Wednesday, February 14, 2018

What About Valentine's Day?







Can We As Christians Celebrate Valentine's Day?

Question: Can we celebrate Valentine's day as Christians?

Answer:
Greetings to you in Jesus wonderful name!

What is Valentine's Day? St Valentine's Day is an annual festival to celebrate romantic love, friendship and admiration. Every year on 14 February people celebrate this day by sending messages of love and affection to partners, family and friends. Couples send Valentine's Day cards and flowers and spend special time together to honour their love for each other.

Irrespective of your status, race or the economics, everyone values love & recognizes that it is love that shapes what is true and good. The term “Love” has always been used so broadly to describe an emotional attraction between two or more people. But the truth of the matter is that there are four kinds of love in the Bible and this includes Eros, Agape, Storge and Philos. So if we really want to learn how we can follow Jesus’s command to always love one another, we need to dig a little deeper to find it
(John 13:34; 15:12). The very fact that we are the disciples of Jesus can be know by others according to Jesus, only through our love of one for another (John 13:35). If we want to be just like Jesus in our lives, we ought to love one another, and be ready to give our lives for one another, just like Jesus gave His life to save us from our sins as a friend and a Brother (John 15:13-14; 1 John 4:10-11).


AGAPE LOVE

'
Agape' is a special Greek word which represents the divine-love of the Lord towards his Son Jesus Christ, the human beings and all believers. This is the best of the three types of love in the bible, in fact Jesus himself showed this type of divine love to his Dad in heaven and humanity. This is the kind of love we are told by God to be shown by one to another (Eph 4:32; 5:2). To love our enemies, love our neighbors, brothers etc... (Matt 6:44-45), is absolutely impossible because we do not have the ability to produce this kind of Love which is in the nature of God. But as God has give us all His precious promises, that if we believe, we will begin to share in His nature through our lives, and very gladly we will be able to supernaturally love and demonstrate by sacrifice this kind of Divine love in our lives for the Glory of God (2 Pet 1:2, 3, 4, 5-8). In short, God expects all His children the believers to love everyone with this kind of Divine Agape Love. Agape Love works through faith and not feelings (Gal 5:6), so we might not feel the love when we do love others with Agape love by obeying God's one and only greatest commandment in which all of God's commandments is contained within it (Matt 22:36-40; Rom 13:8-10). But once we obey God, the feeling of Agape love might pour out in to our soul and fill our heart to the brim and overflowing later through the Holy Spirit who lives in us (Rom 5:5). Essentially we learn in this type of love to show love without feeling anything at all in obedience to God and His Word. The reward from God for operating in this type of self-sacrificial love is great, and what we reap are out of this world benefits which will stay with us for eternity ahead (Matt 6:19-21).

One of the greatest statement in the Bible was written by the apostle of Love beloved John, and it says,
"7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love." (1 John 4:7-8). In fact, as we have read "God is love" and because He is and have become our Father in heaven (Matt 6:9), we ought to love one another, and also be ready to give our own lives for our Brother's and friends. So we as the children of God now have a new nature to love one another as Jesus has loved us. When we love our Brothers in Christ, then we forgive them of their mistakes and then choose to love people for who they are rather than what they do to us or for us (Eph 4:32; 5:2). Thus Agape is unconditional Divine love which comes from God and flows through us to all humans.


PHILOS LOVE

This is a unique kind of love like the one you have for a companion or pal. It refers to loving one another just like your brother or sister. This love is for a pal who is really close and dear to us and it is characterized by various different shared experiences between two people. In fact this is the kind of love that many Christians tend to practice towards one another. And although philos love is really wonderful, it is not that much reliable because it can be humanly produced and expressed through our efforts. When someone does not reciprocate in a trustworthy manner the same love back to us, it fails because we expect in return what we given others
(Matt 7:12; Luke 6:31), so it can end up souring at times as we have all experienced at some point in our lives. Thus Philia is love between friends and brotherly love.


EROS LOVE

Eros is the sense of being in love, which is usually between a married couple, sexual love, but the word is nowhere to be found in the New Testament. Erotic love is something relating to or tending to arouse sexual desire or excitement.Thus 'Eros" love starts with erotic love of physical union and sexual intimacy, and continues day in and day out through working and living for the benefit of one another throughout one's married life. God created humans male and female and instituted marriage in the Garden of Eden. Within marriage, sex is used for emotional and spiritual bonding and reproduction.

The Apostle Paul noted that it is wise for people to marry to fulfill their godly desire for this type of love:

"Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion."
(1 Cor 7:8-9, NIV).

Within the boundary of marriage, eros love is to be celebrated:

"Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous." (Heb 13:4, ESV)
.

"Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." (1 Cor 7:5, ESV)
.

Sex as God intended it is a source of delight and a beautiful blessing to be shared between married couples through Eros Love within the boundary of marriage, and therefore is part of God's design, a gift of his goodness for procreation and enjoyment
(Prov 5:18-19; Ecc 9:9). As a sexual being, we have a responsibility to honor God within the boundary of marriage, which is the institution of God set by Him for humanity to be blessed, multiply and fill the earth from the beginning of time (Matt 19:4-6, 7-10). We are called to honor God with our bodies, so we must honor him through living in chastity with our marriage partner, in holiness towards God and before other humans to glorify God through our lives lives on earth (1 Cor 6:15-20). Praise the Lord!


STORGE LOVE

The fourth Greek word for love is storge, which relates to natural, familial love such as the love between a parent and child. In the New Testament, the negative form of storge is used twice. Astorgos means “devoid of natural or instinctive affection, without affection to kindred.”

