Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why I don't like Saint Valentine's Day

It's not because it is overly commercialized... let's face it, what holiday isn't commercialized? We are a culture of commerce and consumerism. That doesn't make giving gifts bad - although we might do well to think about idolatry and materialism as we browse the candy aisles at Wal-Mart.

It's not because I don't love my husband, or that I wouldn't readily use any excuse to celebrate the romantic love we share. I do. I would.

It's not because there isn't any real reason or known history behind the holiday, especially about this Valentine character, who probably died a martyr for reasons unrelated to romantic love (though there are many fabled stories who tell differently).

It's not that the holiday might have pagan roots - who cares? God's common grace given to all of his creation means that we can celebrate God's good things when they reflect the truth about life or about God (celebrating love (eros) in marriage = awesome).

No, none of these reasons galvanize me to dislike any sort of holiday, even Valentine's. What I do dislike is remembering what it felt like to have the world celebrating a holiday that I was excluded from, because I had no romantic relationship at the time. I think I would very much more enjoy a holiday celebrating romantic love if it was actually only a piece of a 3-part holiday celebrating all three types of biblical love: agape, eros, and philia. Any reason we should have a whole day celebrating just one of those and not the other two? Frankly, if we are going to celebrate one, wouldn't it be better to celebrate agape love, sacrificial love, the kind of love manifested by God towards us in Christ?

I guess we could make an argument that we do celebrate that - on Easter. But do we do anything with it? One thing that I would love to affirm about Valentines is that we are at least DOING something with our love - going outside of ourselves to love another, by giving gifts or serving dinner or even just spending time with the human object of our love.

Dan and I did not celebrate Valentine's day this year. The day after, we talked about why not (I, at least, had told him I didn't want to - but the main reason is because we were driving back in snowstorm from Kansas City). I think we decided that from now on, we won't boycott it or anything, but we might just start to minimize the focus on eros celebration and look for ways to celebrate agape and philia love as God's good gifts to his people - in marriage, in communities and the church. How could we do this?


schupack said...

i would love (haha) a three-part holiday. good idea

Patty said...

Good thoughts. I think I will expand my Valentines next year.

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