I have been following a court case in Finland where government prosecutors have described quotations from the Bible as “hate speech.” I take personal interest in this case because I am of Finnish descent. After taking an ancestry test, my sister informed me that we are 98% Finnish. My roots are in the old Suomi Synod of the Lutheran church. I still remember the pastor of my home church preaching in Finnish. So, I take a special interest in what goes on in the “old country.”

The case involves two Christian leaders in Finland: longtime member of Parliament Paivi Rasanen and Lutheran Bishop Juhana Polhjola, who have been brought to trial for writing and publishing, respectively, a pamphlet explaining Christian teachings about sex and marriage.

Ms. Rasanen (the pamphlet’s author) explains, “My writings and statements under investigation are linked to the Bible’s teaching on marriage, living as a man and a woman, as well as the Apostle Paul’s teaching on homosexual acts. The teachings concerning marriage and sexuality in the Bible arise from love to one’s neighbor, not from hate towards a group of people.”

Paul Coleman, a human rights lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom International who is helping represent Rasanen and Polhjola at the trial, commented that “it was very surreal” to observe Rasanen and Pohjola being questioned about details of Christian theology. It gave the two Christians the opportunity to preach the gospel in court.

Coleman noted, “Finnish trial attorneys who had been in and out of court every day for years, said they didn’t think the Bible had ever been read out like that in prosecution.” Never has a Finnish court had to decide if quoting from Scripture could be a crime. He described the trial, “as a modern-day inquisition or heresy trial. And the heresy was that Paivi [Rasanen] and Bishop Juhana were on trial against the new sexual orthodoxy of the day.”

Human rights observers see this trial as an important marker as to whether Western governments’ persecution of citizens for their speech and beliefs will increase. U.S. House members said in a public letter that the Finnish government’s prosecutions of these Christians for their religious beliefs “raises serious questions regarding the extent of Finland’s commitment to protect religious freedom for its citizens.”

For me, this trial is a “wake up” call to take nothing for granted as the biblical worldview in Western culture steadily erodes. It is difficult for me to comprehend how quoting the Bible is now viewed as hate speech by some in a nation in which Christianity was foundational to its existence. It shows how far and deep opposition has grown to biblical Christianity throughout Western civilization.

This reminds me that all civilizations are like grass that can wither or flowers that will eventually fail. Isaiah tells us, “The grass withers and the flowers fail, but the word of our God stands forever” (Is 40:8). Remember Jesus told us, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Luke 21:33).

Western civilization may be withering and failing, but God’s word will remain and accomplish its purpose. The new orthodoxy of the post-Christian West is not God’s thoughts. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Is. 55:9).

Take heart – and submit anew to God’s word revealed in Scripture: “So is my word that goes out from my mouth; it will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Is. 55:11).