John Stonestreet on Valentine’s Day and True Sacrificial Love

John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.


Remember the good old days, when Valentine’s Day was simple? A nice card, some flowers, maybe a box of chocolates…

These days, voices everywhere tell us that we dare not settle for such mundane gifts for that special someone. “Forget the chocolates and flowers,” says the Today Show. “Think creative and thoughtful.”

To help, they came up with their “Top 10 hottest gifts” for Valentine’s Day. For the guys? How about a heart-shaped box of beef jerky, or perhaps a bouquet of salami (I’m not kidding). For the ladies, they suggest a pair of Spanx Faux Leather Leggings or bubble-gum colored slip-on sneakers. Or couples might “gift” each other a heart-shaped waffle iron, or a “touch bracelet set” so you can send each other digital love messages that “vibrate and light up.”

Attempts to commercialize romantic love, what the Greeks called eros (more on that in a moment), is nothing new. But it’s quite clear that, in our Valentine’s Day traditions, we’ve lost the history of what was, historically, a feast day of the Church: The feast day of the third-century Christian martyr, Valentinus of Rome.

While not a lot is known about Valentinus, the most widely accepted version of his martyrdom is that he ran afoul of emperor Claudius II. Believing that “Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families,” Claudius banned marriage.

Valentinus defied the emperor by marrying couples in secret. He was caught and executed for his crimes. Whether the story happened exactly that way, every ancient reference to Valentinus associates February 14th with his martyrdom and sacrifice.

Romantic love, what C.S. Lewis called “Eros,” is by no means a wrong or sinful expression of our humanity. In fact, it’s a gift from God. As Lewis wrote in “The Four Loves,” when rightly ordered, eros causes us to toss “personal happiness aside as a triviality and [plant] the interests of another in the center of our being.”

Romantic love can be, as Lewis put it, “a foretaste, of what we must become to all if Love Himself rules in us without a rival.”

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Source: Christian Headlines