on concrete observable evidence.
When we take all evidence into consideration the rendering “greedy people” for pelonektēs is both misleading and wrong. But the rendering “exploiters” is both from a linguistic and practical point of view an excellent term.
Below are two tables showing how the views of the leaders of JW regarding gambling have changed over the years.
Table 1.4 Different definitions of gambling
|1954||A Witness is allowed to be employed in a gambling enterprise.|
|1961||A Witness is not allowed to be employed in a gambling enterprise.|
|1988||Gambling in any form appeals to greed.|
|1992||Any form of gambling, small or great, is wrong.|
|1994||To use free tickets for “gambling” is wrong.|
|1996||Every form of gambling is tainted with greed.|
|2019||Petty gambling for entertainment is not wrong.|
|2019||If gambling reveals a course of greediness, that is a disfellowshipping offense.|
Figure 1.5 Different viewpoints regarding the nature of gambling
|1961||Gambling is a form of extortion,|
|1970||Gambling is extortion.|
|1972||Gambling is not extortion but a form of greediness.|
|1973||Gambling often makes people greedy.|
|1980||Gambling often leads to or incites greed.|
|1980||Gambling can lead to cultivating greed.|
|1988||Gambling in any form appeals to one of the worst qualities in humans—greed.|
|1994||Gambling reflects greed.|
|1996||Every form of gambling is tainted by greed.|
|2019||Petty gambling for entertainment is not greed.|
The literature of JW from 1954 shows how the members of the GB have misused their position as leaders. There is absolutely no biblical or linguistic reason why the definition and view of gambling should change, let alone changing back and forth. Figure 1.4 above shows that at one time, it was not wrong to work in a gambling enterprise, or in connection therewith, but later, it was declared to be a disfellowshipping offense. Gambling was first defined as extortion, but then this definition was changed, and it was viewed as a form of greed. Any form of gambling, even petty gambling for entertainment or the use of free lottery tickets, were disfellowshipping offenses. But today, petty gambling for entertainment is not wrong and is no longer a disfellowshipping offense.
What is really bad is that because of the arbitrary and changing rules in connection with gambling, Witnesses have been disfellowshipped at different times because of rules that were later changed. The book for elders “Shepherd The Flock Of God” (2019) contains a reversal of most of the rules that previously were given regarding gambling. So, a great number of Witnesses that previously were disfellowshipped for gambling would not have been disfellowshipped in 2019. But the GB has not taken the initiative of looking into previous cases to reinstate those who should not have been disfellowshipped in keeping with the present circumstances.
It is really bad that the members of the GB do not understand the meaning of the Greek word pleonektēs that is used in 1 Corinthians 6:10 as a disfellowshipping offense. Translating this word by “greedy people” as does NWT13, simply is wrong. Because pleonektēs is a verbal noun of the verb pleonekteō with the basic meaning “to exploit,” pleonektēs should be translated as “exploiter.” First when a person reaches the point of habitually exploiting others, and so has become permeated by exploitation, will he deserve to be disfellowshipped.
In the last analysis, no scripture in the Bible says that gambling is a disfellowshipping offense. Therefore, when a Witness is disfellowshipped because of gambling, this is a violation of several Bible principles, and it is an attack on the Christian freedom of the Witness.