If you’re single and looking, Valentine’s Day probably isn’t your favorite holiday, and may make some of you feel just plain miserable. But there’s another way to look at it.
Although you’d never know it from the greeting-card commercials, Valentine’s Day was originally a Christian holiday: It was named for Saint Valentine (AKA Valentinius) and it wasn’t mainly about romance.
The history is a bit fuzzy as to who Valentine was, but by the most popular account, he was a priest in Rome martyred for his ministry. In the words of a Wikipedia summary:
He was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples and otherwise aiding Christians who were at the time being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Helping Christians at this time was considered a crime. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner — until Valentinus tried to convert the Emperor — whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that didn’t finish him, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate. Various dates are given for the martyrdom or martyrdoms: 269, 270, or 273.
So yeah, romance is sort of in the original mix of the holiday, inasmuch as he was conducting weddings. But that wasn’t the main point: The point was to remember a man who gave his life to do the Lord’s work. Just like believers have done for 2,000 years, and still are doing, all around the world.
So if you’re single and looking, don’t spend Valentine’s Day agonizing over it or feeling sorry for yourself. (Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t keep looking.) Spend some time thinking about all the believers facing persecution for their faith. Remember the dead, pray for the living, and consider supporting groups that help them.
In short, take back Valentine’s Day for the church.
Copyright 2010 Matt Kaufman. All rights reserved.