Buffy & Supernatural: Doing Good Without God?
(Disclaimer, this is from book 2, which was written in 2014/2015, a lot of the Supernatural content shifted after that time frame)
Shout out to Netflix for once again providing me years’ worth of television (which I subsequently consume in a short span of time). At the height of my Joss Whedon kick (which now of course everyone is fully aware of his name from “The Avengers”), I would devour anything he put out, and after finishing his “Astonishing X-Men” run (which by the way is the best modern X-Men story ever), I moved on to “Buffy The Vampire Slayer.” Once Buffy was done and the “Hellmouth” was closed, I moved on to the show with the closest resemblance, “Supernatural.” There’s just something greatly appealing about people fighting to take down the forces of evil. Buffy (Including Angel) and Supernatural rack in at 462 episodes. So week after week for years on end shotguns, steaks, scythes, salt, or even musical numbers have been used to take down each week's “Big Bad.” Before I go any further, let me say this; this is not an “Anti” essay. I love Buffy. I sing the musical episode constantly. I have an Anya action figure on my shelf, and all of Season 8 in comic format.
I enjoy the Winchesters, but through all of their adventures and heroics there is something missing. God. God is (unsurprisingly) absent from these stories in almost all aspects. In these stories there are demons, angels, heaven, hell, even Satan. Even with all the related content, God and Jesus Christ are omitted almost completely. Buffy died and went to Heaven. Dean Went to Hell. Sam and Dean both made field trips to heaven. Yet in all of this, God is left out. I understand why completely. These vague concepts of right and wrong, good and evil are good storytelling components. But when you get biblical, when you mention “God” or even more dangerously mention “Jesus Christ,” things get real, fast, and you can’t be vague anymore. There have been a couple exceptions like in the Buffy Season 4 episode “The Freshman,” a student asks Buffy about Jesus. “Conservative Woman: Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior? Buffy: Uh, you know I meant to, and-and then I just got really busy.” And that’s the depth of the spiritual discussion for all of the years’ worth of teen angsty avenging.
On Supernatural, however, God is often spoken of, but as Al Pacino puts it in “The Devil’s Advocate,” “God is an absentee land-Lord.” In the world of Supernatural, God has checked out for unknown reasons, leaving all of Heaven, Hell, and earth to fend for themselves. The only case to my memory He intervened in the storyline is when the Angel Joshua tells Sam and Dean (Dark Side Of The Moon, Season 5) that God is indeed the one who rescued them from Lucifer, raised Castiel, and granted salvation to Dean and even Sam.
So why does any of this matter? What’s the difference if these slayers and hunters have God in the mix or not? Simply put, there is no good without God. Check out what Romans 3 shows us. “10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” 14“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery mark their ways, 17 and the way of peace they do not know.” Outside of 10-14, really check out 15-17. Our aforementioned heroes shed blood. Buckets of it, Semi Trucks of it. But the world is rarely improved. People die because of their actions, and not just the villains. As verse 16 and Supernatural so often reminds us “The Road So Far” is filled with broken hearts, dreams, wounded souls, and misery. Not excluding Buffy either. Put these three together and they have caused more emotional anguish than half of the monsters our heroes have put down. There is none of them that know the way of peace. If Buffy or the Winchesters are at peace, you know it’s just a set up for something truly horrible to happen. Their good may be all they’ve got to give, but it’s not good enough to combat the darkness in this world or even
in their own lives.
In Luke 18:19, Jesus states ““Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.” Even Jesus makes the distinction that it’s only in God that good can truly be done. Just like the fiasco when “Cas” tried to take God’s place (that went well). It was a complete catastrophe and that’s the same outcome we get in the end when we try to accomplish these things without the presence of God in our lives. Sure with Buffy and the Winchesters the world is significantly down in the “things that go bump” population, but it barely makes a dent. Think about how much more of an impact they could have on evil on the grand scale if God is involved. If it’s left up to us to determine what is “good,” then it becomes subjective and one person’s good may be another person’s evil. Even in the internal workings of Buffy/Winchesters they didn’t agree on what was good. Buffy and her team were constantly at odds and struggling through their own moral grey areas. Sam and Dean fight with themselves over what’s right or wrong constantly. When we don’t have an absolute definition of what good is, then it will change with each situation. When we have God as the standard of what good looks like, we have that constant, never changing model to follow. Even with Biblical figures, they weren’t always “Good.” David, Saul, Peter, Abraham, Moses, and all the others did things that were far from God’s standard of good. If we want to not just do “Good” on occasion, we need to actively walk in what God teaches us is good.
Like we see in Galatians 5, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Verses 16-25)
I love these adventurous shows. I love shows about fighting evil. But unless God is involved, it’s fighting evil with a severely watered down version of good. In our day to day lives we are less likely to fight evil with steaks, enchanted guns, special knives, or with fancy matching tattoos, but if we actually have God in our lives and let Him determine what “Good” is, then we are much more equipped than anything the CW or even the mighty Joss Whedon can produce.