Response from Religious Groups to the Onslaught of Homosexuality
To understand why the spectacular success of the homolobby in Sweden was so unexpected, we first need to briefly look at the Swedish history during the last 150 years or so.
For the purpose of this discussion, the history of our country over the latest one and a half century can be divided into three epochs.
1. Poverty and Moral Depravity (about 1800-1883)
2. Sobriety Movements and Christian Revivals (about 1884-1960)
The result of the sobriety movements and the Christian revivals was enormous. Whole families were lifted out of the misery. The enthusiasm was contagious and the many examples of life “before and after” were everywhere to be found. Our country was lifted out of poverty and moral depravity. The statistics are very telling. I continue quoting from “The History of Sweden” “In 1861-1865 the average liquor consumption (including both adults and children) was 10.7 liters per capita. In 1901-1910 it had dropped to 7.2 liters per capita and in 1950 to 5.2 liters….The lives of the active members consisted of many meetings and gatherings. All of their free time was centered around this…..Just like with the Christian revival movements, whole towns and villages were characterized by the sobriety movements.
There were two additional factors at work that should not be overlooked. At the turn of the century small scale agriculture still dominated our economy and the lots of farmable land became smaller and smaller as it was subdivided to new generations. So the emigration to America of some 1.5 million mainly poor Swedes (one third of the total population) relieved some of the pressure. So did the industrialization and the fact that Sweden had ample natural resources (e.g. mining and lumber industry) to power a growing economy.
3. The Epoch of Moral Decline (about 1960 to present time)
If this is not a flagrant attempt by the homosexual lobby to recruit young people into their ranks, then what is? How could it all happen and what has been the response from the Christian community? Maybe an understanding of the underlying factors could be a warning sign to other countries.
The ungodly dark forces started to reign in the Christians around the late 1960-ies. That’s when our government first started doling out money to those denominations that agreed to meet certain conditions. In the beginning the conditions seemed benign. Nevertheless many voices were raised that a Free Church (Sw. “Frikyrka”) should not accept any money from (and thus be beholden to) the state due, to very ominous future ramifications. They have now been proven right. Today some 21 different denominations rake in millions of dollars from the Swedish government. And today, with many churches struggling financially, the contributions from the government are essential. But the government’s conditions today loom large over the churches. From a recent legislative background document we read:
In the summer of 2002, the leadership of SMF found itself called before the “Department of Culture” to explain themselves. After the meeting and deliberations (on July 8, 2002) the SMF leader Krister Andersson declared that he was very satisfied with the result of the meeting (ref.41). However, it’s far from clear what agreement was reached. But what’s clear is that SMF and by extension the other denominations dependent on financial support from the state cannot discriminate against homosexuals who otherwise qualify as pastors and deacons in their churches. As expected, the SMF leader, Krister Andersson, was among those who liked the new law under which Ake Green was sentenced to jail for his controversial sermon on sexual sins (ref.42). In a weekly letter to his people he stated that ……during his 35 years as a minister, and 50 years of listening to sermons, he has never encountered situations where those passages of Scripture that deals with homosexuality have been necessary to teach. Andersson assumes that other Christians have had the same experience. It couldn’t be made any more clear than that. Is it then any wonder why SMF in 2002 decided to open their doors and welcome homosexual ministers into their ranks?
And Krister Andersson is not the only such minister. It has penetrated pretty deeply into the ranks of many of our denominations. And if you consider this sordid situation, you can better understand why there was such harsh and relenting criticism from many so-called Christians, when Åke Green on July 20, 2003 preached a sermon, the first part of which dealt exclusively with the Biblical view on not only homosexuality but all kinds of perversions. (The second part dealt with the mercy and forgiveness God offers in Christ). Such a sermon was unheard of in our country. Years ago, yes; but lately? no.
It should be noted that one of SMF’s leading ministers recently was elected to be in charge of the biggest Pentecostal church in Sweden, the Filadelfia church in Stockholm.
