The sky is falling! The end is near! Prepare now for doomsday! For centuries, people have been predicting the end of the world or some other cataclysmic disaster and, stirred by their passion, many more people try to prepare for it. Preppers, as they are called, are known for stockpiling food, weapons, and other supplies as they await doomsday. Even Christians have gotten caught up in end times predictions, tangling biblical prophecy with fear and current events. Some Christians believe they must physically prepare for Armageddon, the return of Jesus, or World War III—whichever comes first. Of course, Jesus is coming back, and the earth as we know it will some day come to an end, but should Christians be preppers? Does the Bible say anything about doomsday prepping?
Prepping is big business. Websites, books, and products abound that promise inside information about impending doom and give instructions about storing, canning, or freeze-drying food and purifying water. Y2K, the scare during the late 1990s, started the current trend toward prepping, and the practice has continued as the world gets crazier. During the Y2K frenzy, thousands sold their homes and dug hideouts for their families in the event of a nuclear or chemical attack or a worldwide financial meltdown. In some regions, the prepper mentality is still going strong, even leading to standoffs with law enforcement.
Some people simply want to live more self-sustaining lifestyles by using solar energy, growing their own food, and keeping livestock for dairy products and meat. They consider it wise to be less dependent upon utility companies and supermarkets for daily survival, but these people are not motivated by paranoia and fear. They are not considered preppers in the strictest sense but are focused on simplifying their lifestyles. Many Christians have adopted this lifestyle in varying degrees, especially among the homeschooling community. They find that raising crops and livestock is a better lifestyle for their families and consider it a bonus that they are also prepared in the event of most emergencies, ranging from power outages to terrorism.
To be considered a “prepper,” a person must be preoccupied with thoughts of preparing for an impending disaster. Some extreme preppers have quit their jobs, burrowed into underground bunkers, and gone completely off the grid to await the end of all things. They see every negative news story as evidence that they are right and doomsday is just around the corner. For Christians to behave this way means that they have lost sight of our mandate to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). They have also lost sight of the fact that God’s people are not to live in fear (Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 10:28). First Peter 3:14 says, “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’”
When fear or self-centered survivalism is the motivation for prepping, it becomes a lifestyle that cannot be supported by Scripture. We are to live wisely in this world, while remembering that this world is not our home (Hebrews 13:14). And we are to love others as we love ourselves (Galatians 5:14; Luke 10:27). Preppers, for the most part, have self-protection as their highest goal. They stockpile for themselves and their families. But what about their neighbors? What about those who may be in need in time of crisis? What are the guns for? Are they prepared to shoot hungry families who come knocking on their barricaded door? The doomsday prepper mindset can take on a desperate life of its own and lead Christians down a decidedly non-Christian path.
Some Christians have adopted a prepper lifestyle with the purpose of being able to provide for the community in the event of catastrophe. They may have massive storage facilities from which they already sell produce and consider their food cache similar to Joseph’s storehouses (Genesis 41:46–57). Some people have even created community gardens and neighborhood livestock barns and have enjoyed the camaraderie of their neighbors in this joint venture. Such motivation is pleasing to the Lord because it is not self-centered (Philippians 2:4).
A Christian may be a prepper if the Lord is directing that action as a means of furthering His kingdom and ministering to others (1 Corinthians 10:31; Matthew 6:33). If one’s heart motive is love and a desire to utilize what God has given in order to share the gospel and care for as many people as possible in time of need, then prepping is a biblically sound choice. However, most prepping is motivated by fear and self-preservation. It is driven by a lack of faith, and Romans 14:23 says that “whatever is not from faith is sin.” The reasons that a Christian becomes involved with doomsday prepping are what determine whether or not God approves.