Special Report: Forgiving Hanoi Jane
Vol: 43 Issue: 19 Tuesday, April 19, 2005
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” – Luke 6:12
It was the Lord Jesus Himself Who taught His disciples how to pray. He taught, “. . .when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”
Jesus was referring to the Pharisees of the time who would pray loudly in the streets, using long and formulaic prayers by which, all who passed by would know that this was a very pious man, indeed.
Note also that they are praying to deaf Ears; “for they THINK that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”
Instead, said the Lord, “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be
Thy Name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven, Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (Luke 6:6,7,9-13)
The Lord’s Prayer was more than merely a lesson in how to pray, however. It is also an implicit admonition to be careful what you pray for. In the most commonly rendered version of the Lord’s Prayer, Luke 6:12 is modified to read, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive our trespassers.”
‘Trespassers’ was substituted for ‘debtors’ — although ‘debtors’ is a better rendering of the Greek word, ‘opheiletes’. While the Lord’s Prayer ends with the word ‘Amen’ in verse 13, it doesn’t end His teaching on prayer.
He goes on to explain; “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
‘Opheiletes’ means ‘one who owes a debt’ but it also means ‘one who owes a debt to God’. Therefore, verse 12 requires us to forgive both those who are in debt to us, and also forgive those whom we feel owe us a debt because of some sin, or trespass, against us.
NOW, look with new eyes at what we pray for when we follow the Lord’s example of prayer. We pray, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive our trespassers.” That little word, ‘as’ defines a huge truth. What we are really praying is, “Father, forgive us our sins IN THE SAME MANNER in which we forgive the sins of others.”
Like I said earlier, this is also a lesson in being careful what you pray for. I thank God through Jesus Christ that I will not be forgiven in like manner as I forgive others, but it is only by God’s gracious gift of salvation that I will not be held accountable. Nevertheless, it provides a bedrock understanding of our duty as Christians in the Eyes of God.
No human being is capable of anything approaching perfect forgiveness of others, any more than any human being is capable of ‘perfect’ anything. At best, all we can do is try and follow the Lord’s example as far as humanly possible, and count on the perfected Work at the Cross for the rest.
Which brings me to Jane Fonda’s World Apology Tour.
Jane has just published a new book entitled, “My Life So Far” that has been offered by the liberal mainstream as her ‘apology’ for her conduct during the Vietnam War. Her World Apology Tour also coincides with her soon-to-be released return to the Silver Screen in a new movie called “Monster-in-Law”.
However fawning Jane’s interviewers, Jane’s ‘apology’ for going to Hanoi as part of an anti-American propaganda campaign falls somewhat short of an ‘apology’ — in fact, it sounds downright insulting.
The London Times helped readers to locate her apology, saying, “As she has before, Ms. Fonda apologizes for being photographed laughing and clapping while sitting on an anti-aircraft gun in Hanoi. (She writes that she absent-mindedly sat down in a moment of euphoria with her North Vietnamese hosts, and adds, ‘That two-minute lapse of sanity will haunt me until the day I die.’)”
Hanoi Jane also ‘apologized’ on “60 Minutes” saying; “I will go to my grave regretting that. The image of Jane Fonda, ‘Barbarella,’ Henry Fonda’s daughter, just a woman sitting on an enemy aircraft gun was a betrayal. It was like I was thumbing my nose at the military and at the country that gave me privilege.”
It was LIKE she was thumbing her nose? What would ACTUALLY thumbing one’s nose at one’s country look like?
Offering an ‘apology’ implies penitence, not regret. Hanoi Jane ‘regretted’ having her picture taken sitting at the anti-aircraft gun, which is different than being sorry for betraying her country. As she recalls the incident in her book;
“It is not unusual for Americans who visit North Vietnam (as if Americans ‘visiting’ an enemy capital has a ‘usual’ aspect – ed) to be taken to see North Vietnamese military installations, and when they do they are always required to wear a helmet like the kind I have been given to wear on air raids.”
Later, in recounting how she came to be photographed while wearing that helmet and seated at the controls of an enemy anti-aircraft gun pointed skyward toward American planes, she explained; “Someone, I don’t remember how, leads me toward the gun, and I sit down, still laughing, still applauding. It all has nothing to do with where I am sitting. I hardly even think about where I am sitting. The cameras flash.”
“As I get up, and as I start to walk away, the implication of what just happened hit me. “Oh, my God! It’s going to look like I was trying to shoot down US planes.” I plead with him, “You have to be sure those photographs are not published. Please, you can’t let them be published. ” I am assured it will all be taken care of. I don’t know what else to do.”
Then, struck by a sudden flash of brilliant insight, Jane writes, “It is possible that the Vietnamese had it all planned.”
In Hanoi Jane’s world, admitting it was a betrayal and a lapse of judgement is the equivalent to an ‘apology’.
To this old Texas lawman, it sounds more like a confession. One doesn’t attempt a coverup if one believes one’s actions are innocent. Regret is not repentance. Or even pentitence.
I remember a Death Row inmate I was once knew named Charlie Rumbaugh. He told me once he was sorry he had killed jeweler Michael Fiorello during an Amarillo robbery. I asked him what he was sorriest about. He said if he hadn’t killed the jeweler, he might not have gotten caught.
It was regret for how it turned out for Charlie Rumbaugh that he was expressing, not sorrow for having killed Michael Fiorello. Hanoi Jane’s apology reminded me of Charlie.
Now, we get back to the Lord’s principle of forgiving those who trespass against us in the same manner in which we trespass against others. Jane Fonda trespassed against every American POW that resisted torture to avoid giving North Vietnam what Jane Fonda gave them for free.
Jane Fonda trespassed against every American who ever wore a uniform and served his or her country. She trespassed against all those young men who gave their all to prevent Vietnam from becoming exactly what it became. And she trespassed against every Vietnamese civilian that has suffered under Hanoi’s boot heel since we allowed it to fall to the Communists.
I am just one old veteran, and I admit that Hanoi Jane’s ‘apology’ sounds more like an effort to justify her actions than an expression of remorse or a request for forgiveness. And I can only offer forgiveness for trespasses committed against me.
It is an extremely old grudge, and excising it will be painful. And I pray the Lord will forgive my admittedly reluctant and grudging effort. But I forgive you, Jane, whether YOU believe you did anything wrong or not.
My comrades will have to speak for themselves.