Romans 1:31
describes sinful humanity as having “no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.” The Greek word translated as “no love” is astorgos. The other instance of this word is found in 2 Timothy 3:3, where it is translated “without love.” Paul warns that one mark of the “terrible times in the last days” (verse 1) is that people will lack natural love for their own families.

In
Romans 12:10 we find an interesting compound: philostorgos is translated as “be devoted.” The word combines philos and storge and means “to cherish one’s kindred.”

Thus, 'storge' is Affection, love of family. This kind of love is so important to practice in our Christian lives, the great apostle Paul said,
"But those who won't care for their own family members and relatives, especially those in their own immediate family, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers." (1 Tim 5:8).

Further, believers in Christ, children of the same heavenly Father, are to
“be devoted to one another in love.” As part of God’s family, we should show loving affection toward each other and be prone to love. Philostorgus is used only once in the New Testament, and that’s in Romans 12:10.

Having clearly seen the four types of love in the Bible, if we ask ourselves the question, can and should we on a particular day highlight and celebrate all the four type of love by acknowledging the purpose of God for which it was set in our lives? By all means we should, and we can. Above all this should be celebrated each day of our lives, to bring honor and glory to God through our lives.


The Early History of Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is named after Saint Valentine, a Catholic priest who lived in Rome in the 3rd Century. There are many stories about St Valentine and over time these stories grew into the legend we know today.

At the time of Valentine's life, many Romans were converting to Christianity, but the Emperor Claudius II was a pagan and created strict laws about what Christians were allowed to do. Claudius believed that Roman soldiers should be completely devoted to Rome and therefore passed a law preventing them from marrying. St Valentine began to marry these soldiers in secret Christian ceremonies and this was the beginning of his reputation for believing in the importance of love.

Eventually Valentine was found out and jailed for his crimes against Claudius. While imprisoned, Valentine cared for his fellow prisoners and also his jailor's blind daughter. Legend has it that Valentine cured the girl's blindness and that his final act before being executed was to write her a love message signed ‘from your Valentine'. Valentine was executed on 14 February in the year 270.


How did Valentine's Day develop?

It wasn't until more than 200 years later that 14 February was proclaimed St Valentine's Day. By this time Rome had become Christian and the Catholic Church was determined to stamp out any remaining paganism. A pagan fertility ritual was held in February each year and the Pope abolished this festival and proclaimed 14 February Saint Valentine's Day, thus establishing this feast day on the Catholic Calendar of Saints.

The poet Chaucer in the Middle Ages was the first to link St Valentine with romantic love. This was the beginning of the tradition of courtly love, a ritual of expressing love and admiration, usually in secret. This custom spread throughout Europe and stories grew about a High Court of Love where female judges would rule on issues related to love on 14 February each year. Historians believe that these meetings were in fact gatherings where people read love poetry and played games of flirtation.


Valentine's Day Symbols

The practice of sending love messages developed into people sending special cards expressing their affection. These cards were beautiful creations handmade by the sender and individually designed to show how much they loved the recipient. Cards would usually contain sentimental verse, proclaiming the beauty of the receiver and how much they were loved.

Saint Valentine's Day cards were decorated with pictures of cupid, hearts and flowers and trimmed with lace and ribbon. These images are still used today to symbolise love and are recognised all over the world.


What is Valentine's Day in Contemporary Times?


While Valentine's Day is celebrated in most countries, different cultures have developed their own traditions for this festival. In some parts of the world Valentine's Day is observed as a day for expressing love between family members and friends, rather than that of romantic couples. Some traditions include leaving lollies and gifts for children and others include acts of appreciation between friends.

Valentine's Day is most commonly associated with romantic love, with millions of Valentine's Day cards being exchanged each year. Gifts of flowers or a single red rose are sent with romantic messages to loved ones and couples spend special time together. Valentine's Day gift hampers are also a popular gift and typically include flowers, champagne and chocolates.

Many couples choose to celebrate Valentine's Day with dinner, a picnic or special home-cooked meal. Many restaurants offer Valentine's Day dinner promotions and food is often presented with symbols of love like hearts and flowers. Another popular Valentine's Day activity is to indulge in a luxury hotel stay in a beautiful location, allowing a couple to get away from it all and enjoy some quality time together. Marriage proposals are also popular on Valentine's Day, and it is often chosen as the perfect day to express their love and commitment. Some marriage proposals are delivered very creatively, such as after climbing to the top of a mountain, or posting a message on a billboard. Whatever the method, marriage proposals made on Valentine's Day are generally romantic and memorable.


As A Christian, Is It Good To Celebrate Valentine's Day?

All others do celebrate Valentine's day, but for a Christian the day is something more special than for others. Because on this day, the world only wants to celebrate and focus on the earthly and temporal eros part of the married life. But for us as Christians, we can and should be able to focus on not only the eros, but also the other three of which 'Agape' should me meditated and thanked for to Jesus, by also partaking in the communion if possible to remember the Divine love of Jesus with which He has loved us and chose to love us all presently through the good news of the Gospel, and through which we ought to love one another just as He commanded us
(1 Cor 11:23-26; John 15:12). We can have a practice of a social meal or familial one or a love feast for all the brotherhood which can all be encouraged on this day to share, joy, peace and righteousness of the Kingdom of God (Rom 14:17). May God bless us all specially as we choose to celebrate the Valentine's day with the focus on the four aspects of the love which God has given us all to share and care for one another, just as the love of God is shared within the Trinity. By the way, if you are not yet married, never indulge in 'Eros' to stir it up, until it is time for your marriage, after which you practice it (Sos 2:7). Never play with the fire of Eros outside of marriage, it will bring God's judgment and curse most of the time when the boundary is crossed and the covenant gets broken before God (Heb 13:4).


Much Blessings....





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