Thursday, 9 February 2012

Should Christians Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

I cannot think of any holiday or anniversary that is surrounded by so much controversy like Valentine’s Day. In his award-winning book, Hamlet, William Shakespeare writes:
To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I am maid at your window,
To be your Valentine…

History of Valentine
The original history of Valentine’s Day can be traced as far back as 500 A.D.  The original story is linked to three martyrs:  
“Valentine of Rome (Valentinus presb. m. Romae) and Valentine of Terni (Valentinus ep. Interamnensis m. Romae) Valentine of Rome was a priest in Rome who was martyred about AD 269 and was buried on the Via Flaminia. His relics are at the Church of Saint Praxed in Rome and at Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland. There’s a third martyr/Valentine who is believed to have died in Africa” –Wikipedia.

It is interesting to know that the Christian martyrs were referred to as Valentine. It was sort of a title for them; just like we have Bishop, Pastor and Reverend for today’s ministers of the Gospel.
It is believed that the above mentioned Valentines were commemorated and celebrated yearly on February 14. The original celebration of Valentine’s Day did not have the linkage to romantic love as we see in modern day Valentine’s Day Celebrations. The celebration marked support and affection for the Valentines who even at death held steadfast to their faith in God.

Romantic Association
How did Valentine’s Day become associated with love and romance? The attachment to romantic love as we see in modern day Valentine’s Day celebration is believed to have come about as a result of a romantic poem which a duke, Charles, duke of Orleans, wrote to his wife. This of course is not the first recorded romantic association with Valentine’s Day. The first recorded romantic association to Valentine’s Day can be found in the Parlement of Foules (1382) by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Chaucer wrote:
For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.
"For this was Saint Valentine's Day,
When every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”

Shakespeare also made mention of Valentine’s Day in his Hamlet (1600-1601). He has this to say:
To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I am maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn'd his clothes,
And dupp'd the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.
—William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5.

The romantic associations mentioned above contributed largely to the established modern romantic association with Valentine’s Day celebrations worldwide.

When is Valentine’s Day?
Valentine’s Day is February 14. It divides every 28 day February month into two equal parts. Valentine’s Day is celebrated worldwide by both Christians and non-Christians. A lot of romance and affection is associated with the celebration, with people buying Hearts, Red Roses, and Greeting Cards inscribe with loving words, for their partners (i.e. Wives, husbands, girlfriends and boyfriends).

The colour red which is usually interpreted as the colour of love is also the colour of Valentine’s Day. It is interesting to know that some people even refer to Valentine’s Day as “red day.” People celebrating Valentine always flood the system with red things every February 14. People dress in red, hold red bags, wear red earrings, drive red cars and if possible they’d love to have the roads tarred red on Valentine’s Day.

Is Valentine’s Day for Christians?
Having looked at the historical and modern view of Valentine’s Day, let’s now move to the business of the day: Is Valentine’s Day for Christians? This question comes up as a result of the strong stance of some Christian sects against celebration of Valentine’s Day. Their argument usually, is that, Valentine’s Day is paganism and Christians should not be associated with paganism.
Coincidentally, the same Christian Sects that condemns the celebration of Valentine’s Day also condemns a number of other celebrations such as Christmas and other national day celebrations of some nations. Someone would ask, ‘So is their argument justified?’
Well, let us check that from the good book called the Bible. The Bible is God’s official guide to Christian living. In fact, it is the official guide for the entire universe. And it is very fascinating to know that the Bible answers all questions –including the ones we think it does not.  No wonder God entreats us to meditate on His Word (the Bible) daily (Joshua 1:8).

What does the Bible say about Valentine’s Day?
Here is what the Bible says on Valentine’s Day celebration,
“Let NO MAN therefore JUDGE you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an HOLYDAY, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: Which are a SHADOW of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” –Colossians 2:16-17.

I was so blessed to find this scripture in God’s Word. The instruction is simple and clear. Let NO MAN JUDGE you concerning holidays; which ones to celebrate and which ones not to celebrate. Why? It is because these things are only SHADOWS. They are not the real things. Our lives are not base on what we celebrate or what we don’t celebrate. Our lives are based on God, His love and His salvation. Remember “…by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” – Ephesians 2:8

What’s more, Valentine’s Day, historically, was invented by the Church and so we as Christians have every right to take it up and celebrate it. Of course, the world may be abusing the celebration by some acts of promiscuity which they have attached to the celebration, but that is the world. We Christians would use it as a moment to show love to one another and also reach out to the world with God’s Word.

Therefore, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Christians celebrating Valentine. It all depends on what you on that day. The world may use it for clubbing, but we will use it for preaching. How about that? February 14, Valentine’s Day, as it is called, is also a “day that the Lord had made and we will be glad and rejoice (celebrate) in it.”

I believe many who had doubts before reading this article have had their doubts cleared and they can now go all out to show real  love to friends, families and colleagues this Valentine and on every Valentine’s Day by reaching them with God’s Word. Make it a point in your heart to make someone feel loved this Valentine. May God richly bless you!

“For now there are faith, hope, and love. But of these three, the greatest is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13 (CEV).

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