Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Hallmark Holiday?

Valentine’s Day. These two words evoke much sentiment in hearts everywhere. To some, it is thought upon with much joy in their heart; it is sweet and romantic to spend an evening with their loved one. To others, it evokes nothing less than sheer misery because of the seemingly hopeless plight of their singleness. Still others don’t even bother to celebrate this overly dramatized “Hallmark Holiday”; they let it pass by just like any other day. But regardless of their sentiments, Valentine’s Day always comes and goes, whether to their joy or misery. It has become nothing more than a day of chocolate, roses, and candy hearts. While I am definitely not condemning roses and chocolate (how could I ever condemn chocolate?!?!), there is so much more to Valentine’s Day than most people will ever know. 

Would you be shocked if I told you that this “Hallmark Holiday” was started because one man had the audacity to stand upon God’s principles of a Biblical marriage? To stand up and be a witness for Jesus, even to the emperor of Rome? His name was Valentinus. Around 200 AD, the Emperor of Rome, appropriately called Claudius the Cruel, needed more men to fight in his army to battle foreign invaders. Despite his attempts to recruit young and old men, no one wanted to fight; for to enlist in Rome’s army meant you would not come back for at least 25 years, if ever. No one wanted to leave their wife, children, mother, or loved one to go off to war for 25 years. To get around this, Claudius came up with a “brilliant” solution: ban weddings. No, I am not kidding you. Claudius the Cruel, the Emperor of Rome in 200 AD, issued a decree that there would be no more weddings for 25 years. Well, a priest named Valentinus decided this was not right. God had created marriage as a picture of His Love for the church, and no one could ever stop that. No human had the power to end what God had beautifully created. So he began to perform weddings in secret. However, he was soon found out – and arrested. He was brought before the Emperor, and there, in front of all the guards, the Emperor asked, “Is Jesus God’s Son?” His face glowing, joyfully answered “Yes!” and proceeded to tell the Emperor and the palace officials the Good News of Jesus’ love. He was thrown into jail. While he was there, the jail guard heard Him praying, thanking God that He was light. The jail guard told him that his daughter had been blind from birth; and if Valentinus’ God could heal His daughter, he would believe. Valentinus prayed to God, and the next morning, the jailer came running to Valentinus with the incredible news that his daughter could see. Valentinus told him more about his miraculous Jesus and the jailer believed. A few days later Valentinus was killed for performing weddings against the Emperor’s orders. Several centuries later, the church began calling him “St. Valentine”; and thus we have our now-turned-into-Hallmark-Holiday. 

So, today, next year, and every year, when Valentine’s Day rolls around, let your first thought be not of joy or misery for your own situation, but of admiration for this man who died to live out the life that Jesus called him to, never forgetting God’s beautiful example of marriage. Let him inspire you to live out your life for Jesus, and never hesitate to do what He calls you to do, even when it’s hard. Live for Him, and He will shine through you.

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