February has many distinctions. It has long and wonderful claim as Black History Month. Here are 28 days to honor some of the wonderful African-American men and women who gave redemptive leadership to America and to the world. At the same time, February multitasks also as the Heart Health Month, Turner Syndrome Month, Children's Dental Health Month, and also Bird-Feeding Month. All good.
February is hearty enough take on one more very weighty high calling – to become "Love Month" or even "Pastor Valentine Month." For centuries people celebrated "St. Valentine's Day" on Feb. 14, expressing Godly, romantic, faithful love to their beloved ones. As children we gave St. Valentine cards out to all out classmates in elementary school as a way of affirming our proper caring attitudes. However, in recent decades Feb. 14 was redefined as merely "Valentine's Day" – a day to share little cards called "Valentines." The Godly witness and martyrdom of Pastor Valentine (226-269) is now long forgotten.
Of course, apart from Pastor Valentine and his courage and wisdom, there would be no "Valentine's Day" at all. However, there is little risk of our losing Valentine's Day since it produces more retail spending than even Mother's Day or Easter! We are all in favor of the economic surge, but it remains a grievous tragedy that the divine meaning of the day has been so suppressed.
However, there is still hope – especially since you are still reading this essay! We can do our part to restore the significance of Pastor Valentine by being renewed into two of Valentine's Godly purposes which are intensely relevant to our lives today, in 2018. The issues for which he as martyred on February 14, 269 have become again central social issues in our time.
First of all, Pastor Valentine spoke out against the degrading, immoral, sexualized culture of his time. The amazing Divine gifts of passionate romance and marital sexual pleasure were openly and boastfully polluted. Social and civic leaders urged and exemplified the violations of wedding covenants. Followers of Jesus were mocked for their faithfulness. Sex was redefined, degraded and perverted – much as in 2018 as well as in the Old Testament and New Testament times. Pastor Valentine wonderfully warned people against such hostility to God's grace and guidance. The pagan leaders of the Roman Empire were not pleased with him.
Second, Pastor Valentine guided many men and women of his time – especially teens and young adults – into passionate, faithful love relationships. After all, the pure love of Christ draws us into the restored pleasures of God's awesome creation. And the Scriptures teach devoted, faithful, passionate love that honors our Creator as part of the New Birth in Christ. It is also a powerful, attractive living parable of Christ's love for his Bride, the Church, and our passionate, devoted, joyful love back to Christ as our true, fulfilling, eternal Partner – as in Song of Songs [ SongofSongs.info], Ephesians 5:21-33, Revelation 21, and many other Biblical teachings.
Let us call February 14 "Pastor Valentine's Day" this year, and rededicate to follow in his footsteps. Let us lovingly warn against the twisting, polluting, and degrading of the Divine gifts of beautiful male and female sexuality. This will be a timely expression of Godly compassion. Let us also creatively teach the restoration of vibrant, wholesome, romantic passion within the amazing grace and powerful presence [ weddingpresence.info ] of Living God who invented and eternally lives Love itself.
Paul de Vries, PhD, pauldevries.com, is the president of New York Divinity School, and a pastor, author, and speaker. He is a specialist in Biblical hermeneutics and ethics and a life-long advocate of Biblical activism.