Valentine: The True Story

It’s not what it’s cracked up to be. It’s what has always characterized it: a time for romance and sex.

Valentine’s Day is far from the platonic love, care and affection it supposedly represents, just as it’s far from any saintly origins as its name deceptively implies.

Digging a little bit into its history strips away the saintly, Christian veneer and reveals its pagan roots dating back to pre-Christian times. St. Valentine’s Day was anciently called Lupercalia, a pagan Roman festival which emphasized fertility and sexual licentiousness.

So how did Lupercalia become associated with Christendom?

Simple. It was appropriated from the pagans and ‘Christianized’ (renamed Valentine after a saint who was supposedly martyred on February 14) for the newly converted pagans of the early Roman Catholic Church so hooked on paganism they would not be easily weaned off it! Placing such pagan festivals like Lupercalia and Saturnalia (Christmas) in the Christian calendar helped to make the transition quite effortless, lessening the sacrifice to make!

Early on, there were attempts by the clergy to sanitize Lupercalia and bring it in tune with Christian practice. But then, those modifications proved to be merely cosmetic; the Lupercalia spirit was never quite tamed.

Today, the occasion has become the prime season for the youth especially to engage in all sorts of sexual misbehaviour. Forgotten in all fun is the Creator’s injunction to keep our bodies pure and holy for Him as we are His temple (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:18-20). All too often Valentine seems to confer a licence on people to have a go at free sex which may well come at a heavy price—sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)—and ruin our lives for ever.

Instead of showing love (true love, that is, not amorous, self-serving love) on a particular occasion, God wants us to show love and concern for one another year round. Radiate God’s love then. Everyday and hour, contribute to societal well-being, “seek peace, and pursue it” (Ps. 34:14). As the Apostle Paul aptly put it, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling [keeping] of the law [of God]” (Rom. 13:8-10).

Let us therefore focus on the things of value—truth, honesty, justice, chastity, honour (Philippians 4:8).

The spirit that drives Valentine is ungodly and unholy, but the love that proceeds from the Father is pure and holy. Let that love fill your heart each new day (Rom. 5:5). And remember, He warns us to flee from idolatry (1 Cor. 10:14); don’t let Valentine be the bait to drag you in (Deut. 12:30-31)!