This year, Valentine’s Day follows hot on the heels of Lent. What is the significance of these two occasions? Should Christians celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Lent is a period of about forty days of solemn observance by Christians of many denominations in the run up to Easter celebrations. Ash Wednesday, which falls on 13th February this year, marks the beginning of Lent.
What do Christians do during Lent? It is a time devoted to self-examination, prayer, repentance, fasting and self-denial.
Incidentally, Valentine’s Day, which falls on 14th February every year, follows hot on the heels of Lent this year.
Whereas Lent has a spiritual ring to it, Valentine’s Day is a pagan festival in celebration of romantic love – a time when lovers show their love for one another by splurging on expensive gifts such as chocolates and bouquets.
The former is devoted to enhancing our vertical relationship through soul-searching whereas the latter is an attempt to build our horizontal relationship with the one we truly love and care.
The former is marked by discipline and self-denial whereas the latter is marked by a carefree spirit and often excessive spending.
Is it alright for Christians to join their friends to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Since the Bible does not say definitely whether it is right or wrong, we will have to examine the roots of the celebration as well as its practices.
Valentine’s Day does not have deep-rooted, dark spiritual connotations like pagan feasts or Halloween. * Since it is positive in that it seeks to build the relationship between spouses or lovers, believers should not be barred from celebrating Valentine’s Day.
It is up to the individual Christian to decide whether he or she should participate in Valentine’s Day in light of the following references:
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12).
“To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled” (Titus 1:15).
“Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence” (Colossians 2:21-23).
We need to act based on our personal convictions – with the help of the Holy Spirit – after having searched through scripture. We do not need man-made laws or moral policemen to tell us what to do.
The caveat is that believers should practise moderation: We should not go overboard in our spending on gifts or use the occasion as a licence for sexual immorality – if the couple is not married yet.
While a romantic evening over candlelight dinner is permissible, fornication is clearly wrong in God’s eyes. The couple should pray; be determined in setting limits to their level of intimacy before it passes the ‘point of no return’.
If Lent draws us closer to our Creator – makes us more grateful to Christ for what He has done for us at the cross – and Valentine’s Day draws couples closer to one another, we should welcome both these occasions though they are so markedly different.
* “St. Valentine's Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. The most popular martyrology associated with Saint Valentine was that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire.” – source: Wikipedia.
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