And Saint Valentine . . .
We’re about to kick it old school . . . really old school. During the reign of Emporer Cladius II, marriage was banned in attempts to strengthen and fortify the Roman army (young, single men = young, single, undistracted soldiers). Legend has it, this took place somewhere around 270 AD. 20th century historians do not affirm this as historical fact given the various accounts are not able to be verified. It is highly possible the historical accounts were destroyed within the time of the “Diocletianic Persecution.” I wasn’t there.
Legend also has it that a man by the name of “Valentine” or “Valentinus” continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. There are written accounts stating he was beaten and finally beheaded for his enduring committment to the sanctity of marriage. Before his death, Valentine befriended the jailer’s daughter and gave her a latter signed, “Your Valentine.”
This was the legend I had been taught growing up but more recently, as I spent some time preparing for this post, I learned that some honor not just one St. Valentine, but 3 different St. Valentines on February 14th. I have read that the first saint was indeed imprisoned but received letters (the “first valentines”) from young couples. I have read the second saint did indeed send his jailer’s daughter notes from himself (also “first valentines) and I have read that the third saint argued that sex and marriage were centeral to “Christian” teaching. These men were lumped together into one feast day.
Whether you are “in a relationship” or not, I think Valentine’s Day can be cool. Why? Because people matter . . . relationships matter. God did not design us to be lone rangers. Communion and community are blessed gifts. Whether or not you have a romantic interest, you have relationships all around you! These are all opportunities to reflect and taste the good gifts God has given us. I think we can celebrate love in general. I think you should bake some treats or write some notes and share your heart, your time, yourself, with others.
I also think we can celebrate fighting for something as important and sacred as marriage. Marriage is merely a shadow. It is a picture of something much bigger than us. Two people with all their weaknesses, differences and opinions coming together to pursue unity . . . that’s heavy stuff. That isn’t just some trendy event on Pinterest or some piece of paper you signed. It takes place deep within, within the invisible, within the soul.
I want to say more but I’m not sure I have the wisdom or years. Until then, I will end with this . . . Valentine’s Day can matter because people matter. When you boil it down, it’s really just another way for The Man and Hallmark to make some cash. Right? So, if you don’t want to participate, that’s totally cool by me. But if you do want to participate, I think that’s cool too. You could even have an acutal feast! Relationships matter because people matter. We are not just merely personalities and problems. We are living, breathing, eternal souls . . . and so are the people all around you.