My wife will insist I’m taking this view simply as an excuse not to indulge her in chocolates, cards, and other gifts. She’s right, but only partly. I don’t indulge her enough, that’s a fact. She certainly deserves a symbol of my love on March 14 just as much as February 14—and the 14th of every month, for that matter. Maybe that’s just what I’ll start doing, especially after she reads this article.
But I know I won’t be the most romantic husband in the land on the day marked on our calendars with a cherub shooting an arrow into a heart. I just can’t reconcile the contrast between the Valentine’s Day definition of love and love understood biblically in the historic Judeo/Christian heritage. Why, even the original Valentine would no doubt scoff at the comparison.
Fact is, we don’t know many specifics of the namesake of the biggest candy giving day of the year. Church historians tell us of at least 14 (there’s that number!) persons named Valentine in the first couple centuries AD who gave their lives for Christ as martyrs.
Think of that. Those Valentines gave their lives for love, all right, and their hearts really were pierced. But their deaths had nothing to do with romance–but everything with sacrifice. Sacrifice–one life lived and given for the sake of another–that’s the true meaning of love, if we want to get down to it.
It’s the difference between a cute cherub with an arrow and a bruised and battered man on a cross. It’s all the difference in the world, then. Love is not spelled “Cupid.”
Indulge your beloved February 14 with candy and romance, if you must. But indulge that same beloved with the sacrificial love of your time, attention, prayer, and support on February 15. And maybe over the days that follow, too.
That would be an expression of love that Valentine–any of them–would indeed endorse.
Mark Graham is the Senior Pastor at St, John’s Lutheran Church located at 4608 Brambleton Ave. Visit them on the web at: www.stjohnlutheran.org