Christianity Today has a story about a Finnish pastor who is being charged with criminal discrimination against a female pastor:
‘A Finnish district court prosecutor recently charged a member of the Finland state church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF), with criminal discrimination for refusing to work with a female pastor. Two other church leaders have also been charged for not interfering to prevent the alleged violation.
‘”The government has nothing to do with religion and wants to stay out of the discussion,” said Veli-Matti KÃ¤rkkÃ¤inen, who was president at IsoKirja College in Finland. “This case has nothing to do with religion; it has everything to do with a perceived lack of equality.”
‘The case could set a precedent for similar cases concerning discrimination against homosexuals. The ELCF is still discussing whether homosexual pastors can serve in the church and whether pastors may bless homosexual couples.’
Just a few thoughts:
It sort of takes your breath away to read that a western nation is prosecuting a Christian minister for trying to obey the Bible. To some extent, a part of the problem here is that the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF) is a state sponsored church. It’s no surprise that they would apply secular laws concerning “discrimination” to the ELCF. The government should have no say at all over the appointment of the church’s ministers, nor should they be regulating at all the way they practice their ministries.
One thing that everyone should note from the excerpt above is the last paragraph. There is a link between the debate over ordaining women and the debate over ordaining homosexuals to the ministry. If one is willing to relativize what the Bible teaches about the former, then relativizing what the Bible teaches about the latter is the next logical step.
This observation is not mere speculation. It has already happened in several of the American mainline denominations. Both the Presbyterian U.S.A. and the Episcopal Church U.S.A. are having controversies right now about whether or not to ordain practicing homosexuals as pastors, priests, or bishops. The debates in the mainlines frequently cite the churchs’ ordination of women as the precedent for ordaining homosexuals. Just as the Bible’s “repressive” teaching on the former was no obstacle, so it should not be for the latter either.
For the mainlines, the real issue was always about the authority of scripture. The scripture’s teaching was not the sole authority in the question of ordaining women, and now it is proving not to be the norm in the question of ordaining homosexuals.