Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: Warning for Blasphemy in Fanfiction?

Blasphemy (Greek blaptein, “to injure”, and pheme, “reputation”) signifies etymologically gross irreverence towards any person or thing worthy of exalted esteem. In this broad sense the term is used by Bacon when in his “Advancement of Learning” he speaks of “blasphemy against learning”. St. Paul tells of being blasphemed (1 Corinthians 4:13) and the Latin Vulgate employs the word blasphemare to designate abusive language directed either against a people at large (2 Samuel 21:21; 1 Chronicles 20:7) or against individuals (1 Corinthians 10:30; Titus 3:2). (via New Advent)

A lot of authors in the world of Supernatural, Good Omens, and many other fandoms with religious themes warn for blasphemy in their fics. Being not only a religious person but a person studying theology for a living I decided to check a lot of these fics out and find out why these authors thought were blasphemous, especially since I didn’t think they were. I could see three reasons why they warned for this:

  1. Someone is having sex with an angel/fallen angel
  2. Someone is pissed at God and lets you know that they are pissed at God.
  3. The author uses religious themes at all in fanfiction

None of these things seem blasphemous to me, especially in the context of their stories. I really believe blasphemy is a rare occurrence in real life and in fiction. Why? Because if you look at the above definition, blasphemy is specifically to do “harm” to the “reputation” (which is literally what the word means) to a person or being worthy of esteem. It further means to do “harm” to “people at large” or individuals” by use of “abusive language.”

So knowing this definition, are the above three things blasphemous?

1. Someone is having sex with an angel/fallen angel—that happens in the Biblical tradition.

In The Book of Enoch, angels and humans have sex and give birth to giants (super half angel/half human babies). And before you ask, yes, the angels weren’t supposed to do this, but just because something is wrong doesn’t make it blasphemous. If I cheat when playing a game, is it wrong? Yes, but is it blasphemous? Not necessarily.

Furthermore, there are various traditions as to why the angels had sex with these mortal women (the women seduced the angels, the angels raped the women, the angels aren’t supposed to be in bodily form), but in some traditions God actually decrees it’s okay. Noah, Moses, Abraham, for example, are thought to be half angel in certain Jewish traditions. So it being “wrong” isn’t necessarily accurate and even if it was, something being wrong isn’t necessarily blasphemy as stated earlier.

I’m assuming because sex can be considered so taboo that is the main reason people think it’s blasphemous. You’re taking something holy (e.g. an angel) and having sex with it. Associating God and sex must be bad—except if you are religious, then you know God created sex. If anything, incorporating God into one’s sex life is healthy. Shame over sex is very unhealthy.

Now let’s look at two.

2. Someone is pissed at God and lets you know that they are pissed at God—Job was pissed at God and screamed it to God. Many people throughout the Bible get pissed at God. Also, God is God—if you say some nasty things to God I’m pretty sure God can take it. Just a thought.

Furthermore, fighting with God is part of having a relationship with God. If someone is pissed, they have to let it out—that’s fine. Just like how you should let out your emotions with significant others, you need to do the same with God. Job yelled and cried how he was being wronged by God and in the end Job is upheld, while the people telling him to keep silent and repent are reprimanded.

3. Fanfiction is often seen as this dirty thing that needs to be kept a secret, but it’s not; it’s a beautiful means of self-expression and a way to expand and explore a well-known and loved universe. There is nothing wrong with incorporating God into anything you love and put your heart and soul into.

Furthermore, most of the fanfiction that incorporates God or religious themes are from fandoms that already have religious themes in their storytelling.

So I don’t think any of these things are blasphemous. To be blasphemous I think you’d have to do something to intentionally harm others in some way. For example: having Jesus, let’s say, physically abuse someone just to piss a bunch of Christians off. Trying to intentionally hurt or harm others or God.

Usually in fics there is a plot—or character-driven reason—that things happen. I would say they only way for it to be blasphemous is to write something with the purpose of defiling God’s “name” (deface God) or intentionally trying to shit on Christian beliefs. I doubt this is the purpose of most, if any fanfic, authors or the intention of the writers of stories such as Supernatural and Good Omens that the fanfic are based on in the first place.

I assume the reason people warn for blasphemy is because the Christians you see on TV are often insane (because moderate and sane people don’t make the news) and probably would think what these authors wrote is blasphemous—but I also doubt that those Christians would like Supernatural, Good Omens, and many other fandoms anyway, let alone read fanfic about it. I wish authors didn’t warn for blasphemy because it keeps up the notion that these things they are writing about are somehow dirty or wrong, and they’re not. But that’s just what I think.

I’d love to know other opinions on this.