Is Christianity Discriminatory? The Finnish Court Case

The recently adjudicated religious case—turned secular civil trial—has made it abundantly clear that Christianity is discriminatory from the world’s viewpoint. The charges brought against them (all quotes are from an English translation from the Finnish), titled “Ethnic Agitation” describe: “Päivi Räsänen has made available and kept available to the public opinions and statements which disparage homosexuals as a group on the basis of their sexual orientation.” A member of the Finnish parliament wrote a booklet in 2004 on homosexuality.

This oppositional description of the booklet in question, “Male and female He Created Them – Homosexual Relationships Challenge the Christian concept of Humanity,” puts the question quite well:

Ultimately, the issue is one of whether homosexuality is a neutral state of being or a negative developmental disorder from the person’s own viewpoint. If the latter option is the case, advocating for homosexual “rights” further harms these. In addition, advocating for homosexual “rights” promotes such a rupture in the values of society that does not at all support human growth towards balanced marital relationships.

This puts it succinctly. Is homosexuality normal and neutral before God and for society? Part of the problem is that the booklet used older scientific research which showed the damage of homosexual tendencies and activities. Now that is not said by the respected social scientists today. Dependence on secular sources, rather than God’s clear Word, is less firm. But the world worships sexual independence and immoral rights—as the ultimate good.

The conflict is real. Saying sodomitic actions are sinful means that true Christian proclamation will be perceived as hateful to those who make their sexual orientation their whole identity. “I personally see that this also proves something about the brokenness of homosexuals.” Since the world does not separate sinful actions (before God) from the divine creational value of the person, they cannot not make the division that Christians do by calling sinners to repentance in love. What is loving to God is hate speech to the world.

The sections of text are defamatory to homosexuals, both as such and as part of the text as a whole. Räsänen’s statements infringe on the equality and dignity of homosexuals and are likely to cause intolerance, contempt and even hatred towards homosexuals. Such derogatory statements against homosexuals are discriminatory and thus go beyond the boundaries of freedom of speech and religion.

Lifting up the person—to the world—means affirming their decisions, especially of a sexual nature, even what does not promote new life (babies) or the family structure. The difference today is that is now argued that merely taking God’s stance in the Scriptures—should not be free, but regulated. “Räsänen is a well-known Member of Parliament and several thousand people follow her social media accounts.”

The legal defense rebuts the accusations with basic Christian distinctions: “Sin and shame were theological expressions and could thus not be considered as typical insults in common language.” Is calling to live as we are created by God—since we did not make ourselves—an insult and discriminatory? That seems to be the issue: “The published booklet did not insult homosexuals as a group on the basis of their sexual orientation.” The other person these charges were brought against, Juhana Pohjola, is an ordained minister and bishop of the small, independent Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland. The battle for absolute supremacy is real. Can pastors preach God’s Word? Yes, that is God’s charge, but it will increasingly lead to worldly persecution, including possibly legal penalties.

According to Chapter 11, Section 10 of the Criminal Code, anyone who makes available to the public or otherwise disseminates or makes available to the public information, opinions or other messages that threaten, defame or insult a group on the grounds of race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation or disability, or any other comparable ground, shall be sentenced to a fine or imprisonment of up to two years for incitement against an ethnic group

The freedom of religion is hotly contested today, but what does that mean and how does that play out?

Freedom of religion and conscience are fundamental and human rights. These freedoms include, inter alia, the right to profess and practise a religion. Freedom of religion encompasses the practice of religion in a community, in public and in private, as well as the right to communicate one’s beliefs to others (ECtHR, Kokkinakis v. Greece, 25 May 1993, Paragraph 31).

Sin is not an insult, it is God’s own judgment. Pastors speak for the living Christ—the Lord of all people. The accused “did make available to the public, opinions which insulted homosexuals as a group on the basis of sexual orientation.” Judgment is not wrong. To say someone’s chosen identity, feelings, and actions are wrong is the ultimate insult, because secular man is his own god. To claim God has power and claim over them is to disturb their most cherish religious principle: the idolatry of the self.

The Christian Gospel does not speak in worldly terms. God is not a respecter of what the world cares about.

It was completely contrary to Räsänen’s own conviction to claim that she considered homosexuals to be inferior or that they were not God’s creatures. According to Räsänen, every human being is responsible for their actions and choices. Every human being is in some way broken and vulnerable and a sinner before God. The basic view of Christianity is that human beings are at the same time infinitely valuable and sinful.

These basic distinctions have been obliterated in the last few hundred years by man-centered ideas. But there is not way to sugarcoat sin and forgiveness to make it palatable to everyone.

She wanted to try to highlight the teachings of the Bible. She took a photograph of the letter to the Romans, the verses of which showed that the Church’s Bible-based doctrine contradicted the ideology of Pride. In these verses, God’s will on the matter was clearly stated. According to Räsänen, shame and sin meant, above all, man’s state before God. The words were not a rebuke to anyone.

The last sentence is debatable, since calling to repentance is a divine rebuke, but not a personal, derogatory insult. Only when forgiveness in Christ is known does guilt not become most feared. The “ideology of pride” is a religious conviction—the necessity and right to celebrate sin.

What the government makes illegal does not invalidate God or His Word:
According to Pohjola, theological preaching would be impossible if the word “sin” were considered derogatory, as the prosecutor had claimed. Moreover, the distinction between being and doing was a fundamental Christian distinction.

We have the higher authority—of Christ Himself. Sexual sins are not the only sins.

The District Court considers that Räsänen’s religious view of the sinfulness of homosexual acts does not mean the same as the prosecution’s claim that homosexuals are not created by God as are heterosexuals. Further, Räsänen stated in the programme that everyone is equally sinful before God and that she does not want to limit the discussion of sin to sexuality.

Thankfully, the Finnish court ruled in favor of Räsänen and Pohjola, even requiring their legal expenses to be paid. But that will not always be the case. Our true justice is before God, who does not want sins to go unforgiven. The Word of sin must continue to be proclaimed, so that those in slavery to sin and living a life against God, may come to know His life. —ed.