People observe Valentines Day in many ways. Those who are madly in love do things like exchange cards, buy flowers, enjoy a special dinner and make marriage proposals. The die hards go the extra mile and donate a kidney, purchase 1,000 roses or escape from prison for the one they love.
Love was not always so complicated. In past cultures, marriages came together because their parents arranged it, or for military / political alliances; romantic love was a possible outcome, but usually not the instigator of marriage. Judging from modern novels, music and movies, romantic love is the only thing that matters. More often than not, their dominant images of romantic love include kissing in the rain, choreographed dance sequences, tender embraces and other epic moments of dramatic love.
We all know love doesn’t always work that way, but media somehow shapes our subconscious expectations. The marriage proposal on bended knee, wedding dress, black tie and honeymoon eventually give way to taking out the garbage, paying the bills and talking about the kids. In other words, love in a non-fictional world is at times routine and boring. This can be disappointing for someone who expects marriage to bring a never ending wealth of happiness, rarely marred by significant conflict, with minimal amount of effort.
Valentine’s Day is a good day to read 1 Corinthians 13, the most celebrated Bible passage about love and a favorite at weddings:
Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things (verses 4-7).
Love is everything. Not the superficial, fleeting love on display in movies and marketing, but the self-sacrificing, grace-extending attitude that God wants to see embodied in all of our relationships, not just our romantic ones.