Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: The Lucifer Season Finale & Feminist Theology

Almost a month ago the Lucifer season finale premiered and I enjoyed the heck out of the episode. I loved everything from seeing Lucifer pray to getting a glimpse of hell, but the show really threw me a curve ball with Lucifer’s final line in the episode and the feminist theologian in me isn’t sure how to feel about it.

Major spoilers for the Lucifer season finale after the jump.

Our season finale ends with Lucifer praying to God to keep Chloe safe after he has been shot. Lucifer tells God he’ll do anything, including going back to Hell and following God’s plans for him, if he does this. Lucifer then dies briefly and walks through Hell as if he is being led somewhere. Lucifer sees that one particular cell in Hell has broken open, meaning that someone has escaped from Hell. The episode ends with Lucifer being resurrected and telling Amenadiel that Father (God) wants him on earth but wants him to find someone who escaped Hell. Amenadiel brushes this off as easy, until he notices how worried Lucifer looks, and asks him who escape from Hell. Lucifer replies simply by saying “Mum” before the screen goes black and the episode ends.

This episode had my brain spinning with a whole spiral of questions as I repeated the word “what” over and over again. If you are of an Abrahamic faith, then you know that there is no mother. Well, Mary is considered by many Christians as mother, but God does not have a wife. Nor was there any female deity married to God who gave birth to the angels. At this point the show is abandoning understood theology and inventing their own mythos. I usually wouldn’t have a problem with this, but a new female character, though nonexistent in real Abrahamic theology, comes with a ton of theological baggage that I highly doubt the writers are aware of.

First of all, Lucifer calling God “father” I let slide because that is a common way people understand God, but I had kind of hoped that eventually the show would discuss how God doesn’t have a gender. How God to Lucifer is more just parent than Father in particular. But by giving God a wife that Lucifer calls mom, it casts them in a hetero relationship and so paints the image of God as male and only male. I’m as sick of God being portrayed as male as I am of Jesus always being portrayed as white. God is portrayed as both male and female in the Bible, but is more prominently shown as male, because of male authors who came to the Bible with understandings of male authority and power. Basically, people assumed that for God to have power or authority, God must be male. This has been used to put women down throughout history. Women were said to not be in the true image of God, because God is male. Women were viewed as deformed men or naturally more sinful because we weren’t considered in the true “male” image of God.

This leads me to my next point, which is female demonization. We are being introduced to a female character who was God’s wife. Whatever happened between them caused God to lock her in hell. Because our society for the most part already views God as good, we assume that God’s wife must have done something particularly awful for her to end up in hell. Add to this that Lucifer is scared of her, and that paints her as potentially so evil and so dangerous that she even frightens the devil. This means God’s wife and Lucifer’s mom did something so terrible or so dangerous that both Lucifer and God feel she needs to be locked away. Female power and perspective is something that has always been viewed by patriarchal establishments as evil and dangerous, from figures in the Bible like Eve and additional apocryphal figures like Lilith, to the religious zeal that caused the fear of witches (a.k.a. women with power) later on in history. And here again we have two male characters, Lucifer and God, who fear a female character enough to lock her away.

Now all that being said, the show could still portray this well. They could use this character as an opportunity to talk about sexism in religious circles. The writers could give this new character as much complexity as they gave Lucifer, a historically evil religious figure, but I’m skeptical this will happen just based on the brief set up. I do, however, wonder if the show is drawing, at least a little, from the Sandman comics here. This whole premise reminds me very much of Dream and Nada from the Sandman comics. Nada was the queen of the city where man began. Dream and Nada fall in love and become lovers, even though it’s forbidden for Dream, as an Endless, to do so. The sun saw what they were doing and destroyed Nada’s city in a fireball. Nada, realizing that their relationship caused this, killed herself. Dream, being selfish and quick to anger, becomes enraged that Nada had rejected him by killing herself and sends her to Hell. Nada is trapped in Hell for centuries and Dream shows little remorse for his actions until Death chastises him for it. Dream then decides to enter Hell and free Nada.

