In English

Welcome to my homepage!

 

I have been in the Finnish Parliament as a MP since 1995. I hold the degree of Licentiate of Medicine and my civilian profession is a medical doctor. From 2004 to 2015, I was the chair of the Finnish Christian Democrats. From June 2011 to May 2015, I held the office of the Minister of the Interior of Finland. As the Minister of the Interior, I was responsible for internal security and migration, church affairs at the Ministry of Education and Culture and matters relating to customs in the Ministry of Finance.

The Christian Democratic Party of Finland, found in 1958, is a worldwide political movement. The party has 15 district organizations and special organizations for women, young people, immigrants and Swedish-speaking people. Important issues for our party are the well-being of families, pro-life values, a social market economy, taking care of the nature, promoting entrepreneurship and work. I want to build the society on the basis of lasting values, love for one’s neighbour, respect of human dignity, taking care of the poor, work, honesty and diligence.

I have written seven books and some of them have also been translated into English.

I live in Riihimäki with my husband Niilo. We have five grown-up children. Niilo is Doctor of Theology, pastor, and headmaster of Kansanlähetysopisto.

I enjoy spending  my free-time in the beautiful nature of Finland. During the winter-time I enjoy skiing.

The party membership is open to everyone who agrees with the objects of our Party.

Contact information

Päivi Räsänen
Address: Parliament of Finland
FIN-00102 EDUSKUNTA
Tel: +358 9 432 3065
Fax: +358 9 408 225
Gsm: +358 (0)50 511 3065
Email: firstname.surname(at)parliament.fi

MP Räsänen’s parliamentary assistant

Evamaria Kyllästinen
Address: Parliament of Finland
FIN-00102 EDUSKUNTA
Tel: +358 9 432 4065
Gsm: +358 (0)50 574 1675
Email: firstname.surname(at)parliament.fi

Party Office
Address: Karjalankatu 2 C 7th floor
FIN – 00520 HELSINKI
Tel: +358 9 348 822 00
Fax: +358 9 348 822 28
Email: kd(at)kd.fi

Articles & speeches

 

 

PRESS RELEASE

5 March 2020

The Prosecutor General of Finland orders two new criminal investigations of Dr. Päivi Räsänen, MP

 

A moment ago I received information from the Finnish police that Ms. Raija Toiviainen, Prosecutor General of Finland, has ordered criminal investigations of my comments on two radio and television programmes, interviews, first with Maria Vietola and then with Ruben Stiller. This is how the third and fourth criminal investigations of my speech are getting underway. I have already been interrogated on two separate occasions by the Helsinki Central Police in Pasila, and now there will be at least two further interrogations. In my opinion, this situation is inconceivable and totally absurd.

TV host Maria Veitola came to my home for an overnight on her serial programme “Yökylässä Maria Veitola” [Maria Veitola, Overnight visit], broadcast on Finnish MTV3 on 1 Feb. 2018 and on Finnish TV-channel AVA on 27 June 2018. In this programme we discussed the Bible, the significance of Jesus, of sin and of grace. This mandate of a new investigation addresses very similar comments on homosexuality as those taken from my pamphlet published in 2004.

The second order for criminal investigation is for my appearance in one episode of the YlePuhe [The Finnish Broadcasting Corporation, Talk Show] series with host Ruben Stiller on the topic “What would Jesus think about homosexuals?”[translated]. This was broadcast on 20 Dec. 2019 at 1:02 pm. This radio discussion can be found at the following link: here.

Previously, the police had reached decisions regarding both these programmes that there was no reason to initiate a preliminary investigation as no crime had been committed.

The police arrived at a similar conclusion last autumn with respect to my pamphlet: “Male and female He created them”, 2004, Luther Foundation Finland [here]. Nonetheless, the Prosecutor General proceeded to order a preliminary investigation of this booklet, which is why I was interrogated by the police earlier this week [2 March 2020]. The preliminary investigation of my Tweet from last summer has been completed, and that case is now under consideration for whether or not to raise criminal charges.

These requests for investigations and the criminal procedures arising out of them are attempts to restrict free speech and the freedom of religion. Concurrently, there is a danger that the media and publishers will begin to limit certain topics of discussion and leave particular discussants outside public discourse. We must not yield to the vicious circle of fear and being silenced.

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE 

Dr Päivi Räsänen, MP:

SECOND POLICE INTERROGATION ROUSES CONCERN OVER FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND RELIGION

 

The police have summoned me to arrive at the Main Police Station in Pasila, Helsinki at 9:30 AM on 2 March 2020 for interrogation on suspicion of ethnic aggression of a group, which carries the sentence of a fine or imprisonment for a maximum of two years. (case nro: 5500/R/74807/19)

 

The Prosecutor General of Finland ordered a preliminary hearing with regard to a pamphlet I wrote in 2004 “Male and female He created them”, published by The Luther Foundation Finland. Rev Dr Juhana Pohjola (DTh), the representative of the publisher, was previously interrogated on the same issue.

 

I presume that this drawing of attention to an old writing of mine and filing for a criminal investigation of it in August 2019 is connected with an earlier preliminary hearing concerning my tweet of June 2019. (case nro. 5500/R/53318/19) In that tweet I questioned the decision made by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland [the national church] to support the Helsinki Pride Festival. In it I shared a picture of the Bible verses appropriate to the topic. It did not even occur to me that this tweet might be illegal. On 1 November 2019 I spent nearly four hours in a police interrogation which concentrated on the main concepts of the Christian faith.

 

It is a baffling, surreal experience to be ordered into a police interrogation over the teachings of the Bible and in a country which has such deep roots in the freedom of speech and of religion. We are accustomed to hearing news like this from a totally different reference group of nations, places like North Korea or the former Soviet Union. The freedoms of speech and of religion are the cornerstones of democracy.

 

For a Christian, the Bible is the Word of God. It is a grave violation of the freedom of religion if the right to agree with biblical teaching is contravened. The Parliament of Finland unanimously approved the Church Law according to which the national church [The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland] confesses that Christian faith which is based on the Bible.

 

I categorically deny that my writing might be hate speech or defamation or slander of minorities. The Christian view of human being is based on the inherent and equal dignity of all persons. The teachings concerning marriage and sexuality in the Bible arise from love, not hate. The core message of faith, i.e. grace and atonement, is founded on the Christian view of humanity seen in creation, on the one hand, and the great fall, on the other.

 

So currently I am facing two separate police investigations. Both of them are linked to the freedoms of speech and of religion. What is worth noting here is the fact that the police prepared and released a thorough 11-page decision on 13 September 2019 that this pamphlet gave no cause for criminal investigation nor was there any reason to suspect that any crime had taken place. In their decision the police also noted: “If, for example, any of the viewpoints contained in the Bible would be considered sufficient, as such, to fulfil the criteria for the crime of ethnic agitation, then the distribution of the Bible or rendering it available would, in principle, be considered a crime of ethnic agitation and thus punishable.”

 

Therefore, it was a great surprise that Ms Raija Toiviainen, Prosecutor General of Finland, ordered on 31 October 2019 a preliminary hearing on the matter to take place. In regard to the due process of law it is problematic that highly educated public authorities take stands so far from one another in their interpretation of the law. If an MP, a legislator, who has been in office for the past 25 years, does not recognise a potential crime, how then can an ordinary citizen detect the possibility of such crime?

 

There is a difficulty here greater than a sentence of a fine or an imprisonment. The problem would be a possible demand for censorship: an order to remove my social media postings or a ban on the publication of the pamphlet. This might open up an avenue leading to further publication bans and modern book burnings. The mere fact that there is a police interrogation of this endangers the freedoms of speech and of religion by acting as a determent.

 

Regardless of the final outcome of this criminal investigation, I intend to continue to use the freedom of religion granted to me in the Constitution of Finland and in human rights agreements in order to share the teachings of the Christian faith and to encourage others to do so as well.

The pamphlet may be downloaded here.

Päivi Räsänen

Member of Parliament

[email protected]

 

Assistant to MP

Evamaria Kyllästinen

[email protected]

 

PRESS RELEASE

5 March 2020

 The Prosecutor General of Finland orders two new criminal investigations of Dr. Päivi Räsänen, MP

 

A moment ago I received information from the Finnish police that Ms. Raija Toiviainen, Prosecutor General of Finland, has ordered criminal investigations of my comments on two television programmes, interviews, first with Maria Vietola and then with Ruben Stiller. This is how the third and fourth criminal investigations of my speech are getting underway. I have already been interrogated on two separate occasions by the Helsinki Central Police in Pasila, and now there will be at least two further interrogations. In my opinion, this situation is inconceivable and totally absurd.

TV host Maria Veitola came to my home for an overnight on her serial programme “Yökylässä Maria Veitola” [Maria Veitola, Overnight visit], broadcast on Finnish MTV3 on 1 Feb. 2018 and on Finnish TV-channel AVA on 27 June 2018. In this programme we discussed the Bible, the significance of Jesus, of sin and of grace. This mandate of a new investigation addresses very similar comments on homosexuality as those taken from my pamphlet published in 2004.

The second order for criminal investigation is for my appearance in one episode of the YlePuhe [The Finnish Broadcasting Corporation, Talk Show] series with host Ruben Stiller on the topic “What would Jesus think about homosexuals?”[translated]. This was broadcast on 20 Dec. 2019 at 1:02 pm. This radio discussion can be found at the following link: here.

Previously, the police had reached decisions regarding both these programmes that there was no reason to initiate a preliminary investigation as no crime had been committed.

The police arrived at a similar conclusion last autumn with respect to my pamphlet: “Male and female He created them”, 2004, Luther Foundation Finland [here]. Nonetheless, the Prosecutor General proceeded to order a preliminary investigation of this booklet, which is why I was interrogated by the police earlier this week [2 March 2020]. The preliminary investigation of my Tweet from last summer has been completed, and that case is now under consideration for whether or not to raise criminal charges.

These requests for investigations and the criminal procedures arising out of them are attempts to restrict free speech and the freedom of religion. Concurrently, there is a danger that the media and publishers will begin to limit certain topics of discussion and leave particular discussants outside public discourse. We must not yield to the vicious circle of fear and being silenced.

 

 

The American Conservative

The Persecution Of Päivi Räsänen

Rod Dreher NOVEMBER 15, 2019

Päivi Räsänen is a member of the Finnish Parliament from the Christian Democratic Party, and a practicing Lutheran. She is also facing hate speech investigations for having questioned publicly her own church leaders’ decision to affirm LGBT pride. Now, the Finnish police have expanded the investigation to consider charges against her over a 2004 pamphlet she wrote defending the Lutheran Church’s traditional teaching about marriage (which entails denying that same-sex marriage is a real marriage). It’s worth noting that Räsänen wrote that pamphlet seven years before LGBT was added to the national hate-speech law as a protected class. She was investigated once before for the pamphlet, and cleared — but now she’s going to undergo another interrogation.

Here’s a screenshot of the tweet (with a translation) that started it all. I’ve cut off the entire image; it’s simply verses from the Bible that back up Räsänen’s claim. “Kirkko” is Finnish for “the Church” — in this case, the Finnish Lutheran church, in which Räsänen’s husband is a pastor:

Räsänen agreed to answer my questions via e-mail. Below is our interview:

ROD DREHER: You were interrogated for four hours by the police for things you have written about Christianity and homosexuality. What did they want to know?

IVI RÄSÄNEN: There are two separate police investigations, although they both have to do with freedom of religion and free speech. In both cases, the criminal offense I am suspected of is agitation against an ethnic group.

The background of the first case is this: I was shocked when I heard that the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, which I am a member of, announced its official affiliation to Helsinki LGBT Pride 2019. In June, I decided to write a tweet where I asked that how can the church’s doctrinal foundation, the Bible, be compatible with the lifting up of shame and sin as a subject of pride?

The police started a criminal investigation about this tweet in August. I was then summoned to a police interrogation that was conducted November 1 at the Pasila Police Station, Helsinki. I was interrogated for almost four hours concerning this tweet. The police asked me if I agree to remove the tweet within two weeks. I answered no. I was asked about the contents of the Letter to the Romans and what I meant by saying that practicing homosexuality is a sin and a shame. I answered that all of us are sinners, but the sinfulness of practicing homosexuality is nowadays denied.

The other police investigation has to do with a pamphlet I wrote 15 years ago. The investigation started in August this year. I have not yet been summoned to the interrogation concerning the pamphlet, but I have understood that it is likely to take place in December. The content of the pamphlet is quite the same as my tweet’s.

The pamphlet is a publication of Suomen Luther-säätiö [The Lutheran Foundation Finland] from 2004. It takes a stand on ecclesiastical policy, social policy, sexuality and marriage from a Christian perspective. It is noteworthy that previously, in October, the police already concluded that there was no need for an investigation, as there was no reason to believe that a crime had been committed.

