Be My Valentine

So, I was looking back through the vast archives of blog posts I have written to ascertain how I had addressed Valentine’s Day in the past and I discovered nothing.

 

Nothing.

 

That’s right, in the almost seven years since I have been writing this blog for Kinship Christian Radio, I have never written a single word about Valentine’s Day.

 

But then that’s not surprising since (in my world-view) Valentine’s Day is yet another example of the world’s corruption and cheapening of one of God’s loving gifts to us –romantic love.

 

Going far beyond merely an excuse to sell maliciously expensive greeting cards, our culture’s current celebration of Valentine’s Day looks to me like a thinly-veiled festival of hedonism and pornography actually exceeding the NFL’s once-a-year televised return to the Canaanite practice of Molech worship complete with an Asherah pole and temple prostitutes. (If I seem a bit “prudish,” look up the stats on sex trafficking during the annual “big game” festivities.)

 

So, yes, it certainly appears I’m a typical priggish and dreary old conservative Christian on the subject and you may well imagine that I’m this close >< to firing off angry letters to the editors of local newspapers and all my elected officials advocating that we pass a law banning the celebration of such a sinful, degrading, heinous celebration of sin and our carnal nature.  

 

(At this very moment, my lovely wife and Chief Proofreader is rolling her eyes at what I just wrote.)

 

But not so! 

 

Ha!

 

For you see, dear reader, if we look into the real reason we celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day, it’s actually pretty glorious and inspiring. 

 

The holiday actually goes back possibly as much as 1700 years and there were not one, but two or maybe even three Saint Valentines. The history is so fuzzy we’re not exactly sure of all the details, because many of the records were destroyed during Roman persecution of Christians, but here goes:

 

Both saints were actually known as Valentinius. One is Valentinius of Rome and the other is Valentinius of Terni.

 

Valentinius of Terni is said to have been martyred in 273 during the persecution of Christians under Roman emperor Aurelian, but information on why and how he was martyred does not seem readily available.

 

Likewise, another Valentinius, who was also martyred on February 14 but not connected to the first two, is said to have died in Africa with several companions, but again very little information is available.

 

Valentinius of Rome, however, seems to have a more complete (or at least detailed) history. 

 

Apparently, sometime during the persecution of Christians by Rome, Valentinius performed clandestine Christian weddings for Roman soldiers who had been forbidden to marry under Roman Emperor Claudius II who believed his soldiers fought better as single men. Valentinius wore an amethyst ring with a cupid on it, which helped the Roman soldiers identify him as the man who could marry them to their brides. It is said he cut paper hearts out of parchment and gave these to the grooms to help them remember their wives while in battle.

 

Now, Claudius II was only Emperor of Rome from 268 to 270 AD, so we have a pretty good idea of the time frame. It is said Claudius interviewed Valentinius and gave him a chance to renounce his faith in Jesus Christ, worship the pagan Roman gods and have his life spared, but Valentinius refused and was cast into prison.

 

While in prison, and before he was executed, it is said he performed a miracle and healed a young lady named Julia of her blindness. Julia was the daughter of his jailer, Asterius.

 

Julia, her family, and all the servants of her household (47 people in all) came to believe in Jesus and were baptized.

 

Before he was executed, Saint Valentinius wrote Julia a letter and signed it, “Your Valentine.”

 

So you see, the association with romantic love, (which became popular in the 14th century) and the giving of cards (which grew in popularity in the 18th century) both have their roots in what Saint Valentine did through Christian marriage.

 

But, our tradition of those cards containing the words, “Be My Valentine” has it roots in the miraculous healing of a young blind lady named Julia, the salvation of her entire household, and the courage of a man who stood up for the love of Jesus Christ even to the point of death. 

 

And so, I will proudly celebrate the true meaning of Valentine’s Day this year. I may even get an obnoxiously ostentatious and embarrassingly sappy card for the Chief Proofreader. 

 

(Oh, and by the way, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many, many countries all over the world. And, yes, there have indeed been several attempts to outlaw it –in Muslim countries.)

 

 

Today’s Praise

Place me like a seal over your heart,

like a seal on your arm.

For love is as strong as death,

its jealousy as enduring as the grave.

Love flashes like fire,

the brightest kind of flame.

Many waters cannot quench love,

nor can rivers drown it.

If a man tried to buy love

with all his wealth,

his offer would be utterly scorned.

Song of Solomon 8:6&8 (NLT)

 

Photo by author.

 

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