Theories About The Relationship Between Demons, Illness And Sex Have A Long History

Theories About The Relationship Between Demons, Illness And Sex Have A Long History Matfre Ermengaud’s ‘Temptation by Lechery’ from a 14th-century manuscript. The British Library

On July 27, 2020, the president and his son Donald Trump, Jr. tweeted a viral video featuring Dr. Stella Immanuel, in which the Houston pediatrician rejected the effectiveness of wearing face masks for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and promoted hydroxychloroquine to treat the disease.

Journalists quickly dug into Immanuel’s background and found that she’s also claimed that having sex with demons can cause illnesses like cysts and endometriosis.

These beliefs don’t come out of thin air, and she’s far from the only person who holds them.

As a scholar of biblical and apocryphal literature, I’ve researched and taught how these beliefs have deep roots in early Jewish and Christian stories – one reason they continue to persist today.

Hints of demons in the Bible

As in many religions, demons in Judaism and Christianity are often evil supernatural beings that torment people.

Although it’s difficult to find a lot of clarity about demons in the Hebrew Bible, many later interpreters have understood demons to be the explanation for the “evil spirit” that haunts King Saul in the first book of Samuel.

Another example appears in the book of Tobit. This work was composed between about 225 and 175 BCE and isn’t included in the Hebrew Bible or accepted by all Christians. But it is considered part of the Bible by religious groups like Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Beta Israel and the Assyrian Church of the East.

Tobit includes a narrative about a young woman named Sarah. Although Sarah doesn’t suffer any physical affliction, Asmodeus, the demon of lust, kills every man betrothed to her because of his desire for her.

The Christian gospels are full of stories linking demons and illness, with Jesus and several of his early followers casting out demons who afflict their victims. In one of the most prominent stories told in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus encounters a man possessed by a group of demons who call themselves “Legion” and sends them into a nearby herd of pigs who stampede off a cliff.

Demon lore spreads far and wide

Demons pervade biblical apocrypha, which are stories about biblical subjects that were never included in the canonical Bible and include various associations between demons, illness and sex.

The early Christian text “Acts of Thomas” was likely composed in the third century and became hugely popular, as it was eventually translated into Greek, Arabic and Syriac. It tells the story of the apostle Thomas’ travels to India as an early Christian missionary. Along the way, he encounters a number of obstacles, including people who have been possessed by demons.

In the fifth act, a woman comes to him and pleads for help. She tells the apostle how, one day at the baths, she encountered an old man and talked to him out of pity. But when he propositioned her for sex, she refused and left. Later that night, the demon in the guise of an old man attacked her in her sleep and raped her. Although the woman attempted to escape the demon the next day, he continued to find her and rape her every night, tormenting the woman for five years. Thomas then exorcises the demon.

Theories About The Relationship Between Demons, Illness And Sex Have A Long History A 19th-century drawing of Astaroth. Louis Breton

Another demon story is found in the “Martyrdom of Bartholomew,” which probably dates back to the sixth century. Bartholomew also travels to India, where he finds that the inhabitants of a city worship an idol named Astaroth who has promised to heal all of their illnesses. But Astaroth is actually a demon who causes afflictions that he then pretends to cure in order to gain more followers. Bartholomew reveals the farce and performs several miracles to prove his own spiritual prowess. After forcing the demon to confess to his deceit, Bartholomew drives him into the wilderness.

Apocrypha like the “Acts of Thomas” and “Acts of Bartholomew” were popular in the medieval period, and even those who couldn’t read or write knew these stories. They also helped fuel the “witch craze” of the 16th and 17th centuries, in which zealous Christian leaders persecuted and killed thousands of people – mainly women – for their beliefs, often concocting claims that they consorted with demons.

Beliefs that persist today

It’s clear that Immanuel has profited from her beliefs in the supernatural, especially in right-wing and religious circles. She has over 9,000 followers on Facebook and over 94,000 on Twitter, with a dedicated platform as a pastor. In fact, she casts herself as a prophet and destroyer of demons.

It isn’t difficult to find other modern Christians who connect demons, sex and health issues. The conservative Christian magazine Charisma published a story claiming that sex with demons causes homosexuality. And researchers recently were able to show that belief in supernatural evil could predict negative attitudes toward abortion, homosexuality, premarital sex, extramarital sex and pornography.

Meanwhile, many evangelical Americans believe that Trump is God’s chosen one, who has been tasked with fighting actual demons. Trump’s personal minister, Paula White, is just one conservative figure known to espouse these views.

