If you know me, the following will not surprise you –
I can’t stand St. Valentine’s Day!
There, I’ve said it.
First, a bit (literally) of history : there are loads of Christian martyrs named Valentine, but the one’s we’re interested in are Valentine of Rome (priest martyred in circa AD269) and Valentine of Terni (Bishop martyred circa AD200) The first recorded romantic account in association with either of the St. Valentine’s is a poem written in 1382 by Chaucer to mark the marriage between King Richard II & Anne of Bohemia, and then it was dated 2nd May, not 14th February. The whole of the sickening red love heart day that we know is pretty much based on rumours of love letters etc with no actual historical evidence that were uncritically pushed by the scholars, movers and shakers of the time. So there.
The good points :
- Cheap wine
- Cheap chocolate
- Special offers on nights out/weekends away
- Job creation in many industries (stationary, leisure, fashion etc)
The bad points :
- A tsunami of every shade of red and pink
- The promotion of a fake love
- Only 1 day to celebrate love and relationships
- Sub-standard flowers as they are cut and refrigerated early to meet demand. Wait until after Mothers day, they get better.
- It totally excludes people who are single, or burdens them with unrealistic expectations of romance and relationship.
- The promotion of superficial relationships
- It’s a veil to hide under to engage in promiscuity
Let’s explore these.
I like wine and chocolate and cheap nights out, or even weekends away, and Valentine’s Day gives me that. I just ignore the pink/red. I also think it’s good that it provides work for many people. These are good things.
I don’t like the fact that an internationally recognised day intentionally excludes people who have no love in their life, or it allows sharks to hunt and eat under the banner of ‘finding love’ (yes, women too), or it results in poor quality blooms (my second-mum is a florist, honest). It also puts pressure on those in relationships to act in a way that just isn’t realistic. If my wife buys me a gift totally randomly I will know that it came from a desire to please and love me and it will hold far more value. If I get a gift or something between around this ‘special’ day, whilst the motivation may be exactly the same, I will always wonder if it was instigated out of pressure or guilt by the VD machine. I also hate the fact (see, I said hate, and I don’t use that word lightly) that the love of VD is fluffy and nice and pink and Hollywood. Real love is not like that, it is more than a card and a box of Thorntons’ finest (I prefer Hotel Chocolat), love isn’t just a feeling or emotion, it also compels action and is a commitment, for example ; because I love my son, I totally ignored my 3 impending deadlines and rushed home as fast as I could when he injured himself at school. Because I love my wife, we stick together when something really blows up because we have chosen to act on a decision rather than a fleeting feeling. Because God loves us, He set a plan in action from the moment of the first tempting to rescue us from sin, and the fulfilment of that was Jesus being judged and punished via murder on a cross on our behalf (yes, you too). Love is far more than a bottle of £3.99 white zinfandel, Chinese takeaway & watching the Notebook. Real love does stuff, like live in poverty to care for people in poverty, walk around in dangerous areas at night to help drug addicts and prostitutes & give away money and things to those who have genuine need. Real love changes lives and the world.
Consider this :
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease ; where there are tongues, they will be stilled ; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror ; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part ; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain : faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1Corinthians 13:1~13 (NIV)
If there is no action/commitment love, then everything is hollow and beige. Paul didn’t say “Love buys chocolate and flowers annually as a substitute for genuine, hard won intimacy” or “Love smoothes over gaping cracks with soft words in the hope that things don’t fall apart”
Real Love, Biblical Love, is for everyone, not just those in relationships, is hard work, sometimes painful, is always a pleasure and needs to be drummed into kids, damaged adults and a broken world.
The heart is a constant theme from the beginning to the end of the Bible – from the start until the end of time. The heart is powerful, but also delicate and precious. It needs vigorous protection. It is not fluffy and pink, it is like fine silk – a thing of beauty, carefully crafted and handled with exacting attention.
Whether you like VD or not, guard your heart and live with real Love.
Image from http://www.heart-healthy.org/