The Helsinki District Court clearly dismissed all charges of incitement against Päivi Räsänen, myself, and the Luther Foundation Finland. The nearly three-year long process has at least reached an interim conclusion. My mood has been one of relief and gratitude. In Finland this is the first time there has been this type of trial, where deliberation was made of criminal liability for religious communication and teaching. The case has also attracted enormous international attention. In the midst of all the uproar, I stopped to think, what can I be thankful to God for?
- I am thankful that the Bible and its very center, Christ Jesus and the grace of His cross, have been on public display as a testimony.
- I am thankful for the many people who, as a result of this incident, have paused to examine the foundations of the Christian understanding of humanity and the teaching on marriage found in the Bible – and also in our publications. After all, the almost forgotten booklet Male and Female He created them has been translated into several languages and downloaded thousands of times.
- I thank Päivi Räsänen for the faithful witness she has given to the truth, wisely and lovingly. I also thank all who have provided legal and other wisdom and experience to support us. In this group, I include my own lawyer, Jyrki Anttinen.
- I am grateful that the Helsinki District Court made the only legally sustainable decision in favor of the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and religion by issuing a liberating decision and not succumbing to the powerful currents of identity politics.
- I thank God for how this case has highlighted freedom of expression and freedom of religion as gifts worth preserving. After all, in a democratic society, their preservation is a safeguard not only for us but also for those who oppose us. This case has led, for example, to the creation of the Association for Freedom of Speech and Religion, and to books and documents on the subject.
- I thank God for the way in which this case has caused many to awaken to the dangers of self-censorship and instead to dare to live more courageously as Christians and as minorities in society.
- I give thanks for the tremendous support we have received across national and denominational boundaries as a result of this incident. In the best sense of the word, this has been an example of true Christian fellowship as a testimony to the world.
- I give thanks for the hundreds of thousands of intercessors on five continents in countless congregations, Churches, and homes. I am overwhelmed and humbled to marvel at how the Lord works such great intercession for us and our Church. May He inspire in us the same spirit of love for persecuted Christians around the world!
- I give thanks to God that the primary vision in our Mission Diocese has in no measure been obscured, that our main struggle is not over the direction of the culture or even legal cases, but is focused on eternal souls. It is our privilege in our congregations to bring the sweet and unconditional Gospel of God’s love to all, without distinction, including those who feel sexually attracted to the same sex. No one can take this mission of grace and joy away from us!
- I thank God that this incident has not broken my family or myself, but He has miraculously protected us.
I thank the Lord that, despite all my faults and failings, I can still live today as a child of grace.
How great it is to be blessed, declared innocent for the sake of the blood of Christ shed on the cross!
“My soul, praise the Lord, and everything in me, praise His holy name. My soul, praise the Lord, and don’t forget all the good He does.” Psalm 103 (AAT)
Bishop Juhana Pohjola