In the spring of the following year (March 11, 2003) the "Ombudsman" for the homolobby, Mr. Hans Ytterberg, called a meeting with the leaders of all the 21 denominations that receive financial support from the government, to lecture them on the attitude and the policy they must have vis-à-vis the homolobby (ref.43). This was indeed a chilling message to the denominations, who had historically considered themselves free from government intrusion into their doctrine. And as a follow-up to the meeting with the homo Ombudsman (Ytterberg), the government itself (on the very next day) announced that they would launch an investigation of the denominations during the spring, to see if there was any discrimination of homosexuals (ref.44).
As stated previously, the homolobby has already thoroughly infested the Swedish Church (formerly the Lutheran State Church). Many, but not all of the other denominations (often referred to as “free churches” because they used to be free from government control), have up until now not accepted neither ministers nor general membership by openly homosexual people. They have been a sort of “free zone”. So, it’s no wonder that this situation does not sit well with the homolobby.
Another tragic example is the Pentecostal Movement (Sw: ”Pingströrelsen”). This denomination was the biggest one in our country and was very much alive during its progressive years 1910-1960. Lewi Pethrus was their pioneer and leader of the largest “free church” between 1910-1958. He died in Sept. 1974. Among many other things, he started one of the political parties in Sweden, Christian Democratic Alliance (today Christian Democrats (Swedish: “Kristdemokraterna" or "KD" for short). Pethrus also started the Christian daily paper called “The Day” (Swedish: Dagen).
If Pethrus had lived today he would no longer be able to recognize "Pingströrelsen". Immorality today has crept into many congregations. Among the young people premarital sex is commonplace and some churches have started accepting homosexuality with open arms. Thus it came as little surprise when the youth organization of KD elected a homosexual, Eric Slottner, as their leader.
However, there are still a major and a few minor groups of evangelical and charismatic movements in Sweden. What the Pentecostal Denomination (“Pingströrelsen”) now dependent on government financial support - used to represent, The Word of Life (“Livets Ord”) has become today. And “The Word of Life” under Ulf Ekman’s leadership does not receive support from our government. They have a great appeal especially to young people.
Therefore, it was not surprising when we saw diametrically different reactions from the leader of the “Pentecostal Movement” and the leader of “The Word of Life” to the (by now famous) sermon that pastor Åke Green, delivered from his pulpit in a small Pentecostal Church in Borgholm on July 20, 2003. The title of the sermon was “Is Homosexuality Genetic or an Evil Force that Plays Mind Games with People?” The sermon was about promiscuity and sexual immorality of all kinds. Green’s sermon was filled with quotes from the Bible. The reason for his sermon was the burden Pastor Green felt for our country and our young people without any moral compass. Green was subsequently sued under a new and novel Swedish law called “Incitement of Violence against a People Group” enacted in early 2003 - that forbids anybody to “show disrespect” or to “offend” any “people group”.
Therefore Green was convicted in lower court and sentenced to jail. In his appeal before the Supreme Court (Swedish: “Högsta Domstolen" or "HD") Pastor Green clearly stated his convictions and the reason for his sermon in this way:
"Well, the background was that already in 2002 I experienced a very deep travail in my spirit. A deep stirring in my soul when I realized - and I allude to it in my sermon - that a lot of the things I noticed and observed around me was about the homosexual lifestyle. It was everywhere. It was on TV, it was all around me and the media always seemed to allude to the homosexual lifestyle. Then I felt a deep sorrow in my heart. And the more it engulfed our society, the more I thought that the leaders of our churches, the leaders of our denominations, the bishops etc. they ought to come forward and proclaim that this is not normal. This lifestyle is abnormal. But it did not happen at any time in 2002. And around the beginning of 2003 I started preparing myself for the sermon I subsequently held on July 20, 2003. And then, in connection with that, I sensed something very important. And here I want to refer to a bible verse that is found in Ezekiel 3:17-19:
' Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word of my mouth and give them a warning from me. When I say unto the wicked: Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, not speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his inequity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. '
What I want to say with this is that I myself have a responsibility as a servant of the Word and then I couldn't only lay it on the shoulders of the leaders of denominations and of the archbishop, but I also have a responsibility according to this scripture to clear my own conscience and to let people know that the way they live is wrong. And then I declare that if they turn around and follow Christ they will not come under judgment. And then I let the people decide if they want to keep their lifestyle of homosexuality or turn around. So, that was the background to the sermon. It was in early 2003 that I started preparations for the sermon."
