[T]he father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. Luke 15:22-24
Yesterday, in an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Juan Williams, whom I generally like while rarely agree with, joined in with many of the left in lionizing Bowe Bergdahl’s return as not only a win for the President, but the compassionate thing to do. Williams went as far as to compare Bergdahl, who deserted his post, of being akin to the Prodigal Son from the Bible.
I am not sure if Williams simply underestimates the Biblical knowledge of his audience, or if I overestimate his.
Allow me to be frank… Any likeness between Bowe Bergdahl and Prodigal Son is limited to the both of them having foreign travels and returning home safely. Sure, some could say that both also endured some hardships, but the parallels just don’t hold up to even the slightest scrutiny when taken in the proper context.
The parable of the Prodigal Son, as told by Jesus, is about a foolish and arrogant son who, in his impatience, takes all of the inheritance his father reluctantly gave him and squandered it. He fell into such sin and debauchery that he literally became an servant. From riches to rags.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. Luke 15:17-20
Do you see the error of Juan Williams?
Williams focuses on the last sentence in this portion of the parable. His entire argument is that we should feel compassion and embrace Bergdahl because he was once lost. This is all well and good, I can understand, especially as a Christian and a father of three, the very real urge to be compassionate. But parables are meant to teach a lesson, and in this case Williams’ narrow focus on compassion has blinded him to a very crucial component of the lesson that goes well beyond politics.
The lesson which Juan has missed is that Bowe Bergdahl is still lost. The loving embrace of the father follows repentance, a humbling of oneself, and a willingness to become a servant of the one you offended.
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”
If Bowe Bergdahl is to be considered a prodigal son, he should request to be charged with desertion, retract any statements about being a warrior for Jihad, and, in my perspective as a Christian, renounce any captivity conversion that may have occurred.
Some may not like that last bit, but the parable of the Prodigal Son is that of man returning to our God, I don’t particularly like that is has been defined down to giving away five hardened terrorists in exchange for a deserter.
Williams, like many others, has fallen for the new idea that deserters are the same as the men and women who go to battle and serve with dignity and honor, and by some circumstance become prisoners of war.
They are not.
As Ralph Peters notes in his wonderful takedown of the Obama administration over the Bergdahl story, this respect for deserters is a newly formed phenomenon.
“Save the deserter” is a recent battle cry of the politically indoctrinated brass. For much of our history, we did make some efforts to track down deserters in wartime. Then we shot or hanged them. Or, if we were in good spirits, we merely used a branding iron to burn a large D into their cheeks or foreheads. Even as we grew more enlightened, desertion brought serious time in a military prison. At hard labor.
Again, some may find this sort of talk is harsh, they may even try to invoke a little more chastising emotion into the mix by treating Bergdahl, who was trained to fight in combat and jump out of airplanes, as an adolescent. He is someone’s child!
But remember, someone else’s child died looking for him after he deserted his post. And not just one. Jake Tapper, as he often does, took the time to reach out to Bergdahl’s platoon mates and tell their stories of looking for their friend who would turn out to be a deserter and a bargaining chip in the release of the very men they have been sent to stop.
“Any of us would have died for him while he was with us, and then for him to just leave us like that, it was a very big betrayal,” said former U.S. Army Sgt. Josh Korder, who has the name of three soldiers who died while searching for Bergdahl tatooed on his back.
Many of Bergdahl’s fellow troops — from the seven or so who knew him best in his squad to the larger group that made up the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division — told CNN that they signed nondisclosure agreements agreeing to never share any information about Bergdahl’s disappearance and the efforts to recapture him. Some were willing to dismiss that document in hopes that the truth would come out about a soldier who they now fear is being hailed as a hero, while the men who lost their lives looking for him are ignored.
“I don’t think I could have continued to go on without being able to share with you and the people the true things that happened in this situation,” Korder said Monday. “Because if you guys aren’t made aware of it, it will just go on, and he’ll be a hero, and nobody will be able to know the truth.”
Bowe Bergdahl did not serve with honor and distinction. Bowe Bergdahl deserted his post and cost the lives of his fellow soldiers who, despite knowing he deserted, took on the risk of death to find him.
Stop the feasts, Bowe Bergdahl is not a hero, Bowe Bergdahl is no prodigal son. And I hope, deep down, Juan Williams really does know that.