Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: The Case for a Genderqueer God

2012-12-17-ImageofGodWell, ladies and gentlemen, I have just finished and defended my thesis and can now proudly say that I have a Masters in Theology. My thesis discussed the idea of gender fluidity—basically, whether or not a more expansive view of gender could help to limit stereotypical views of gender in theology. That’s not what this post is about, but these ideas did get me thinking about how God is portrayed both in theology and in pop culture.

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Sexualized Saturdays: The Angels of Supernatural

First, a history lesson: angels, biblically speaking, are horny bastards. The entirety of the Book of Enoch is all about angels sleeping with human women. Angels in the Bible even have genders. Most tend to be men but there are various books that also include female angels. However, they are also spiritual beings with no physical body. Angels that slept with human women in the Book of Enoch weren’t supposed to because it was against their nature. Furthermore, the angels’ genders seem to not matter, as they have no need to breed, even with each other. Because it seemed unnecessary for angels to have genders or have sex eventually a tradition developed that believed angels had no gender and did not have sex.

Supernatural, especially in the fourth and fifth seasons, draws heavily on these Biblical traditions, but seems like it can’t decide which one they want to go with.

So let’s talk about Supernatural’s angels!

Despite what most fanfic authors seem to believe, the angels in Supernatural aren’t having sex. The only one to date that has had sex is Anna, but she had sex when she was a human, so it really doesn’t count. Castiel, we find out, is a virgin in season five and seems to remain that way even now. But how Castiel and Anna talk about sex is interesting. In season four, Anna tells Dean that one of the good things about being human is sex, implying that angels don’t have sex. In season five, however, Dean asks Castiel if he’s been with a woman or at least another angel. Castiel’s response is simply to say that he never had occasion to do so, implying that angels can have sex. Castiel almost sleeps with a hooker, gets an erection when watching porn, and even makes out with Meg in season six. So I have to assume that Anna either lied to Dean or the writers changed their mind and angels can, in fact, have sex.

I think this partly has something to do with whether or not angels can feel emotions. In season four, Anna describes that angels can’t feel, at least, not like humans. But yet all of them seem to display very intense emotions throughout the show, especially in season five. So I’m assuming the writers maybe wanted the angels to be cold and unfeeling, but that’s really hard to write and have viewers still connect with those characters, so the angels naturally started to become more emotional and later more sexual.

Alright, fangirls, let’s talk about sexuality and gender in our favorite angels. If you follow the Supernatural fandom at all you know that Dean/Castiel is a very favored pairing, so is Sam/Gabriel, Sam/Lucifer, and even Dean/Michael or Dean/Anna. One thing that I love about these fanfics is that the authors take the time explore what gender and sexuality mean to the angels (well, sometimes anyway).

In season six, Castiel describes himself as “a wavelength of celestial intent”, meaning that they probably have no gender. This explains their ease with switching genders in their vessels (their human hosts that they posses). Castiel seemed completely comfortable in Jimmy, his human male vessel, but later seems just as comfortable when possessing Jimmy’s daughter, Claire. The best example of this is from the angel Raphael, who starts off with a male vessel, but when his vessel is destroyed he takes on another female vessel. Dean and Sam are shocked and make fun of him being a woman now, but Castiel and another angel Balthazar seem completely unfazed. The angels do refer to each other as brother and sister though. Castiel even refers to Raphael as brother even after he changes his vessel, but if the angels are “a wavelength of celestial intent” then logically they wouldn’t have a gender and referring to angels in any sort of a gendered way is probably more for Sam and Dean’s benefit. So we can assume that the angels are nongender (meaning they identify as neither gender) with the capability of being gender fluid when inhabiting various vessels.

This brings us to the issue of sexuality. If the angels don’t have the bias male and female notions of gender like humans do, then we can assume that no angel would be strictly heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. Gabriel seems to favor only women in the show, however, and while Balthazar has only been seen flirting with women he mentions being in an orgy with twenty people. I think we can safely assume that there were some guys there. Castiel has only been with women, though he hasn’t actually had sex. He has made out with a female hooker and Meg, but portraying the angels only as heterosexual seems disingenuous to me. If they have no gender then they would most likely be either pansexual, demisexual, or possibly asexuals. In other words, any of the various sexualities were gender is not at all an issue. Castiel probably wouldn’t understand why Dean gets so upset when people accuse him of being gay, because Castiel and every other angel would not understand why gender would be a factor.

So there you have it. The angels of Supernatural are nongender (potentially gender fluid) pansexuals, demisexuals, or asexuals.

This just makes logical sense and even speaks to the minority of people that do identify with these gender identities and sexualities. Wouldn’t it be nice if this was shown more in Supernatural? I think so.