As stated, the reaction to Green’s sermon by the leader of the “Pentecostal Denomination” was very different from the reaction by the leader of “The Word of Life”.
4. The Pentecostal Denomination
So, according to Hedin, Green “could not substantiate what he said” even though his sermon was full of Bible quotations. (Click here for a full transcript of Green’s sermon on July 20, 2003.)
And then again two days later (on the very day of the trial against Green) Hedin, in an interview with his own daily paper (Dagen), made a similar statement (ref.46). Just imagine how easy Hedin made it for the politically correct and appointed jurors (called “nämndemän”) often with political career ambitions - as they sentenced Green to one month in prison on June 29, 2004. They limited themselves to one month since this was Green’s first offense and he had no prior criminal record.
Some time after his sentence, Pastor Green received a letter from a "brother" in Pastor Hedin’s church (Filadelfia) in Stockholm. He wrote that he was a homosexual and both he and his partner felt very much at home as members in Pastor Hedin’s church. He even added that he "spoke in tongues as well as anybody else". And the youth leader for the "Christian" KD party (founded by the late Pentecostal leader Lewi Pethrus) is an avowed and open homosexual young man (Eric Slottner) who declared that Åke Green deserved a severe prison sentence for his sermon.
Many would say that this is clear evidence that something is sorely missing in the teaching from the pulpit. They argue that the character of God has not changed since the time of creation. It’s true that God had a special relationship with "His own people", the Israelites, in the Old Testament, and that there were laws for the Jews that do not apply to the followers of Jesus. But the character (the nature) of God does not change. He who is from eternity to eternity and who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, how could He suddenly make a 180? How could He who once said (Lev. 18:22-25): "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. Nor shall you mate with any beast …" today suddenly consider such acts normal? If He abhorred the sexual sins of homosexuality and bestiality even to the extent of calling for the capital punishment how can He now suddenly accept it? And Jesus himself compared the sins of Sodom to even more serious sins. In all fairness to Pastor Hedin, it should be noted that he himself - as opposed to some other denominational leaders - has stated publicly that he believes that homosexual acts are sinful.
In a recent development, Pastor Hedin has resigned from his position as the leader of the largest church in the Pentecostal Denomination (Filadelfia Church in Stockholm). He was replaced on October 22, 2006 by Pastor Niklas Piensoho who comes from the SMF denomination (see above). And recently the denomination has been struggling financially. Probably in part due to a shrinking membership base and a lack of sacrificial giving from the remaining members.
5. The Word of Life
Just like the different reaction between “Dagen” and “Världen Idag”, as discussed above, it also didn’t come as a surprise to me that:
Well, the old apostate Swedish State Church - nowadays called the “Swedish Church” after a nominal separation from the state has taken the lead in introducing a new doctrine on the subject. Other denominations have followed suit. In a recent issue of the Pentecostal youth magazine Gyro (published by the Filadelfia Publishing Group) the new doctrine is presented in a special issue on homosexuality (ref.48).
