Ah, Valentine’s Day. We love it; we hate it. We celebrate the heights of selfless agape love; we despise the promotion of what seems more like pagan sensuality. We cherish the relationships we’ve been blessed with; we grumble about another year of being single. We snap up cards and candy and cultural delicacies; we promote the superiority of homemade gifts and goods.
In other words, cultures collide when the red hearts come out. Whatever else can be said about February 14, we can at least say that the opinions are strong.
Over at RELEVANT Magazine, John Weirick tosses out his take on this day of romance in 5 Problems with Valentine’s Day. While he thinks there’s nothing wrong with celebrating, he points to some major pitfalls that get in the way:
1. The holiday was hijacked to turn a profit
Whatever roots the holiday may have had in a martyr (or martyrs) named Valentinus, those roots have been nearly cut off by the current crush of consumerism. “We risk taking holidays for granted when we ignore historical roots and cash in on a romanticized (and hypersexualized) version that satisfies our baser cravings of greed and lust.”
2. It places romance over other kinds of love
Valentine’s Day promotes head-over-heels romance over the slow and patient work of loving a spouse. Not to mention the love between family members, church members, and others. Why should one type of love get all the attention?
3. It’s turned into Singleness Awareness Day
Those who aren’t in a relationship get hit hard with advertisements that tout the holiday. “There’s nothing wrong with celebrating love, but a person’s value isn’t rated on their relationship status, so why make such a big deal over a day that excludes them from participating?”
4. It makes expressions of love seem reserved for special occasions
Our culture pushes the message that couples should focus on their relationship only on special occasions, such as anniversaries and Valentine's Day. But true love means intentionally working on the relationship throughout the year.
5. It glorifies “emotional porn”
“By [emotional porn] I mean that [movies] present idealized stories of romance, which, in a similar way to visual pornography, can be harmful to our expectations in real life.” Because of such books and movies, we risk losing sight of the messiness and sacrificial nature of real love.
Not every Christian thinks Valentine’s Day has so many potholes. Jessica Bufkin, a Crosswalk.com contributor, has heard from many singles and couples who dislike the holiday, but this hasn’t dampened her enjoyment of it:
“But here’s what I keep coming back to: I don’t think I can tell people I love them too much. Not my nephews and niece. Not my parents and brothers. Not my dear friend who just drove a U-Haul across four states to help me move and unpack. I think if I were better at expressing my love and appreciation for people the other 364 days out of the year, then maybe taking Valentine’s Day off would be okay for me.
“Last year, that same friend who helped me drive the U-Haul was in Africa on Valentine’s Day. She sent me an email just to acknowledge the day and let me know how much she loves and values our friendship. It meant so much that it made me want to do the same for my friends this year. No big craft, no gift that requires a lot of money, no sketchy chocolates—just a simple paragraph.”
For more viewpoints on the holiday, visit our Valentine’s Day special coverage page.
So, now it’s your turn. What do you think about Valentine’s Day? Do you celebrate?
John UpChurch is the senior editor of BibleStudyTools.com and Jesus.org. You’ll usually find him downing coffee at his standing desk (like a boss).