What are we to do with Valentine’s Day? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Today is Valentine’s Day, which many also do call Singles’ Awareness Day. I do understand it. I used to dread the day, but now I’m married so that changes. As I thought about the day today, I thought about how much has changed since the coming of Christ with regard to romantic love.
One of the mistakes we often make when we read the Bible is we assume the people of the time were for the most part, just like us. They weren’t. Through studies today, we’re learning that the majority world is really radically different and we’re the odd ones out. They function more in terms of honor and shame and we in terms of guilt and innocence.
One way of change also is romantic love. Now let’s be clear. When we look at the ancients, there were indeed times that you would see a man with deep love and affection for his spouse. This was more often the exception. Many a man was seen as more of a man by how many women (Or young boys even) he could bed. The women meanwhile were to be chaste. As we see our culture abandoning Christianity, it’s not a shock that we move back to that idea even more.
Marriages were more often arranged. There wasn’t any going out and dating and finding the right man for you. You were also expected to be married at a much earlier age. Many of our fourteen-year-old girls today could be in a panic trying to decide what to wear to school the next day. Their ancestors would be busy being mothers to children. I really think one of the great disasters of our age is we’ve lost a rite of passage idea into manhood and womanhood and too many of our young people think the way you show yourself a man or a woman is by having sex instead of having the mindset of a man or a woman.
When we go to the letter to the Ephesians, we can get into a lot of arguments about a woman submitting to her husband. What we often forget is the shock that would come to the men when they heard the command to love their wives and give themselves for them. They would have thought that Paul was on the crack of his day.
Through Christ, we learned immensely about sacrificial love and men learned to be chaste and be only with their wives sexually. This became a reigning paradigm for some time, but sadly we’ve seen ourselves moving away from it. Just yesterday in fact, I read a statistic about how 30% of women doing online dating sleep with the guy on the first date. You have to wonder at that point if anything is sacred.
Valentine’s Day is a day for us as Christians to show the world a different and a better way. I always encourage Christians who are married to live out their marriage. If we look at the world as dishonoring marriage, my fear is that the world does it because the church did it first. If we want the battle for true marriage, we need to not only defend marriage as it is, but we need to live it as it is.
I don’t know what your plan is for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, but if you are a husband, love her as Christ loved the church. If you are a wife, love him as the church loves Christ. Seek to give of yourselves. There is no place in marriage for looking out for yourself. In fact, we are told to look out for the interests of others above ourselves. If you can’t do that in marriage, where can you do it?