As I sat in church yesterday, there was an alarming announcement that a 62-year-old woman in Finland is being charged with a hate crime for quoting the Bible and sharing her view on marriage. This is something that is already happening around the world in many countries, however, Finland is a democracy, much like the US. This should be a wake-up call to believers in any democracy, including our own, to stand up for our religious freedoms while we have a voice. What can we learn from Paivi Rasanen’s care for religious freedom?
Who Is Paivi Rasanen?
Paivi Rasanen is an educated, accomplished woman who has served her country of Finland for many years as a doctor and politician. She has been respected by many. However, in 2019 when tweeting her opinion on her church’s decisions to support a homosexual movement, she is now being charged with a hate crime and might go to jail for two years. Paivi is a member of a Finnish Lutheran church. She is a Christ-follower who believes in God and His Word. She is a wife, mother of 5, and grandmother.
Paivi quoted Romans 1:24-27 which says, “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
There Will Always be a Battle for our Freedom
There are corrupt people all over the world who desire power and control of others. If Paivi is proclaimed guilty for sharing her belief on the Bible, this means that democracy does not truly exist in Finland. This also means that other countries might take notes and try similar things. We have seen this happening in places like Canada lately as well. As long as there is sin in this world, there will be a battle for freedom.
Paivi shared to ADF International, “I will defend my right to confess my faith, so that no one else would be deprived of their right to freedom of religion and speech…The more Christians keep silent on controversial themes, the narrower the space for freedom of speech gets.” If you would like to see her full interview, you can see her hope and joy in Christ in the midst of persecution.
We Should Not Be Silent
In the interview, Paivi says that the more we are silent, the narrower our freedom of speech becomes. Absolutely we want to love everyone and respect that they may have a different opinion, but this does not exclude us from speaking up about what the Lord says about any issue that may arise. Homosexuality is a hot topic issue in today’s culture and many Christians are afraid to share their thoughts because it is considered hateful to have a different opinion. Paivi teaches us that we should not be silent while we have a voice.
The danger with too much federal government control and mandates is that it prevents a person from holding any other view than their leader. Think of Hitler or Stalin. These types of leaders shaped society to fit their mold and obey them as the highest authority. Well, as believer in Jesus, we know that God is the final authority. We are called to submit to Christ and His Word. We are called to respect and obey our leadership, but when they tell us to sin, we say no to them and yes to God.
One might argue that the Christians had control of our nation. It is true that our nation was sought after to have Christian principles and provide freedom of faith. Many of our founding fathers were believers who upheld the Bible in high respect. However, our constitution never mandated a certain religious belief. It created a space for freedom of choice. (See: The First Amendment) One person could choose to be a Muslim, another a Christian, they could disagree, but they were not imprisoned for their beliefs.
Somehow the acceptance of LGBTQ has become so significant to our culture that people cannot choose to practice different lifestyles, there has to be total agreement upon gender issues or it is considered hate. I love how Paivi shared that she works with a gay man and they do not agree about LGBTQ, but he also believes that she is being treated unfairly. It is common sense to know that any person should be able to share their beliefs freely without being put on trial and in jail.
Even in Trials, God Is Our Strength
Paivi exhibits great joy in her literal trial. She knows that she can point to God’s love in this hard time and that He is her strength. When the Lord walks with us through difficult situations, we can know that He is our Rock and our Refuge. We do not have to be afraid of mere men. Psalm 118:6 says, “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
As believers, we know that God has allowed those who are in government to be there and we are called to respect them. Romans 13:1 says, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” However, if we are ever put in a situation like Paivi where we either obey what the Lord says or the government/man, we are called to follow Christ. Acts 5:29 says, “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”
Today, take some time to pray for Paivi and her family as she awaits the answer from the judge. We know that God is her ultimate Judge and because of Jesus, she is innocent. She is fully accepted and loved by Him and we can pray that God will give her favor in this fight for freedom.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Kutay Tanir
Emma Danzey’s mission in life stems from Ephesians 3:20-21, to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. She is wife to Drew and mom to Graham. Emma serves alongside her husband in ministry, she focuses most of her time in the home, but loves to provide articles on the Bible, life questions, and Christian lifestyle. Her article on Interracial Marriage was the number 1 on Crosswalk in 2021. Most recently, Emma released Treasures for Tots, (Scripture memory songs) for young children. During her ministry career, Emma has released Wildflower: Blooming Through Singleness, two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, and ran the Refined Magazine. You can view her articles on her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com and check out her Instagram @Emmadanzey.
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