Religious Persecution in the West

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;    2 Timothy 4:3

We’re all aware that Christians are persecuted in China, the Middle East, Russia, and elsewhere.  It can take the form of imprisonment, torture, and even murder in these places.

Such religious persecution has arrived in the west.  No, it isn’t as bad as the places mentioned above, but it has arrived.  Persecution starts in small steps until it becomes full-blow and murderous.

Answers in Genesis recently published an article demonstrating this point.  A government official in Finland is being threatened with jail time for speaking Biblical truth.

In 2004, Member of Parliament in Finland and former Minister of the Interior Päivi Räsänen published a booklet on the Bible and sexuality. Well, over a decade later, in 2018, she spoke on a radio program about Jesus and homosexual behavior. Then, in 2019, she posted Romans 1:24–27 on social media to call out the Finnish Lutheran Church for joining an LGBT pride festival. This MP is now being charged with three hate crime counts and can face up to six years in prison if convicted—for speaking the truth about homosexual behavior as the Bible clearly teaches about it.

Clearly persecution starts small, barely noticeable.  She first spoke out in 2004 and again in 2018.  In 2019 she spoke against a church for joining a gay pride festival.  Now that that community has gained in political power, they are able to persecute Räsänen for speaking God’s truth!

Her response to the charges:

I do not consider myself guilty of threatening, slandering or insulting anyone . . .

My statements were all based on the Bible’s teachings on marriage and sexuality. 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. I hold on to the view that my expressions are legal and they should not be censored. I will not back down from my views. I will not be intimidated into hiding my faith. The more Christians keep silent on controversial themes, the narrower the space for freedom of speech gets (emphasis added).

Finnish pastor, Rev. Dr. Juhana Pohjola, is also facing similar charges, as he stands accused of “incitement” for his comments about Biblical sexuality.  Pohjola also answers his persecutors:

As a Christian, I do not want to and cannot discriminate against or despise anyone created by God . . . Every human being, created by God and redeemed by Christ, is equally precious . . . At the same time . . . this does not remove the fact that, according to the Bible and the Christian conception of man, homosexual relations are against the will of God, and marriage is intended only between a man and a woman. This is what the Christian church has always taught and will always teach.

There are two very important points we should all take from each one’s rebuttal of charges.  First, Räsänen sounds a warning for all Christians everywhere; speak up now while you have the freedom to do so!  Just as the LGBT community has used its voice to impinge on freedom of speech and religion, Christians must speak up for themselves and their God!  This is an important point, not only about speaking up but the aim of your speech.

Pohjola expands on this point when he clarifies that he holds no malice against anyone!

Too many Christians vilify those who do not hold to church teachings.  They make no room for Godly love for each other when they insult and disparage those who live willfully in sin.  It is not for us to condemn, but to simply speak God’s truth to this sinful world.

My pastor has a son who is also in the ministry.  He regularly goes to a gay bar to sit and talk.  When he first started, he was, of course, asked what he does.  He told them honestly.  He did not preach at them.  He simply got to know them and gain their trust.  Eventually, he will have opportunity to talk to them about Jesus, but it isn’t a quick process.

He is not condemning them.  He is showing God’s love by treating them as fellow creatures of God.

Speak up for your faith.  Have the courage now to use your liberty – which is slowly being eroded – to speak out about God’s truth.  Defend your faith!

And don’t speak against anyone.  Speak for your faith and God!

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