What ‘Good Omens’ Gets Right About Interfaith Love

I’m an ex-Christian, and my partner is a non-practicing Jew. Our unique conflicts are (finally) portrayed by two cosmic beings

Brit McGinnis
Aug 5 · 6 min read
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I want to start by stating the obvious: Aziraphale and Crowley are in love.

That is to say, the two main characters in the book/television miniseries/play/musical/radio play Good Omens (written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman) are in love. They care for each other, don’t correct others when someone refers to them as significant others, and “Somebody to Love” plays at their darkest moment. Even the actors agree.

But they’re an angel and a demon, respectively. So a fair amount of relationship drama happens against the backdrop of the Apocalypse.

The more I watched the Amazon miniseries adaptation of the 1990 novel, the more familiar the narrative felt. I’m an ex-Christian, and my partner is a non-practicing Jew. Our backgrounds were an obstacle in our earlier years. I was coping with walking away from my faith and all it entailed. He was raised with knowledge of many faiths and largely viewed being Jewish as a cultural identity. We couldn’t see eye to eye for a long time.

Despite petitions from Christians wanting to cancel the “blasphemous” show, I consider Good Omens a nuanced discussion of religion and love. I’d recommend it to anyone in an interfaith relationship. Because it can work. You just have to know what you’re getting into.

Chemistry cannot be denied

So you’ve fallen in love with someone of a different religion. The worst thing you can do, ironically, is to deny that this is the truth.

Oh, sure, there will be mothers and priests who would have you try to stamp out your feelings. They’ll insist that if someone was your true love, they wouldn’t be of a different faith.

But anyone who’s tried to “take their thoughts captive” knows this is much harder to do in real life. You can’t deny genuine feelings for someone. You just can’t.

You can’t deny genuine feelings for someone.

In Good Omens, Crowley the demon is the driving force behind the relationship. He insists that Aziraphale does truly like him no matter how much denial he puts up. He seeks Aziraphale out (even if there are Nazis involved).

Aziraphale tries to perpetuate Heaven’s superiority. But he just can’t maintain it. It’s too much fun to jokingly call Crowley a “foul fiend,” and he can’t give up the unique gift of being able to talk to him about what it was like at the beginning of humanity. He’s happiest when he lets go and allows their bond to strengthen.

In my relationship, this took the shape of telling my family that my love was Jewish. I avoided it for far too long and tried to be nonchalant about it. Instead of questioning them for making snide comments about my significant other, I internalized it. I didn’t stand up for my true feelings early and often. And I should have — my relationship cleared the way for my siblings to be freer in who they decided to date.

You have to accept that you’re not who you think you are

If someone wanted to be in a relationship with someone of the same faith, they would be. Religious people (especially members of a Judeo-Christian faith) aren’t rare. Your odds of finding someone to love are pretty good.

But would you want that? If you’re in an interfaith relationship, the answer is no.

Christianity-based love didn’t work for me.

I could have easily chosen to be with a Christian man (and in fact tried). But the older I became, the more I realized the gender expectations of Christianity did not work for me. It would be hard to find someone within my faith who would accept me as an androgynous person. Christianity-based love didn’t work for me.

The Tumblr user petimetrek points out that Aziraphale and Crowley are very different from their spiritual brethren. Crowley curated a living space that was clean and tidy, with lots of luscious houseplants. Aziraphale’s bookshop is cozy and intimate. These may appear opposite to each other, but compare them to sterile Heaven and dirty Hell and it’s clear that these two are anomalies within their culture. That’s exactly why they work together.

This alienation can cause friction when people in a relationship don’t know themselves well enough. It can come out as trying to change one of the partners in the relationship, to make them “perfect” so we don’t have to accept that we’re not living up to our religion’s ideas ourselves.

Crowley (infamously) pushes Aziraphale against a wall when Aziraphale starts to refer to him as “nice.” He’s offended and snarls, “Shut it! I’m a demon, I am not nice!” There’s no way Aziraphale is going to change him without his consent.

I’ve been guilty of pulling an Aziraphale. My boyfriend didn’t conform to Christian culture’s idea of courting, wherein the male partner essentially courts the entire family at once. I pressured him to connect with my siblings. And he did… with the ones with whom he had a natural connection. Pushing him to get closer to people he didn’t have a natural connection to only drove a wedge between us. Thankfully, I relented before choosing a family to whom I increasingly didn’t belong over my dear love.

Your different faiths are not opposing teams (at least when it comes to the two of you)

As the plot of Good Omens escalates, Crowley repeatedly asks Aziraphale later on if he would run away with him before Armageddon. Aziraphale refuses and affirms that they’re on different sides, which leads to a major fight. Only when they come back together, do peace and balance in the world stand a chance.

You love this person who comes from a different culture, and you’re here to merge your heritages and have a good time.

This is the correct way to think in an interfaith relationship. You love this person who comes from a different culture, and you’re here to merge your heritages and have a good time. My partner isn’t wrong to celebrate a secular Christmas. It’s an opportunity to tell him stories about attending a Nativity service in the Crystal Cathedral while we eat Chinese food on the 24th.

Crowley is much more self-aware about what his care for Aziraphale implies about himself. He’s not interested in being Hell’s advocate. When he believes Aziraphale is dead, he curses both Heaven and Hell. It doesn’t matter who’s responsible for his love’s death. They’re all responsible as far as Crowley’s concerned.

One of the funniest lines in Good Omens happens when Aziraphale and Crowley discuss Armageddon and the inevitable war between Heaven and Hell. Aziraphale puts on an air of superiority and says, “We will win, of course.” Crowley gives him a look, and the subject’s dropped fairly quickly.

You have to believe in the two of you

Aziraphale may rebuke Crowley and treat him as an evil inferior, but this isn’t truly how feels inside. The hardest part of his arc is admitting he is indeed in love with Crowley despite having been born to different celestial forces. It’s hard for him to even comprehend the truth that Crowley insists upon: “We’re on our side.”

‘Good Omens’ doesn’t shy away from the lying, deception, mental gymnastics, and heart-wrenching fortitude

I’m very lucky that my partner is Jewish. It’s a faith that doesn’t have to be fully immersive lifestyle-wise, and my mother was a Fiddler on the Roof fangirl. It could have been much harder for us. But we still have moments when we don’t understand each other, or criticize the other’s faith or faith subculture too harshly. That’s when we have to take a step back and remember: This person is our love. They’re doing the best they can. They can learn.

Interfaith relationships are, by their very nature, difficult. You’re dealing with different backgrounds and a slew of forces that would rather have neither of you compromise. Good Omens doesn’t shy away from the lying, deception, mental gymnastics, and heart-wrenching fortitude that this type of arrangement requires. But in return, you may end up with the love of your life and create a better world for both of you.

The Salve

The Salve is a progressive Christian lifestyle publication covering love, doubt, politics, and more.

Brit McGinnis

Written by

Copywriter and CEO of Black Bow Communications. Author of several books. Host of the You’re Not Helping podcast. Tips and leads: @BritMcGinnis

The Salve

The Salve

The Salve is a progressive Christian lifestyle publication covering love, doubt, politics, and more.

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