[Revised and re-posted from 2011]
I’ve never been much into Valentine’s day. Post-Valentine’s Day chocolates on sale, yes; the holiday itself, not so much. I never had a boyfriend in Jr. High or High School, so it was just a day to get nothing–which was humiliating–or to get sympathy flowers from my parents–which was more humiliating. Now that I’m married it just seems a bit redundant. Plus, after Christmas, New Years, and then family birthdays in January, I need a holiday break.
Or maybe not a break. Maybe just a focus on the true meaning of the day. Because Valentine’s day is not really about those cute little cards (though I love those). It’s not really about getting flowers from the one you love–or feeling awful because you don’t have anyone to send you flowers. Valentine’s day isn’t even about chocolate.
At the root of this celebration of love is St. Valentine. Now, there is some disagreement about who exactly Valentine was, what he did, even which Valentine the holiday is named after. The story I like best is about the 3rd Century priest, Valentine, who was arrested and imprisoned under the regime of Claudius II after he was caught marrying Christians. Because of persecution, Christians were not legally allowed to marry each other. But Valentine married them anyway.
I can’t help but draw a parallel with a particular persecuted group today, and with those priests and pastors who officiate at weddings that are not technically allowed.
Maybe it’s a leap–or at least a hop. But surely holding up courageous same-sex couples and the pastors who marry them is more in the spirit of St. Valentine than dyeing pretzel dough pink and shaping it into hearts. (See accompanying photo.)
So this Valentine’s Day, I send special love and good wishes to the many same-sex couples who are living lives of integrity despite obstacles that some family, friends, churches, and governments seek to put in their way. And I am grateful to the many other pastors and priests who have conducted and will conduct wedding ceremonies for all healthy, committed Christian couples. (And I am glad that such pastors, while they may face consequences, are no longer in danger of being stoned and beheaded by the government.)
This Valentine’s Day, I am praying the misunderstanding and persecution will end soon. (I’m looking at you, Kansas.) That Christians will begin to care less about the sexuality of the people in a marriage, and more about the the quality, the Christ-likeness, of people’s love for each other.
Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all.