Far Cry 5's Faith Seed Embodies An Evangelical Double Standard

I hated fighting Faith Seed, the highest-ranking woman in Far Cry 5's fictional cult. She was confusing, annoying, and - like all the game's enemies - wanted to kill me. I was supposed to hate her, but I didn't relish winning our final battle. Faith embodies the ugliness of the game's cult, The Project at Eden's Gate, but, more disturbingly, the bind in which evangelical Christianity often traps women.

Faith is a mess of contradictions: Flirtatious but childlike, devoted to cult leader Joseph Seed but afraid of him, powerful but mostly acting through her followers, real but a drug-induced hallucination. She's one of the three heralds, or bosses, who control the regions of Far Cry 5's Hope County, Montana. She oversees the manufacture and distribution of Bliss, a drug that blurs reality and, in its highest doses, turns people into murderous zombies.

She appears throughout the region to taunt and periodically kidnap the player, stealing your allies away to the cult and hurling her minions at you at every turn.

Faith has to fight against the stories told about her from those outside the cult, no matter how much she might have changed during her time there. We're predisposed to disbelieve her. The description of her on resistance member Dutch's map calls her "a siren" and dismisses her past as "a sob story."

Perhaps protesting too much, she mentions during the player's first encounter with her that they have likely heard stories about her being "a liar and a manipulator [who] poisons people's minds."

Faith tells the player that she wants to tell them "a different story, a true story." That story involves her being ostracised and abused, which she dealt with through drug use. She tells us that her self-destructiveness has been wiped away by Joseph giving her hope, confidence, and purpose.

She continues to at least manufacture drugs, if not use them herself, and this past behaviour is the basis of her usefulness to the cult.

Despite her outward enthusiasm, Faith may not have entirely chosen her role. She reveals in her boss fight that Joseph drugged and threatened her when she was 17 to get her to join Eden's Gate. Early on she tells the player about him challenging her to jump to her death for him, telling her that "he would have faith in her if she would have faith in him." She says she was scared but did what he wanted anyway, manipulated by his supposed love for her and by the "new family" he's given her.

Despite Joseph inviting her into a group that professes to accept everyone as they are, he still makes her prove herself worthy. Faith seems aware that Joseph could take everything she loves away if she displeases him. When you destroy a statue of Joseph, for instance, Faith worries "what he'll do to me" in response. She is restrained by threats and fear, even as the cult has made Faith so free she can break the rules of physical reality through her ability to float and appear at random.

Faith randomly appearing. It's hard to tell if she's a hallucination or actually there.

She's not the first woman this has happened to, either. The game suggests there have been multiple Faiths that Joseph has seduced by telling them they're special and then discarding them.

The Faith we encounter in the game tells us Joseph has brought her into a world that "doesn't take, doesn't devour," but she's one in a line of women sacrificed to Eden's Gate's male leader, devourable and replaceable. The various Faiths seem to have known there would be consequences for wavering, as revealed in another note:

I just wanted to be special. When Joseph came into my life, I felt like you'd given me a true gift, Lord. That a man who talks to you would bring me in on your holy conversation…? And so I took the name that you gave me, Lord, through Joseph: "Faith." And I am a woman made anew. But now, I'm ashamed to say, even though I carry this name, my devotion to the Project is… plagued. By Doubt. What do I do? I know you will forgive me, dear Lord. I don't know if Joseph will.

Faith wears her conflicting identities literally in her outfit, a lacy combination of a wedding dress and a child's summer frock. The high neckline and the sleeves that run below her elbows are modest and traditional, but the hem is flirtily short and uneven. Is she a faithful, innocent follower of Joseph Seed, or a seducing "siren," as Dutch's description of her reads? Is she a powerful leader or Joseph's fear-stricken prisoner? Is she unique among Eden's Gate's followers or a replaceable cog in his ego-driven machine?

Ultimately, she has to be all of these things, navigating the conflicting roles and identities others have created for her.

This state of a woman being pulled in conflicting directions is endemic to certain denominations of evangelical Christianity, which Eden's Gate feels inspired by through its militaristic theology and focus on conversion. The cult seems to stem from a kind of Christianity that sees women both as the temptress who caused humanity to be expelled from the Garden of Eden and as subordinates to men.

It's a culture in which, in the words of Christian writer Carla Ewert, "the male identity is the fulcrum on which all things, especially female identity, pivot. Without the male center, all is unhinged and purposeless." These denominations see women as an afterthought or a problem to solve. Some believe in complementarianism, the idea that men and women have Biblically-ordained different roles.

Other believe in more explicitly submissive roles for women with an emphasis on sexual purity. Lyz Lenz, a contributor for The Washington Post, writes that this purity-minded Christianity teaches women that they "ought to be passed down from father to husband, more an inheritance than a human."

These different views of women as equal or subordinate overlap and conflict, though are not as dissimilar as they might seem on the surface. They stem from a root that forces women to contort themselves to men's demands, that makes it so that, as Christian blogger Kristen Rosser writes, "no matter what [women] do, no matter how they dress, they can be blamed for 'causing their brothers to stumble'" by the mere fact of their existence.