In the issue of Gyro two different “interpretations” of the Bible is presented without any guidance whatsoever to the young readers about which interpretation is the correct one. Under the headline "Homo OK or not?" the two interpretations are presented side by side under the subheadings "Against" and "For". The "Against" column gives the traditional and biblical version on the issue. The "For" column gives a novel interpretation which is as follows (ref.49):
In the Gyro article there is no indication whatsoever to their young readers which of the two interpretations is the biblical one. How can something that God, Jesus and the apostles all declared abhorrent and unclean suddenly be dressed up like something fully in line with Biblical teachings? It boggles the mind. Jesus himself compared sodomy as among the worst sins (Matt. 11:24).
6. The Apostate Swedish Church
Hammar’s sister (Anna Karin Hammar) is an ordained lesbian minister in the Lutheran Church in Uppsala. With respect to her sexual orientation she has stated:
The Evangelical Home Country Foundation (Sw.: “Evangeliska Fosterlands Stiftelsen” or EFS) is a layman movement within the Swedish (Lutheran) Church with emphasis on missions work and layman activities. The EFS has been involved in missions work in Ethiopia for a very long time. In 1959 several missions organizations from many countries, doing work in Ethiopia, came together and formed the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) movement. So, we have had a long relationship with EECMY, which has seen a spectacular growth since it formation and today number a full 5 million members (total population of Ethiopia is around 78 million). Due to, among other things, early and continuing missions work in Ethiopia by Swedish organizations, including EFS, it was only natural that much or our county’s foreign aid has been directed at Ethiopia.
This coming summer Mekane Yesus will have a big conference in Addis Abeba. The Swedish Church, including participation by EFS, was planning to send a delegation with our Archbishop leading the group. But the President of Mekane Yesus had sent two letters in January to the Archbishop, asking for clarification of his Church’s position on homosexual marriages and the “blessing” of partnership unions or marriages. [In a recent survey of 70 active clergymen in the Swedish Church, a full 75% have no problems with marrying homosexual couples.]
Both letters from Mekane Yesus went un-answered by the Swedish Church. So, recently they were advised by Mekane Yesus that they were not welcome to the conference this summer (ref.53). Needless to say, this was a great disappointment to many priests and laymen leaders of the Swedish Church. Instead of an exciting trip to Ethiopia, they must now stay at home, pondering the consequences of their new religion. The irony of it all is that the leaders of the Swedish (Lutheran) Church probably consider themselves more “progressed”, than Mekane Yesus since they have a longer church history. They no doubt believe that one day in the future, the younger church that they once helped to plant in Ethiopia, will also gradually “progress” into full acceptance of the sin of homosexuality. As it’s written: “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and..…..for that reason God gave them up to vile passions……burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due……..” (Rom. 1:22-32).
To find Jesus Christ depicted as a homosexual in Swedish art and literature (including displays in church buildings of the Swedish Church) is nothing new. But for a prominent Researcher in the Swedish church to label Jesus as someone who probably approves of pedophilia does not yet sit well with the heterosexual majority in Sweden. Pedophilia is still something that is repulsive to most people even in Sweden of today, although attitudes are gradually changing. It was therefore of little risk for scorn and ridicule in the mainstream media, when the leader of the Pentecostal Movement (Pastor Hedin) at long last viewed this offense by the Swedish Church as a reason for members of his denomination to terminate their membership in the Swedish Church. (By centuries old tradition all Swedes are born as member of the Swedish Church and it requires a submittal of an application to terminate the membership). However, other pastors in the Swedish free churches did not agree. For example, Pastor Per Hornmark, leader of the influential Pentecostal Church in Jonkoping, agreed with Pastor Hedin that the conclusions of Priest Olaison’s research was wrong. However, he did not believe that the suggestion that Jesus was a homosexual man who approved of pedophilia was such an offense that it justified that his flock should terminate their membership in the Swedish Church.
The Apostle Peter’s words come to mind: “So you see, the Lord knows how to…….keep the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment. He is especially hard on those who follow their own twisted sexual desire…” (2 Peter 2:9-10).
It’s as though a new religion has invaded our country. All this embracing of the homolobby agenda is coupled with a strong downplay of what Jesus taught about hell. You’ll be hard pressed to hear any message from a pulpit today on this subject about which Jesus himself taught so much.
