Despite the commercialism and veneer of Christian tradition on the celebration of Valentine's Day, the underlying theme of love is a fit message for everyone. But unlike the hit and miss darts of Cupid, real love is not a transient emotion that strikes randomly out of the blue.
Godly love does pierce the soul, but it prompts change and action. It’s not just a feeling, not a weakness – it’s not an Achilles heel. It is not selfish – and it is not a trap or a mistake.
BUT, let us make the distinction here between love and romance.
Valentine’s Day, its roots a protest against Roman soldiers having to go to war without the benefit of marriage and familial support, eventually slung its hook on romance rather than on commitment and enduring love.
Our culture idolises romantic love in music, TV and movies. Boy meets girl, girl is smitten by boy, young loves meets trouble, and either triumphs, or burns up in flame….Songs are penned on triumphant love, or tragic loss…as they did from Shakespeare’s time and before. The main theme of films and movies is romance, whether fulfilled or trampled on. So love strikes, out of the blue, and the audience laps up the emotion. The fleeting state is adored while it lasts.. which is generally till the end of the movie or storyline.
But is this what real love is all about? Fleeting romance, adoration, physical satisfaction, emotional connection, and more… are these all the elements for enduring love between couples? Can love have elements of romance and realism, or does the dose of reality kill romance? Is romance necessary to a loving relationship? Is it the main, or most important, part of love?
Somehow, I think Valentine would have been appalled by romance being the primary component of love. As a marriage celebrant, he would have appreciated an enduring type of love and the dedication and commitment involved.
But the modern St Valentine’s day celebration has focused on the courtship, and not the longevity and commitment of a relationship. In the culture of our society, Valentines day has been more a day for dating couples, and wannabes, than married couples. It is now a day looking at the excitement of a new connection as opposed to the union and long term bonding of two people. The trivialisation and comedy of romance has eroded the concept of commitment in love and of marriage.
While romance supports love, it does not replace love. The foundation of love and commitment will support romantic expression between couples. Love is a far bigger concept and emotion than Valentine’s Day can hold. Read more on love in I Corinthians 13.