On taking the log out of our own eye -the growth of Western totalitarianism.

In the current media coverage of the stand-off between Russia and NATO about the future of Ukraine, and Eastern Europe in general, there is a subtext which implies that underlying the specific issues under dispute between Russia and NATO there is a wider conflict between the political values of a totalitarian Russia on the one hand and Western liberal democracy on the other.

There can be no doubt that there is a very strong degree of totalitarianism in Russia at the moment. If you are an opponent of President Putin and his government your life is likely to be difficult, unpleasant, and even dangerous. However, before we draw too stark a contrast between Russia and the West we have to remember Jesus’ warning about the need to face up to the reality of our own conduct before we sit in judgement on others.

‘Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.’  (Matthew 7:1-5)

In our present situation one of the applications of this teaching by Jesus involves recognising that while there is indeed totalitarianism in Russia there is also a growing totalitarianism in Western liberal democracies as well. In the West you will not run into trouble for opposing the ruling political party, but your life will get difficult and unpleasant if you publicly oppose the pro LGBTQ+ agenda now favoured by the Western cultural and political elite.

A prime example of what the American author Rod Dreher has called this ‘soft totalitarianism’[1] is the trial of the Finnish Christian MP, and former Finnish interior minister, Dr Päivi Räsänen, and the Finnish Lutheran bishop Juhana Pohjola,  the Dean of Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, which starts in Helsinki tomorrow  (24 January).

The alleged crime for which Dr Räsänen is being prosecuted, and for which she faces a fine or a prison sentence if convicted, is declaring in a pamphlet published in 2004, and in a 2018 television show, that God ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman and that same-sex sexual relationships are contrary to God’s will, and for posting a tweet critical of the Church of Finland’s support for the Helsinki LGBT Pride event in 2019. Bishop Pohjola, meanwhile, is being prosecuted for publishing the pamphlet and making it available (for full details see Dr Räsänen’s press release appended to this blog).

There are several odd things about this prosecution. First, in spite of being accused of hate speech, it is clear that  Dr Räsänen has never at any time expressed hatred of gay and lesbian people or disparaged their God given human dignity. Secondly, it is also clear that the Finnish police did not want to bring a prosecution. The decision to prosecute was a political decision  by the Finniah Prosecutor General. Thirdly, the statute under which Dr Räsänen and Bishop Pohjola are being prosecuted is a statute which is designed to prevent ‘ethnic agitation,’ and it is very difficult to see how members of the LGBTQ+ community can be accurately described as an ethnic group.

What really seems to be going on is what used to be called a ‘show trial.’ That is to say, the purpose of the prosecution is not to seek to punish an actual crime, but to deter Christians from publicly teaching the truth that according to the Bible same-sex sexual relationships are sinful in the eyes of God, by making it clear that public Christian opposition to same-sex sexual activity will no longer be tolerated in Finland, the Finnish commitment to freedom of expression and freedom of religion notwithstanding.

It is deeply ironic that Finland, the home of the Helsinki Declaration on human rights which was so influential in challenging the totalitarianism of the old Soviet Union, is now itself willing to try to undermine the human rights of Christians in this way as part of a liberal totalitarianism that seeks to stamp out all opposition to the LGBTQ+ agenda. ‘Totalitarianism is a state in which nothing can be permitted to exist that contradicts a society’s ruling ideology’ [2] and tomorrow’s trial shows that Finland is moving in a totalitarian direction. 

In theological terms what is happening is what is described by John in Revelation 13, the attempt by state authorities, inspired unknowingly to them by the Devil, to force Christians to accept the governing ideology of the state even when this goes against Christian truth. In Roman times accepting this ideology meant participating in the Imperial cult, in Finland today it means accepting same-sex sexual relationships, but in spite of the differing ideologies involved the goal is still the same, namely, to force Christians to acknowledge a higher authority than the truth revealed by God in Scripture. And because there is in fact no higher authority than the truth that God has revealed in Scripture, this means, in Rod Dreher’s words, seeking to force Christians to ‘live by lies.’

This being the case, Christians cannot rightly criticise Russia for its totalitarianism while ignoring the Western totalitarianism shown in the prosecution of Dr Räsänen and Bishop Pohjola. To be critical of Russia and ignore what is taking place in Finland because it is part of the democratic West is to engage in precisely the sort of hypocritical judgement that Jesus warned us against. Yes, Christians must criticise the abuse of human rights in Russia, but they must first be willing to criticise the abuse of the human rights of Christians in the West and the attempt to force them to ‘live by lies.’

