De-Secularizing Valentines Day
I blow a fuse when people without morality hint or accuse me or others of immorality. Recently, this has happened in sort of comedic ways in the sports world. Golfers, angry at LIV or Saudi Tour, remind us, correctly, that the Saudi Government and royal family toured and killed Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist whom they hated. This is bad. NBA stars tell us that the oppression and persecution of the Chinese Communists would be understandable if we were just a little more “educated”. The hypocrites that get under my skin the most are NFL players. Almost every field has slogans behind each end zone. Many of these contain the imperative “End Racism”. Of course, we all would like to end all sorts of sins. They could say:
End Lust (the cheerleader would have to leave the field!)
Honor Your Father and Mother…Unless They are Officials
End Idolatry (which some of you are practicing with the team you love)
It strikes me, however, that writing slogans on fields is easier than committing to provide scholarships for underprivileged children stuck in failed government schools.
I have already decided on the slogan I will put on the field at Veritas: “End Secularism”. Secularism is the idea that God is involved in some things but not all things in this world. He cares about prayer but not about pizza; He cares about sanctification but not about our sexual desires. Secularism does not square with the God of the Bible. If you’re doing something like preaching, you’re doing a religious activity; if you are a plumber, your religion doesn’t matter. The Protestant Reformers like Luther and Calvin and their spiritual followers looked at the world differently. They proclaimed that all callings were holy and that Christ cared about pizza, plumbing, and what we consider between our ears. Nothing is or can be divorced entirely from Him.
This desire to end secularism is not a desire to return to the medieval or Bible-times lifestyle. I like air conditioning and modern medicine. I don’t want to destroy the modern world; I want to invade it, infect it with truth, beauty, and goodness, and save it from the trap into which the modern world has fallen. Many in our times want to modify Christianity so that we can have a tolerant-pile-of-mushy-love Jesus who loves and adjusts God’s holiness to fit our deeply held desires—even when these desires are destroying us. This is not the way to save the modern world.
The right attitude is that of the great Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck. Instead of trimming Christianity to fit the modern world, he knew that every part of the modern world must be Christianized and brought under the Lordship of Jesus if the modern world and all its benefits were to continue. All things outside of Him will eventually fail. The slogan for the other end zone should be “Save the Modern World.”
So, instead of embracing secularism, we must push back against it. If we don’t, it seeps into every corner of life and turns things full of faith into godless messes. This secularization, unfortunately, happened to Valentine’s Day. While the facts are difficult to understand fully, and the story comes down to us in a few different stories, it seems that Valentine was a 3rd Century Christian bishop who was martyred in or around Rome.
His story is amazing! When he was captured, he wished to convert the Jailer and his blind daughter. Valentine prayed for the daughter, and her sight was restored. In some of the stories, the entire jailer's family was converted, angering the authorities and sealing his fate.
So, the true Valentine’s Day was about dying for Christ so that others could be saved.
There is another part of the story that grew into the secularized romantic day we have. According to most versions of the story, they secretly wed after healing the jailer's daughter. This infuriated the authorities, and they decided to decapitate Valentine. As he was taken to the chopping block, he slipped the daughter a note that said, “Your Valentine.” (You don’t know how thankful the greeting card companies are for this one act of kindness which ends up being vastly crucial to the profits of these companies.)
See what secularism has done? It has taken this wonderful story of a faithful evangelist and a martyred lover of Christ and his wife, and it has turned it into something that is often far, far from Christ or its original meaning.
In my next post, I am going to describe one of the “re-Christianizing” traditions that we used on Valentine's Day, but while you are waiting on that post, put your thinking caps on and try to think of two things:
What would you do if you were trying to “re-Christianize” Valentine’s Day? (What would you add? What traditions would you end so that secular practices could be replaced by ones consistent with the faith of Valentine?)
Also, choose another “secular holiday” and consider how that day could be re-focused on Jesus (try Memorial Day, Labor Day, and the 4th of July).
Happy thinking! And, remember, Christianizing doesn’t mean that romantic love can’t be part of the day (so remember, gents, you do need to purchase those flowers!). Secularism diminishes; Christianizing ensures that full meaning is at the core of our practices and beliefs.
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