Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine’s day : A spiritual explanation of a popular celebration

Valentine’s day has over the years become a celebration used to sell cards, flowers and goodies meant for couples to exchange. Many shops convert entire floors into Valentine’s themes with red being the dominant colour. There are also many groups which come out against the celebration, calling it a Western import and a blot on Indian culture. This being the case it always comes out, with or without the story of St. Valentine, as an unwanted and avoidable youth celebration.

But just like Father’s day, Mother’s day and even Independence day and Republic day celebrations are a remembrance of several things, Valentine’s day is also a remembrance of something. From that perspective Valentine’s day can also be a learning for age groups other than the young and single.
Love and relationships are also cornered as something which single women and men do and it is seen as having nothing to do with married couples and the aged. So much that love is not seen as a significant aspect of marriage but instead fidelity, faithfulness, morality and longevity are. This brings me to the point that celebrations about love should be seen as an opportunity to reenergize and reevaluate existing relationships.

The criticism of celebrating Valentine’s day is always centered around the fact that it has nothing to do with a marriage or a serious relationship going towards marriage but is rather a non-serious attempt of couples professing their love to a losing cause. This is why Valentine’s day is looked at with animosity and this is also why love marriages are looked at with animosity by traditional families. Even though times are changing, this animosity still exists and parents are worried about such celebrations. But if such traditions become part of family exercises in which the aged, middle aged and young are a part of, then this animosity will change.

What does the bible say about love? 1 Corinthians 13:13 says “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love” and it shows that love is the foundation of all religions. 1 John 4:7 says “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” again suggesting that without love we cannot know God and this is a clear message to families who are against love. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” meaning that our very salvation is based on the fact that God loves us. The basis of every family and church thus must be love. We must do everything on this basis and whenever we question love, we are questioning God God’s self. Learning from this, we can question commercialization in society but we can’t question love, we can question erosion of true love but we can’t question love, we can question love which ferments abuse in relationships based on gender and caste but we can’t question love.

In today’s culture perhaps the biggest problem is that religion overall and Christianity specifically is adjusting itself to popular notions of security, gender relations, caste, race and class. A Valentine’s day celebration is an opportunity to pray and write that love is not a problem but the abuse of love in unequal relationships is. We need not jump onto the band wagon of love haters and groups which question love but rather need to read the bible closely and meditate on what God wants us to do.

In this context a Valentine’s day prayer would be
Lord of love, help me to pray for love that I may preach and live the gospel of love which Christ Jesus did. God of love, help me to be in active relationships of love in my house, school, college, work place and church which will make me sacrifice for the benefit of others. Holy Spirit, help me question love haters who reject couples and relationships, and thereby lead us together to spread the love of God on the cross. Amen.   

Picture credit: 4mygodsglory.wordpress.com

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