While it is hard to argue against love, Christians should ask themselves, “what makes this day special?”
Modern society has so commercialized this day that people are often caught up in the “obligation” to buy something or act in some way as to show their love for someone else. People get hurt when they feel that they haven’t been sufficiently recognized or “loved” or when the object of their affections doesn’t reciprocate. Many who don’t have anyone with whom to share a love, end up feeling “left out” when they see those around them celebrating something they lack.
Are these reasons to not celebrate Valentine’s Day? Probably not, but as in everything a Christian does, he or she should ask, “Is what I’m doing honoring God?”
History is fuzzy with respect to how Valentine’s Day came to be a special day honoring love between a man and woman. Some suggest that a Christian Saint was tacked onto a Roman celebration of a god of sex. Others recall a legend that dates to the third century when Claudius, the emperor of the Roman Empire, banned the practice of marriage. He theorized that men sent to war would be less effective fighters if they were concerned for spouses they left behind. The edict of Claudius flew in the face of Christian teaching that saw marriage as a sacred vow between a man and woman that mirrored the covenant relationship between Jesus and his bride, the church. A Christian priest named Valentine secretly held marriage ceremonies for young couples. He was caught, tortured and killed for disobeying the emperor, but he is said to have sent a love note just before his death—the first “Valentine.”
Through the centuries, that priest was declared a saint by the church and his legend grew and became a reminder of the importance of the sacred institution of marriage. So, there is some justification for a Christian to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but God reminds us that loving him is more important than one’s love for any human. It is nice to send a card or bring flowers and box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day, but is vastly more important to show one’s love of God every day of the year.
God set the standard when he gave the 10 commandments to the Israelites after they left slavery in Egypt.
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.“You shall have no other gods before me.”
This love as summarized by Moses in Deuteronomy:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Jesus quoted these words, affirming the importance of love both of God and each other:
“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
If you would like to better understand how you can appreciate true and abiding love a love that so great that God sent his son Jesus to die in your place for your sins so that you can know a love that will last through eternity, we invite you to read our blog post: How does one become a Christian?