The Prosecutor General, who was requested to re-evaluate this matter, reached a different conclusion than the police. According to the Prosecutor General, there is reason to believe that because of the defamation of homosexuals by the violation of their human dignity, I am guilty of incitement to hatred against a group.

According to the Criminal Code of our country:

Criminal Code, Section 10: Agitation against an ethnic group

“A person who makes available to the public or otherwise spreads among the public or keeps available for the public information, an expression of opinion or another message where a certain group is threatened, defamed or insulted on the basis of its race, skin colour, birth status, national or ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation or disability or a comparable basis, shall be sentenced for ethnic agitation to a fine or to imprisonment for at most two years”.

By the way, this section in our legislation came into force just in 2011, that is seven years after writing the pamphlet.

According to the information I have received, these police investigations will lead to consideration of charges, which will result probably in a prosecution.

It is impossible for me to think that the classical Christian views and the doctrine of the majority of denominations would become illegal. The question here is about the core of Christian faith; how a person gets saved into unity with God and into everlasting life though the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus. Therefore, it is crucial to also talk about the nature of sin.


RD: Is it effectively against the law in Finland to speak about basic Christian beliefs concerning homosexuality?

PR: The law does not prohibit this, and it is legal to speak and preach about what the Bible teaches. Freedom of religion is strongly guaranteed both in our Constitution and in the International Human Rights Treaties. However, more and more so, it seems to be that expressing opinions relating to, for example, marriage belonging between one man and one woman, or the sinfulness of homosexual acts, is politically incorrect, subject to silencing, and frowned upon. My case is a precedent. The Bible is a totally legal book and our church’s doctrinal foundation, according to our law.

Our Church Act states that “All doctrine must be examined and evaluated according to God’s Holy Word.” When our Parliament was discussing the Church Act this autumn, I read aloud the exact same verses from the Letter to the Romans that I cited in my tweet that led to the police investigation. I did this because I thought it was necessary for the parliamentarians to pay attention to the fact that although there were some minor changes proposed to the Church Act, most of the Act stayed the same. The Act still prescribes that the Lutheran Church confesses the Bible-based Christian faith.

This means that the Parliament has not only allowed the Church to confess its faith in its doctrine and action, it prescribes it to do so. The General Synod is the highest decision-making body of the Church. The General Synod makes key decisions relating to the Church’s doctrine and ministry. It has an important legislative function, drafting and presenting Church law for approval or rejection by the Finnish Parliament.

The Christian view of man is currently attacked, whether we think of questions relating to sexuality and gender, protection of life, or concepts such as man or woman, boy or girl. This is sad, as the foundation of the Finnish legislation and civilization lie in Christianity. In these questions we are at the core of unalienable truths. God created man in His own image – therefore human life is sacred and worthy of protection from the beginning to the end and meant to bring glory to God. Our legislation may change, but the laws of nature do not change, nor does the Word of God. As a Christian, I believe it is always the right time to speak about the truths of the Word of God.

I have emphasized that my purpose was in no way to insult sexual minorities. My criticism was aimed to the leadership of the church. As a Christian, I think that if someone expresses an opinion that is against my faith or my conscience, it does not mean that I have been threatened, defamed or insulted the way the Criminal Code means it. As we are living in a democratic country, we must be able to disagree and express our disagreement. We have to be able to cope with speech that we feel insults our feelings. Many questions are so debatable and contradictory that we have to have the possibility of discussing. Otherwise the development is towards a totalitarian system, with only one correct view.


RD: What do the Finnish people think about this? Do they favor the government’s position, and if so, why?

PR: My tweet created a huge uproar and the police investigations have got a lot of attention. The current government of Finland is not involved with my cases in any way. The criminal complaints done against me have been done by Finnish citizens. The criminal investigations are conducted by the police. The judiciary, which is a completely separate body from the government, interprets and applies the law in Finland.

I am surprised that the investigations continue on these cases that have deeply to do with freedom of religion and free speech. I do not see I would have committed a crime, as I believe that many Finns still consider for example marriage as a contract between a man and a woman. The problem is that many of the conservative-minded people are silent about these issues, whereas the advocacy groups of sexual minorities are very aggressive and well organized, and have strongly affected the development of the church, the media and people’s minds. The media’s viewpoint is biased, and it tends continually to give more space and voice to liberal perspectives regarding these issues.

I have to say that I have had amazingly much support from Christians, both from Finland and from abroad, so there seems to be a lot of understanding towards the values I present.

It nevertheless seems that Finnish people are quite divided regarding these issues that have deeply to do with values, and the majority expresses quite liberal thoughts. Out current government is also liberal and the government has announced that an act on the legal recognition of gender based on self-determination will be enacted and the requirement of infertility will be removed from the act. This means that a person’s gender could be changed simply by one’s own application, based on the person’s experience of representing the other gender. I must say that as a medical doctor, Christian and parliamentarian, this kind of policy developments are bad and must not take place.

RD: Do you foresee persecution coming for Finland’s Christians?

PR: If expressing Bible-based views will become more intolerable and considered to have the constituent elements of agitation against an ethnic group, then spreading the Bible or offering access to it should logically be criminalized. Already at the moment it seems that especially the young people are afraid that if you are labelled as a Bible-believing Christian, it will hinder your career and social acceptance. In my opinion, it is specifically Christianity that is being attacked and will be attacked even more aggressively in the future. We are clearly living in a time when the core of the Christianity is being questioned.

A major threat for the freedom of religion is that we don’t exercise this right. These police investigations raise concerns about limiting our basic freedoms that have been guaranteed to all of us, also MPs, in our Constitution and International Human Right Treaties. We have to know our rights and use them!

I hope these criminal investigations won’t lead to self-censorship among Christians. I am worried that the police investigations might have a chilling effect among Christians. It seems that many Christians in my country are now hiding and going to the closet now that the LGBT community has come out to the public. I am concerned that in the future Christians will have a higher threshold at citing the Bible or presenting teachings based on the Bible. The more we keep silent about these controversial topical themes, the narrower the space for freedom of speech and religion gets.

RD: In the US, gay rights advocates years ago spoke of the necessity of “tolerance.” But we have found that once they gain power, many of them are extremely intolerant. I was just in Russia for 10 days. It is incredible to watch the faces of ordinary Russians when I tell them how far LGBT activism has gone in the US (for example, Drag Queen Story Hour, and Christians losing their jobs and businesses for opposing LGBT claims). What is happening in the West?

PR: I believe that ultimately the purpose of these attacks is to eliminate the Word of God and discard the Law of God. It is very problematic that expressing Christian beliefs is often seen as insulting in the West. For example, marriage between a man and a woman has become a concept that is understood as restrictive, even threatening. Concepts such as man and woman, father and mother, are dearly loved concepts, and as old as the history of humanity. The attempt to break down the gender system based on two different genders hurts especially children. It is unfortunate how uncritically the ideology of sexual diversity and LGBT activism has been supported and endorsed even by churches.

I believe that every person has the right to hear the whole truth of God’s Word, both the Gospel and the Law. Only people who recognize their sins need Jesus, the propitiation for our sins. We must have the courage to speak about the dangerous effects of LGBT activism. Debatable themes such as immoral sexual relations have to do with guilt. Guilt cannot be solved by denying it, but only by confessing it and receiving mercy and the message of forgiveness in Jesus’ sacrifice. It is impossible to think that classical Christian doctrine would become illegal in the West.

RD: What is coming next in your case?

PR: After the police have finished the criminal investigations, the police will send their decision to the Prosecutor General, who will decide on whether to raise charges or not. Depending on the decision of the Prosecutor General, the cases will be handled by district court. The court either disapproves or approves the charges. It is possible to apply to the higher courts if the defendant disagrees with the court’s decision.

Irrespective of the outcome of the criminal investigations, I am going to use my freedom of religion, which is strongly guaranteed both in our Constitution and in the International Human Right Treaties, and publicly speak about the teachings of God’s Holy Word in the future. I encourage others to do the same. We must not be intimidated. If the Prosecutor General raises charges against me, it is likely that this will be a process of several years.

In all this I have a completely calm mind. “…in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:11)

What’s happening to her in Finland is not merely about Finland. It’s about all of us. Remember her words: “The more we keep silent about these controversial topical themes, the narrower the space for freedom of speech and religion gets.” Silence means collaboration in your own eventual persecution. Notice too that the hostility to this Christian woman is also coming from within her own church, because she stands up for what the church claims to believe. She’s a prophet.

 

Interview at Evangelical Focus 

“The more Christians keep silent on controversial themes, the narrower the space for freedom of speech gets”
Joel Foster 11 September 2019

 

  1. You mentioned your concern that Christians who believe in the Bible will “censor” themselves and their beliefs. Why?

Freedom of religion is in principle strongly guaranteed and protected both in our Constitution and in the International Human Right Treaties. In practice, a major threat for the freedom of religion is that we don’t use this right. Many, especially the young people, are afraid that if you are labelled as a Bible-believing Christian, it will hinder your career and social acceptance.

  1. From an outsider perspective, it seems difficult to understand that in a historically Protestant country like Finland (with a Lutheran Church to which belong more than 60% of the citizens) a majority would react so strongly against politicians who quote the Bible and say they hold to a Christian worldview. What is the key we’re missing to understand where the Finnish society stands at this point?

We are living at a time when the effect of Christian culture to the society is narrowing. Although many Finns still belong to Christian churches and denominations, the basic teachings of the Christian faith are no longer views of the majority. The breaking of the Christian worldview is visible both in the societal discussions and in the decision making, whether we are thinking of pro-life issues and the protection of life both in the beginning and in the end of life, or views related to marriage. Having a traditional view of marriage has become a politically incorrect view in public discussions. However, many Finns do still understand and support the Christian worldview.

  1. You said you’re not afraid of the hate crime investigation. Have there been news since then? Do you think the prosecutor will dismiss the case?

The police have started an investigation about my tweet and told me that they are looking for a prosecutor for my case. Nothing new has happened after this. I do not think that my case would proceed to the prosecutor. Although I must admit that it came as a surprise for me that a police investigation even started. I have a completely calm mind about this. I am going to use my freedom to believe and to speak accordingly, whatever the outcome of this process may be.

  1. How strongly have agendas of external groups (LGBT, others…) put pressure to change the historic doctrines and teaching of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church?

The advocacy groups of sexual minorities have strongly and aggressively affected the development of the church. There is a movement inside the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland whose aim is to legalize church wedding for same-sex couples. So called rainbow masses have been organized in many churches, my own home church included. Also, homosexual couples have been blessed in the churches and some priests have also wedded gay couples.

I was shocked that the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, which I am a member of, announced its official affiliation to Helsinki lgbt Pride 2019. Our Church Act states that “All doctrine must be examined and evaluated according to God’s Holy Word”.  Pride events celebrate acts and relations that the Bible calls sinful and shameful. Based on these Scriptures, I asked in my tweet that led to the police investigation: “How can the church’s doctrinal foundation, the Bible, be compatible with the lifting up of shame and sin as a subject of pride?”

I even considered resigning from the church. As I prayed, I was convinced that now is the time to try to wake up the sleeping ones, not to jump out of a sinking boat. My purpose was in no way to insult sexual minorities. My criticism was aimed to the leadership of the church. Also, I believe that every person has the right to hear the whole truth of God’s Word, both the Gospel and the Law. Only people who recognize their sins need Jesus, the propitiation for our sins. Therefore, we also must have the courage to call homosexual relations sinful.

  1. On a personal level, what have you learnt in the last weeks? Are there any conclusions on this issue that you and your husband – a Lutheran pastor – have come to?

God can do good things through adversities. I have got amazingly much support from Christians both from Finland and from abroad. I see it as a wonderful privilege that so many are praying for me and my family. It is amazing that so many on the other side of the world are praying for Finland, my home country. I think this whole chain of events is part of my calling as a Christian influencer.

  1. Have you felt supported by other Finnish Christians since the case erupted? What has been the reaction of fellow members of your ‘Christian Democrats’ party?

Yes, I have got much support. Of course, there is criticism and when it comes from those near to me, it hurts the most.

  1. You have been outspoken in the media about the issue of LGBT identity and sexuality in the past. Being a Christian, is this the most difficult topic to talk about in the public arena right now?

The Christian view of man is currently attacked in many ways. Contradictions between worldviews and values are visible in the discussions about marriage, gender or values of life, for example. In these questions we are at the core of unalienable truths. God created man in His own image – this is why human life is sacred from the beginning to the end. God created us man and woman and instituted marriage between the two genders. The inner self of every human being, the natural moral understanding, understands this. The laws of nature do not change, nor does the Word of God. I have written books on abortion and euthanasia that provoked discussion. They will be translated into English.

  1. What would you recommend to young Christians who have a passion for faith and society and are keen to enter the public conversation in the media, politics, etc?

