With Valentine’s Day coming upon us, I thought it would be interesting to list a few facts (or assumptions):
- The day has origins that link to Christian and Roman tradition.
- The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different “saints” named Valentine or Valentinus.
- One legend suggests Valentine performed marriages for young lovers in secret in response to a Roman emperor named Claudius II who outlawed marriage for young men in order to serve as potential soldiers.
- Another legend points to Valentine being a martyr for helping Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were beaten and tortured.
- Valentine may have sent the first “valentine” himself to a young girl during his confinement in prison. Before his death, he allegedly wrote a letter, which he signed “From your Valentine.”
- Some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial.
- Others claim that the Christian church celebrate Valentine’s day as a feast day in an effort to “christianize” a pagan Roman festival.
- Even after the Romans integrated “Valentine” into their festival, it began to be seen as unchristian and outlawed the pagan holiday.
- The French and British picked up on the Valentine theme in conjunction with the beginning of birds’ mating season.
- Eventually, Valentine’s Day was popularized during the 17th century and was common for all friends and lovers in all social classes.
- Ready-made cards replaced handwritten notes to discourage direct expression of feelings as societal norms.
- According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year.
When reviewing all these “facts,” it becomes apparent that culture has a way of distorting Christian celebrations. If Valentine was truly a Christian martyred for his service to others, Valentine should be celebrated as a man of faith, a man who sacrificed and gave of himself, his time and energy, and even his life as a selfless act.
This distortion of Christian traditions is not new though, is it? What about “Easter,” which is supposed to be a day to remember the sacrifice of Jesus on that terrible, wonderful cross. Now the focus is more on the Easter bunny, candy, colored eggs, and the great Easter egg hunt. Or how about Christmas, the day that has been chosen to celebrate Immanuel, “God with us,” in the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ? Now, Christmas is more about Black Friday, the economy, opening gifts, and a celebration of good will and kindness to friend, family, and neighbors.
Think about what the culture is doing. Slowly and meticulously, society is taking God and Jesus out of even being mentioned, let alone included, in regards to why we recognize, meditate, and remember these days of celebration and what they are supposed to mean to mankind.
Valentine’s Day should be a day to remember the “love” that Valentine showed for others by giving his life in the service of helping those in prison. The love that Valentine showed is more exemplified by the agape kind of love shown in the Bible. What is agape love? Agape love “is a non-partial, sacrificial love.” It is not feelings-based, but rather the kind of love that gives and sacrifices, focused more on Christ’s non-partial kind of love, without expecting anything in return.
But what kind of love does our culture portray Valentine’s Day in modern times? It is true that there are many good things associated with the kind of love expressed today, such as giving flowers and candy, writing and sending cards showing love and affection, and taking one’s spouse on a date while expressing “eros” kind of love. Eros means sexual or romantic love. If eros is expressed under the conditions set forth in God’s Word, as in marriage between a man and a woman, then it is appropriately applied. Read the book of Song of Solomon. If this kind of love was being expressed in marriages today, there would be little concern for the state of marriage in our culture.
However, in many ways our culture has perverted love for which it was originally intended. If you watch television or pay attention to how Hollywood portrays love in the movies, you get the sense of an erotic, immoral, and self-centered kind of love. Porneia actually describes this type of love (or rather sex). (Porneia is actually “fornication,” and is an illicit kind of sex described in the Bible.) Adultery almost seems commonplace in our culture, pornography is the norm, and same-sex relationships are promoted. Christians even struggle with sex, such as engaging in pre-marital sex for example, because they have a difficult time separating themselves from the world. Is this what God intended? Are these the kind of lifestyles that Christians should engage in?
The Bible makes several things clear in regards to sex:
- 1 Corinthians 6:18 “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”
- Ephesians 5:3 “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.”
- Acts 15:28-29 “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell."
- 1 Corinthians 5:1 “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.”
- Matthew 5:28 “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
- 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
- Leviticus 18:22 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
- Leviticus 20:13 “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”
- Deuteronomy 23:17 “None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, and none of the sons of Israel shall be a cult prostitute.”
- 1 Corinthians 6:19 “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”
- Matthew 19:4-5 “He answered, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?”
- Genesis 1:27-28 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."”
Valentine’s Day has its purpose and its significance. But should it be for the self-gratification of the flesh? Or should the Christian use this opportunity to reflect what God’s idea of love really is?
1 Corinthians 13Let’s hope that Christians can strive to live according to God’s standards and abstain from sexual immorality. On this Valentine’s Day, in honor of Valentine himself, let all Christians separate themselves from the world and live a selfless, sacrificial kind of life and love the way that Valentine, and ultimately, our Savior Jesus Christ has loved.
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
- John 17:26 “And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
- John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
- Ephesians 5:2 “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
- 1 John 3:16 “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”