(In the case of Far Cry 5's Faith, causing people to stumble is literally embodied through her effect on others.) It's a culture that's led to abuse in the church, that created disgraced reality star Josh Duggar and Alabama politician Roy Moore, that's causing upheaval across evangelical churches today in the form of #ChurchToo, the faith's version of Hollywood's #MeToo movement in the wake of Harvey Weinstein.

When I was in divinity school I had a female friend pursuing ordination. It's a complicated, drawn-out process under the best of circumstances. During that time her partner switched denominations from his own to hers and sought ordination as well.

He moved through the process much faster than her, despite her qualifications. I'll always remember the look on her face when we talked about it, one night at a house party as we lingered over our plastic cups of beer. She gave me an expression of resigned bafflement as we realised she was seeking acceptance from an institution that would never find her sufficient, no matter what it told her and how hard she tried to live up to its demands.

The situation wasn't as cut and dried as just her being a woman or that he didn't deserve it, but there was an undercurrent of traditions and beliefs that lifted him while pushing her back. It was unfair but at the same time seemed so intractable that her moving ahead anyway was both an obedience and a rebellious victory.

In Far Cry 5, Faith pays the price for the cult's culture and actions. Late in her boss fight she even cries, "It's not my fault. None of this was my fault! You think I wanted this?" Joseph is ultimately the mastermind, the real power, the reason behind her every move, but there's no option to spare Faith.

As I fought her, as she cried out about The Father, I felt bad. We were both fighting a common enemy who had the privilege of not being in the room.

Once the player has defeated Faith, she gives a last monologue during which she approaches the player, who steps back when she reaches for them. An incredible range of emotion crosses her face in this moment: Longing, surprise, disappointment, despair.

I found that moment heartbreaking. Faith wants to be all the things everyone demands of her - virginal, sexual, confident, submissive - but most of all she wants to be wanted, to be embraced and accepted for all her average complexity. She seems to really believe that despite the events that unfold through her region the player will still love her. She has a naive faith in her own innate worth. It's the worth that Jesus promises but the church so often takes away.

Footage via Video Game Sophistry

Far Cry 5 casts Faith as a villain, but to me she's doing the best she can against and amid a culture that asks her to be more than anyone could be and then blames her when she can't measure up. She's caught up in evangelical Christianity's earthly misogyny and faith's own desperate gamble that all of us are inherently good. I hated fighting her, and I hated killing her.

She, like so many women unappreciated by their churches, deserved better.


Comments

    She's a drug pedaling, floating witch. I'm only sorry for two things...first, that I had to put up with that drivel; second, that I couldn't put her on a stake and burn her.

      Of all the Seed family, the only one that i actually enjoyed was John, he was the most charismatic of all them and was very fun to piss off. Faith on the hand was extremely terrible and relied entirely on her tits and arse to make people like her. I was so glad when my character finally killed her and refused to take her hand.

      However if there was anyone who was treated badly and was complete let down, it was Jacob Seed AKA Mr Boring AKA Mr Cull the Herd, AKA Mr Manchurian Candidate. Here we have an ex-gulf war 1 veteran who was a basic grunt who was in charge of training the Cult's Soldiers, yet what do we get? 3 copy paste missions and apprently my character is so weak willed that all it takes to make me kill the guy who rescused me is a shitty 3 pictures of wolves eating a kill and an extremely popular song

    Cults seduce people and demand obedience when they might otherwise have misgivings? Well shit, who would have thought...?

    Faith is just as bad as all the others. They all do things because they thought they were necessary, because they thought that it was in everyone’s best interests. Faith is as guilty as the others, and I feel like the author just wanted to diminish that because Faith is a feminine character amidst the patriarchal pseudo-Christian doomsday cult. All of them are pretty awful characters doing awful things.

    And it turns out that they were right about the impending apocalypse in the end. So maybe they had a point after all?

      I felt like the author was projecting her misgivings about Christianity (a lot of more fundimentalist religions treat women as possessions) on the character when to me, it was clear that she was basically an amalgamation of how cult leaders are able to seduce women who should be smart enough to avoid the traps.

      She's basically the wife's of Charles Manson rolled up into one character.

        I feel like Hess sorts of articles about Far Cry 5 and Wolfenstein 2 are desperate to project modern political thought or critique onto games that are ultimately superficially satirical.

    Faith was by far the most interesting of the three, in my opinion. Where John and Jacob felt quite one-dimensional, Faith's conflicting pulls were interesting and felt more believable. The admission during the boss fight that she didn't want any of it but was lured (and drugged) in by Joseph, as well as other details of her troubled past as a drug addict desperate for identity, to be part of something and to find somewhere she could belong, painted a sympathetic figure that I think it's hard not to feel for.