I encourage young people to speak about and proclaim the whole truth of the Word of God, both the Law and the Gospel. Trusting that the Bible is God’s Word is a solid foundation for the Gospel to bring forth new life and win hearts. Ultimately, questionable themes such as homosexual relations have to do with guilt. Guilt cannot be solved by denying it, but only by confessing it and receiving mercy and the message of forgiveness in Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins at the cross.

  1. Finally: Why should European societies protect freedom of speech in this time of polarised ideological debates?

The more we keep silent about difficult and controversial topical themes, the narrower the space for freedom of speech and religion gets.

 

Fox News, September 5 2019

Finnish politician under ‘hate crime investigation’ for sharing Bible verse on Facebook

Police are investigating a Christian politician in Finland for an alleged ”hate crime” because she shared a Bible verse on Facebook to criticize a national church that participated in LGBT Pride festivities.

In the post, congresswoman Päivi Räsänen, a Christian Democrat, criticized the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland for participating in the Helsinki LGBT Pride events in June. Her criticism was alongside a picture of Romans 1:24-27 that describes same-sex relationships as ”shameful.”

Her post made Räsänen the subject of a pretrial investigation by the Finnish Police for a suspected incitement against sexual and gender minorities.

“The pre-trial investigations have not yet been completed. Police will provide more details once the investigations have been completed or presented to a prosecutor for consideration of charges,” the Helsinki Police Department officer in charge of the investigation told the Helsinki Times.

Finnish Christian Democratic member of parliament and former Minister of the Interior, Päivi Räsänen.

Finnish Christian Democratic member of parliament and former Minister of the Interior, Päivi Räsänen. (Facebook: Päivi Räsänen)

Räsänen, who is a member of and is married to a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF), came under fire for her June Facebook post: ”How can the church’s doctrinal foundation, the Bible, be compatible with the lifting up of shame and sin as a subject of pride? #LGBT #HelsinkiPride2019.”

The vast majority, 69 percent, of Finns are members of the ELCF, which has had a steady decline over the last few years, according to Evangelical Focus.In mid-August, the Finnish politician tweeted: “I am not concerned on my part, as I trust this will not move on to the prosecutor. However, I am concerned if quoting the Bible is considered even ‘slightly’ illegal. I hope this won’t lead to self-censorship among Christians. Rom. 1:24–27.”

Räsänen’s minority party holds five seats in the 200-seat Finnish Parliament. She is known for her defense of traditional Christian views on abortion and marriage, but after being called ”homophobic,” the politician tweeted: ”It is not right to label Christian conviction as phobia.”

 

MALE AND FEMALE HE CREATED THEM – Homosexual relationships challenge the Christian concept of humanity

Päivi Räsänen

This booklet has been donated by:

LUTHERAN HERITAGE FOUNDATION

51484 Romeo Plank Road

Macomb, MI  48042

USA

lhfmissions.org

 

SUOMEN LUTHER-SÄÄTIÖ [LUTHER FOUNDATION FINLAND]

PL 127

00101 Helsinki

Finland

 

luthersaatio.com

This booklet was authored by Dr. (MD), MP Päivi Räsänen

original publisher:

Myllypaino, Leväsjoki 2004

 

INTRODUCTION

“My God is not a God of judgment.” “My Christian values mean love and tolerance, not judgment of people living in homosexual relationships.” “My God did not say that love had any conditions set on it.” “My Bible does not judge homosexuals.” The recent discussion on the Registered Partnership Act sparked confessions of faith such as these in Parliament as well as on the pages of the newspapers.

 

People today are thoroughly individualistic. They retain for themselves the right to set the boundary between right and wrong. They also wish to define for themselves what God is like. The Word of God must yield when people’s inner light speaks. If the Bible in some parts does not fit within the frames of their thinking, it is time such portions were cut out.

 

[Professor of Biblical Languages, University of Helsinki, first female University vice-Rector in Finland] Raija Sollamo became the key figure in the Yhteysliike [now: Ecumenical Solidarity Movement], an intra-Church advocacy group for homosexual relationships. In a seminar organised in Parliament by Seta [LGBTI Rights in Finland, Gender Diversity & Intersex Centre of Expertise], she admitted that the Bible does not contain any portions where the homosexual lifestyle might be approved of. In fact, Biblical ethics is irresistibly clear on this particular issue. Homosexual relationships are clearly considered against the sexuality that was created by God, not only in the Old Testament but even more powerfully in the New Testament. In the Solidarity Movement, these Biblical guidelines are regarded as void in this day and age.

 

Is, then, the essence of the Christian faith not love without any conditions? It certainly is. Yet God’s infinite love is not in conflict with the order of life created by Him. Quite the opposite! We do need mercy for the very reason that we have broken, transgressed, against the will of God.

 

Over the years, I, too, might have torn out many portions from my Bible if I had been authorised to build my own image or picture of God that suited my own sense of justice. I have noticed that this only reveals how limited and warped my understanding is. People who submit themselves to God’s guidance in the Bible are repeatedly amazed at how the very Bible teachings hardest to understand contain God’s deep wisdoms.

 

Self-made “gods” are nice things to have around until people actually start to need God. Then self-made gods are no help in the hour of need. The Bible became a precious treasure to me the day I became frightened of my own sinfulness and realised I was spiralling down to damnation on the basis of my own belief. I understood that if God existed He would reveal Himself and His will in the manner He had chosen. If I could not rely on the Bible as the Word of the Living God, I could not be certain of the atonement of my sins and my salvation.  How could I believe the most wonderful Biblical message of Jesus’ atoning death and His historic resurrection if I thought the Bible is full of messages totally inappropriate to our day and age? And in general, where would I need a crucified and resurrected Lord if God is not a God of judgment, Who in His holiness does not accept sin?

 

“My god” has become the idol of today. How different is God, Whom Jesus taught us to pray to. “Our Father in heaven!” It is not a coincidence that we pray to Him in the we-format. God is for the entire congregation—our God. He is not the god of my imagination, the god of my superior sense of justice and of my wishes, but He is the living, Holy, Almighty God, Who is in heaven.

 

  1. IMPACTS ON SOCIETY

 

 CHANGE IN VALUES REFLECTED IN LEGISLATURE

 

We live at a phase in history in which the influence of Christian culture upon society is diminishing. As society becomes pluralistic, we are ever more frequently caught up in situations where seemingly similar goals actually mean the opposite of each other. That which is termed equality by some is considered sin by others. What is considered love by some, seems intolerance to others.

 

This tendency challenges Christians to think over what they base their ethical positions on and how they justify them. What standing does the Bible, God’s special revelation, have when societal statements are formed or when the boundaries between right and wrong are sought?

 

All ethical choices are founded upon some values and worldviews. No choice of policies is ethically neutral. On many issues regarding humanity and the family, we are at a juncture where we must choose either Christian core values or a trend which rejects them.

 

The further society disengages from Christian ethics, the greater becomes the necessity to examine the inferences of natural moral law by the special revelation, i.e. in the light of the Word of God. As a result of the Fall into sin, humanity has become morally corrupt, and therefore has a propensity to twist the natural moral law to fit its own selfish interests.

 

In December 1997, the Ministry of Justice (Finland) set a working group to clarify “the legislative measures necessary to revoke the injustices directed towards the cohabitation of same-sex partners.” The Report was delivered in May 1999. It proposed that same-sex couples should be given the possibility to register their partnerships. On the basis of this Report, the Government wrote a draft Act in December 2000. The Act on Registered Partnerships was approved in Parliament on 9 September 2001. There were 99 votes for the Act, 84 against. When the first homosexual couples registered their partnerships at Register Offices, the television cameras and press were in attendance and the nation could follow the events. The new legislation brought registered homosexual couples, where applicable, the same rights and duties as married couples.

 

In actuality, the acceptance of homosexual partnerships meant a more profound change in values than was willingly acknowledged at the time. When the registered same-sex relationships were equated with marriage, a development was started which was difficult to halt. During the processing of this Act, it was affirmed to the Church, and to Christians concerned about the consequences, that the Church could retain its own values and views on homosexuality. Shortly after the Act was passed, a warning was issued to the Church about discriminating against its employees who intended to form homosexual partnerships. This was based on their fundamental rights against discrimination.

 

Several Members of Parliament approved homosexual partnerships on the condition that the new form of the family would not involve children. Nonetheless, the Government stipulated via a joint motion that legislation concerning the adoption rights of homosexual couples be prepared. The Government undertook the preparation of a proposal for fertilisation treatments for lesbian couples. The possibility of registering relationships was an interim objective for those advocating for homosexual rights.

 

THE ESSENCE OF MARRIAGE

 

A change in the foundations of the family is not a socially insignificant issue. The change does not only affect a few couples, but profoundly affects society as a whole. In fact, it is difficult to come up with a social undertaking that strikes as much at the heart of the foundations of society as does the same-sex partnership. Therefore, the legislative reform aroused exceptionally strong feelings both for and against.

 

Marriage is the oldest contract in human history. It remains the most important legal contract in society. By its very essence and by the order of creation, marriage is a union between an adult man and an adult woman. Heterosexual marriage comprises the richness and the core of sexuality—the tension arising from the difference between a man and a woman, and the theoretical possibility of having children together. These are lacking in homosexual relationships and other sexual anomalies.

 

Due to its unique purposes, marriage is to have a special status in society. Unfortunately, the Bishops’ Conference did not issue its own statement. The statement issued by the national Church Board on the proposed Act stated: “The Church Board holds that when marriage is given a preferential position it supports a balanced life and the overall interests of society. Marriage between a man and a woman is the basic model and the major channel for sexual relationships, and on that basis the continuity of society is possible. The family unit based on marriage is the basic institution upholding the human race, the support of which is necessary and beneficial for the common good.” The philosophical premise of the [Government’s] proposed Act was quite different. It was seen as a disadvantage that “same-sex couples are completely excluded from the ordinances on marriage and spouses.”

 

The Church Board statement emphasised that legislation regulating the status of joint households should not be developed on the basis of a particular sexual anomaly. If there were a desire to clarify problems such as the dissolution of cohabitation, this legislation should also apply to joint households comprising siblings or friends. In these cases, cohabitation would not be based on sexual relationships.

 

BREAKDOWN OF FAMILY VALUES

 

Marriage and family law is never value neutral. It is strongly linked to the social values on which we desire to base society. For example, we do not accept polygamy, the marriage of close relatives, child marriages—all because of our values.

 

The family (mother and father) is the most important unit in our society, and marriage is per se the most secure model for family life. The well-being of families determines the well-being of society. Family happiness is also accompanied by the responsible sexuality of adults. In the last few decades, Western society has undergone a major breakdown in sexual ethics. For its part, sexual freedom has contributed to a decline in the commitment to couples relationships. Children in particular have become the victims of this.

 

The legislation regarding marriage is not meant to place a seal of affection on marriage and give a guarantee of love, but it is for the protection of the continuity of society. Marriage is a family support network whose primary purpose is to provide children with a stable mental home and lasting human relationships. In practice, it is true that family crises have already weakened the marital institution as the foundation of our society. However, the well-being of families is not improved by further weakening the status of marriage.

 

Changing the concept of the family to include same-sex couples also means breaking away from the Christian roots of the concept of the family in the marriage, a foundation that is read aloud in the wedding ceremony: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” On this basis, it is impossible to reconcile the relationship between two men or two women.

 

Other Nordic countries have for many years experienced the impact of registered same-sex partnerships on society. When speaking about homosexual relationships, the terminology previously belonging only to marriage has been introduced, the examples of which are weddings, wedding ceremonies or marriage partners. The change in the concept of the family is reflected in family education in schools, which teaches that one can marry a person of different or the same sex at the age of majority. Homosexual couples have been blessed in churches. In Denmark and Sweden, work is underway to expand the legislation and guidance on homosexual couples’ adoption rights, infertility treatments and church weddings.

 

I consider it entirely possible that homosexuality can increase when it is legislatively favoured by equating it with heterosexual marriage. It is strange to claim that the surrounding culture has no impact on the prevalence of homosexuality. For example, in classical Greek-Roman culture, pederasty, or man-boy love, as well as homosexuality were common phenomena. The homosexuality of men was widely accepted, and it also occurred widely. Of course, homosexuality is present even in cultures that are anti-homosexual. Nonetheless, it is unfounded to claim that its prevalence is a constant, independent of the surrounding culture.

 

ATTITUDINAL EDUCATION OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE

 

The equation of same-sex partnerships to marriage brings about new challenges in the rearing of children. Both via family education in schools and through the media, children are presented a message of diversified sexuality. Homosexuality and lesbianism are normalised. When they watch homosexual weddings on TV, even small children understand that in adulthood it is possible to marry people of the opposite or the same sex.

