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.

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.