The Pastor’s Piece – April 3, 2022
The Pastor’s Piece
April 3, 2022
For the Christian living in the world today, things seem a little bleak. There is moral rot and decay all around us. The morality and teaching of the Bible is ridiculed and mocked in our culture and the exact opposite of what the Bible teaches is being practiced everywhere. Even some who call themselves Christians have adopted the ways of the world. We should not be surprised by any of this. The Bible says that in the end times there will be those who call evil good and good evil. There will be those who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter, (Isaiah 5:20). We know the evil one hates anything that God loves and wants to tear down and destroy what is good and just. The Apostle Paul tells us we need to be aware of the devil’s schemes and protect ourselves from them. We are bombarded every day with new attacks on our faith and the Scriptures we love and strive to live by. But then every now and then, a ray of hope appears. A battle is won.
Such was the case last week when the verdict was handed down in Finland to a Finnish mom, medical doctor, and government parliamentarian, who was accused of hate speech and slander for simply quoting the Bible in response to the culture war raging around her. We’ve been following this case for several months – The District Court of Helsinki in Finland has dismissed all charges against Member of Parliament Päivi Räsänen and Lutheran bishop and editor Juhana Pohjola. It was a unanimous decision of the judges.
Räsänen and Pohjola were accused of incitement against an ethnic group. The charges concerned Päivi Räsänen’s tweet quoting Romans 1, her pamphlet on marriage (distributed by the publishing house led by Pohjola) and her statements on a radio show on the issue of homosexuality and the Christian faith.
According to the district court, some of Räsänen’s statements were offensive. However, she did not exceed the limits of freedom of expression nor insult a group based on sexual orientation. Räsänen’s words were not considered to be capable of arousing contempt, intolerance or hatred. The court also found that she did not intend to degrade or insult.
The District Court ordered the Finnish State to pay Juhana Pohjola and Päivi Räsänen 11,998 and 49,984 euros respectively in legal costs, and 496 euros in costs to the Luther Foundation of Finland (the organization lead by Pohjola).
Media representatives asked Päivi Räsänen whether she would in the future think more carefully about the words she used.
“I have gone through my speeches carefully, I have edited them many times. I still stand by my words. I will express my views in exactly the same way. My own views have not changed,” Räsänen replied.
“I understand that when freedom of speech is exercised and people disagree on issues, feelings of offense can arise. Yes, I myself have also found many of the views expressed in public offensive. I think that the Bible’s teaching on sin offends all of us sinners.” (The above compiled from evangelicalfocus.com).
That is well put. The Bible is an offensive book. It’s true that it speaks of the love of God poured out on sinful man. It speaks of a beautiful place called heaven. It speaks of salvation through Jesus Christ. The death and resurrection of Jesus gives us hope for tomorrow and eternity. But the Bible also points out our sin. The Spirit of God did not pull any punches when it came to describing the evil present in the human heart and manifested in our behavior. Many do not want to acknowledge that evil or call it what it is or even admit that something is wrong. Our hearts are desperately wicked and we can’t do anything about it. But God can – and does when we call on Him.
All this moral insanity should drive us to the gospel and to our knees and to God’s Word. God once told Abraham that judgment on the Canaanites would be delayed for centuries because “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full,” (Genesis 15:16). We live in the day of God’s grace. God’s judgment is coming, but God is giving us time to repent. The Apostle Peter said that Jesus has delayed His return to earth because God is not willing that even one sinner should perish.
The way out is not the midterms. The way out is not through the office of President of the United States. The way out is not a better economy. It would be great if the solution were that benign and simple. But they are not the solution. They do not provide the way out.
The way out is repentance and faith. The repentance is repentance for our public refusal to acknowledge God as the ruler of the moral universe, and our consequent lust, greed, lying and bloodshed. Our faith needs to be placed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead as His way of claiming ownership of the entire world.
The way out is straight gospel. Jesus is Lord. It is Christ or chaos. Or perhaps by this point we should be saying “it is Christ or more chaos.”