Before he departed Jesus told his disciples about the Holy Spirit to come (John 16:8): “And when He has come He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
That’s the plan charted by the Holy Spirit. But in our country today it’s a very rare event to preach about eternal judgment. But throughout Christian history such messages have beckoned the sinners to come to the cross and to repent. Instead of Jesus lifting off the terrible burden of sin, “friendship evangelism” is the mantra today. “Come join our church because it’s a healthy thing for you and your children to get a dose of religion and ethics! ”. The reality of Hell is something many Christians in our country today simply do not believe in. They believe that Jesus must have been joking when he talked about Hell or that he wanted to scare people into becoming disciples and follower of Him.
Instead, a favorable reputation by the world, beset by sin, becomes more important than the mandate of Christ. Therefore, it’s not surprising that the Pentecostal Denomination regularly requests and pays for public opinion polls and surveys about the popularity of their denomination in our society. Last time they regretted that the results showed that their popularity had dropped and they laid much of the blame on the “Åke Green case”. Apparently oblivious of the Master’s own words (Luke 6:26): “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets” and again (Matt. 5:11 and 12): “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.” And again (Luke 6:22,23): “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven”.
Either Christ or the Pentecostal Denomination must have it all backwards. They can’t both be right. Is it then any wonder if our young people (either tempted by or already caught in the yoke of homosexuality) do not find any firm directions from some of the so-called evangelical denominations. “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” (Matt.5:13)
The Swedish Church (the apostate church) used to be part of the Swedish government (Sw. "Statskyrkan") but was made independent of the government some years ago. With that change the financial assets and land holdings became part of their present wealth. Therefore, it stands to reason that they will be able to "operate" longer than most of the "free churches" as our country becomes increasingly secularized and sodomized.
I want to close this piece with a quote from a book by Kupelian: “The Marketing of Evil; How Radical, Elitist, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom”. Kupelian writes on page 35 (parenthesis my own emphasis):
“Homosexual activists fancy their cause as identical to that of blacks and the ‘60s civil rights movement. Being of African origin obviously doesn’t involve fleeing one’s own conscience and the author of that conscience God.
But it is precisely because of this difference that the “gay civil rights” movement is (at its base) not about changing the laws so homosexuals can have equal opportunity for advancement or access as it was for blacks during the ‘60s. Homosexuals already live in freedom and (apart from individuals struggling with pedophilia) can reside, work or play virtually anywhere they want. In fact, as a group, homosexuals enjoy a higher income level than the general American population. (And they have far more time for leisure and grass root political activities since they in most cases do not need to worry about the cost and time it takes to raise children).
So, it’s not about rights. It’s about redefining truth and censoring all criticism so that militant homosexuals can bee comfortable in their ‘lifestyle’ without having to be disturbed by reality.
Remember, all of us homosexuals included have a conscience (that other-dimensional standard that God has tucked away inside each of us) that causes us inner conflict when we’re doing the wrong thing. But if we tumble into the grip of dark forces that we don’t understand and then start to defend our obsessions and compulsions, we inevitably come to regard our conscience as an enemy. And although we may be somewhat successful in drowning out that inner warning bell, what happens when this same rejected conscience factor appears in another person and gets too close for comfort? We feel threatened.
Therefore, we feel compelled to silence the ‘voice of conscience’ not just the one inside of us, but the one in other people, which tends to revive our own conscience with which we’re at war. This means we can’t tolerate dissent. We simply can’t stand it. It makes us want to scream.
To the homosexual living in denial, then, even a loving offer of help from, say, a Christian ex-gay ministry or ‘reparative therapy’ counselor - to help overcome homosexual addiction - feels like the most vile, abusive hatred. In fact, it’s real love which we misinterpret as hatred and ‘bigotry’ simply because it causes us to confront the truth that is not welcome in us.”