World Scripture


Addiction to liquor, drugs, or gambling is a cause of people's downfall in every society. These so-called victimless crimes render man's spirit blind to the light of God and deaf to the promptings of his conscience. Addictions typically lead to antisocial behavior, destroy families, and promote criminal acts. Despite contemporary medical models of addiction which regard it as a disease, the world's religions generally affirm that people are responsible for their own actions and should be taught to steer clear of addictions.

You who believe! Intoxicants and gambling... are an abomination--of Satan's handiwork: eschew such that you may prosper. Satan's plan is to stir up emnity and hatred among you by means of liquor and gambling, and to hinder you from the remembrance of God and from prayer. Will you not then abstain?

1. Islam. Qur'an 5.90-91

Men who are grave and wise,
Though they drink, are mild and masters of themselves;
But those who are benighted and ignorant
Are devoted to drink, and more so daily.
Be careful, each of you, of your deportment--
What heaven confers, when once lost, is not regained.

2. Confucianism. Book of Songs, Ode 196

Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit.

3. Christianity. Ephesians 5.18

Woe to those who rise early in the morning,
that they may run after strong drink,
who tarry late into the evening
till wine inflames them!
They have lyre and harp,
timbrel and flute and wine at their feasts,
but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord,
or see the work of his hands.

4. Judaism and Christianity. Isaiah 5.11-12

Ephesians 5.18: Cf. Wadhans, M.1, p. 239; Acts 2.1-18, p. 577.

Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
Those who tarry long after wine,
those who go to try mixed wine.
Do not look at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup
and goes down smoothly.
At the last it bites like a serpent,
and stings like an adder.
Your eyes will see strange things,
and your mind utter perverse things.
You will be one who lies down in the midst of the [rolling] sea,
like one who totters to and fro like the top of a mast.
"They struck me," you will say, "but I was not hurt;
they beat me, but I did not feel it.
When shall I awake?
I will seek another drink."

5. Judaism and Christianity. Proverbs 23.29-35

Rabbi Isaac said, quoting Proverbs 23.31, "Wine makes the faces of the wicked red in this world, but pale in the world to come." Rabbi Me'ir said, "The tree of which Adam ate was a vine, for it is wine that brings lamentation to man."

6. Judaism. Talmud, Sanhedrin 70ab

What are the six channels for dissipating wealth? Taking intoxicants; loitering in the streets at unseemly hours; constantly visiting shows and fairs; addiction to gambling; association with evil companions; the habit of idleness....

Gambling and women, drink and dance and song,
Sleeping by day and prowling around by night,
Friendship with wicked men, hardness of heart,
These causes six bring ruin to a man.

Gambling and drinking, chasing after those
Women as dear as life to other men,
Following the fools, not the enlightened ones,
He wanes as the darker half of the moon.

The drunkard always poor and destitute;
Even while drinking, thirsty; haunting bars;
Sinks into debt as into water stone,
Soon robs his family of their good name.

One who habitually sleeps by day
And looks upon the night as time to rise
Licentious and a drunkard all the time,
He does not merit the rank of householder.

7. Buddhism. Digha Nikaya iii.182-85, Sigalovada Sutta

Excessive eating is prejudicial to health, to fame, and to bliss in Heaven; it prevents the acquisition of spiritual merit and is odious among men; one ought, for these reasons, to avoid it carefully.

8. Hinduism. Laws of Manu 2.57

The Gambler:
These nuts that once tossed on tall trees in the wind
but now smartly roll over the board, how I love them!
As alluring as a draught of Soma on the mountain,
the lively dice have captured my heart.

My faithful wife never quarreled with me
or got angry; to me and my companions
she was always kind, yet I've driven her away
for the sake of the ill-fated throw of a die.

His wife's mother loathes him, his wife rejects him,
he implores people's aid but nowhere finds pity.
A luckless gambler is no more good
than an aged hack to be sold on the market.

Other men make free with the wife of a man
whose money and goods the eager dice have stolen.
His father and mother and brothers all say,
"He is nothing to us. Bind him, put him in jail!"

The Gambler:
I make a resolve that I will not go gaming.
So my friends depart and leave me behind.
But as soon as the brown nuts are rattled and thrown,
to meet them I run, like an amorous girl.

To the meeting place the gambler hastens.
Shall I win? he asks himself, hoping and trembling,
But the throws of the dice ruin his hopes,
giving the highest scores to his opponent.

Dice, believe me, are barbed: they prick and they trip,
they hurt and torment and cause grievous harm.
To the gambler they are like children's gifts, sweet as honey,
but they turn on the winner in rage and destroy him.

Fifty-three strong, this band jumps playfully,
like Savitri, the god whose statutes are true.
They pay no heed to the anger of the powerful;
the king himself bows down before them.

Downward they roll, then jump in the air!
Though handless, they master those who have hands!
Unearthly coals thrown down on the board,
though cold they burn the player's heart to ashes.

Abandoned, the wife of the gambler grieves.
Grieved too, is his mother as he wanders to nowhere.
Afraid and in debt, ever greedy for money,
he steals in the night to the home of another.

He is seized by remorse when he sees his wife's lot,
beside that of another with well-ordered home.
In the morning, however, he yokes the brown steeds
and at the evening falls stupid before the cold embers.

The Gambler to the dice:
To the mighty chieftain of your whole band,
the one who has become the king of your troop,
to him I show my ten fingers extended.
No wealth do I withhold! I speak truly!

Steer clear of dice. Till well your own field.
Rejoice in your portion and value it highly.
See there, O Gambler, your cattle, your wife.
This is the counsel of the noble Savitri.

The Gambler to the dice:
Grant us your friendship, have mercy upon us!
Do not overwhelm us with your fierce attack!
May your anger and evil intention be assuaged!
Let the brown dice proceed to ensnare another!

9. Hinduism. Rig Veda 10.34