Good morning. It is Monday, February 14, 2022. Jeanette Stark here.
It is Valentine’s Day. What did you buy your sweetheart? Chocolate? Flowers? A card? Have you planned a special romantic dinner or made reservations at his/her favorite restaurant?
Valentine’s Day; a day for sweethearts; a day for romance, a day for love. Did you know however, it did not start out that way.
…”it has been suggested that the holiday has origins in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, held in mid-February. The festival, which celebrated the coming of spring, included fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery. At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I forbid the celebration of Lupercalia and is sometimes attributed with replacing it with St. Valentine’s Day, but the true origin of the holiday is vague at best. Valentine’s Day did not come to be celebrated as a day of romance until about the 14th century. Although there were several Christian martyrs named Valentine, the day may have taken its name from a priest who was martyred about 270 CE by the emperor Claudius II Gothicus. According to legend, the priest signed a letter “from your Valentine” to his jailer’s daughter, whom he had befriended and, by some accounts, healed from blindness. Other accounts hold that it was St. Valentine of Terni, a bishop, for whom the holiday was named, though it is possible the two saints were actually one person. Another common legend states that St. Valentine defied the emperor’s orders and secretly married couples to spare the husbands from war. It is for this reason that his feast day is associated with love.” (Source: Britannica.com)
Of course, it has morphed into something even more. We give gifts to our children and other relatives. School kids exchange valentine’s card in the classroom (or at least used to) but the deep roots of this date, go way, way back.
According to cnet.com “Dating back at least to the 6th century B.C., Lupercalia was a sexually charged and violent rite, involving the sacrifice of dogs and male goats as a sign of virility. Priests known as Luperci had their foreheads anointed with the blood from the sacrificial knife, and then were wiped clean with wool soaked in milk. The Luperci would later cut strips of goat hide and run naked through the city, whipping nearby women with the bloody hide.”
How did we come from the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, an ancient Roman festival honoring Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage, to chocolates and roses and cards with poems written about love? The same way we came to most of our modern celebrations and holidays. Little by little, details lost generation after generation until one day you no longer have the original version.
Have you ever thought about how many of our holidays have their roots in paganism? And what is a pagan?
Most Pagans will tell you their religion is nature. Their god is nature. They worship Mother Earth and Father Sky. And other variations of this. Many Pagans claim polytheism, which means they worship more than one god or goddess. Whatever god(s) a pagan may choose, they do not follow a Christian, Islam, or Jewish deity (as these are part of the Abrahamic faiths). Not every pagan practices magic of some kind, but many do. Pagan is an umbrella term which covers a wide range of belief systems and magical traditions including Wicca and witchcraft. When you ask a Christian what happens after death, they’ll almost always answer Heaven or Hell. But most Pagans believe differently…some believe strongly in reincarnation, in which a soul incarnates in multiple lives. Most Pagans deny the aspect of Hell.
Back to the question. Have you ever thought about how many of our holidays have their roots in paganism?
According to list25.com at least 25. From Easter, to Halloween, even birthdays…our holiday traditions and celebrations are steeped in paganism.
Take Christmas for example: “Out of all the holiday traditions with pagan roots represented on this list, this is probably the most well-known. In an attempt to keep followers from celebrating pagan traditions, Christians “re-purposed” many of the traditions surrounding this time of year. While there is some debate, many historians say that pagans, celebrating the winter solstice, would decorate their houses with evergreen trees and mistletoe.”
“For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple.” NKJV
Today is the day of love. And I do not want to ruin that for you! Some have grown to expect a show of love on Valentine’s Day. Do not disappoint, however, remember we should celebrate our loved ones every day. We can show our love and affection with little notes and little acts of kindness all year long. There is no need to wait until February 14th.
What does the Bible tell us about love?
The first verse that comes to my mind is “God is love.” 1 John 4:8 “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” NKJV
God IS love. GOD is love. God is LOVE. No matter where you put the emphasis, the meaning is the same. God is the essence of love.
God is love and He tells us to love each other. 1 John 4:7 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
Many men over the years have recited Ephesians 5:22-24 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”
But there is much more to this chapter.
Verses 25-33 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” NKJV
If a husband and wife truly loved this way, their marriage would last until death. That is true love.
What about brotherly love? Brotherly love: feelings of humanity and compassion toward one’s fellow humans.
“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;” Romans 12:10 NKJV
If we give preference to someone it means we treat someone better than someone else, mainly better than ourselves. We give them the advantage; we give them priority. In other words, it looks like 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…”
So, on the day of love…love with all your heart! Love your spouse. Love your children. Love your neighbor. Love your God.
I will leave you with Colossians 3:12-14 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” NKJV
That is what true love looks like. The bond of perfection. Love.