Valentine’s Day: Christian Marriage, Cheap Love, and Sex
Valentine was a third century pastor who was imprisoned for his faith. He wrote small pastoral notes to members of his congregation on leaves he was able to pluck from a maple tree just outside his cell. These little “Valentine’s cards” expressed his love for the flock, and his desire that they demonstrate like love toward one another. Gradually the tradition grew up for Christians to exchange notes of love and encouragement to one another every year on his birthday, February 14.
Dr. George Grant, http://grantian.blogspot.com/2013/02/st-valentines-day.html
We’ve seen baseball stadium proposals where a guy’s urgent question is slapped on the Jumbotron for all in attendance to see. Some men even think it’s romantic to shout their devotion in front of thousands of strangers. Several years back, Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson even tried to convince us that women would actually want this type of proposal. In case you might be contemplating this type of proposal, let me tell you that it is about as tasteful as the rest of Sandler’s work.
In many ways, American romance is Jumbotron romance. Valentine’s Day is a good example. We couch our love in the impersonal and to the cheap. When did the standard fall so low that somehow chocolate and flowers become the epitome of devotion. We should understand these are good things. Any man who forgets them will enjoy the spurn of his wife. But this type of impersonal devotion once a year is akin to attending Easter and Christmas services, yet claiming to love Christ.
A culture of cheap grace produces cheap love.
“Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Cheap love is giving chocolate without cordial affection, flowers without real delight and pleasure, “I Love Yous” without contentment and satisfaction … Cheap love is love without submission, love without crucifying-self, love without Jesus Christ, living and Incarnate. Cheap love teaches, “Sex is such a hassle, talking is even worse.” Christian love teaches, “rejoice in the wife of your youth.”
Our romance should be modeled after Christ’s self-giving devotion to his bride, which is why St. Valentine is such a beautiful saint. This is not to say that the mark of Valentine’s Day is simply reading verses over flowers-rather that marriage is an image of loving tension. The tenderest love on one side, and loving obedience on the other. This means that romance is an adventure, not a commute. We don’t travel through life enduring the “trial of marriage,” but through the exploration of Godly marriage we are transformed by the circumstances of our love story.
Valentine’s Day is a day for us to look at our adventure, where we’ve been, and where we are going.
Valentine’s Day is a time for Christian men who once belonged to the old Adam to become priests of the New Adam. Where the old Adam betrayed the love of his bride, we -as Priests of the new Adam- guard, nurture, and protect our redeemed garden-helper. And as such have been called to wash our wives in Christ’s love.
Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate together as we see God transforming our brides into a holy bride without wrinkle, spot, or blemish.
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In the past few months I’ve posted two articles on sexuality and marriage, you can read those here:
- Ladies: From King’s Daughters to Queens
- Prostitution, Chaos, and Christian Art