Sandman Nada & Dream

It’s actually this event that kickstarts Lucifer leaving Hell in the comics. Dream enters Hell expecting a fight from Lucifer, whom he insulted in an earlier comic, only to find that upon hearing of Dream’s arrival, Lucifer had set all the demons and dead souls free and declared he was quitting. Lucifer frees Nada for Dream and then gives Dream the keys to Hell before leaving. As this story about Nada and Dream does have some connection to Lucifer already, it wouldn’t be out of left field to include some form of this story in the show. This could be a way to portray Lucifer’s mother well, because Nada did nothing to deserve her imprisonment in Hell. So perhaps God’s wife was treated the same way. She could be used to critique how arbitrary male authority figures can be, even if they’re the supposedly all-good God. In the same way the show makes us question Lucifer’s absolute evil, it may make us question God’s absolute good.

Of course, this would throw a lot of the show’s theology out the window. So far, despite God’s lack of physical presence, it seems to be implied that God is guiding or at least keeping an eye on Lucifer. We see this in the episode “A Priest Walks into a Bar” when a priest named Fr. Frank shows up at Lucifer’s bar saying that he’s looking for help and that, while praying, God told him that Lucifer could help. When Lucifer mentions that he didn’t want to follow his father’s path for him, Fr. Frank implies that Lucifer might still be following that path now, implying that Lucifer leaving Hell was always intended. This is further emphasized in the finale when Lucifer prays and agrees to go back to Hell if God protected Chloe and Lucifer is sent back to earth. There is even some implication that Chloe might somehow be connected to this. Her presence is making him more human, both emotionally and physically; he is starting to care about people and when he’s near Chloe he’s even mortal. In the very first episode of Lucifer, when Lucifer realizes that his powers to get people to confess their desires don’t work on Chloe, he asks if his father sent her. He later wonders if she is somehow working with the angel Amenadiel. But Chloe, at least, seems ignorant of any connection she might have to God or Heaven or whatever it could be.

So with at least the implication that God is a good character, having God’s wife being locked away in Hell means the show only really has two routes to go: make her evil or make God evil. I’m not particularly fond of either scenario, but the show seems to have written themselves into this corner. I plan to continue to watch the show and see where the writers take this. I can only pray they will do well. Maybe, like Lucifer, my prayers will be answered.

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4 thoughts on “Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: The Lucifer Season Finale & Feminist Theology

  1. They could very well be taking a route that will make “Mom” Asherah or one of the other Hebrew/Canaanite Goddesses who were at different times said to be the wives or consorts of YHWH before the Hebrews became monolatrous henotheists (and “YHWH and His Asherah” is still a phrase found in the canonical Hebrew Bible!)…which would be thoroughly Abrahamic, but also opens the possibility that (for conjectural purposes, let’s say) Asherah was sent to Hell not because of anything She did, but instead because YHWH didn’t want anyone to know about Her (which has been relatively successful on a historical level!), and thus there would be a parallel to what you say of Gaiman’s story of Nada above.

    There’s nothing new under the sun, after all…! 😉

  2. A wife.. Personally I’m inclined to think of the Church (since I am Catholic) as God’s wife, but it just doesn’t fit in the show. As far as “evil” women go (using that word in veeeery loose quotations) I usually think about the prostitute in Revelations. Which is kind of, sort of, all the sinners of the world (everybody basically, with 2 exceptions Mary (the woman with the stars) and Christ, (the lamb)) but I doubt, just like you said that they are taking any of this into considerarion.

    It may sound ironic, but I’ve never had faith in tv producers (ha) to get things like this right.

  3. It’s like supernatural. God is a man and his sister, The Darkness is a girl and of course she was dangerous so he locked her away. I’m tired of the diabolisation of women’s character. And the worst: all people who fight against the Darkness are men. There is no women. Si when I watch the last episode of Lucifer I was a little upset but it’s ok because there is handsome female character. But, yes Why god is always à man ?

  4. Pingback: “Everything’s Coming Up Lucifer”: A Lucifer Season Premiere Review | Lady Geek Girl and Friends

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