Welcome to Spooky Week! Lately, we’ve been talking about the weird and wacky world of the Satanic Panic. One of the weirdest offshoots of the Satanic Panic has got to be sex demons. Here’s the skinny on what they are, who buys into the idea and why, how to make their acquaintance, and what to do once you’ve got one. Strap in!
Hey. We are a FULL
This Ain’t New, Baby.
The whole notion of sex demons sounds so incredibly titillating and weird, but it isn’t new at all. Christians have fantasized about the subject for many years. Walter Stephens’ 2003 book Demon Lovers makes crystal-clear one fact above all: for centuries, at least since the 1400s, Christians have either claimed to have had sex with demons or (more often) were tortured into confessing such acts.
These demonic sexytimes antics (MY NEW BAND NAME, FIGHT ME) generally occurred as a transaction. Christians, mostly women but often men as well, exchanged their bodies for magical powers or for material help in surviving in a harsh, misogynistic culture. Demonic sex usually figured prominently in to these Christians’ accounts of induction into covens. Sometimes the people involved claimed to have enjoyed this sex, though often they regretted it. Most remarkably, they almost always thought their infernal partners were fully human–until right after the deed.
And for Walter Stephens, one remarkable fact blew out immediately in front of all others: when he examined the transcripts of witchcraft trials from the fifteenth century onward, he noticed that the sex accusations generally originated with very learned, educated, literate interrogators.
All but exclusively, this term means higher-end priests.
When neighbors and other unlearned people accused each other of witchcraft, they didn’t normally bring sex into it. But when Church-aligned interrogators began asking questions of these accused witches, sex came up all the time. Mr. Stephens drily notes that the interrogators’ questions likely seemed “probably incomprehensible” to the accused witches.
That’s because, he writes, higher-end Catholic theologians had seriously worried for years about the logistics of demons.
Neither Marrying Nor Given in Marriage.
See, the Bible isn’t exactly clear about exactly what angels and demons are like physically–or if they have physicality at all.
Sometimes the Bible implies one thing, and sometimes it implies something else entirely. Most Christians consider the definitive statement about angels to come from Matthew 22:30:
At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.
The Bible describes demons as fallen angels. Thus, demonic bodies obviously function like angelic ones do.
But other Bible verses contradict that idea. These other verses tell Christians that these divine (and infernal) “messengers” have actual bodies and can be mistaken for actual people. Of course, then Christians must contend with that whole Nephilim thingamajiggie.
Compartments About to Burst Open.
Nowadays, Christians have a lot of different ways to compartmentalize a lot of the Bible’s weirdness. I sure did! But back in the medieval Ye Olden Dayes, that stuff was a problem. Theologians had been arguing about the topic of demons for many years. Consequently, a lot of ’em saw witchcraft trials as a way to hammer out (SWIDT?) exactly what demons were like and how they operated. Think of it like a bad guy version of The Name of the Rose. They were solving a mystery.
They faced a big problem: their religion amounted to fanfic, and not terribly coherent or cohesive fanfic at that. Already, they faced a fool’s errand in trying to make a comprehensive gameworld out of it.
However, that problem was not their biggest one. I bet you already know what the biggest one was.
Indeed, it is the same one Christians fight even today: nothing in the real world supports any of their fanfic.
Satan: The Guy To Ask.
Christian leaders’ intense interest in demons–their comings and goings, their physical forms, how they did stuff, what their social lives and culture were like–might have sought to resolve both of those concerns.
To be sure, Christians have always thought that demons are a lot easier to contact than angels are–or even than their god is. When Christians have needed stuff in the past, like in that medieval period, they usually did start out by asking nicely in the approved ways. But when their hoped-for result failed to materialize, they often broke the rules by seeking infernal assistance. One thing became abundantly clear to me when I studied the Italian Renaissance years ago: Italians, if not everyone, knew very well that Satan got shit done.
Now we add in the clincher for Christians:
If demons exist and that point can be demonstrated and credibly supported, then obviously angels must exist as well. Indeed, I’ve heard Christians use similar logic for most of my life.1
Belief in literal angels might outpace belief in literal demons, but if someone thinks they’ve just seen PROOF YES PROOF of demons, chances are good they will immediately conclude that the rest of the Christian mythos must be true as well. In similar fashion, scads of smoke usually indicates that a fire occurred or is occurring nearby.
So you can’t have corrupted demons without angels. And you can’t have angels without the god who made the angels.
See how easy that is?
Really, it’s no wonder that Christians focused on demons like they did. Out of all the supernatural stuff they could potentially encounter, demons represented the part of that realm that was the easiest for humans to contact and document!
Into the Modern Day.
Of course, the modern Christians freaking out about sex demons probably don’t care much about all that highfalutin’ stuff. At least, they don’t seem to. They seem way more focused on the totally sensationalistic aspects of, well, sex with demons.
In a world awash in imagined supernatural phenomena, a truly astonishing number of people seem to have had these sorts of experiences. It’s not even uniquely Christian. That said, in the modern super-polarized climate of extremist Christianity, whoa nelly do those Christians find a ready audience for such talk.
Demonic sex confirms so many things about the right-wing Christian worldview, after all. It hits all the spots on the bingo card. It makes Christians feel persecuted and put-upon, but also like such important targets that demons must attack them specifically. The fact that the attacks involve lurid sex acts titillates Christians whose emotional development halted somewhere around age 13. And of course, the attacks confirm (in their minds, but incorrectly) that the supernatural is real, demons are real, demonic attacks on Christians are real, and thus everything else they claim must be real too.
