The History of Valentines.
Approximately 250 years after Jesus was born in Bethlehem, there was a priest by the name of Valentine. He lived in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius, who was committed to rebuilding the once-great Roman army. However, he believed it was important for men to volunteer for armed service, rather than drafting men into service against their will. But, given a choice, most young men in the Roman Empire refused to serve. They’d rather stay at home with their wives and children that go off into battle.
Claudius came to believe that only single men would volunteer for service, so he issued a royal edict that banned all further marriages. He actually outlawed weddings in the Roman Empire, earning himself the nick-name Claudius the Cruel.
Valentine thought it was ridiculous! One of his favorite duties as a priest was to marry people. So after Emperor Claudius passed his law, Valentine secretly continued performing marriage ceremonies. He would whisper the words of the ceremony, while listening for soldiers on the steps outside.
One night, Valentine heard footsteps at his door. The couple he was marrying escaped, but he was caught. He was thrown in jail and sentenced to death. Valentine tried to stay cheerful. Many of the young couples he had married came to visit him in jail. They threw flowers and notes up to his window. They wanted him to know that they, too, believed in love.
One day, he received a visit from the daughter of one of the prison guards. Her father allowed her to visit him in his cell and they often sat and talked for hours. She believed he did the right thing by ignoring the Emperor and performing weddings. On the day Valentine was to die, he left her a note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. He signed it, “Love from your Valentine.” That note started the custom of exchanging love notes on Valentine’s Day. It was written on the day he died, February 14, 269 A.D.—a day that was set aside in honor of a man who gave his life for God and for love. Now, every year on this day, people remember Saint Valentine, but most importantly, they think about love.
I read an intriguing article about 4 years ago, that said that “Despite the sweet and loving connotations of Valentine‘s day, Muslim and Hindu leaders in Asia are trying to stamp out the celebration of Valentine’s Day by young lovers. While the holiday seems trivial to Westerners, it is a serious issue of cultural tension in other parts of the world. Cities in India have outlawed cards, and guards spent the day searching campuses looking for couples daring to celebrate the holiday. In Brunei, Valentine’s Day has been declared a threat to Islam. Religious leaders fear the "Christian practice" of Valentine’s Day could "erode moral values, weaken the community and destroy Islam."
Did you notice that the Hinduism and Islam regard Valentine’s Day as a “Christian Practice”. Why would they think that? What is there about Valentine’s Day that would make it appear to be a Christian activity?
My guess is that they think that because Valentine’s Day (at least as Christians practice it) is all about honoring the person we love. It especially focuses on men buying gifts and cards for their wives and sweethearts. In fact, I just heard on the radio that on Valentine’s Day men far outspend women on such expenditures.
That doesn’t go over real well in Hindu and Islam cultures. Because in both of those settings, women are 2nd class citizens (whatever people may tell you about women in our culture being 2nd class citizens – it doesn’t compare to what you’d see in those settings). The women in those cultures exist principally to take care of guys.
“The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.”
1 John 4:8-11 CSB
“Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 CSB
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