Like your favorite song being ruined by constant radio play.
Or bacon. For crying out loud, it’s bacon. Yes, we all know everyone likes it. Just shut up and eat it.
Or the apocalypse.
Seriously, can we just get past the end of the world already?
It’s that last one that really sticks in my craw. Everyone has their own brand of doomsday theory. Elizabeth Esther wrote a great post last week about the spiritual abuse of “doomsday preppers,” (which is so widespread, it warrants a cable tv show.)
But if there is child abuse in prepping for the world, I think there has to be equal parts spiritual abuse in Christians prepping for the rapture.
Always Be Prepared
A few weeks ago, I had a familiar exchange. I was sharing a conversation with a new acquaintance, and the subject of faith and theology came up. But before too long, the conversation had veered straight into the apocalypse with this question:
“What are your thoughts on the rapture?”
And just like a dolt who fails to stockpile dehydrated food and ammunition, I answered, “I just don’t think about the rapture.”
My new friend was not impressed. People who place a high priority on the end of the world never seem impressed with anyone who doesn’t. When you find yourself with a Christian doomsday prepper, there really is nothing else they want to talk about, so the conversation dies quickly.
A rather innocuous conversation, sure. And people have long been obsessed with wanting to know how the story is going to end. But here’s why I think an obsession with the end of the world really does heap spiritual abuse on people.
It’s a Waste of Time
It amazes me how well so many Christians are able to focus all of their energies on one verse of the Bible, and ignore the very next. How can Christians pour over Revelation so much, trying to decipher the meaning, or the date, when Jesus plainly says that no one knows when it will happen?
Besides that, when Christians start obsessing over Revelation, they get that glazed look in their eyes, meaning they are looking at everything through the lens of Revelation. Every news story is a harbinger of the end. People start looking for clues in pop songs. And pretty soon, you’re watching John Hagee burst out of his suit in a fit of righteous indignation.
It Emphasize Fear
Just as with doomsday preppers awaiting a meteor or economic failure, I believe the underlying emotion driving Christian preppers is fear. You can’t read Revelation literally and not be afraid. So to obsess over it, to make it the lens through which you see the world, to make it you primary book of the Bible has to saturate your thinking with fear.
As Christians, we are told (again, plainly for anyone with a balanced reading of the Bible) that we need not live in fear, because of who Christ is. Sure, bad stuff is going to happen. That’s life. But to live in constant, overwhelming fear is not a life that builds faith in God. So obsessing over events that actually make people more fearful, is not only not helpful, but it is spiritually abusive.
When people are afraid, they want answers. They will cling to prophets to try to cope with their fear. And that’s what I think is really behind the Christian preppers. Preachers making people afraid, so they will continue to cling to them for answers. The more fear they feed their audiences, the more control they have over them.
It’s Not the Gospel
Like with my new friend, the conversation always dies quickly with a prepper if you don’t share their spiritual hobby. If you are not a prepper, then you two really don’t have much in common.
That’s what irks me the most about Christian doomsday preppers. They have nothing else to talk about. I think if the Bible just contained Revelation, it would make little difference to them.
Jesus didn’t go around telling people about the apocalypse. He didn’t command us to breed fear and prepare for a fiery end. His message was love and forgiveness, reconciliation with God. And somehow, when you are abusing people by obsessing over the Beast, that message gets lost. The gospel gets replaced by fear.
And if there’s one harbinger of Satan’s thousand year rule on earth, that’s it right there.
What do you say? Are you a prepper? Or will the apocalypse catch you completely unprepared? Have you had experience with Christians or churches who overemphasized the end of the Book?