Valentine’s Day is fast approaching.
I turned on the radio this morning to Star 99.1. Now, it is nice that this station plays Christian music…well, some Christian music. I find that mainstream Christian pop could easily be replaced with lustful love for another human rather than a thirst for Holy Spirit power, a deep intimacy with Christ, and a desire to be bold in sharing the gospel. This is not to say that a particular song without that message can’t resonate with a person and draw them deeper into relationship with Christ, but it is to say that our focus has become too skewed.
My observation of several churches today is that church has become less about the fellowship of saints to spread the gospel message and more a grounds for finding a soul mate who I can trust in. This radio station seemed to even buy into the notion of romantic love playing a central role in our lives. There was an advertisement to buy a Hallmark card for your significant other. REALLY? (This wouldn’t normally bother me, but when a station touts that it is clean radio for the intention of sharing Christ’s love I am surprised at the advertisements that could easily be on mainstream secular radio. Am I being too pious about this? Maybe…)
When did we slap the holy label on romance and deem that as God’s sole purpose in our lives?
What if we understood that God doesn’t necessarily call us to romantic love, but more towards community as a whole? I’m not saying that finding a spouse and getting married is wrong. Even Paul says that if we are inclined to sexual temptation than it is good for us to be married so we don’t sin. Marriage isn’t wrong and sometimes we can do more in ministry with our spouse than we could do so alone.
However, I think that recent developments in church have made it seem that if you are single or infertile than you can’t serve God. This is wrong.
God calls some people to single-hood. Some couples are infertile so that they can be parents to other children, whether through adoption or influencing a local “rebel” teen.
Also, Valentine’s Day can be extremely emotional and isolating for those who don’t have a significant other or who have someone that others don’t “approve” of. I was sad in college because of the underlying pressure to be involved with someone and that ideal wrapped in a package of pink hearts. Then I can remember a dear friend who took it upon himself to notice me. We weren’t romantically involved and never had any intention to be so. He just wanted to do something special for his friend. This guy dressed in a suit, handed me a stuffed animal holding a rose, and then walked me to my dorm room where I found a room filled with balloons and on the bed sat a pile of chocolates and stuffed animals. My friend did this out of friendship love, not romantic love.
It would be great if we realized that love extends beyond the intimacy between two sexual partners. Love can be the support of a friend in times of trouble, it can be a gathering of friends at a dinner party, and it can encompass society as a whole.
Now there is something special about having a spouse and God is delighted when we do wed. He is also delighted when our sole purpose is to serve him in the trenches of evangelism. Our significance doesn’t rest in our relation to a single other soul, but in the grander scale of a community devoted to sharing Christ’s love with all.
How could we impact individuals around us by sharing love on Valentine’s Day with more than just our romantic partner? Could we potentially make a depressed ex or ostracized “loner” stall that thought of suicide? Could we strengthen community and society by making it a point to make this day less about romance and more about the true meaning of love—fellowship between friends, sacrifice for a neighbor, and doing silent acts of kindness in Christ’s name without expecting applause or appreciation in return?
Love is more than a sentiment. Love is more than an embrace between two individuals horny for each other. Love is a community sharing in its joys and struggles, supporting each other through good times and bad.
Now, I am not saying that I don’t love my husband. I do want certain things to remain between the two of us and God. It is appropriate that a certain intimacy is maintained by us and us alone. However, I think that the church shouldn’t emphasize finding the mate God has set aside for us as our greatest purpose this side of heaven(this is another post entirely as I don’t believe in soul mates; I firmly assert that love is more of a choice we make daily than it is meant for a particular individual to unite ourselves with). I don’t think society should emphasize romance as the all-fulfilling pleasure in our lives.
Valentine’s Day is more about sacrifice. St. Valentine was martyred.
May we make it more about loving community and gathering together to delight in the love Christ has for us and how we can share that with others, especially those who feel isolated, deprived, and depressed in this red infused season.