Let Your Groin Be Your Guide: A Valentine’s Day Post
Today is the day. You know it, I know it. In fact, you’ll be had pressed to find someone who doesn’t know it. The beginning of President’s Day weekend is finally here!
But if you’re not as gubernatorial – you probably also know that today is Valentine’s Day – a day that brings gleeful giggles to some and muffled-sobbing tears to others.
It truly is amazing to me just how much hype surrounds this holiday. It is estimated that we will spend more than $18 billion dollars just on Valentine’s Day this year – that’s more than what experts speculate it would cost to remedy the global water purity problem entirely.
The history of this holiday is murky – but the story likely finds its roots in the late 3rd century when Roman Emperor Claudius II banned marriages in order to boost recruits to his military. Valentine, a Roman priest, in order to preserve the sacred sacrament of marriage would conduct wedding ceremonies in private – eventually landing him in prison with a death sentence.
While there, young lovers are said to have sent letters to Valentine, declaring there position of love over war. He was then executed on February 14th, 269 – a martyr for the cause of love. Two-hundred years later Valentine was given a feast day in the hopes of replacing February’s pagan feasts of love and fertility with a theme of Christian love, sacrifice, and martyrdom.
As we observe our culture today, though – we must ask, “did it stick?”
I think there are a number of things we all should be mindful of this Valentine’s Day – and perhaps even a few things to be challenged by.
1. Valentine’s Day has been severely distorted.
What would today look like if it showed greater resemblance to the man and life it was meant to honor?
2. Valentine’s Day elevates one love over another.
In Western culture – sexuality is typically front and center. For the Christian, we believe sex is worth celebrating as a gift from God – but I can’t help but wonder what we lose by only focusing on this one expression.
3. Valentine’s Day = Singleness Awareness Day.
I’m thrilled to have a beautiful date to share today with, but that certainly hasn’t always been the case. Today, for many, is a painful reminder either of what they had and lost or what their hearts still long for.
What if we learned to use our celebrations of love as a way to draw instead of repel?
4. Valentine’s Day isolates affection to a specific calendar day.
I’m as guilty of this as anyone. When a holiday, birthday, or anniversary come sneaking up on me – I try to pull out all the stops. But, fi I’m really honest, it often highlight in my own heart how poor a job I do at living sacrificially the other 300+ days of the year.
Shouldn’t Valentine’s Day be a snapshot of how we’re living the rest of the year – rather than simply a “cease-fire” from the current chaos and heartache of our closes relationships?
5. Valentine’s Day often celebrates emotional exploitation.
This shows up subtly in films and shows that paint unreasonable expectations for relationships and creates personifications that no couple will ever be able to truly live up to.
In many ways our brains are trained in these logarithms to see these caricatures as normative – so much so, that we can often begin to crave these encounters like an addiction.
“We’re taught to crave a MOMENT instead of a MESSIAH.”
What’s worse is, when our partner doesn’t live up to the unrealistic expectations that we’ve developed for them, we’re often inclined to confused or angry at the person, or even God, for the situation we’re in.
Richard Philips put it well:
“If you cannot be contented in singleness, you will not be contented in marriage… No one person can be the source of your contentment. Contentment comes only from God, and the sooner we start seeking it in Him, the better off we will be.”
So – in light of that, I’d encourage each of us to wrestle through a few things:
1. Who you’re with or without doesn’t define who you are, or determine your worth.
What is something worth? The simple answer is, “what someone will pay for it.” At the very bedrock of the gospel narrative is a story of a God who ransomed his children through the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So we could say it this way:
“You and I have unsurpassable worth because we’ve been bought with an unsurpassable price.”
And that reality is a far greater foundation to build upon.
2. The desire of love is to give. The desire of lust is to get.
Paul wrote the church in Ephesus saying,
So imitate God. Follow Him like adored children, 2 and walk in love as the Anointed One loved you—so much that He gave Himself as a fragrant sacrifice, pleasing God.
As you and I walk in love more and more, we’ll find it harder and harder to wave the banner of selfishness in our relationships and communities.
And if you find yourself without a significant other to serve in this way today – may this be a time of celebration for the relationships that you do have, and a call to action to love them better too!
3. The call on your life is not virginity – it’s purity.
For those in singleness – this is huge. Many simply white-knuckle abstinence as if that’s the goal, when in reality, intimacy with Christ and the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2) should be our highest aim.
4. Embrace the awkward – it’s where vulnerability is found.
God isn’t simply sitting with arms crossed waiting for you to become more dapper. Part of the journey of being known is allowing space for the awkward. In fact – when I was in college – I embraced this idea fully by creating an aptly titled, “Awkward Jar” filled with questions, just in case the burden of my own homeschooled awkwardness ever became too much to bear.
5. Remember that you are a sinner – and anyone you’ll be with is too.
We must always be aware of our own inclinations to manipulate, lie, push boundaries, and skimp out – and whoever we’re with will often feel that same tug. The fact of the matter is – we won’t always be at the top of our game – so lets prepare for patience, forgiveness, and longsuffering.
Ultimately, whether you are single or “attached” this Valentines day, if you are in Christ you are not simply students reading a book or spectators of a great event. We are participants in this great drama of God’s love.
So may we love – both as He loves, and because He first loved us.
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin or your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable…The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers…of love is Hell. – C.S. Lewis