      After wandering through the fields of drugs, drug riddle "angels" dead people amd tortured people, I didn't really have much sympathy. It in fact made me not believe her story, that is was a fabrication in her external quest of "please like me".

      Last edited 03/05/18 5:53 pm

      "Angels" damned auto correct and now edit moderation.

        I just blank out the old one and repost it, when that happens. It can take days or not at all for moderation to catch up.

    I liked this article so much I signed up to Kotaku just now.

    I wanted to thank you for writing this. I’m really happy to see Christianity being applied to and used to critique video games and vice versa, but not in the ugly or superficial way it normally is. I do believe in complementarianism, but I appreciated your thoughts so much. It was enlightening and professional. Thank you!

      Not sure you got the article, both the article and (according to the article) the game are both pretty scathing criticisms on chritsinaity as an insitution, that the beliefs (wich include complementarianism) that measure womens value only as they relate to men are harmful

      The prhase near the end "The worth jesus promises that the church so often takes away" sums the article up pretty well

      Maybe you just support well written pieces that challenge your beliefs but that would make you more intelectually honest than the vast majority of people, if thats the case kudos to you i guess

    Yeah came across a bit differently to me. She's trying to manipulate the player into joining the cult, so she puts up this innocent and vulnerable facade which gradually crumbles as the player continues to refuse her offer. My sympathy for her dried up pretty quickly when she starts getting abusive towards the end.

    Last edited 03/05/18 2:05 pm

    Feels more like an article critical of religion with reference to far cry 5 than an article about far cry 5 with references to religion.
    I think she was manipulating, cunning, lying ex (possibly still using) junkie and would do anything or say anything to get her "fix".
    She made her choices and her actions contributed to the cult as a whole, they are all a sum of each others flaws.

    You're over analysing what the writer of farcry themselves knows is merely at the level of a porno: enough story to pad out in between the action.
    Its like analysing a kids picture of a house and the sun compared to analysing an artists oil on canvas with an intent and meaning.
    What a waste.
    There's so many other games that you could have spent your time on.
    Don't get me wrong. Farcry 5 is a good game. But story...? If you want to analyse the next episode of neighbours then go for it, I guess.

      Someone after my own heart...

      Some people tend to forget that this is a video game with a bit too much creative arty-farty...in reality, it is simply a vehicle to progress in-game micro-transactions.

    I saw Faith as a standard,hippy chick/hipster who was in love with the "freedom" drugs provide at first,followed by dependency and a convenient solution in the nearest religion which is led by a wacko of course,which is pretty much any priest of any religion.The article then attempted to dig deeper in FC5's story regarding 'denominations and complimentariaism blah blah,and that's when i scrolled past most of it.Linking a vidya game with such nonsense is laughable.

    I, uhhhh... Just wanted to bang her

    I thought she was a seriously missed opportunity. Frankly, all of the characters were.

    I kept thinking "oh, the bliss gets used as a deus ex machina, how mleh" and I hoped like hell that it wouldn't be the only aspect, that Faith would turn out to be this rangy, used-up junkie who, far from the glamour she displayed, would lure you somewhere awful, jump out and start trying to beat merry hell out of you in the most unglamourous way possible, just turn into this nasty, gritty fest where the veil is lifted and we get to see who she really is. Out of the lieutenants, I left her until last. I took out Jacob first, because he was so lacking in character: "ME STRONG! YOU WEAK! ME POORLY WRITTEN AND MUMBLE TOO MUCH!"

    Instead we got "flyin' magical powers cause drugs or somethin'" and this wishy-washy outcome where the biggest 'reveal' was a handful of seconds where she actually says "I never wanted this" or suchlike. It was immensely disappointing. I found her annoying to begin with, annoying in the middle, annoying that I couldn't refuse her 'offers' to do stupid things like jump off the statue - again because "drugs or somethin'" and annoying when she turned out to be exactly the way she seemed to be without anything interesting about her.

    I think John Seed ended up the most interesting, and at least you could refuse his 'offers' when they came up. I found that cathartic when my refusal to say 'yes' annoyed him but really, he wasn't that compelling either. Just more compelling than the other two.

    I think the Testicle Festival was better written than any of the main plot, to be honest. Give the main job to whoever put that together. That's some award-winning storytelling right there. (only partial sarcasm)

      Genital jousting on the other hand has one of the best written stories ive seen in a long time

      No sarcasm at all, if it wasnt about dicks that game would have indie game of the year and best story of the year from everyone

    So much of this game has such great potential to be something really fucking great. And was ultimately a disappointment.
    Little bit like religion in that way.

    i really enjoyed Faith section, though extremely disappointed you dont face her in 'reality', I was keep expecting a reveal where she was nothing at all like the pretty young perky woman you keep seeing. That would have been far more of an interesting piece of writing.

    Never played a single Far Cry or Crysis game in my life. This just sounds like dope, give it a midevil setting and an axe wielding nude female psychopath and make her a cannibal for fun. Then blur the lines between reality and fiction and you can see why crud like this sells.

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