Thus, someone in Christian culture who can claim to have a sexual relationship of any kind with a demon, even (and maybe most of all) a non-consensual one, will find a ready audience of fellow Christians aching to hear more about it.
PROOF YES PROOF.
Once you start noticing all the nested assumptions that these claims make, they start looking even more ridiculous–and that’s a tough second mile to go for claims that are already pretty damned flippy-dippy WACKALOOPY.
But they don’t bother testing or supporting any of the dozens of claims that loom and lurk underneath these demon-sex claims. They just take for granted that all of them are true.
Last time, we touched on terrible-radio-broadcaster-turned-terrible-author-turned-super-theatrical-exorcist Bob Larson. As you might expect, he buys 100% into the idea of sex demons. He thinks that a demon called an incubus can assume a human-male appearance. From there, this demon can “sexually cohabit” with a female victim! Another demon, called a succubus, does the same for men. And yes, demons can totally impregnate human women (or be impregnated), but a prayer can totally abort the fetuses thus created. I’m not sure if he talks about what happens if no TRUE CHRISTIANS™ cast the right magic spells in time, though. Plus… abortion, guys. What, it’s okay if it’s demons?
The fundagelical site Charisma ran a post a few years ago wherein a woman claimed to have been “raped by the Devil.” Neither the site nor the writer of the post provide any evidence whatsoever that a supernatural sexual assault took place.
And we can’t forget Christian wackadoodle Christine Weick, who apparently confronted Katy Perry’s father about his daughter’s video “ET.” Weick felt the video portrayed Perry having sex with demons.
IDK, I think this could go either way. I thought it was a cute song about someone who thinks her friends/family just won’t understand her bad-boy boyfriend. I liked the last reveal. Plus, I don’t know who would be better at playing a space-alien boyfriend than Kanye West.
Um, I’m detecting a trend here.
How to Obtain a Sex Demon.
One hesitates to offer advice about something so terribly, terribly risky.
But if you think you just have to have a demonic lover, a few methods appear to be tried-and-true.
If you don’t happen to have any older relatives who have recently died with big smiles on their faces, you might obtain a sex demon through rebellion against the Christian god. That pastor in the link specifically suggests really kinky sex as a way of inviting sex demons into one’s life.
One site suggests that one might be able to strike up an acquaintanceship with the appropriate sorts of demons in one’s childhood, and then eventually carry that relationship into a sexualized one. But it seems to me that it’s more like Christians who like grooming children for sexual relationships. Just sayin’. (We’ll be talking more about this idea after Spooky Week. Promise.)
Now I’m Going To Rain on This Party.
How We Know Sex Demons Don’t Exist.
Given how easy it appears to be to obtain a sex demon, I’d have expected us to have definitive proof of these demons’ existence long before now. But we don’t. The advent of cell phones only makes that lack of evidence seem all the more damning.
As the relevant xkcd puts it, we’ve “conclusively settled the questions of flying saucers, lake monsters, ghosts, and bigfoot.” Indeed, we’ve got a population that Christians almost universally agree is going to Hell in a handbasket. You’d think demons–sexual-based ones and whatever else might exist–would be thick among us.
Weirdly, however, with all the people who have relatives who undoubtedly partied with sex demons and the living folks who do stuff that invites sex demons to their personal parties, we’ve never yet found someone who can demonstrate conclusively that these entities exist.
The Apples Never Fall Far From the Tree.
To be clear, I find something prurient and puerile about these modern accounts. They represent a cry for attention, a whiff of desperation, a grab for relevance. The people making most of these claims very clearly wish beyond all imaginable words that people would look at them and be amazed. Others seem embarrassed by their described experiences, and seem to use these claims as a way to escape some very uncomfortable truths about themselves–or to wiggle away from unwanted sexual awakening.
These modern Christians do not offer up these accounts with anything close to the same details or for the same reasons that their medieval and Renaissance forebears-in-spirit did. But maybe their motivations do not differ overmuch from those of the interrogators from centuries ago.
Obviously, sex demons don’t exist. It’s laughable that so many Christians think they do. But the fact that Christians need to imagine up something so over-the-top tells anybody with sense that their religion doesn’t exactly offer a lot of intellectual integrity or sound reasons for buy-in.
Worse, the more sensible Christians among them–and let’s be totally clear here: they exist–can’t do a damned thing about these nutters running around airing their fantasies and broken psyches in public. I reckon that’s about the most damning way I could close this topic.
NEXT UP: Tomorrow, be looking for our first Halloween Super Special! And then on Thursday, we examine why Christians need their supernatural enemies to be stone-cold blithering idiots. See you soon!
1 I ran into two terrible young adult (YA) novels using exactly this logic. First, from Voices in the Theater by A.S. Santos: “‘If demons are real,’ I continued. . . ‘then angels must be real too, right?'” Second, from the considerably-more-terrible The Light of His Sword: Archangel Book 1 by Alaina Stanford: “[S]he had to admit he forced her to see the truth. Demons were real, and if demons were real then Hell was real. If Hell was real, then Heaven was real and if Heaven was real then angels were real.” That one’s currently free on Kindle, and I don’t know if I have ever slammed a free ebook to download faster than this one. (Back to the post!)
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