St. Valentine’s martyrdom story does not seem very romantic. Does the Bible say anything about love and romance? ♦
One man, a Roman priest named Valentine, defied the edict handed down by the Emperor Claudius that prohibited the marriage of young people. This edict was based on the hypothesis that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers and/or would be more willing to fight in war without the burden of a wife and family back home.
The idea was rejected by many who decided simply to not enlist in defiance. Many proceeded to marry in secret despite the edict and Valentine willingly performed these Christian weddings in private ceremonies.
Valentine was finally caught and thrown in jail and tortured for performing these marriage ceremonies. It is said that while in prison he converted 46 members of a guard’s family to Christianity. On February 14, 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced, beaten, stoned, and decapitated for failure to denounce his Christian faith.
The story goes that the last words he wrote, “from your Valentine,” to a young woman he helped and who supported and encouraged him, inspired today’s romantic notes sent each year on Valentine’s Day.
St. Valentine’s martyrdom does not seem very romantic. Does the Bible say anything about love and romance? Love is mentioned in the Bible almost 300 times; the word romance is not mentioned at all.
The Bible covers two types of love: agape and phileo. Agape love is sacrificial and unconditional. In its truest form it is not achieved without the Spirit of God in us and working through us. It is best represented by God’s love for us. In the Bible it is demonstrated in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). It is best articulated in 1 Corinthians 13:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrong. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Phileo love is considered “brotherly love” and is most often exhibited in a close friendship. The Bible account of David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-3) is an example of phileo love.
An Agape Valentine’s Day?
Just because there is no use of the word romance in Scripture, that does not mean the Bible does not address true romance and deep abiding love a husband has for his bride. Like the agape love Christ has for His church, the Song of Solomon demonstrates a parallel relationship/couple in love. There is deep, fulfilling love between the lovers that moves from courtship (chapters 1-3:5) to consummated marriage (chapter 3:6-5:1) to loving assurance through separation (chapters 5:2-8:14). The passage is a motivation for all couples to seek and maintain such complete and consuming love.
So taking a lead from the Bible, beyond flowers, chocolates and a dinner out, your special romantic relationships should be treated as follows on Valentine’s Day:
- Be eager to please and make happy
- Be patient, kind and thoughtful
- Be tender, sweet and gentle
- Be unselfish and humble
- Be friendly and forgiving
- Be good and noble
- Be joyful and uplifting
- Be peaceful and faithful
- Speak words of devotion and love
- Express admiration and desire
- Touch and be lovingly demonstrative.
Take this list to heart and pray for the manifestation of true agape love with your loved one. Not just this day but everyday. Be aware that this level of love is really a connection through the Spirit and cannot be reached in our humanness alone. The Spirit produces the fruit. Now through that Spirit let true love pour out from your heart with a loving and inspired “from your Valentine.”
Are you a loving and romantic Valentine?
How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves. Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from the hills of Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing. – Song of Solomon 4:1-2