February 14th is a day that is close to the "hearts" of many. Children send Valentine cards to one another, young lovers (?) give gifts of flowers and candy to their "significant other" and sometimes, just sometimes, even husbands and wives remember each other on that day for the love that drew them together and grows from year to year.
The origin of this particular day and its accompanying traditions are seated in Roman beginnings and Greek mythology. It is thought to have begun as the festival of Lupercalia which was a Roman celebration of love. This springtime event was characterized by the exchanging of gifts between men and women. One custom of the day was the pinning on the sleeve of a young man's shirt, the name of the young damsel who was to accompany him during the festivities. This ancient custom resulted in the once-common phrase, "He wears her heart on his sleeve." Valentine's Day later came to have "religious" significance within the Roman church during the third century in honor of certain martyrs, one of which came to be known as "Saint" (?) Valentine.
The Roman god of love, Cupid, came to be a symbol of this festival, and even today is a popular icon of our present-day holiday. According to Roman mythology, Cupid was the son of Venus, the goddess of love, who was identified in Greek mythology as Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. Cupid's counterpart in Greek mythology was known as Eros. These names had significance in their meanings and even came to have an influence on future cultures, our own being no exception. Cupid, in its Latin roots, means, "desire, longing, or passion." Eros, from its Greek origin, is where we get our present-day word, "erotic." It should be no surprise to us that its meaning is defined by Webster as, "Having to do with sexual love. Of, or causing sexual feelings or desires."
Considering these beginnings of what we now call Valentine's Day, is it any wonder how our culture has come to have a misguided concept about what "love" is really all about? It is obvious that the people of that era had a sensual concept of what we call love. Now, these many centuries later, we talk about "falling in love" and "making love" without consideration for the true meaning of what love really is. Our common misunderstanding of love is inseparably tied to the flesh and is confused with the emotions.
This is not to speak against Valentine's Day nor to put an evil slant on the innocent traditions of exchanging gifts and cards as a reminder of our affection for others. However, it is a reminder to us of our limited view of love. There is no denying the connection between love and emotions, however, many fail to understand that the "feelings" (or emotions) associated with love, is not love in itself. Nor is love the associated fleshly desires that draw two to become one flesh, but rather is either an expression of that love or merely the fulfillment of a lust of the flesh without any association with love. In fact, this latter consideration is an irresponsible act bordering on "animal instinct" which, in reality, is an act devoid of love, and is rather one of self-gratification without consideration for the other person.
Young people need to learn that what Hollywood depicts as love is actually lust gone to seed, resulting in sin grown to maturity. James said it this way; "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." (Jas. 1:14-15) The world, in its warped view of love, has blighted our generation, robbing it of the joyful meaning of true love. They, in the words of Paul, "suppress the truth in unrighteousness." (Rom. 1:18) As in past generations, it can still be said that "God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves" (vs. 24) and "For this reason God gave them up to vile passions..." (vs. 26) and "...to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality," etc. (vs.. 28, 29) In short, man has perverted the true meaning of love and distorted the sanctity of marriage from a sacred bond to a temporary convenience for the sake of fleshly gratification.
Choosing a mate has been relegated to a frivolous selection process that focuses on good looks, sensuality, and fun loving good times, rather than the sober consideration of a lifetime commitment with one who will unselfishly look to the good of the other with a view toward helping each other get to heaven as "...heirs together of the grace of life." (1 Pet. 3:7) Which one of these two pictures depicts the true nature of love?
God's kind of love surpasses all of man's expectations. It is found within the bond of marriage where husbands are to "...love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her" (Eph. 5:25) and where wives are to have learned from their older counterparts to "love their husbands..." (Tit. 2:4). If the younger do not learn these things through the teaching and examples of their parents and grandparents, they may likely learn a perverted view from the rest of the world and subsequently miss out on the joys that God placed there for us.
Young people desperately need to learn that true love waits. Unlike the deceptive persuasions used by those with raging hormones and unrestrained will power, "If you love me" is not the question to be heeded to give in to the lusts of the flesh, but rather, "If you love God" becomes the real question whose answer forthrightly declares "Not now!" Remember, "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled, but fornicators and adulterers God will judge." (Heb. 13:4) "Love suffers long (it waits patiently, gvw)...does not behave rudely (indecently or shamefully, gvw), does not seek its own (not self gratifying). (1 Cor. 13:4, 5) One who claims to love you will never ask you to do that which is wrong in the sight of God. And young men, remember, "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised." (Prov. 31:30) The question is, "Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies." (vs. 10) The rewards of patience in searching for the right one is the realization of love's precious treasure.
Before saying, "be mine," - think!
- Gary V. Womack - Feb. 15, 2004