 

The above may increase confusion especially among preteens whose sexual identity is often still uncertain but whose sexual experimentation does start early. In 1991, a study of over 34,000 students indicated that 25.9% of 12-year-olds were uncertain about their sexual identity. Only 5% of 18-year-olds were unsure. At the latter age only one out of 100 described himself/herself as being homosexual or bisexual. The overwhelming majority of those previously uncertain in their sexual identity developed into heterosexuals. According to the study, the earlier a young person has homosexual experiences, the harder it is to get rid of this inclination.

 

The level of sex education for preteens and young people is exceptionally weak at the moment. Both the information in media and at school lack the values of marriage, fidelity and commitment. The concept of sexual responsibility is limited to remembering to use condoms. One guidebook intended for school children summarises the message: “One does not have to be in love to have sex. Sex can be enjoyed without any particular commitments. A hot romance may be ignited, climaxed and cooled down in half an hour.” (Kumisutra [a play on the words “kumi / rubber” and “kamasutra”]) The collapse of sexual values has created pressure on young people to engage in early sexual experimentation by which they measure their own normality.

 

It is an especially dangerous combination when the present-day valueless, superficial sex education, which encourages sexual experimentation, is connected with an overall acceptance of homosexual relationships. If this shallow sexual value basis is coupled with the message that society finds it equally desirable to have people in due time marry either the opposite sex or the same sex, this clearly encourages early homosexual experimentation as well. This in turn opens up the venue for sexual abuse in which adult men find it easier to have sexual contacts with underage boys.

 

BORN HOMOSEXUAL?

 

Frequently, the groups advocating for homosexual “rights” ask: What does it matter that there is this change in values in society? Even if homosexual relationships might threaten marriages, what bad could come from it? What difference does it make if people act out their homosexuality?

 

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.

 

Justification for registered homosexual partnerships was made by arguing that homosexuality might be an inborn and unchanging quality. A Finnish MP, a spokesperson advocating for homosexual relationships, even presented the concept that all of us have within us the two sides of sexual orientation, one of which is more or less predominant.

 

Medical studies have obtained no proof for the claims that homosexuality is genetic, hereditary or inborn. Without any exception, talks of the discovery of homosexual genes have proved false. On the other hand, it is true that people seldom consciously decide to become homosexual. A sexually anomalous emotional life is infrequently a deliberate state, chosen or caused by the people themselves. Underlying factors may be found in disorders of psycho-social development in early childhood or puberty. To mention one example, among children who have been sexually abused, the risk of developing homosexuality is higher than among the general population.

 

The inclination to homosexuality as such is not a characteristic comparable to mental health issues or physical ailments. Instead, the scientific material unequivocally proves that homosexuality is a disorder of psycho-sexual development. Those who claim that homosexuality is a natural “healthy” variety of sexuality nullify the evidentiary value found in family background studies for political reasons. Due to pressure from homosexual activists, political objectives have overridden scientific facts.

 

A change in sexual orientation is also possible. A considerable number of lesbians have previously lived in heterosexual relationships. Ms Paula Kuosmanen, a lesbian activist, in her article “Lesboäidit ja lapset=lesboperhe? [Lesbian mothers and children=lesbian family?]” states: “In Finland the most typical form of lesbian family is a blended family where the biological mother of the children had her children in a traditional heterosexual relationship and only later formed a blended family with another lesbian.” If inclinations can change from heterosexuality to homosexuality, why could it not change in the opposite direction as well? The reintegration of the sexual identity toward a normative heterosexual emotional life is possible when people themselves are motivated and willing to be treated.

 

Seta, a Finnish organisation with an agenda for the equality of sexual minorities, does not represent all those who feel they are homosexual. Some of them personally find that Seta ideology is very strange. Many homosexuals have found support and encouragement in sexual identity reintegration through pastoral counselling and therapy.

 

RIGHT OF HOMOSEXUALS TO LOVE?

 

Don’t homosexuals have the right to love? Don’t we trust their ability to love? Most assuredly, homosexuals are as capable of loving as are heterosexuals. Love for our fellow human beings should belong to all of our relationships, both among the opposite and the same sexes. Men can love men and women can love women.

 

In a homosexual relationship or in a marriage, the issue at stake is not just about the love for our neighbour but also about a sexual relationship. In a healthy human life, sex is not a part of just any human relationship. Love is not to be equated to falling in love. The concept of erotic love means that people sexualise what is foreign to their own identity, “other than me”. Early on, the development of homosexuals often exhibits a strangeness to their own sex, whereupon they seek to find the mystery of the gender that seems strange to them in another person of the same sex.

 

FREEDOM OF AN INDIVIDUAL VS. SOCIETY

 

Since homosexual couples nonetheless exist, should legislation not adapt itself to new phenomena? In public discussions some advocates of homosexual relationships appealed to the fact that Parliament could not stipulate what types of families were formed in everyday life. While they claimed that homosexual relationships were simply each individual’s private business, they also wanted these relationships to be given legal support.

 

I am also of the opinion that legislation is not to be overly involved in people’s private lives. An important function of legislation is, however, to steer societal life in such a direction that is considered right and good. Despite the early onset of sexual relationships and living-together arrangements among young people, no conclusion has been reached that marriage ought to be allowed for minors. Even in this day of multiple relationships, polygamy is not considered appropriate.

 

Marriage and the registered partnerships comparable to it are public institutions affecting all of society. The legislation on registered partnerships was desired for the very reason that homosexual relationships would not remain mere private matters but through public and legal agreement would also receive societal acceptance. In an article published in Helsingin Sanomat [the leading newspaper in Finland], Ulf Månsson, a homosexual activist, summarised this thought: “Registering partnerships signifies a great deal more than economic commitment. Above all, it means societal acceptance and attitudinal formation.” The objective of the Act on Registered Partnerships is to affect societal attitudes so that homosexual orientation would be acknowledged, in its fulfilment of sexuality, as equal to heterosexuality. In this manner, there is an attempt to remove the environmentally caused attitudes of guilt as well as the guilt linked to homosexual relationships themselves.

 

HETEROGENEOUS HOMOSEXUAL CULTURE

 

Seta, the organisation advocating for the equality of sexual minorities, represents, apart from homosexuals, a large spectrum of other sexual anomalies, such as bisexuals. It is to be noted that homosexual culture is a part of the spectrum of sexual anomalies and is in itself multifaceted.

 

In the practice of homosexuality, two main lines of behaviour can be discerned: casual sex within the homosexual community and permanent partnerships. Casual sex and living-together arrangements were legalised with the change of the Criminal Code in 1971, then with the registration of partnerships in 2002. The most common patterns in the homosexual community are casual sex and changing partnerships. It can be claimed that this is a consequence of the discrimination against homosexuals long prevalent in Western culture. I personally see that this also proves something about the brokenness of homosexuals. This brokenness cannot necessarily be seen by the persons themselves, or they do not wish to acknowledge it. This brokenness does apply to all people. For instance, when satisfying their immediate needs, people involved in extramarital affairs or those who are workaholics do not often acknowledge the fact that they are doing harm to themselves and others, at least under the values prevailing in our time.

 

For heterosexuals, casual sex and living-together arrangements reflect a fear of commitment and responsibility. The registration of homosexual relationships has been pursued with the thought of the stability of partnerships: It would be better to encourage homosexuals to commit themselves to relationships. A good goal has been pursued for the wrong matter. Commitment is an important thing in human life, but practising homosexuality, even in a stable registered partnership, is also harmful to the person involved, to the partner, and perhaps to people close to them.

 

HOMOSEXUAL PARTNERSHIPS AN ISSUE OF HUMAN RIGHTS?

 

The registration of homosexual partnerships is a question of values, not a question of human rights. From a human rights perspective, every human being is treated as a citizen with equal rights, irrespective of sexual orientation. A human rights perspective does not presuppose same-sex marriages. Our fundamental rights quite correctly prohibit discrimination against people based, inter alia, on sexual inclination, but this does not require the elevation of anomalous relationships to the status of marriage. Our Constitution also prohibits discrimination on the basis of religious convictions, but it does not require the marriage law to be changed to allow for polygamy, even if, for example, the Islamic minority insists on it, appealing to their human rights or their private standards of sexual ethics.

 

According to the Christian concept of humanity, everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, is equal and of equal value. However, equality between people does not mean equality in sexual behaviour. Different ways of carrying out sexuality are by no means morally equivalent.

 

ADOPTION RIGHTS FOR HOMOSEXUAL COUPLES?

 

When homosexual couples relationships are equated to marriage, this inevitably alters the concept of the family from the viewpoint of parenthood. Proposals are being prepared on the rights of same-sex couples to adopt children or receive infertility treatment. A mother and a father as a child’s parents would be replaced by two lesbian mothers or two homosexual fathers. For lesbian couples or for single women, infertility is not a disease, but a natural condition. To allow medical assistance for infertility in these situations is not justified. We should not artificially create scenarios where a child ends up missing a father. Unfortunately, the number of children suffering from the absence of a father is already overly common in our society.

 

Every human being born on this planet, other than one blessed exception, is born of a biological father and mother (Jesus was born; Adam and Eve were created). There is no known situation in the history of humankind where two women or two men were capable of reproduction. Thus, nature does not accidentally produce a child with two mothers or two fathers. Gender-neutral parenting is no substitute for the motherhood and fatherhood that is in accord with the order of creation.

 

Having children is not ultimately a human right for a woman or a man, but children should have the right to both parents, a mother and a father, in their daily lives. The sole significance of the father must not be reduced to simply acting as a sperm donor. This is a strange signal at a time when fathers are otherwise being encouraged to take responsibility for their offspring. If fathers do not add any value to the care and rearing of children, on what grounds then are they to be called to account for their families? Studies show that fathers who are present improve their daughters’ academic success and prevent depression, as well as increase their sons’ socialisation and prevent aggression.

 

Throughout history, legislation has been aimed at protecting children’s rights to fathers whenever possible. Recently, it has even been considered whether, in principle, children could be judicially completely fatherless, so that they each might have two mothers; and biological fathers who would simply remain in the role of sperm donors.

 

However, lived life demonstrates that fatherlessness is a tragedy even in our time. Perhaps the most heart-rendering story about this came from a woman over 80 years of age who still continues to fight to be recognised as the daughter of a man who died over 50 years ago. In her case, this is not about an inheritance or money. But the greatest wish of her life would be to be allowed to call this man, dead for half a century, her father.

 

  1. THE BIBLE AND THE CHURCH

 

LEGISLATIVE CHANGE AND THE EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH OF FINLAND

 

Within the Church, a clash has occurred between societal law and Biblical principles. Which one should it obey: the Constitution of the Republic or the Bible, the supreme guideline of Church doctrine? Even before the approval of the Act on Registered Partnerships, it became evident that after the Act came into force, there would be pressure focused upon the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland for the approval of homosexual relationships. Many MPs who sided with the acceptance of the Act on Registered Partnerships gave their assurance that the Church would continue to have the right to adhere to the Biblical teaching on the family, even in relation to homosexuality. However, the struggle within the Church was already underway. The small, but very aggressively campaigning Yhteysliike [now: Ecumenical Solidarity Movement] demanded that Church employees should gain approval for their homosexual relationships. A proposal for an agenda for blessing for homosexual couples was submitted to the General Synod of the Church. Immediately after the Act was approved, some bishops instructed Church pastors to refrain from blessing homosexual partnerships and the homes of same-sex couples.

 

Article 18 of the Finnish Constitution requires that no one shall be dismissed from work without legal justification. If the Church wants to restrict fundamental rights, the restrictions must be recorded in the Church Act. For this reason, for example, the Church Act contains a statute requiring Church staff and officeholders to be members of the Church. Otherwise, the dismissal of a verger who converted to Islam or an office worker who had left the membership of the Church would be unconstitutional. It could be interpreted that the Church had violated the religious freedom of its own employees, granted to them by their fundamental rights.

 

Given the constitutional protection of the right to a family, how could the Church require its own employees to refrain from homosexual partnerships, a form of marriage as defined by law? In consideration of the event of possible litigation, the Church should impose a restriction on same-sex partnerships in the Church Act. However, it is difficult for the Church to remain true to its own values in a society that has placed values alien to itself as normative. The leadership of the Church faces a difficult choice. As recently as autumn 2003, the General Synod of the Church had left this issue unresolved, awaiting the passage of time.

 

THE WORDS OF CHRIST AND HOMOSEXUALS

 

The leadership of the Church has deliberated over whether there are sufficient or clear grounds in the Bible to take a stand on homosexuality. It has been said that if we knew what Jesus would say about homosexuality, we would follow it “in a hurry”.

 

There are passages in both the Old and New Testaments that deal with the practice of homosexuality. In each passage it is clearly against the will of God. In Genesis 19:1-11 the men of Sodom wanted to have sex with the men who came into Lot’s home, men who were angels. The situation was threatening and violent, and all parties involved know that this was an evil deed (the men of the city said to Lot in verse 9, “We’ll treat you worse than them”).

