On 1 February 2023, the Parliament of Finland passed the Gender* Confirmation Act (the so-called Trans Act) by a vote of 113-69. The adopted Trans Act allows every adult Finn to change their legal gender on the basis of a simple self-declaration. No external agency or control, such as medical doctors or psychiatrists, is required for legal gender/sex reassignment.
Correct principles underlie the adoption of the law. Individual rights are inalienable in a free democratic society. Adult human beings are to be allowed to make decisions about their own lives as individuals, even when others think these conclusions incorrect and even problematic. It is also important that every person is respected, regardless of their life choices.
However, there is much more involved in the acceptance of this law. It is not just a matter of a marginalised group seeking a recognised space in society to live in their own way, or availing themselves of the right of self-determination provided by law in order to change their legal gender. At the communal level this law instructs and on a societal level it shapes a new understanding of the human person. By adopting the law, a small minority has kidnapped the majority, transporting them into its own ideological frame of reference. Even if trans issues do not concern us or we have no interest in the LBTQ movement, nonetheless, we are all told to accept as the point of departure the definition of humanity itself issued by an ideological group. The entire nation is thus directed to march after the rainbow flag. Pervonormativity has become the new normal. It has descended the front steps of the Parliament of Finland and pervaded every part of society.
The trans law is just another step on the road to the sexual revolution. Its aim has been to liberate humanity from all sexual morality in the name of individual freedom and human rights, and to alter the concept of humankind, the meaning and purpose of life. There is no innate natural law and no order created by God. There is no human dignity based on conception. There is no biological basis for two different, equal and complementary sexes. There is no permanent bond and sacred marriage between one man and one woman. There is no marriage to be awaited where in security, fidelity and love the gift of sexual life may be received. There is no family of father, mother and children.
Parliament passed a gender-neutral marriage law in 2017, extending marriage to same-sex couples. This decoupled marriage from natural law and biological lineage, as only marriage between a man and a woman is, in principle, open to receiving children and affording the only real security for all family members.
The trans law adopted in 2023 continues to break down the biological fact and the common conviction of humanity that people are born either boys or girls, and this is also reflected in their external features and genitalia. Rare developmental disorders (intersexism) do not destroy this rule but, on the contrary, confirm its veracity.
This trans law, now approved, directs Finns to accept a new concept of the human person. According to the law, it is natural, healthy and acceptable that a person’s body, soul and mind can be torn apart. Although one’s body is male or female, if a person’s mind, emotions and experience relate a different story, that then narrative is decisive. This self-defined gender should be approved and acknowledged by all. But can it ever be good for a person, a psychophysical entity, to set body and mind against each other? Nevertheless, contrary to our experience and to the biological facts, not to mention the Christian concept of humanity, according to this law, our language and speech must be forced to bow down to recognise gender/sex multiplicity and mutability. What consequences will the law have for freedom of expression?
This trans law is individualism and idealism taken to the extreme, where spirit overrides material reality. In the history of theology, this heretical movement which denigrates the physical and the material was called Gnosticism. Unfortunately, the new trans law has a similar underlying tone of contempt for the human body. There is no respect for the body in which the soul and mind reside.
Although the law does not apply to minors, at least not yet, it also sends them the message that human gender/sex is a completely subjective matter. Not even any physical factors are necessarily relevant to gender; it is up to the individual to decide whether he or she is a girl, a boy or some other gender. The legislation thus further reinforces gender dysphoria, which, via public discussion, has exploded in the 21st century. Adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable to being swayed by public opinion, their peer groups and social discussion on these issues. Far from supporting these girls’ development and their establishment of a stable sexual identity, the new legislation makes this even more difficult.
This new legislation is based on the idea that there is no given or permanent gender identity. They must create and shape who they want to be. The burden of this task drives many growing young people into an intolerable state of uncertainty and exposes them to mental health problems.
This law has been adopted. But nothing good will come from the concept of humanity represented by the law. Its foundations are alien and false to reality. This path of apparent freedom will only lead to greater ill. Like other revolutions, this one will also eat its own children. Sadly, it is children and women who will suffer most.
As Christians, we know that the authorities are to be respected because all authority derives from God. However, there are limits to sovereignty. As Christian citizens, we can never accept the concept of humanity exemplified in the new trans law passed by a small majority in Parliament.
All Christians must continue to see themselves and their fellow human beings as precious and unique human beings created by God, either as men or women. There are no other genders and biological sex cannot be changed. Sex is a given gift, and it is good. We ourselves may rejoice in our bodies and souls. We may teach and guide others to see the oneness of body and mind, even when it can be confusing and difficult, for example, as those struggling with anorexia or gender dysphoria are acutely aware of.
This change in legislation further increases the need for Christian churches to hold before the public the natural law and the biblical view of humanity, to teach these patiently and to consistently act upon them. We must also be prepared to pay the price for confessing the Christian faith and understanding of humanity.
We all need Christ’s help and mercy in this call. May we continue to learn to encounter those who think differently in truth and love. Let us pray for our country and our people. Above all, even in the midst of our own sexual brokenness and all of our failures, may we remain in the merciful hands of Christ.
Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28).
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:13-14)
“I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.”
What is this?
I believe that God has created me together will all that exists. God has given me and still preserves my body and soul: eyes, ears, and all limbs and senses; reason and all mental faculties. In addition, God daily and abundantly provides shoes and clothing, food and drink, house and farm, wife and children… The Small Catechism
Bishop Juhana Pohjola, ThD
*[translator’s note: In Finnish, basically the terms “sex” and “gender” are the same word, “sukupuoli”.]