“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.” —Proverbs 10:11
Päivi Räsänen is a former Finnish interior minister. In an online article, a radio interview, and a 2019 tweet, she made comments that Finland’s state prosecutor claims are likely to cause intolerance, contempt, and hatred toward homosexuals. For example, a photograph attached to a tweet contained verses from the Bible which, according to the BBC, “appear to describe homosexual acts as shameful.”
As a result, the BBC notes, “The court will have to decide whether citing the Bible can be considered a crime in some cases in Finland.” Prosecutors say her statements violate the equality and dignity of homosexuals and therefore go beyond the limits of freedom of speech and religion. The charges she faces could technically lead to a prison sentence, though prosecutors have asked that she receive a fine relative to her income.
Räsänen arrived at court last Monday holding a Bible and said she was “honored to be defending freedom of speech and religion.” She added, “I hope that today it can become clear that I have no wish to offend any group of people, but this is a question of saving people for eternal life.” Some are calling the allegations she faces “a modern-day inquisition.”
How parents could spend five years in jail
The collision between religious liberty and sexual freedom is escalating daily. Laws banning “conversion therapy” have been passed by more than a dozen countries including France, New Zealand, and Canada. Critics claim that as a result of such legislation, private conversations with religious leaders, counselors, and parents are no longer protected. Born Perfect, a group seeking to outlaw “conversion therapy,” says more than twenty states in the US and Washington, DC, have passed similar laws.
A proposed law in Canada (Bill C-8) would also make it a criminal offense for parents to help their children accept their biological gender. Under this legislation, parents could spend up to five years in jail if they do not affirm their child’s gender transition.
As I have discussed frequently, the so-called “Equality Act” disallows any appeal to religious beliefs by American churches and ministries who wish to follow biblical sexuality standards in employment and other practices. Last year, the Religious Freedom Accountability Project filed a class-action lawsuit against the US Department of Education alleging that more than twenty faith-based colleges and universities “discriminate” against LGBTQ students and thus should not receive federal funds for student scholarships.
I have been discussing my new book, The Coming Tsunami, with multiple groups and media outlets in recent days. Invariably I am asked if there is any hope for our future. I’d like to offer a simple but profoundly transformative answer to that question today.
"The lips of the righteous feed many"
I was reading Proverbs 10 yesterday and found these encouraging observations:
- “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life” (v. 11).
- “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver” (v. 20).
- “The lips of the righteous feed many” (v. 21).
Each occurrence of the word righteous translates saddiq, a Hebrew term meaning to be “just” or “upright.” It describes who we are as expressed by what we do.
When a person is righteous, the writer asserts that their mouth “is a fountain of life” and their tongue “is choice silver.” In the present moment, such people “feed many.” By “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), our words make a redemptive, proactive, transformational difference in our world.
How, then, can we be “righteous”?
Paul answers: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ makes us righteous when we trust him for our salvation and our sanctification. If we seek to be conformed to the character of Jesus (Romans 8:29) through Bible study, worship, obedience, and service, the Holy Spirit will make us holy and the world will know that we have “been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
Conversely, if we are not different from the world, why would the world want what we have?
"Meditate at all times on the things of God"
So, the key to speaking words that change the world is to be changed by the One who is himself the “Word” (John 1:1).
St. Ambrose (c. 339–c. 397), bishop of Milan in northern Italy, is classed by the Catholic Church as one of the four “Fathers of the Church” (along with Augustine, Gregory the Great, and Jerome). In a biblical exposition, he exhorted us, “We must always meditate on God’s wisdom, keeping it in our hearts and on our lips.”
As he notes, “When we speak about wisdom, we are speaking of Christ. When we speak about virtue, we are speaking of Christ. When we speak about justice, we are speaking of Christ. When we speak about peace, we are speaking of Christ. When we speak about truth and life and redemption, we are speaking of Christ.”
As a result, Ambrose encourages us to “meditate ... at all times on the things of God,” for then we will “speak the things of God.”
Here’s the bottom line: the more time I spend with Christ in his word, the more I become like Christ, and the more I will speak his word to the world with redemptive, transformative power. Then God promises that his word, empowered by his Spirit, “shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
What awakenings have in common
America has experienced four “Great Awakenings” in our history. They have two factors in common: each was preceded by desperation, and that desperation led someone to seek and speak God’s word with passion and power.
Historians cite Jonathan Edwards in 1734, Isaac Backus in 1784, Jeremiah Lanphier in 1857, and Evan Roberts in 1904 as catalysts for these spiritual and cultural movements. The first two were ministers, the third was a businessman, and the fourth was a coal miner.
Does America need a fifth Great Awakening?
Can God use you as a catalyst for such a transformative movement of his Spirit?
If not, why not?
Publication date: February 18, 2022
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/ADragan
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
For more from the Denison Forum, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
The Daily Article Podcast is Here!