Finnish Bishop Elect charged over historic Christian teachings on human sexuality

ELMDF Bishop Elect Juhana Pohjola.

FINLAND – Rev. Dr. Juhana Pohjola, Diocesan Dean and Bishop Elect of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland (ELMDF) has been charged by Finland’s Prosecutor General with incitement against a group of people. The charges stem from a 2004 booklet published by Luther Foundation Finland (the legal entity behind the ELMDF) which articulates historic Christian teaching on human sexuality.

“As a Christian, I do not want to and cannot discriminate against or despise anyone created by God,” Dean Pohjola said in reaction to being charged. “Every human being, created by God and redeemed by Christ, is equally precious.”

At the same time, he continued, “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.”

Finland’s Prosecutor General began an investigation of the ELMDF in 2019 for its booklet “Male and Female He Created Them: Homosexual Relationships Challenge the Christian Concept of Humanity,” despite an earlier investigation by Helsinki Police which concluded no laws had been broken. The booklet was published in 2004; Finland legalized same-sex marriage in 2017.

The booklet argues that homosexual activity must be identified as sin by the church on the basis of the teachings of Scripture. The author, Dr. Päivi Räsänen—a Finnish Member of Parliament—further argues that a failure to recognize sin as sin undermines the very need for a Saviour.

Dr. Räsänen has now been charged with incitement by the Prosecutor General, both for the booklet and for other comments on human sexuality. As Dean Pohjola is editor-in-chief of Luther Foundation Finland’s publications—including the booklet “Male and Female He Created Them”—he also was charged.

“This decision of the Prosecutor General says a lot about our time,” Dean Pohjola commented. “While I am concerned about the state of religious freedom in our country, I trust that the judiciary will make the right decision.”

The International Lutheran Council has earlier expressed concern about the investigation of Lutherans in Finland for upholding historic Christian teaching. That concern is deepening. “Recent actions in Finland have created an international scandal which continues to grow,” said Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill, General Secretary of the International Lutheran Council. “The implications of the decision to charge Juhana Pohjola and Päivi Räsänen are clear: if the authorities are willing to do this to a respected pastor, reverend doctor, and Bishop Elect, as well as a Member of Parliament and former Minister of the Interior, then that sends a message of fear and intimidation to everyone in Finland who follows the Scripture’s teaching on human sexuality.”

“Faithful Christians need to demonstrate solidarity with their suffering Finnish Lutheran brothers and sisters,” General Secretary Quill continued. “We must not be silent but express righteous indignation at the actions of the Finnish authorities and demand an end to the persecution of those who adhere to historic Christian teaching on sexuality. I encourage Christians around the world to pray for Juhana and Päivi, and to follow the example and command of Jesus: ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’ (Matthew 5:44).”

The ELMDF is a member church of the International Lutheran Council, a global association of confessional Lutheran church bodies representing millions of Lutherans worldwide.

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See also the ELMDF new release here (in Finnish).

Mathew Block

Mathew Block is Communications Manager for the International Lutheran Council. He is also editor of The Canadian Lutheran magazine, and formerly served as Communications Manager for Lutheran Church–Canada.

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14 thoughts on “Finnish Bishop Elect charged over historic Christian teachings on human sexuality

  1. Praying for you here in the U.S. If only we mere humans could accept , be grateful for and obedient to the truth God reveals in love to us, and out of love for us, for the purpose of true human flourishing, what a wonderful world this would be. Please keep standing for God’s truths in love!

  2. Persecution is just around the corner for the USA Christian leaders. Persecution is already here for church members trying to live their faith..

    1. The ELCA in the USA approves and celebrates homosexuality and transgenderism.

  3. A State cannot discriminate against any of its citizens. Should they wish to marry in a civil ceremony, and have legal recognition thats legitimate within the confined context of civil law.
    The Arch Bishop is quoting traditional Christian beliefs, as understood from from the teachings of the Bible, and how that applies to Christians, and he is quite correct.
    Its rather worrying when a prosecutor seems unable to distinguish between civil law, and Christian Theology., and begs the question is he intellectually fit for purpose.?
    This has a subtle “Roland Frisler” written all over it, and it requires challenging, or are we all supposed to be totally subordinate to the state.

  4. These are our times. Persecution is connected with true discipleship as taught by Jesus, but all affliction can be turned for good to those that love and trust God💕.
    I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints and as such I stand with other Christians that respect that Gods word is an unchanging standard of morality. To stand with God we cannot conform to the ideals of a wicked world and make those who conform comfortable- but we can love them as brothers and sisters!

  5. The Swedish Lutheran church ordains homosexuals and baptizes children out of wedlock regularly. How can this and Scripture be reconciled?

  6. My prayers and those of my family are with Rev. Dr. Juhana Pohjola and the entire Finnish Synod.

  7. Quote: The ELMDF is a member church of the International Lutheran Council, a global association of confessional Lutheran church bodies representing millions of Lutherans worldwide.
    These may be the Lutherans who still hold to scripture, unlike the others who condone such things.

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