 

The Mosaic Law explicitly prohibits the practice of homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22): “Do not lie with a man as with a woman; for it is an abomination.” The sentence was severe (Leviticus 20:13): “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death…

In none of His speeches did Jesus nullify the Old Testament Law, not in regard to the practice of homosexuality either. In questions regarding sexuality, for example in the encounter between Jesus and the woman who was caught committing adultery (John 8), He did not nullify the Law concerning adultery (“Go now and leave your life of sin”). Jesus did not nullify the punishment—because He Himself suffered the punishment of the woman on the cross (“Neither do I condemn you…”). Thus, Jesus offers salvation to each of us because we have all transgressed against the will of God (“Let any one of you who is without sin…”). Jesus did not abolish the Law, but He fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17,18). He was sinless, and He died for our sins.

The entire Bible is ultimately the Words of Christ. His teachings are not only the Gospels, but also, for example, the Letter of the Apostle Paul to the Church of Rome. The Apostle Paul considers homosexuality to be contrary to God’s order of creation (Romans 1:24-32):

 “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

“Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

 

The Apostle Paul regards the occurrence of homosexuality and its overall acceptance as a consequence of people having abandoned reverence for God. Homosexuality was a prominent and widely accepted phenomenon in Rome where Paul wrote his letter. Finally, the apostle was astonished at those who knew God’s righteous decree, and nonetheless continued committing acts against the order of creation and the will of God, or “also approve of those who practice them.”

 

The Apostle Paul indicates that the general revelation is already sufficient to prove the fallen state of humanity before God. According to Paul, homosexual relationships are a clear example of behaviour which is contrary to the order of creation. If our understanding of the general sense of justice was not distorted by sin, we would by nature be able to perceive homosexuality as unnatural, even if we had not even heard about the Bible. In the light of the special revelation, i.e. the Word of God, there should be nothing unclear regarding homosexuality. Paul refers to “God’s righteous decree”, according to which “those who do such things deserve death.”

 

In another passage, Paul writes again (1 Corinthians 6:9,10): “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

 

In their interpretations of the Bible, some bishops have appealed to the understanding that a great deal more is known of homosexuality today than was at the time the Bible was written. This is true:  We do know that it is a disorder of psycho-sexual development. On the one hand, underlying alcoholism there has been found genetic susceptibility, harmful environmental factors and behavioural patterns; on the other hand, the inclination to criminality has a connection to attention deficit disorders. Should criminality be allowed if a person has a compelling inclination towards it? Then, if homosexuality is a developmental disorder, people are not to be encouraged to practise it.

 

WHAT TYPE OF PRACTICE OF HOMOSEXUALITY DOES THE BIBLE MEAN?

 

At times we hear it claimed that the Bible would only forbid homosexual relationships wherein one male partner is subjected to and abused by the other. This is done in an attempt to prove that there was no other kind of homosexuality in the Bible or that the Bible accepted all relationships which were based on love and mutual respect.

 

No grounds can, however, be found in the Bible texts themselves. For instance, the above-mentioned Romans 1:26-27 states: “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

 

This text speaks about both men and women who in an equal manner (“lust for one another”) were inflamed with lust for same-sex persons and carry out their lust. It is important to note that women are actually discussed in the above Bible extract as well.

 

During Antiquity, apart from the submissive sexual relationships between men, there were also same-sex non-submissive relationships involving men or women. The Letter to the Romans considered these an expression of ungodliness against the order of creation. In ancient Greece, love between men existed, both spiritual and physical. For example, according to Plato, the only true love was love between men. Love between a man and a woman did not rise to this level, because a woman was somewhere between a man and an animal in her mental capacities. Therefore, according to Plato, love between a man and a woman was only carnal, meant to satisfy a man’s needs and for procreation. The spectrum of homosexual love seems to have been as vast as in the Western culture of today. Why would the Apostle Paul have only meant submissive homosexual relationships when he does not mention anything which refers to submission?

 

NATURAL OR UNNATURAL?

 

At times, homosexuality is justified on the basis of Mother Nature, for example, as either natural or unnatural. The advocates of free sex typically take as their model the nature of the human animal, and perhaps also that of species mating with several spouses. The justification for accepting homosexuality is that it also occurs in the animal kingdom.

 

According to the Bible, we are the image of God on the basis of creation. We have a special position in creation. We are responsible for our actions before God, and unlike animals, we can control our desires. Thus, we must not be driven by our animal desires. On the other hand, we live in a world created by God and everything God created is good. He also created sexual pleasure as a rich fabric in the life of a man and a woman. In a responsible marital relationship between a woman and a man, within the framework intended by God, sex is natural.

 

The reality of the Fall means that God’s creation work is corrupted in many ways. We no longer live in a perfect and sinless Paradise. The sexuality created by God is also distorted. On the basis of the occurrence of homosexuality in humanity, we cannot draw the conclusion that homosexuality as such was created by God.

THE GOSPEL AND GRACE BELONG TO ALL

 

In the controversial Ecce Homo photo exhibition, Jesus was portrayed with homosexuals in modern events. The message of the exhibition was that the love of God also applies to people living as homosexuals. True, God loves all sinners. But this does not negate God’s desire to save people from sin.

 

The approval of homosexual partnerships is often insisted upon by making an appeal to the love for one’s neighbour. Thus, Biblical guidelines are considered significant only to the extent that following them would fulfil the principle of neighbourly love. However, this neighbourly love also includes giving a warning to people about actions harmful to themselves. Loving neighbours warn their friends against walking out on thin ice just in the same manner as cautioning against homosexual acts.

 

Paul equates the commission of sin and the approval of sin in strikingly similar terms of condemnation (Romans 1:32). The Church is in great peril where it is tempted to demonstrate its approval of homosexual relationships. Blessing same-sex relationships or allowing its employees to practise homosexuality would already be a clear signal that the Church accepts these relationships. At the same time, the Church would lose its ability to extend the message of the Law and the Gospel to homosexuals. God loves homosexuals so much that He also wants to draw them through the Word of the Law to Christ and to be partakers of the Gospel.

 

The early church did not adapt to the social values of its time. The mission of the Church is to tell Finns how the Word of God regards the practice of homosexuality. The Church is guilty of discrimination against homosexuals if they are not allowed to hear the full truth of the Word of God, which includes both the Law and the Gospel. The Church’s mission is also to show by its example that God must be obeyed more than human beings. The Church is not guilty of discrimination if it dares to use the word sin, both in regard to homosexual and extramarital sexual relationships.

 

In congregations there needs to be more room and love for people who are hurt by homosexual emotional lives or other sexual anomalies. The message of grace belongs to all sinners and all broken people. There is no one in the world whose masculinity or femininity would be perfect and intact.

 

A CHALLENGE TO PRAYER

 

In Sweden, an Act came into force at the beginning of 2003 concerning the right to teach the portions of Scripture dealing with homosexuality. Those who disseminate statements alleging homosexuality to be a sin can be sentenced up to two years in prison for incitement against a group of people. If the offence were considered minor or if suspects agreed to withdraw their statements, they might get by with only fines or parole.

 

According to the interpretations of legal scholars, it would not yet be a crime to repeat the Bible texts as historical documents. Instead, the criminality is established if the pastors explain in their sermons that life today must also be lived according to the teachings of the Bible. The news concerning the neighbouring country must be taken seriously, because in many respects Finland seems to follow behind it—coming along sooner or later.

 

Are we going to see news of Swedish pastors being led from pulpits handcuffed to police interrogations? Shall we hear messages from congregations who are praying for their shepherds in prison? In fact, the worst thing will be if nothing changes in Sweden after the Act comes into force. What if the legislature is pleased to find that the Act has proved to be an unnecessary defence measure taken in emergency? After all, pastors have nothing to fear if even up to this point they have not taught that homosexual relationships are against the will of God.

Is such an Act ultimately the result of the Church’s voluntary abandonment of the Bible in many respects? If the credibility of the Word of God is denied at one point, that fundamentally means we focus doubt on God Himself. Therefore, it is impossible to sweep under the rug issues regarded as ”adiaphora” to salvation simply in order that the peaceful coexistence of parishioners would not be disturbed. If the Church does not adhere to clear passages from the Word of God on ethical issues, the core of the Gospel will eventually be threatened too.

 

The devil’s ultimate goal is to block the sinner’s way to Christ. The means to do this are as old as human history: “Did God really say… ?” By this question Eve was deceived—with horrendous consequences. Even then, the issue seemed rather adiaphoristic, after all, it was only about one tree from among the others.

 

In a message I received from Sweden, the writer wonders why Christians are silent. Why does no one call other people to prayer or fasting? What would we say today about the prophet Isaiah, who, at the command of God, walked about for three years barefoot and naked as a sign of how the exiles would be transported shamelessly with buttocks bared? We would still need a prophetic voice today. Personally, I hope the distress does not grow so great that the style and manner of Isaiah will be needed. But shepherds should dare to tackle the very themes that ask, “Did God really say… ?” May the messages of the Swedes act as an invitation to prayer—for ourselves and for the Swedes.

 

A FINAL WORD

 

A few months ago I received an email from a person wondering if I still considered the Biblical teaching on the family relevant. This person asked: “If the Bible so most unequivocally relates the facts, can you look me straight in the eye and claim that you believe the story of how the sea parted at the stroke of a magic wand, how Jesus fed an immense crowd of people with a few fish and a couple pieces of bread, etc.? If you in all seriousness believe these stories, how can you imagine that anyone would take you seriously? On the other hand, if you do not believe them but rather consider them symbolic examples of divine power, etc., then why does the Bible serve as a reference book on issues such as homosexuality?”

 

I replied to the enquirer that in my opinion the central claim of Christianity, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, is the Bible’s most unfathomable miracle. From a medical doctor’s point of view, this is the utmost impossibility. The dead cannot come back to life. If God performs such a miracle, why can He not perform other miracles? Jesus’ death and resurrection is the core of the entire Christian faith. On this the Bible stands or falls. If one does not believe in it, there is nothing left of Christianity. And yet again, if I believe this, it follows logically that I must believe everything else Christ teaches in the Bible through the Apostles and Prophets.

 

This trust in the Word of God and the joy and assurance of the Gospel go hand in hand. Some of the worst “killjoys” of our time are the teachings that undermine trust in the Bible as the Word of God. If God is not the Holy God who condemns sin as described in the Bible—including homosexual behaviour—why did the Son of God have to die? If we deny people the right to feel guilt for their sin, we also deprive them of the joy and assurance of the Gospel. The certainty of heaven rests on Christ’s assured atonement for our very real sins and on His resurrection from the dead.

 

The deterioration of marital morality is essentially related to the increase and spread of sexual anomalies. This received public understanding at a high ecclesiastical level in 1993. Shortly thereafter, in his book (SLEY-Kirjat), Asser Stenbäck, professor of psychiatry, published a timely reminder that sexual anomalies do not include the gift of creation, but are developmental disorders that can also be healed. “Life contrary to anatomy is unnatural.”

 

Päivi Räsänen has written this concise informational booklet on the issue. As a Member of Parliament, she explains the relevant social codes. As a physician, she sheds light on the phenomenon as a disorder of the human psyche and as something that obscures the status of the family. As a Christian, the author summaries the unequivocal teachings of the Bible, i.e. the will of God, on this issue.

 

Sexuality is God’s good and beautiful gift of creation. God has created us as man and woman. But when sexuality is torn away from the creative will of God, it becomes a destructive force. Sanctions against the practice of sexual anomalies have been removed from the Criminal Code. However, in the name of “tolerance”, the Church cannot accept as a behavioural model sexual anomaly, adultery, or fornication, even in the lives of its employees. Christ has suffered the punishment set by God for various sins in the Bible, and has removed them (John 8:1-11). With respect to this matter, the will of God continues to be in force. The love of God calls upon Christians to carry all their sins, including the sins of their sexual lives, in faith to Christ to be healed. Thus, by the Spirit of Christ, we put to death the misdeeds of the body  (Romans 8:13).  Rev. Eero Parvio

This booklet continues the Luther Foundation Finland’s series Aamutähti [Morning Star], which focuses on the basic issues of faith. The series is edited by Rev. Simo Kiviranta, ThLic, and Rev. Juhana Pohjola.

The Luther Foundation Finland

Morning Star

No. 29.

ISBN 952-5409-24-4 

 

 

The main themes for the municipal elections in 2017

Called to Care

Better elderly care
– Services for the elderly must be at a level that you don’t have to be afraid of aging.
We need genuine care and enough hands that take care.
– Burden of caregivers must be eased with days off and home help.
– Interaction between generations is important. Loneliness and insecurity must be decreased by peer support and support persons.
– We promote good palliative care at the end of life.

Families and children are the priority
– We want chield-friendly municipalities. Services for families must be increased to support parenthood and to help manage everyday life.
– Municipal subsidies for home care allowance and private day care allowance have to be maintained.
– We defend small groups sizes and enough staff in day care and schools. We keep the fees for Morning and Afternoon clubs reasonable.

