Faith & Fandom
Halo 5: Toxic Relationships
There are few female video game characters that stack up to modern day gamers like Cortana. Master Chief's A.I. lady friend is as essential to the Halo storyline as Master Chief himself. Cortana has been around since the very beginning. I, like many gamers, if they are honest, probably had a crush on Cortana at some point in their gaming life (as much as you can practically have a crush on an A.I. construct in a video game). Through all of the adventures in the world of Halo, she was your best friend, your guide, your sister, your mother figure, you companion, and the one thing you could rely on. Then Halo 4 happened. Cortana, being her normal amazing self, sacrifices herself to save the Chief. If it had been left there, there would have always been this warm loving pang of memory towards her, and every gamer in history would have had a moment of reverence at the mention of her name. But then there was Halo 5. Master Chief's world has been obviously rocked by the loss of his best friend and then in the middle of a mission, bam, he finds her again in a pretty cryptic dream and he is sucked into a manic quest to find her.
Sometimes we have people in our lives that are important to us, the relationships grow, take new forms, and they become truly vital to us. When Chief
was given an A.I., I don’t think anyone really planned on a piece of software becoming the most important thing in his life...well not many people plan it like that. We meet people all the time in our life that we interact with and then some moment, or a series of interactions causes a casual acquaintance to take the shape of something more. Sometimes these relationships become healthy, beneficial, mutually encouraging relationships. Other times they become toxic, destructive, life shattering involvements. The sad part is that usually when you are involved in the latter, it's easy to think you are actually in the former. It's hard for us to see that the people we are becoming increasingly close to could actually be bad for us, especially if they were once great for us. Sometimes married people find themselves getting way to close to singles, those with addictive tendencies gravitating towards enablers, those with aggression issues gravitating towards instigators, it can be anything. We have to be cautious and seriously examine the relationships in our life and the direction they take us.
2 Peter 3:17 "Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position." Whether we want to admit it or not, an unhealthy relationship can make even the strongest of us fall.
1 Corinthians 15:33 "Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”"
Master Chief was someone that the whole galaxy had come to depend on. A hero that people trusted, relied on, and looked up to. But when Cortana resurfaced, Chief was blind to everything around him that mattered. He rushed past dying innocents, ignored those in need, and cast off everything from his focus that wasn't Cortana. His actions and distractions eventually caused him to be doubted, even by the UNSC. His instability is the reason Spartan Locke, Buck, and the rest of their squad spent half of the game on a wild goose chase trying to catch up with Master Chief. Granted, this all lead to finding Cortana, but Chief was far from his best in this installment, and a whole squad of Spartans could have been used to save lives, but instead were wasted trying to reign Chief in.
Sadly, I've been in this place time and again. I'll let friends get too close or becometoo influential in my life that it seriously becomes a hindrance. Their role in my life becomes something that causes my character to shift and my integrity to come into question. This isn't the whole "you can't be friends with someone who isn't a Christian" speech. This is saying that anyone who can distract you and cause you to be less than who God calls you to be, and anyone that can become an idol taking your focus away from your family, your goals, and your God can be toxic, whether they are believers or not. I hate to say this, but some of the shadiest people I've met in my life were in Bible colleges, in Christian camp ministries, or in relationships with Jesus. That doesn't make them villains or hypocrites, but it does mean that they lost their way and became distracted or drawn away, and because we are comfortable with them, we can be drawn away too. That's why it's important to examine every relationship we have, even with believers. Do the relationships in your life cause you to draw closer to God, or further from Him? Does their presence cause you to strive for holiness and obedience, or do you feel comfortable, and possibly even justified in sinning? Does their involvement in your life bring you closer to who God says you are, or who you say you are, or maybe even who they say you are?
2 Corinthians 6:14 "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?"
That verse is clearly talking about forming binding relationships with unbelievers, but I think it can be applied even further to show that if someone is going in a different direction than you are, whether believers or not, it's dangerous. There is great potential and likelihood that you will end up going down a path you never planned on if you continue to follow. Chief was so fixated on Cortana that he ignored everyone's warnings, refused to listen to wisdom of his peers, and risked the lives of his teammates. He didn't even save the day as per usual. He lost this time because he couldn’t see the truth of how bad this relationship was for him. Every gamer playing this thing knew out the gate though that Cortana was twisted and Chief needed to get out of this thing asap. But when Chief made it face to face with her she was all warm and friendly and loving, trying hard to keep him happy and placated, and off the offensive, which will often happen with toxic relationships in your life. They will tell you what you want to hear, say all the right things, but if you are honest with yourself, you recognize that it really isn't the truth.
Proverbs 27:6 "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses."
Even though Chief realized Cortana was off and extremely dangerous, he still tried to plead with her, "Listen to yourself. Stand down, Cortana, come home with us. It's not too late to stop this." There is nothing wrong with trying to redeem a toxic relationship, but you have to be real with yourself, and if it's an area in which you are also weak and not a situation you can honestly improve on your own, don't be destroyed clinging to something you should never have held on to. Chief still clung to his old relationship with Cortana and tried to approach her like the person she once was, but as he had previously stated, she had changed. Chief's heartfelt attempts to reach her ended with him and his entire team being ensnared and imprisoned as Cortana walked away to destroy the world. Sadly, this is a rather accurate parallel to our own lives when we nurture toxic relationships.
David had a toxic relationship with Bathsheba, Sampson had a toxic relationship with Delilah, David had a toxic relationship with Saul, etc. Sometimes relationships are in a bad place and steps have to be taken. The key is to being able to see your relationships clearly like in Malachi 3:18: "And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not." When you see the distinction between an unhealthy relationship and a healthy one, take action. It might mean distancing yourself, it might mean cutting communication, it might mean ending the relationship all together, or it might mean gathering all the Spartans in the known universe and hunting your toxic friend down and ending her maniacal conquest of all life as we know it. Let's hope you have one of the less dramatic options, but seriously, don't ignore it when you know action needs to be taken. And when you actually do get in a good place with a clear head, make sure you don't go back. Even though she was bananas, Cortana was still heartbroken when Locke rescued him from her grasp. She cried out his name and you could tell she genuinely loved and cared for him, even if she was demented. A lot of times, the toxic people in your life may truly think they are loving you or helping you, but their perception of what's good for you may still seriously stray from God's. Proverbs 4:23 "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."
If something or someone once had a control over your heart and life, then there is always the potential for that control to return. Hopefully at the end of Halo 5, Chief realizes that the Cortana he knew is gone, but he also sees that he has a blind spot to her and will make sure he doesn't lose control again. Again let me say this: just because a relationship may be toxic doesn't make the other component a villain or a bad person, it's just about you recognizing that every relationship isn't good for you and that you handle it while you can. Every toxic relationship has a starting point, and if you are vigilant you can stop yourself before you go down that path.
Amos 3:3 "Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?"