Evert’s comment: In court cases, Christians often speak with incredible inner freedom

Räsänen in the Court of Appeal, together with her lawyer. Photo CNE, Danielle Miettinen

Her accusers must think Päivi Räsänen is as slippery as an eel. Having homosexual contacts is sinful, she says clearly. But then she claims to be a sinner herself who cannot live without the forgiveness of Jesus.

Gay people claim Räsänen offends them. But she herself says she actually loves them. She does not feel at all that she has wronged homosexuals; on the contrary.

Three judges in Finland are in the process of drawing a conclusion about all this. For the prosecutors, it is all clear: the Christian Democratic politician should be convicted of hate speech.

The prosecutors have been after Räsänen for four years now for insulting homosexuals. In a tweet in the summer of 2019, she asked the Evangelical Lutheran Church whether support for the Gay Pride was appropriate given the church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality. She attached a picture of Romans 1, where Paul calls the intimacy of “men with men” a “disgrace”.

Last year, the Helsinki District Court acquitted the Finnish MP. Early last month, the case was before the Court of Appeal. The judges now have until the end of November for a verdict. It might be so that all parties in this case are so nervous that they are biting their nails. Amid that, I share some observations of what I have seen in other cases of Christians accused of hating homosexuals.

Pastry baker

Ashers Bakery in Belfast. Photo AFP, Paul Faith

The first time I saw such a thing was in Northern Ireland. Daniel McArthur is a pastry baker there, with a chain of shops under the name Ashers Bakery (named after the ‘bakery’ tribe of Asher from the Old Testament Israel). On a particular day, the pastry baker was asked to make a cake with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage”. He refused that, saying that he was not ready to use his creative skills to make a thing that goes against his conscience.

In several online videos, he and his wife Amy explain –on the floor amidst their playing children– that they want to serve God and follow Him. And that gay marriage is clearly against His teaching.

In the background, you do taste the pain of misunderstanding. But also the deep conviction that they had not done anything wrong to anyone. “Mr Lee (the complainant, EvV) will always be welcome in our shops,” McArthur said in 2018 after the eventual victory at the High Court in London.

Bent backs

Pete en Hazelmary Bull.jpg
The Bull couple in December 2013. Photo CNE, Evert van Vlastuin

Equally astounding is the example of Peter and Hazelmary Bull. This elderly couple ran a “bed and breakfast” in Cornwall. For more than 25 years, they reserved the double room for married couples only. Two men who were refused accommodation drove straight to the police; it led to a lengthy court case on charges of discrimination against homosexuals.

When they were finally sentenced in 2013, the press awaited them outside the Supreme Court. Video footage showed the old people with bent backs walking towards the cameras. Hazelmary began to say that –yes– it had obviously turned out to be a disappointment, and –indeed– they would pay the fine, and that they understood the two complainants very well, that they would always be welcome, but –no– their minds had not changed anyway. And Peter –who was slower in words than his wife– added. “We are simply Christians. We believe in what He says and try to do what He says.”

I think that performance was a strong testimony. Convicted, but inwardly free. Accused of hatred, but full of love. With a bent back, but not broken at all. These people had only one goal: follow their Saviour.


It is clear that these three examples will not be the last of Christians accused of discrimination. Anyone who follows the news can know that Western states expect from their citizens that they give in on the (ethical and legal) equality of homo- and heterosexuality. This is a dilemma for believers who feel obliged to follow the Bible.

The question is what a proper response is. Will you demand that you can find and say anything based on freedom of religion and speech? Or would you pray for the Holy Spirit to give you the right words to express something of Christ’s love in such a situation?

In these three examples, the relaxation and strong inner freedom strike me. They do not say that this is an “old habit” and that they were “used to this from home”. No, they follow their Master – period.

Inner freedom: dictators hate it. But not only them. Even in traditional churches, living from your convictions is not always easy. Everywhere, people are very good at burdening each other with expectations.

Well, inner freedom in Christ; that’s the answer. With that freedom, we wait patiently for the judges in Finland to come out with their verdict on Räsänen at the end of November.



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