Municipalities with entrepreneurs succeed
– Entrepreneurs must not be bullied. Services promoting the vitality of the region must come from one service point. Smooth license services and city planning equally to all areas.
– Local entrepreneurs must be paid attention to in municipal procurements. Let’s reform TE-services to promote work and to support local entreprises.
– Working must be profitable. We keep taxation reasonable and avoid increasing taxes and other levies.
– Let’s make muncipalities good employers. We invest in welfare at work.

We compete with the best education
– School performance must be improved. Finland succeeds with know-how.
– Every young person deserves the possibility to get education after the comprehensive school. Contact-teaching must be increased. Let’s put a stop to school bullying.
– Teaching must be developed by taking into account the regional business needs.
– Let’s play Suvivirsi. We cherish the Christian cultural heritage of Finland.

Healthy premises
– We want mould resistant municipalities. It’s sick to save from healthy premises.
– Supervision of building and construction has to be more effective and indoor air pollution avoided.

Social and health care services must be reformed
– We want a comprehensive service promise. Treatment must be available quickly and neighbourhood services accessible. Health inequalities have to be decreased.
– We invest more in basic health care services, we create smooth treatment pathways and increase preventive work. Freedom of choice must be expanded with vouchers.
– We invest in prevention in addiction treatment. There must be enough mental health care services available.
– Social and health care reform must not become a private cherry-picking automaton or a complex organization chart.

Welfare from sports
– Active schools to every municipality! Let’s increase the number of sport clubs. Every child deserves at least one hobby regardless of the family’s wealth.
– Municipalities and sport clubs could work together to promote health. Well cared for sport fields, recreation routes and walking and cycling routes make you want exercise.

Cosy environment, clean energy
– We take care of the environment. Let’s make the waters near us clean, the nature and parks cosy.
– We defend smooth and affordable public transport.
– We promote reusing, renewable energy and reducing waste.
– We need decentralized energy generation. We favour the possibility of residents to generate energy by themselves.

 

The main themes of Christian Democrats for the Parliamentary elections 2015

Courage to build future

We have the courage to defend families.

We want to create a family-friendly society. Services must be directed to families in need and to support parenting. The most important services have to be organized as neighbourhood services. Families must have the freedom to choose how child home care allowance is divided between parents. We cherish Christian family values and emphasize the significance of near communities.

Courage to promote growth

Investing in entrepreneurship promotes Finland’s growth.

 Work is the foundation for a healthy economy and well-being. Small and medium-sized enterprises create the majority of new jobs. We want to lower the threshold to start a business and to increase the opportunities especially for women entrepreneurs. Improving the flexibility of labour markets is the key to employment creation. We want to direct financial support and support to innovation to the small and medium-sized enterprises.

Courage to improve safety

We want a safer Finland for all.

 Safety is created by caring. No one is to be left alone. Preventing social exclusion is a top priority. To guarantee a safe old age, we promote senior citizens’ ability to function with adequate support, timely care and rehabilitation. We improve Finland’s security by strengthening the national defence forces’ ability to operate efficiently. The resources of the police and the judiciary have also to be taken care of. To ensure peace, we support co-operation on defence with the Nordic countries, the UN, NATO and the EU.

 

KD/ECPM seminar: Revealing the Benefits of the Family

Dear Christian Democrats, Dear friends

I am delighted to see many different nationalities represented here. Let us remember that a common mission in Europe unites us.

Home is a place of love. A state or a municipality cannot love, but the society can create circumstances, in which families, civil society and near-by communities have space, time and conditions to love. The vision for the future and the ideological focus of the Finnish Christian Democrats is to build communal Finland.

When our first child was born, I was encouraged by a surprising person. During that time I was reading Selected Works of Luther, and on my surprise he was, as a father, describing the feelings I had as a mother. He mirrored the calling of a family life against egocentric culture with the following words : “Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores, and on top of that care for my wife, provide for her, labour at my trade, take care of this and take care of that, do this and do that, endure this and endure that, and whatever else of bitterness and drudgery married life involves?”

But then he continues:
”What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels.”

The words of Luther are still topical. Family is the most important job and calling for parents. Finnish Christian Democrats highlight the wellbeing of families. This message has not become outdated but rather it is more topical than ever before. To us Christian Democrats, family politics is not of secondary interest; it is in the centre of political decision-making.

Dear friends,

In the parliamentary elections of 2011, the theme of the Christian Democrats’ election campaign was “home, religion and home country”. We work in the Government on the basis of these values. Due to financial difficulties, the Government has been forced to find savings and to consider how to increase economic growth, competitiveness and employment. Budget cuts are easily targeted towards families. For already the second time, the Christian Democrats managed to preserve child home care allowance. Its length and level remain the same. The financial support families get, for example child benefit, avoided cutting. The position of families even improves, since we get a new flexible care allowance, which makes the reconciliation of work and family life easier.

Child home care allowance is allowed to families with a child under age 3, when the child is taken care of at home. The most important reasons for this allowance are the child’s own benefit and the freedom of choice for families. In Finland, municipal day care is still favoured at the expense of home care. Compared to home care, municipal day care costs to the society at least two times more. Flexible care allowance means a lower threshold to re-enter work-life after parental leave and a greater freedom to choose where the child is taken care of. The basic idea of the allowance is that if a person with a child under age of 3 is working part-time, he or she is paid a graduated care allowance according to weekly working hours. In addition, in the future day care costs are more accurately determined according to day care hours.

The world economy is marked by instability. The Finnish Government has agreed on reducing the national debt by the end of the electoral term. This year the national debt increases by 7 and half million euros. By the end of the year the national debt will be more than 90 milliard euros. If the incurring of debt is not stopped, Finland will not anymore fulfil the requirement that total debt should be no more than 60% of GDP (gross domestic product).

The Government has agreed on adjusting the state budget by 5 and half milliard euros. At our last negotiations of central government spending limits, we agreed on adjusting a supplementary 0, 6 milliard euros. Fitch Ratings, the international rating agency, affirmed 2 May 2013 the long-term credit ratings of ’AAA’ for Finland. Fitch says Finland’s rating outlook is stable. The sustainability problem is, however, reality. The reason behind Finland’s sustainability deficit is that our demography centres on elder age classes. Boosting birth rates requires financial support to families and encouragement to families to get more babies. Successful family politics reinforces national economy, availability of work force and the competitiveness of our country for decades.

Dear friends

When families suffer, social and health care expenditure increases. One of the main security threats in our country is the social exclusion of youth. Perhaps we can say this is a common threat in Europe? Each socially excluded young person costs during his or hers lifetime 1,2 million euros to the society. Substance abusing and socially excluded young men keep the police and health care busy in addition to filling prisons. On top of this, they end up on a premature disability pension.

In 2011, over 1500 Finns under the age of 30 ended up on a premature disability pension. From the year 2006 to 2011, there has been a 42 per cent increase in the number of Finns who are on a premature disability pension because of depression. In resolving the sustainability deficit a special emphasis should be the prevention of premature disability pensions and social exclusion.

In the government negotiation two years ago, one of our party’s threshold questions was youth guarantee, which later became one of the spearhead projects of the Government. The youth guarantee offers everyone under the age of 25, as well as recent graduates under age of 30, an employment, a study place, a place in the on-the-job training or rehabilitation within three months after becoming unemployed. The Government has allocated 60 million euros in annual appropriations to the enforcement of this guarantee.
The Parliament will soon get a legislative proposal of the law on pupil welfare. According to the proposal, service guarantee would be included to the pupil welfare law. Pupils would be guaranteed the opportunity to discuss with a pupil welfare psychologist or curator within seven workdays. In urgent cases this opportunity should be arranged on the same day or on the following day. Pupil welfare enables to stop social exclusion development at an early stage.

During the recent years, several tragic family murders have occurred in Finland. A study commissioned by the ministerial working group on internal security revealed that the murderers had in most cases sought help from officials before committing the shocking crime. When parents seek help for problems related to relationships, mental health or substance abuse, the interest and status of the children should always be evaluated. The number of child custodies has continually risen in the recent years. In addition, an increasingly greater number of pupils get remedial education due to disturbance of conduct. School health care, child welfare clinics, domestic aid offered to families and low-threshold mental health services must be offered to families, in which the capability of the parents to take care of the children has weakened.
The objective of the Government is to make Finland the safest country in Europe by year 2015.
Substance abuse related crimes pose the most significant threat to the internal security of Finland. Approximately in 70 per cent of the homicides between adults both sides are drunk.
We aim to reduce alcohol consumption by increasing alcohol taxes, developing preventative welfare services for drug abusers and by limiting alcohol advertising.

Dear friends,

Christian Democrats have steadfastly worked to secure the position of marriage. From the beginning of the government negotiations, our starting point was that we cannot be in a government that would implement a gender-neutral Marriage Law or permit adoption to married same sex couples outside of family circles. If our party was not in the Government, the Government Programme would certainly have a section on the implementation of a gender-neutral marriage.

Finland has led the European divorce statistics for more than 20 years. Divorce has become a quick solution to relationship problems. According to a survey by the National Institute for Health and Welfare conducted in 2011, divorce affects negatively the relationships children have later in their lives. Those 30-year-old women and men, who had experienced their parents’ divorce under age of 16, were more frequently divorced or living in separation from their spouse.

European Christian Democracy acknowledges marriage as a relationship between woman and man and the children’s right to a good life, which also applies to unborn children. Marriage institution is the oldest and the most significant public and legal contract humankind has. Marital relationship is the only relationship established in the Creation. In a national survey of values and attitudes conducted by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA at 2010, 83 % of Finns considered family life as a very important factor to happiness. Only 4 % of Finns considered equally important high standard of living and wealth.

Dear Christian Democrats, dear friends

I wish you all courage, wisdom and God’s blessing in the valuable work you do to promote the Common Good. I hope you enjoy the seminar!

 

Speech at party´s 50 Years Jubilee

Ladies and gentlemen! Bishop of Helsinki Aimo T. Nikolainen asked one of the children in a Sunday school class who was the first person of the world. A little boy answered in a clear voice: ”Kekkonen!” The bishop corrected: “No, the first person was Adam.” To this the boy retorted: “Well, yes, if you count the foreigners.” It was a time when the name Kekkonen was a synonym of the word ‘president’.

Around that time I voted for the first time as an 18-year old in the presidential elections. I voted for the candidate of my current party, Raino Westerholm, because he had the courage to speak out about the human rights violations of our eastern neighbour, and at the same time about the freedom of speech and religion of our own country. The Christian League offered an alternative that did not seem stale political game and calculation, but genuine fiery ideology. The challenge of the Christian Democratic Party still remains to boldly defend important values even when the power elite want us to hush up.

Dear Christian Democrats!

Each one of us has a story of why we have joined the party, why we have supported and voted for it, why we work hard for the sake of this our political home. These are the stories that together make up the history of our party. You, my dear friends, are people, who value lasting values, the Christian Democratic ideals more than Gallup polls or high political offices or personal benefits. Today, with great respect and gratitude I think of those veterans of our party who have carried the torch through victories and defeats. On this occasion we enjoy of the presence of the honorary chairmen of our party. You have cleared the path that we now can walk with ease!

Human rights activist Martin Luther King who was murdered 40 years ago repeated in his legendary speech: “I have a dream!” His dream of equal sisterhood and brotherhood of the blacks and the whites changed the world more and faster than he probably even could dream. Today we are celebrating one dream coming true. The dream of a handful of people in a living room in Helsinki has grown into a significant force, a parliamentary party standing on its own two feet. Although in the past we have been forced to electoral pacts under an unfair election law, in the last parliamentary elections we gained all seven seats with our own ballots.

Christian values have influenced the surrounding society from the very beginning. In Rome I had a chance to see the catacombs where the persecuted church held its meetings and buried its dead. Along the dark corridors there were thousands of graves carved into the rock in several layers. I paid attention to the large number of very small graves in which only newborn babies could fit. The Romans’ style of family planning was to abandon newborn babies, which was especially the fate of female and disabled children. The early Christian Democrats gathered all the children, both living and the dead. They did not leave the dead babies’ bodies laying in the streets and river banks to be eaten by animals. The persecuted minority had the courage to realize their values. Western child protection work has its foundation in this Christian view of man, and European civilization, culture, legislation and the view on human rights are built on this foundation.

In Finland and in Europe, we are living a stage in history where the influence of the Christian culture on society is again getting weaker, we see it if we think of protection of human life or family legislation. The Christian Democratic parties rose from this transition of values.

The founders of the party were particularly concerned about the future of Christian up-bringing of children and youth. These challenges are astronomically greater today than they were 50 years ago. Our youth do not live in a value void but rather in a jungle of mutually conflicting values. The postmodern society does not recognize universal ethics. A young person has to define his own morals and shop here and there for ingredients to build his worldview.

