by ProfDave, ©2021
(Feb. 14, 2021) — There were actually three St. Valentines, all beheaded for their love of Christ in the late 3rd century. So there is something about love. No actual records survive, but one was alleged to have been beaten, stoned and beheaded for conducting illegal Christian weddings. Yes, marriage was controversial in the Roman Empire, too. Their commemoration got mixed up with pagan Lupercalia which paired up singles by lot. Or something like that.
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” (Elizabeth Barrett Browning). Our language has one word for love: the love of ice cream, sexual desire, mother love, brother love, patriot love, you name it. Love that is worth anything is not merely glandular, or emotional, but a decision: a choice, a commitment. The Greeks had several words for love. Eros, according to Plato, was a desire for completion or possession. As if a man were half a human being, looking for his other half. It is a desire for something you don’t have. We usually think of it in terms of sex. Then there is philia (as in Philadelphia), brotherly love, the love of affiliation, someone like yourself – friendship. A third sort of love is storge, the love of familiarity, such as the hills of home or a companion of decades. Related is the love of your own flesh and blood, your parents and your children. Finally, there is agape, the love of commitment, agape, unconditional unilateral loyalty – the holy, sacrificial love of God for mankind and which a Christian husband is charged to give his wife.
The challenge of Holy Matrimony “for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness or in health till death doth us part” is too often observed in the breach. Agape is divine, not human. Actually, all of the above belong in a Christian marriage, but storge takes a few years to develop. You cannot agape-love without a third, divine party in the marriage. Only then can a wife respect a husband who isn’t always respectable and a husband love his wife as Christ loved the church – laying down his life for her, even when the game is on and she isn’t particularly lovely. On a lighter note:
Roses are red
Violets are purple
You’re just as sweet
As maple surple
Roses are pink
I’m out of ink.
God’s Valentines (just a few)
“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.
With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” Jeremiah 31:3
“Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us:
that we should be called the Sons [and daughters] of God.” I John 3:1
“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us.
So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. I John 3:16
Jesus speaking: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
May you experience God’s mighty love this day!
David W. Heughins (“ProfDave”) is Adjunct Professor of History at Nazarene Bible College. He holds a BA from Eastern Nazarene College and a PhD in history from the University of Minnesota. He is the author of Holiness in 12 Steps (2020). He is a Vietnam veteran and is retired, living with his daughter and three grandchildren in Connecticut.