HELSINKI — A lawmaker in Finland who is also a pastor’s wife has been placed under investigation by police over a social media post from June in which she questioned the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland’s partnership with the Helsinki Pride event.
“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 #Romans1:24-27,” wrote Päivi Räsänen, a member of the Christian Democrat Party. The minority party only holds five seats in Parliament and is conservative in nature unlike the Democratic Party in the United States.
She also shared a photograph of the biblical text with her post, as it directly addresses homosexuality.
“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves,” the Scripture reads, “who changed the truth of God into a lie and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”
“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature. And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another —men with men working that which is unseemly and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.”
Räsänen’s husband is a pastor with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, which is the largest denomination in the country, having an estimated three million members. However, that figure has been on the decline recently, falling one to two percentage points each year, according to Evangelical Focus.
Räsänen is known for defending life and marriage, and her remarks were not out of the ordinary. She had written a letter to the denomination expressing her disappointment in their decision to back the same-sex pride event.
“The pride event’s ideological goal is to take pride in the type of relations that are described as being against God’s will,” Räsänen wrote, according to Finland broadcasting outlet YLE. “Homosexual relationships, like those relationships outside of marriage, are described in the Bible as sinful and shameful.”
At least 500 members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland dropped their affiliation over the matter.
Finnish “archbishop” Tapio Luoma responded to the controversy by stating that “[i]t’s not a question of taking a stance on marriage laws but rather [the idea] that the church’s message is for everyone … and same-sex couples are welcome at all church activities.”
The MP is now under investigation for her June post, being accused of “incitement against sexual and gender minorities.” Two other lawmakers are also facing pre-trial investigations for remarks deemed racist. The outlet Novena notes that “inciting hatred” can carry penalties of up to two years imprisonment.
“A crime report is being filed with police to determine whether the MP was guilty of a crime by posting a Twitter message in June. The message depicts the Helsinki Pride event as a pride for sin and shame and questions the Church’s involvement in the event,” a press release from the Helsinki Police Department reads. “According to the advertiser, the message is an expression of intolerance towards minorities.”
Räsänen remarked on the investigation a few weeks ago, stating that she is not worried about herself but rather how the matter might affect Christians in general.
“I am not concerned on my part, as I trust this will not move on to the prosecutor,” she said. “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.”