The values expressed by the media, parents and the school can easily be called hypocritical – they say one thing but do another. Violence is objectionable but the media is full of violent entertainment. Young people are told that “life is the best drug”. Still, in the adult world celebrating is self-evidently associated with getting drunk. Human value is the basis of all declarations, but in reality life is destroyed, there is deception, abandoning and infidelity.

In spite of the cruel reality, the dream of a family, of love and a harmonious life is strong. These dreams show a glimpse of paradise. In a national survey of values and attitudes conducted by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA, 83% of Finns considered family life and its relationships, especially the sentiment of being loved as a very important contributing factor to happiness. Only 4% of Finns consider equally important the goals we usually talk about in politics: high standard of living, wealth and good income.

The Christian Democrats are bold enough to lift up the family and the defence of marriage as a political goal. We want to fulfil the place we have as a leading initiative-taking family party in Finland. For us, family policy is not only a campaign theme; it is a deeply ideological starting point for policy. The wellbeing and future of our nation is built in families.

The right to a conjugal relationship needs to be ensured also the elderly – in senior citizens’ services the married couples are too often separated and placed in different care units in long-term care. Spouses who have promised to live together till death do them part have to live in separation by municipal decision.

Christian Democracy offers a third way between the socialist government-centeredness and the market-liberalistic individualism. Right to ownership, entrepreneurship and honest work are the basis of a healthy economy, but the weak and defenceless need to be cared for. Christian Democracy combines respect for human value with communal responsibility and caring. Individual rights are not used to destroy life and the community.

Everywhere and in all stages of history man’s central need has been to be loved. The state can not love people, but the society can build the circumstances in which the citizens’ society, near-by communities and especially families have the space, the time and conditions to love and to be caring. That is why throughout their history, the Christian Democrats have battled for the wellbeing of families and homes as well as family caring. Home care subsidy was established on our initiative and we want to further develop and strengthen it.

Dear friends!

We are celebrating 50 years of history of our party, but we do not yearn for the past but look into the future. The Christian Democrats want to be a party of the future with a focus. The Finnish society is facing great challenges: population is getting older, economy is ever more global and at the same time we experience rapid changes in values that corrode the well-being of families and especially children.

The party has to live in the present and be able to answer the challenges of the future. Much has changed in 50 years. Finland is no longer a haven of homogeneous culture, and this gives us an impetus to be more firmly integrated into the international Christian Democratic movement. Christian Democracy is basically not a nationalistic movement, but a global ideology, although at the same time we emphasize that decisions should be made as close to the people as possible. This is why the Christian Democrats are to have a positive attitude towards international cooperation, whether it is development aid, crisis control, preventing climate change or securing human rights. The basic command for all global networking – go to all the world – applies also here.

Last autumn in Brussels, I met representatives of the Belorussian Christian Democrats in a meeting of citizens’ organisations and some Christian Democratic parties. The chairman of the party could not come to the meeting, because he was in prison like many opposition politicians. It is a disgrace that in Europe – less than 500 km from Finland – human rights, freedom of speech and religion can so glaringly be violated. Our party wants to express its strongest support to its sister party in Belorussia.

Our responsibility for protecting the environment and preventing climate change has become the number one theme in politics. Christian values emphasize our responsibility as stewards of creation and the virtue of moderation. We can not steal from the coming generations their rights to nature and wellbeing that belongs to them. That is why we also need to develop as a green value party.

On this year of our anniversary, I encourage us all to make an effort to cut a higher profile in local politics. People’s well-being and everyday life is not improved only in the parliament, but particularly locally, in the municipalities, near the people. A strong role in local politics suits our party very well, since one of the central pillars of Christian Democratic ideology is subsidiarity – making decisions near the people.

I am grateful to those brave Finns who in their day started channelling the fire of their Christian Democratic ideology into a political party. The founders of the party saw that in the old parties, the Christian values often remained decorations in their ceremonial speeches.

The foundation of society is the values it is built on. Often it is hard times that show how durable is the foundation on which our community is built. Reaching for quick economic rewards at the expense of humanity ends up costing us all a great deal. Sweeping aside the human value of those who are defenceless demoralizes the entire community. Indifference towards those who are poor results in insecurity even among those who are wealthy. Undervaluing the human rights of those who are weak, results in a loveless society. The corrosion of the foundations of the family threatens to collapse the entire future of society. In the face of these challenges, we want to be the ones who bring hope and build the future. We do not want to only repair damages but prevent them altogether. We want to build on rock, not sand.

Our party has a bright future; we have good possibilities to widen our support base and our impact on society. Our slogan “Human value is greater than market value” answers well to the Finns’ growing longing for spiritual and softer values. Our common dream is to build a community, in which everyone’s human value is respected, the weak are cared for, nature is preserved and work and entrepreneurship is valued. Christian Democracy is not needed as the brakes in the train of progress, but rather it is the headlights, and the one questioning the seemingly inevitable route. Our mission is to build a society with a conscience.

 

The Finnish Lutheran Mission, a seminar on 6 July 2013

Christians in a secular society

– The Christian view of man challenged

The parishes are selling churches! The cover of yesterday’s Iltalehti (a Finnish tabloid newspaper) told about the same development that we have in recent years seen in other European countries. Last summer I was a guest speaker at an event where the former Konnunsuo central prison was inaugurated for the use of asylum seeker’s reception center. This event touched me in a special way, because I have lived my childhood in that village and the ceremony was organized at my childhood home.

The church of the prison had been converted into a museum. The pulpit and the pews were in good condition and the church was otherwise unchanged, but the cross had been removed from the altar. The mark of the removed cross was distinguishable as a light surface against the background.

I was reminded of the church services in my childhood, when the prisoners and the personnel gathered together to hear the Word of God. The removed cross brought to my mind the powerful areas of the early Christian church, areas where the cityscape is today dominated by minarets instead of church towers – or those atheistic countries, where churches have been converted into swimming pools or theatres. That same development is now taking place in Europe and in Finland, as the attendance of worship services decreases and churches are sold due to financial difficulties.

In a little over 10 years, the faith of the Finns in basic Christian doctrines and beliefs has dramatically collapsed. According to a research by The Church Research Institute, in 1999 69 % of Finns believed in the resurrection of Jesus, while in 2011 only 36 % believed in it. In 1999 77 % of Finns believed Jesus is the Son of God, in 2011 41 %. The statement “Jesus comes back to judge the living and the dead” was in 1990 signed by 60 % of Finns, two years ago the number was 28 %. These numbers indicate that we must swim against the current even more. Although our church is still a majority church, the core doctrines and beliefs essential to the Christian faith are no longer embraced by the majority.

Churches and Christian organizations have had a much more profound impact on the stability, security and economy of society than what is usually thought. Child welfare, human dignity, appreciation of human rights, all legislation and the foundation of our civilization all have their roots in the Christian view of man. Honesty, high work ethics and respect for authorities are prerequisites for tax revenues, which enable the continuity of welfare. Well-balanced families, lasting marriages and responsible parenthood are prerequisites for a good development of children and young people.

At the moment both in Finland and Europe we are living at a stage of history where the pressure to stay away from the influence of Christian faith is strongly growing.

When Apostle Paul in his second letter to Timothy ( 2. Tim. 3:1-5) describes the perilous times of last days, his words are very suitable to our time also. People will be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.

The norms of sexual ethics and entertainment industry are based on hedonism and the culmination of hedonism is drug addiction, which eventually destroys young people’s lives. Pleasure-seeking has become one of the most popular idols of our time. One may even be ready to sacrifice one’s health and life in order to gain pleasure. Setting self-gratification as the highest value and the meaning of life will not, however, produce wellbeing, but tremendous ill-being to the society.

The basic message of hedonism is this: you must listen to your own feelings an act accordingly. Hedonism is especially devastating to families and marriages. The fact that at the moment more than half of the firstborns and 40 % of all the children are born outside marriages, mostly in cohabitation, describes the status of marriage. When 24 000 new marriages are conducted per year in our country, 14 000 marriages are dissolved in the same time.

Children and young people are the most efficient indicator of the consequences that values of the society have. Due to a value transition in the society, we are witnessing both in Finland and in Europe a situation, in which despite unparalleled economic well-being, we have mental ill-being at an unprecedented level. The need for children’s mental health services has increased, as has depression. Custodies and the need for child care outside the home are continually increasing. An expert at a committee said that in our present-day society, the wellbeing of a child is not so much threatened by the demands parents face at work-life, but by the hedonistic choices they make during free-time.

The sharp words of Luther are suitable for our time also:”And what would it avail if we possessed and performed all else, and become perfect saints, if we neglect that for which we chiefly live, namely, to care for the young? In my judgment there is no other outward offence that in the sight of God so heavily burdens the world, and deserves such chastisement, as the neglect to educate children.”

The battle between values is largely fought with language, by capturing the concepts like love, freedom and equality into new interpretations. Is it love to give up self-indulgence for the sake of another person or to follow own desires even when it means rejecting your spouse?

The foundation of the Christian view of man is found from the first pages of the Bible, from the Story of Creation. God created man in His own image and likeness, meaning that every single person has a unique and indispensable value and a right to life. This is also the foundation for the special value human life has and the holiness of human life among the other Creation. Secondly, God created man as male and female and instituted marriage, which is a firm foundation for civilization, for continuity of society and for renewal.

Thirdly, the Story of Creation describes our wretched reality, the Fall, which is a crucial part of the biblical view of man. We are living in a time in which the core of the Christian view of man is being questioned: the special value and holiness of human life, the status of marriage between woman and man and the reality of sin in human life. The view of man described in the Creation is present throughout the Bible and completely unfolds in the message of the Cross. God gave His own Son to die on the Cross because of our sins and because created in the image of God we are valuable.

When our fifth, youngest child was born and as our whole family was marveling the new family member, our 2-year-old daughter made a wish that mommy would next give birth to a cat. I answered that unfortunately that is not possible to mommy, to which she replied that perhaps daddy could then give birth to the cat.

It seems that this girl is not the only one whose view of man is blurred. According to the biblical description, a human being is not born by accident, but God creates him or her. Among the rest of the Creation, it is the human being who is made in the image of God. This makes human life holy and we must therefore treat human life with the greatest respect.

The value of life and the right to life is usually questioned when a human being is at the most vulnerable state, that is, in the beginning of life or at its end.

Abortion is a silenced taboo in Finland, a Pandora’s Box. The consequences of opening it up are feared. Abortion, however, touches a much greater amount of people than what is usually thought. Since the Abortion Act came into effect, over half a million aborts have been conducted. Currently 10 000 pregnancies are terminated per year, which makes over 30 per day. There are hundreds of thousands of women who have experienced abortion in their bodies, the same amount of men, tens of thousands of health care professionals who have been involved in conducting abortions and hundreds of decision-makers, who are responsible for enacting legislation.

The subject includes dodging accountability, but also silent grief and guilt. At my reception an 80-year-old woman heartbreakingly told how she had suffered from guilt since her youth. Doctors and nurses know what abortion is about and many conduct their work with a conscience torn into pieces.

The value of life is estimated in terms of money, when the costs of prenatal screening are compared to the living costs of people with disabilities. There are no cures offered to the deceases found, but instead ending a life that has already begun. Although the choice of the family is emphasized in fetal diagnostics, the organizing of screening program signals that people with disabilities are not fully welcome.

When permissive abortion law was pushed forward in our country, pro-abortion advocates used an argument that fetus was just a piece of tissue comparable to appendicitis. Women had to have the right to decide of their own bodies.

After the conception there is no decisive stage of fetal development at which the fetus could be considered to have reached the status of a human being. The first signs of developing central nervous system are seen in the beginning of the embryo’s third week of life and the heart starts to operate after one week, that is, long before abortion limits. 7-week-old embryonic central nervous system has been found to send impulses to the body. In the week eight, it has been possible to register the fetal EGG, or electroencephalogram.

An abortion-age child is not a numb piece of tissue, but an individual capable of feeling pain. The Animal Welfare Act provides better protection to animals than Abortion Act to unborn child. Animals may not be slaughtered in a painful manner, but it is not permitted to even discuss the painfulness of abortion.

Abortion is advocated by claiming that the fetus is not a human person, although starting from the conception it is biologically a human being. Criteria for personhood in these contexts are consciousness of oneself, realization of past and future and communication skills. These features describe typical human characteristics, but are arbitrary for conditions of personhood. Newborns or few months old babies, profoundly mentally handicapped or adults with dementia do not meet these criteria.

Finland and Sweden are the only Western European countries where health care professionals do not have a statutory right to refuse to conduct abortions or to give statements related to abortion due to personal conviction. It is untenable to defend the lack of freedom of conscience by claiming that freedom of conscience would undermine the realization of abortion rights. This has not happened in any other country.