If anything, the coronavirus pandemic has shown how many on the religious right continue to rely on faith over science. Studies have already emerged showing how the tension between faith and science has influenced many conservative Christians to resist the use of masks and other public health responses to the pandemic.

With many conservative Christians sharing some of the same views about demons as Immanuel – and conservative Christians forming a core base of support for the president – Trump’s promotion of the doctor’s beliefs makes perfect sense.

He’s preaching to the choir.The Conversation

About The Author

Brandon W. Hawk, Associate Professor of English, Rhode Island College

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

You May Also Like

INNERSELF VOICES

photo silhouette of mountain climber using a pick to secure himself
Allow The Fear, Transform It, Move Through It, and Understand It
by Lawrence Doochin
Fear feels crappy. There is no way around that. But most of us don't respond to our fear in a…
woman sitting at her desk looking worried
My Prescription for Anxiety and Worry
by Jude Bijou
We’re a society that likes to worry. Worrying is so prevalent, it almost feels socially acceptable.…
curving road in New Zealand
Don't Be So Hard On Yourself
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
Life consists of choices... some are "good" choices, and others not so good. However every choice…
Photo of Messier M27 nebula
Horoscope Current Week: September 13 - 19, 2021
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
man standing on a dock shining a flashlight into the sky
Blessing for Spiritual Seekers and for People Suffering from Depression
by Pierre Pradervand
There is such a need in the world today of the most tender and immense compassion and deeper, more…
Punishment or Divine Gift?
Is It Punishment or Divine Gift?
by Joyce Vissell
When tragedy, death of a loved one, or extreme disappointment strikes, do you ever wonder if our…
clear bottles of colored water
Welcome to The Love Solution
by Will Wilkinson
Picture a glass of clear water. You are holding a dropper of ink over it and you release a single…
Quick Vibe Fixes You Can Do At Home or Elsewhere
Quick Vibe Fixes You Can Do At Home or Elsewhere
by Athena Bahri
You are a remarkable being of energy, individual and unique in your own right. You have both the…
Accepting The Possibility Of Animal Communication and Healing
Accepting The Possibility Of Animal Communication and Healing
by Diane Budd
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of animal communication. You may have…
Meeting Our Shadow Self and Attaining a True State of Peace
Meeting Our Shadow Self and Attaining a True State of Peace
by Alan Seale
Success and failure only have to do with ego. The soul is busy taking a journey and having…
cropped image of “Wheels on Fire” by Brian Varcas
A Rude Awakening with Mercury Retrograde
by Sarah Varcas
This passage of Mercury speaks of unexpected and potentially very disruptive surprises which,…

MOST READ

How Living On The Coast Is Linked To Poor Health
How Living On The Coast Is Linked To Poor Health
by Jackie Cassell, Professor of Primary Care Epidemiology, Honorary Consultant in Public Health, Brighton and Sussex Medical School
The precarious economies of many traditional seaside towns have declined still further since the…
How Can I Know What's Best For Me?
How Can I Know What's Best For Me?
by Barbara Berger
One of the biggest things I've discovered working with clients everyday is how extremely difficult…
The Most Common Issues for Earth Angels: Love, Fear, and Trust
The Most Common Issues for Earth Angels: Love, Fear, and Trust
by Sonja Grace
As you experience being an earth angel, you will discover that the path of service is riddled with…
Honesty: The Only Hope for New Relationships
Honesty: The Only Hope for New Relationships
by Susan Campbell, Ph.D.
According to most of the singles I have met in my travels, the typical dating situation is fraught…
What Men’s Roles In 1970s Anti-sexism Campaigns Can Teach Us About Consent
What Men’s Roles In 1970s Anti-sexism Campaigns Can Teach Us About Consent
by Lucy Delap, University of Cambridge
The 1970s anti-sexist men’s movement had an infrastructure of magazines, conferences, men’s centres…
Chakra Healing Therapy: Dancing toward the Inner Champion
Chakra Healing Therapy: Dancing toward the Inner Champion
by Glen Park
Flamenco dancing is a delight to watch. A good flamenco dancer exudes an exuberant self-confidence…
Taking A Step Toward Peace by Changing Our Relationship With Thought
Stepping Toward Peace by Changing Our Relationship With Thought
by John Ptacek
We spend our lives immersed in a flood of thoughts, unaware that another dimension of consciousness…
Having The Courage To Live Life and Ask For What You Need Or Want.
Having The Courage To Live Life and Ask For What You Need Or Want
by Amy Fish
You need to have the courage to live life. This includes learn­ing to ask for what you need or…

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

AVAILABLE LANGUAGES

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeeliwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptroruesswsvthtrukurvi

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.