It used to be that only paranoid outcasts spoke of doomsday. These folks would fear the falling sky would drop at their feet via nuclear meltdown or natural disaster or viral epidemic or economic collapse or zombie outbreak.
But doomsday is no longer a fringe idea. USAToday reports that “a poll done for National Geographic Channel in September indicated that 28% of Americans knew” someone who was preparing for doomsday. That means almost one third of Americans are storing food and water, developing escape plans, and practicing self-defense (including weapons training).
NatGeo’s television show, Doomsday Preppers, features people around the States who are preparing for the worst. After watching a few episodes, I found myself wondering how long I would survive if the sky fell. Planning is not my thing—I don’t have a stocked pantry or freezer. Survival skills? I don’t camp or hunt. Basically, compared to these people, I don’t stand much chance of surviving if (when?) doomsday hits.
Although Doomsday Preppers is about entertainment—it’s all about gawking at hard-core survivalists—the show also has educational benefits for the general population. Disaster awareness has increased, prompting more people to achieve basic readiness for the more common (and likely?) storms and situations that would limit our access to supplies and power. The NatGeo Web site for the show offers a Doomsday App, a Gourmet Preppers Menu, and a quiz that assesses your chances for survival.
From a biblical perspective, preparation and planning are encouraged. Proverbs mentions the wise man who plans ahead (Prov. 13:16) and Jesus spoke of the wise man who counted the cost (planning) before beginning a project (Luke 14).
But the Bible also calls us to share what we have with anyone in need—without regard for how much we will have leftover for ourselves. John instructed: “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17, ESV).
Foundational to the prepping movement, however, is the me-first mentality, which is contrary to biblical teaching. The USAToday article points out the tendency of prepping to create a self-preservation mentality:
Kenneth Rose, a University of California-Chico professor and author of One Nation Underground: The Fallout Shelter in American Culture, says the prepper movement raises “neighbor vs. neighbor” scenarios and “troubling class issues.”
“Will the well-to-do only be able to afford these types of activities?” he asks.
“Frankly, I think people should put their energy into making a more peaceful world, rather than contemplating saving their own skins,” Rose says.
Rose is correct: Prepping can lead you to a me-against-the-world attitude, one that has no place among Christians. As this movement continues to grow, we can show the way of love and concern for our neighbor even to our own detriment—because that’s what was demonstrated to us in Christ Jesus.