The European Council called in 2010 that all member states must ensure medical personnel freedom of conscience to refuse to conduct abortion or euthanasia. Both the World and the Finnish medical association have required the same.

The question of when human life begins is serious also from the perspective of the Christian view of man, because the holiness of human life is based on the fact that every person is created in the image of God. The humanity of the Son of God did not begin when He was born in a manger in Bethlehem, but when He nine months earlier was conceived in the womb of Mary. If God saw that a tiny embryo was enough human for Him to take that form, how can we question the unborn child’s right to life?

Sifra and Pua were two brave Israeli women in midwifery practice in Egypt in the time of the birth of Moses. The king of Egypt tried to harness them in his plan to slay all Israeli baby boys. The midwives, however, feared God and let the boys stay alive.

We should not remain silent about abortion, but when discussing it we need, above all, message of grace and forgiveness extending even beyond the borders of death. Here Christians have the privilege to boldly present the Law and Gospel and simultaneously defend every person’s right to life, created in the image of God.

Almost 80 % of the Finnish people have expressed support to euthanasia. Would it now be order for the explanation of the fifth commandment? Euthanasia does not mean ending inefficient treatments, but ending the patient’s life, for example, with lethal injection.

Palliative care is more advanced than ever before in our history. Pain and anxiety can be controlled and a suffering patient can be sedated, put into sleep. Death cannot be viewed only from the perspective of individual’s choice. Death has very much a communal aspect. A suicide excruciatingly touches tens, even hundreds of people’s lives. The same applies to euthanasia, which is defended with an argument that people should have the right to decide their moment of death.

During my medical education I encountered an elderly person, who told that after she was paralyzed, she got depression and asked from the doctor: “What use are we frail, elderly people to anyone? We should die.” She got an answer: “You perform the greatest task in the society, for you teach us what it means to love your neighbor.” I understood the message. Our neighbors who are dependent of care can in their helplessness bring up those values of our community that in the end are the key factors for prosperity. A society that is build up on the values of loving your neighbor, appreciating human dignity and mutual care will make it through hard times. History shows that a society disregarding these values collapses – think of the Nazi-dominated Germany.

Euthanasia Law would signal that the lives of disabled and sick people are of no value. In Holland the most significant reason to require euthanasia is not pain but loneliness and fear of dependency. A wish to die often includes the question: “Am I useless?” This question must not be answered with lethal injection but with affection and high-quality palliative care.

Demands for euthanasia are the fruit of our times’ value transition. Superficial pleasure-seeking culture drives people to escape the finiteness of life to death. If the purpose of life is defined by self-gratification, the limitations that an illness or a disability brings seem to destroy the meaningfulness of life altogether. It is difficult for us moderns to accept that weakness and suffering are part of life.

“If God is dead, then all is permitted”. This is how writer Dostojevski expressed the connection between moral and relationship with God. True ethics, which distinguishes right from wrong, comes from person being responsible for his or hers actions before an authority higher than human, before Creator. If God does not exist, then man determines and is the measure of moral. Ethics becomes relative and it varies according to the situation. Who can then ultimately decide whether ending another person’s life is wrong, with regard to, for instance, terrorist-attacks, ethnic purifications or abortion?

A logical conclusion deriving from this thinking is that among the animal kingdom man does not have any special moral status and value. Thus the value of a person’s life would mainly be determined by how high-quality and advanced life he or she leads and how much he or she is of value to other people.

In “Animal Liberation”, a best-seller known as the bible of animal activists by Peter Singer, it is stated: “There will surely be some nonhuman animals whose life, by any standard, are more valuable than the lives of some humans. A chimpanzee, a dog or pig, for instance, will have a higher degree of self-awareness than a severely retarded infant or someone in a state of senility.”

From these thoughts Singer finds moral legitimacy for killing newborn children with disabilities, for abortions and for euthanasia, that is, for killing lives he considers less valuable.

Human life is holy and it must be untouched, because God created man in His image. The Creator of the universe has given an enormous value to each person’s life. No one has deserved life, but life is always a gift and it must be treated as such. Only God, the giver of life, has the right to take this gift away.

The holiness of life reveals the core message of Christianity. The message of the Cross is foolishness, if the life of man is not sacred and human dignity absolute. Surely God did not give His greatest treasure, His own Son, to die on the Cross on behalf of some random-born creatures, but on behalf of uniquely precious persons created in His image and likeness.

In the autumn the Parliament is likely to examine the so-called citizen initiative for Equal Marriage Law. The most significant, practical consequence of a gender-neutral marriage law would be the adoption right for same-sex couples. We live strange times, since the most natural things in mankind’s history, motherhood and fatherhood, have to be defended as if they were an invention of some religious extremists.

When the Parliament had a discussion of single women’s and women couple’s right to infertility treatments, one question supporting this right stayed in my mind: “Why should the motherhood of a woman be determined through man?” The connection between motherhood and fatherhood has been self-evident, a biological fact, since the beginning of mankind’s history. Man and woman are interdependent in many ways more or less, but in reproduction this dependency is 100 %.

Marriage between man and woman has become a politically incorrect concept. Sex-specific nature of masculinity and femininity is, nevertheless, an essential part of the Christian view of man. In the Christian view of man matrimony has a unique position; it is the only relationship between persons which was instituted in the Creation. In this respect the Western, post-Christian world is now facing a rapid value transition. These values have been prevalent throughout the long history of the Christian church.

As a newly elected Member of Parliament in 1995, I attended a discussion of SETA (LGBT rights organization in Finland) in the Parliament. A representative of the organization told a strategy by which a gender-neutral marriage could be implemented step by step. The goal was to make civil partnership of same-sex couples official and enable couples to get infertility treatments, give adoption-rights first within the family and then legalize external adoptions, after which gender-neutral marriage could be implemented. Their program has progressed according to the plan.

The necessity of each step has been justified by the previous one. Many MPs told that they voted for the law on civil partnership only on the condition that it would not affect children. Infertility treatments for women-couples were demanded because we already have couples living in registered partnership hoping for a child. Adoptions within family were considered necessary, because the female couples could now together with the help of infertility treatment get a child with no legal father.

The ultimate goal of civil partnership law, homosexual adoption law and gender-neutral marriage law is to influence the attitudes of society, so that homosexual orientation would be recognized as equal with heterosexuality as a way of conducting one’s sexuality. It aims to eliminate accusing attitudes from the environment and guilt related to homosexual relationships.

The church is not guilty of discrimination, if it has the courage to use the word sin when speaking about extramarital sexual relationships. Instead the church is guilty of discriminating homosexuals, if they are not given the possibility to hear the whole truth of God’s word including both the Law and the Gospel. God loves homosexual persons so much that He wants to draw them through the Word into communion with Christ and make them partakers of the Gospel. At the same time there should be more space and love in the church for those who suffer from homosexual emotions or other sexual deviances.

Discussion has emphasized the differences between social gender and biological sex – experienced and juridical gender. By emphasizing the internal experience we have detached from biological reality.

The inner experience of man has become the indicator for reality. People are advised to follow their inner world of experience, to hear their heart’s voice. The line between right and wrong is drawn based on one’s own, subjective experience. The inner experience of man would function as the indicator of right and wrong, if we forgot one key fact of mankind – the Fall.

The Christian view of man holds it firmly that man is utterly fallen. We are valuable created in the image of God, but also evil and sinful. That is the biggest marketing problem of the Christian view of man. We do not want to hear or admit that we are sinful and fallen.

A panel-discussion concerning prostitution at a pub in Helsinki’s Kallio district comes to my mind. Few years ago I was invited to the panel as the only opponent of prostitution. The discussion was led by media-persona Wallu Valpio and the other panelists were supporters of legal prostitution in one way or another. Many media representatives were present. A professional in the field, a street prostitute, did not, however, get vacation from prison on time, and she was quickly filled in by her colleague, Iiris. Iiris, who had for two decades earned her living by offering sex at the streets of Kallio, astounded the audience and the panelists. She did not take sides with the supporters of legal prostitution and defend the prostitutes’ right to their profession, but told us she had ended to prostitute. This she had done because from the beginning she had understood it to be against the will of God. She told she had become a believer and said: “But I could not come out of prostitution with the Law of Moses, but by the blood of Jesus Christ.”

Tears in her eyes, Iiris told us she grieved she had seduced many husbands and fathers and summoned up her message: “ The only right place for sex is marriage, where one goes as a virgin and where one stays faithful until death.”

Iiris completely confounded the organizers of the panel. Silence came and the chairman of the panel Wallu Valpio stated that nothing else can be said to this except “amen”. Nobody could anymore really defend the right to prostitute. Spoken by Iiris, the ethics of marriage from a Christian perspective was hundred times more convincing than coming from my mouth. She in fact revealed the fact that in the end each person’s conscience bears witness to the Christian view of man. Even those who use or sell sexual services know deep down in their hearts the wrongfulness of their actions, although they can harden the voice of their conscience. On the other hand, only at the Cross and because of the grace the Cross gives to us have we courage to face and confess our sinfulness.

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21) Christ took all our sins, our evilness and the punishment, death, upon Himself at the beautiful exchange that took place on the Cross. On the Cross He gives us His sinless life, holiness and righteousness, which leads to eternal life.

Message of the crucified and risen Christ is the power that has carried Christianity through centuries, through hardships and persecutions. Message of the Cross has motivated many to spread the Gospel to nations, also in challenging and dangerous circumstances. The Cross has been so loved that many have rather died and confessed their faith in Christ than denied it. If Christianity is converted into a museum and the Cross removed, no message pointing to the future anymore exists. Apostle Paul said: “The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

In Romans 12:2 Apostle Paul exhorts: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” It is good to examine and be aware of which values at any given time are contrary to the Word of God, because too easily we just go with the flow. The Christian church has at all times been forced to live contrary to the spirit of the time in one way or another.

Certainly all of us have come across situations in life, where we have had to consider whether we have the courage to act contrary to general public opinions or norms, peer pressure, and sometimes even the law, if these contradict the Word of God. In the Acts, it is described how the authorities refused to allow the apostles to preach about Jesus. Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) They continued their work despite prohibitions.

Martin Luther explains in his sermon Jesus’s teaching about giving the emperor what belongs to the emperor and giving God what belongs to God: “The emperor or temporal government is our master; that is true, but nonetheless he is not our only master. For we have an additional Lord, who is greater, namely, our Lord God in heaven. Now if one of these two lords must be incensed by our becoming disobedient to either God or the emperor, it is better to anger the emperor with our disobedience than to anger God.” This is according to Luther.

It says in the book of Proverbs: ”Buy the truth, and do not sell it!”. This tells us that truth usually comes with a price. One often has to pay for following truth, confessing truth and speaking it. Instead, however, people are tempted to sell the truth, to acquire advantage for oneself by yielding to popular, false ideas and by distorting the truth. Yet the Bible exhorts: “Buy the truth, and do not sell it!”

Martin Luther handled the issue of “Consequences of faith” aptly: “If you believe, you speak. If you speak, you must suffer. For faith, confession and Cross belong together and are the part of a true Christian.”

If we neglect this right, the space for speaking will eventually get smaller. The more we keep silent about the teachings of the Bible on the painful issues of our time, the more powerful is the rejection. If there are not enough skiers on a ski track in a snowstorm, it gets difficult to proceed. We need people who ski before us.

Warning the Thessalonians about difficult times and deceivers, Apostle Paul gave them an exhortation in the same chapter (2 Thess. 2:15.): “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” Our time challenges us to commit to the Word of God, to be judged by its Law and on the other hand to be freed by its glorious Gospel. We are especially called to stand firm in those parts of the Scriptures that contradict the spirit of the time.

It was reported in the media that a clerk working at a prison forgot to tell a prisoner that he had got reprieve from prison. The clerk was charged because the prisoner had had to spend extra days in the jail although he had already been pardoned. How much more significant is the mission of each person owned by Jesus. In one way or another we are called to take forward the message that sins are reconciled and sinners are pardoned! Both far in missionary countries and near in our neighborhood or at workplaces many are living imprisoned by guilt, without the freedom Gospel gives and without the hope of eternal life.

Apostle Paul challenges us to boldly present the Gospel. When speaking of our lives, he even dares to bring up a parable about “shining stars” in the midst of a twisted and perverted generation. “Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” (Phil 2:16). There is no light in us Christians ourselves, but the Word of God is the light shining in the dark.

President Kyösti Kallio called our whole nation to pray in Christmas 1939, during a difficult time in our history: “Our ancestors have over the centuries, in tribulations, persecutions and in the days of peace, drawn life, strength and comfort from the Bible. At the present time our nation needs the creative power of the Word of God. Let us adopt with a humble faith the blessings of it. ”Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

This same challenge, dear friends, is topical to us even today. I wish you all courage and wisdom to uphold the unchangeable message of Jesus Christ, who influences and changes the lives of individual persons, communities and whole nations.