Monday, February 14, 2011

St. Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day. Notice how the world has removed the Saint from it? Today, Valentine's Day is just another ploy to remove cash from the wallets of men and to line the coffers of florists and candy makers. This is not just the rant of a man with an obligation on St. Valentine's Day, but just another example of how secular society has taken over something Christian.

Being an amateur historian of American history today is the anniversary of the St. Valentine's Day massacre. In which members of one Sicilian gang, led by Al Capone, in Prohibition era Chicago dressed as police officers, massacred seven members of an Irish gang in order to get control of illegal alcohol distribution in that city.

All that being said, the real story behind St. Valentine's Day is even more interesting. I have taken the story from Lutheran Hour Ministries, and I hope that it will make this day not just about showing love to your spouse, fiance, or girl/boyfriend. Instead take the time to understand that someone died on this day standing for Christ.

In 270 A.D., marriage had been outlawed by the emperor of Rome, Claudius II. Claudius issued this decree because he thought that married men made bad soldiers since they were reluctant to be torn away from their families in the case of war. Claudius had also outlawed Christianity in this time period because he wished to be praised as the one supreme god, the Emperor of Rome. Valentine was the bishop of Interamna during this period of oppression. Valentine thought that the decrees of Rome were wrong. He believed that people should be free to love God and to marry. Valentine invited the young couples of the area to come to him. When they came, Valentine secretly performed services of matrimony and united the couples.
Valentine was eventually caught and was brought before the emperor. The emperor saw that Valentine had conviction and drive that was unsurpassed among his men. Claudius tried and tried to persuade Valentine to leave Christianity, serve the Roman empire and the Roman gods. In exchange, Claudius would pardon him and make him one of his allies. St. Valentine held to his faith and did not renounce Christ. Because of this, the emperor sentenced him to a three-part execution. First, Valentine would be beaten, then stoned, and then finally, decapitated. Valentine died on February 14th, 270 A.D.
While in prison, waiting for his sentence to be carried out, Valentine fell in love with the jailer's daughter, the blind Asterius. During the course of Valentine's prison stay, a miracle occurred and Asterius regained her sight. Valentine sent her a final farewell note. He signed his last note, "From Your Valentine." Even today, this message remains as the motto for our Valentine's Day celebrations.
 As you can see, this day has far much more significance than that of a sappy romantic expression. Nor is St. Valentine's Day a time in which we make sappy romantic expressions to Jesus, as if He is our boyfriend. Sorry, single Christian ladies, but Jesus is your King. He is not some sugar daddy that you seduce or coerce to do or give you what you want.

The other dangerous thought about Jesus and St. Valentine's Day is the teaching that Jesus is the "loneliest Valentine." I heard this preached a number of times from a former pastor. Again, makes Jesus just a romantic figure at best, but at worst makes Jesus into a cat that is crying at the door begging to come in. Again, this is not the Jesus of the Bible. Jesus is King. He is sovereign over all. He rules and reigns and is not lonely, nor does he desire our companionship. He has perfect fellowship with the two other members of the Trinity. Jesus died not for the fulfillment of some loneliness, but so that His mercy and grace would be demonstrated for all to see. This is not a boyfriend.

So when giving your sweetheart flowers or chocolates today, why not tell him/her about the true meaning of St. Valentine's Day. That on this day someone died for Christ and marriage, and that is why we commemorate this day.

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