In specific terms this means:

  • Taking the time to find out about cases such as the prosecution of Dr Räsänen and Bishop Pohjola.
  • Being willing to pray for suffering Christians in the West, as well as in other parts of the world, and to protest about their treatment.
  • Taking action to stop the spread of liberal totalitarianism in the West by, for example, challenging the proposals to prevent ‘conversion therapy’ which would potentially prevent Christians from teaching biblical truth and supporting those struggling with same-sex attraction and gender confusion. [3]
  • Committing ourselves to resist any demand to ‘live by lies’ by compromising our Christians beliefs in what we say, or how we behave, remembering the teaching of Revelation that it is those who stand firm in the face of opposition and persecution who will in the end ‘eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God’ (Revelation 2:7).  


Member of Parliament Dr. Päivi Räsänen

Court date announcement

The Helsinki District Court has informed me that the main hearing of the charges brought against me by the Prosecutor General (R 21/3567) will take place on 24 January 2022. Contrary to previous assumptions, the case will not be heard this autumn.

The process started more than two years ago, in June 2019, when I posted a tweet addressing a question to the leadership of my church that had signed up to support Pride. The main content of my post was a screenshot of verses 24-27 from the book of Romans chapter 1 from the New Testament.

Following a preliminary investigation launched because of a citizen’s complaint, a total of five criminal complaints were filed. On 22 April 2021, the Prosecutor General brought three separate charges against me for the tweet, a pamphlet I had written in 2004, ” Male and female He created them” and a humorous radio interview with Ruben Stiller. The police did not consider any crime to have been committed in these two latter cases, but the Prosecutor General nevertheless ordered preliminary investigations to be carried out. Bishop Juhana Pohjola, the Dean of Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, was also charged with being responsible for publishing and making available the pamphlet.

I am suspected of “ethnic agitation” against a group because of a tweet, a pamphlet published 17 years ago and statements I made on the Ruben Stiller talk show on 19 December 2019. Because of this, the police have spent hours of their working time questioning me and many more on investigating my reports and written statements. The Public Prosecutor’s Office investigated the case for more than six months before reaching a decision, and from the beginning of next year, these charges will concern the judiciary, which is already extremely busy with work. I think it is likely that the charges will be taken to higher courts, even to the European Court of Human Rights, if necessary.

In all the charges, I deny any wrongdoing. My writings and statements under investigation are linked to the Bible’s teachings on marriage, living as a man and a woman, as well as the Apostle Paul’s teaching on homosexual acts as sin and shame.

According to the press release of the Prosecutor’s Office, they make my view out to be that ”homosexuals are not created by God like heterosexuals” and that I would consider them inferior to other people. Nowhere did I say that. These statements are completely contrary to my convictions. I consider this to be an unfounded statement and also highly offensive to homosexual people. I have stressed many times that all human beings are created in the image of God and have equal dignity and human rights. All human beings are sinners and are forgiven of their sins by recourse to the atoning work of Jesus.

The possible sentence for the crime of ethnic agitation would be up to two years imprisonment or a fine. But an even more serious problem would be the resulting censorship: an order to remove social media updates or a ban on posting. The sentence would open the floodgates to a ban on similar publications and the threat of modern book burnings. I await the court proceedings with a calm mind, confident that Finland will respect the freedom of expression and religion enshrined in fundamental rights and international conventions. I will not back down from my conviction based on the Bible and I am ready to defend freedom of speech and religion in all necessary courts.

The tweet that triggered the investigation is illustrated by a biblical text from Romans chapter 1, verses 24-27: ”Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring 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.”

To accompany the picture, I wrote a question addressed to the church leadership:

”The Church has announced that it is an official partner of Seta Pride 2019. How is the Church’s doctrinal foundation, the Bible, suitable with raising shame and sin as a matter of pride?”

[1] See Rod Dreher, Live not by Lies (New York: Sentinel, 2020).

[2] Dreher, p.30.

[3] For this see the website ‘Let us pray’ at https://letuspray.uk and Cary Moseley ‘Government fails to quell fears over ‘conversion therapy’ ban’ at https://christianconcern.com/comment/government-fails-to-quell-fears-over-conversion-therapy-ban.