The Story of Saint Valentine
- Valentine was a priest who performed many marriages. In Odyssey, he was upset by this edict because God created marriage, and it wasn't in man’s authority to outlaw it. He believed marriage to be the foundation of strong families, and families to be the backbone of civilization. He believed every Christian should fight to save marriage as God intended it to be, even at the cost of one’s life.
- Valentine was arrested for continuing to perform marriage after the edict had been issued.
- In prison, Valentine met the jailer’s daughter (named Julia in Odyssey), who was blind since childhood. She was thought of as worthless for anything except feeding prisoners. He was kinder to her than the other prisoners and they became friends.
- Valentine prayed for her sight to be restored. She doubted it would happened, but in a few days’ time, her sight was miraculously restored. The jailer was grateful to Valentine for what he did for his daughter, and tried to reason with the emperor to release Valentine, but the emperor wouldn't change his mind.
- In 269, Valentine lived in Rome under the reign of the Emperor Claudius, also known as “Claudius the Cruel”
- Frustrated that he wasn't getting enough men to join the Roman Army and that his soldiers were too concerned about their families, Claudius issued an edict outlawing all marriages in the Roman Empire. According to this edict, anyone who was found to be performing marriage ceremonies would be put to death.
- Claudius had Valentine brought before him. Valentine tried to reason with the emperor about marriage and families making men stronger. The emperor saw that Valentine was wise, and was willing to make him a deal. He would be released if he renounced his faith and promised to stop performing marriage ceremonies. Valentine refused, and Claudius declared he would be stoned and beheaded on February 14, 270
- In Odyssey, when offered the opportunity to escape, Valentine refused. He knew the jailer would be executed if a prisoner escaped, and he did not want to leave Julia without a father.
- When Valentine was not allowed to see Julia again, he asked for permission to write her a letter. In Odyssey, he thanked her for everything she had done for him, said that he hoped she would grow in her faith, and reminded her that they would only be parted for a time, until they were reunited in Heaven. He signed the letter “Your Valentine.”
- Valentine was executed on February 14, 270
Marriage – Something Worth Fighting For
Valentine believed that marriage was an institution created by God and that no man should have the right to take away or change this institution. To be frank, I think Valentine would be grieved to see what has become of marriage and relationships in our world today. It is no longer holy. It is no longer permanent. Many spend extravagant amounts of money to make a wedding fancy, but end up saying vows that they don’t really intend to live out. Many are being extremely irresponsible with their sexual lives, to the point that marriage has become less important than “being in love,” or experiencing sexual pleasure. Marriage is no longer a necessity to parent a child. Families are not the backbone of society that they used to be, and we are paying the price for this cultural shift. This should not be.
On Valentine’s Day, I think we should celebrate marriage as the blessing from God that it is. It is a commitment between a man and a woman to be joined spiritually and sexually until death separates them. This is a beautiful thing, and a metaphor of God’s love for us. We should not allow anyone or anything to taint marriage any more that it has already been distorted by our culture. We need to win back marriage and sex from Satan’s grasp so that we can help our world see God’s divine intention for them. The sacred love within a marriage is something worth fighting for. This what this song from the movie Fireproof tells us.
Love – Giving Up Yourself
Jesus did not want us to be fatherless either. He did not want us to be without a way to know the Heavenly Father intimately and personally, so he came down to earth as a man, and became the Ransom for all transgressions. This hope we have in salvation was the ultimate motivation for Saint Valentine to give up his life, but he was able to do so because he knew the ultimate example of sacrificial love.
It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from The Lord of the Rings. When Frodo tells Sam that he would be leaving over Sea, Sam has a hard time accepting it. He makes a statement I will never forget, and I may expound on further in another post. This is one of the best ways that sacrifice has ever been defined.
Sacrificial Love Isn't Grey
I personally believe that the Fifty Shades books and movies are another thing that would grieve Saint Valentine about what marriage and sex have become in our culture, and that a day in his name is being used to promote them. To be honest, I don’t think that Christian Grey truly loved Ana. At least not by the way that the Bible defines it. Christian was in no way denying himself for the one he loved. He was controlling, manipulative, and obsessive. He did everything he could to buy her affections. He stole her innocence in more ways than one. He was in no way a godly man. Ana also didn't know what love was. She was willing to let him do whatever he wanted to her, just so she could fulfill his twisted need to be in total control, hoping that she might be able to redeem him. They even mock God in the process, by using a cross and Latin hymns for sexual encounters, and even by continually misusing the word “holy” by pairing it with vulgar words. And in the end, they come out with a somewhat "normal" marriage! Yet these books are somehow managing to create addictions to themselves and destroying marriages. How can this be? It's because this is a counterfeit of what love and sexuality are meant to be. Don’t be fooled, my friends.
As Christians, we need to learn how to have sacrificial love in our marriages and in our other relationships, so that we can demonstrate it to a world so desperately needs to know what true love is. Then, we can lead them to the foot of the cross, where they will find the love that will endure all, and teach them how to live out that same type of love in our own lives. This will be the type of love that will matter for eternity, not some man-made version with mushy feelings and "happily ever after's." As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, we need to focus on celebrating the right kind of love, and how to identify when someone is trying to sell us the counterfeit.
True love is not found in porn or erotica. It’s not found in uncommitted relationships. It’s not found in many of our favorite chick flicks. It’s not found in cheesy cards and fancy dinners. It’s not even found in fancy weddings.
To conclude this post, I want to share my newest YouTube video about Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s a spoken word poem that further addresses my perspective on the subject. I hope that all of you will know how to be pursue sacrificial love, this Valentine's Day, and everyday.