Valentine’s Day originated as a Christian feast day honouring an early Christian martyr named Saint Valentine but through later folk traditions, it has become a significant cultural, religious and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world.
As a matter of fact, there are a number of martyrdom stories attributed to various Valentines connected to February 14.
One account disclosed the imprisonment of Saint Valentine of Rome for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire in the third century where it was said that Saint Valentine restored the eye of the blind daughter of his jailer.
Another story related it to the theme of love; an 18th-century embellishment claimed he wrote the jailer’s daughter a letter titled, “Your Valentine” as a farewell before his execution.
There is another tradition that says Saint Valentine performed weddings for Christian soldiers who were forbidden to marry, and so on.
Since it is a Christian belief to love, let us focus on what Christians should do on Valentine’s Day which is now observed by many countries across the globe.
The questions on your lips may be; how do the churches plan to celebrate it? What is the best way to observe this yearly event that has found its way permanently into the Christian Calendar? What does Valentine’s mean to the church, and their plan for it?
Religion Nigeria interviewed some church leaders to give a religious context to the aforementioned questions for Christian brothers and sisters in one relationship or another.
Rev. Francis Ekundayo of the Harvest Field International Church, Ogun State told our correspondent that “the commemoration and feast have been widely abused by many who either have been ill-informed, for self-gratification or have complete misconceptions about what the day is all about and meant for.”
However, he admitted that “Valentine is not wrong since the Bible teaches about love for God and for others; (John 15:12; Colossians 3:14; 1Corintians 13:13), but it must be celebrated within the confines of godliness, self-control and the fear of God.
“For a child of God (Christian), Valentine is not a licence to practice immoralities as many would do today (1Peter 5:8,9). Let’s all do it right to please God.”
According to Prophet. Solomon Ajao of the Warriors for Christ Mission, Lagos State, the best way to celebrate Valentine’s is to remember the love of God.
“The Bible says, ‘for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…’ It is a time of giving. Unfortunately, however, it has become a promiscuous kind of thing. But it should be a time of giving because if you look at the origin of Valentine, it was about the priest, who actually showed sincere love to humanity.
“Valentine reminds us of the gift of God to mankind and the true love of God in our hearts. That we have to also love the way God loves. God loves unconditionally and sacrificially, as He loves till the very end. His kind of love is without any strings attached to it,” he said.”
Speaking further the cleric added that Christians should love anybody, irrespective of the person’s background or attitude because that is the seed God has planted in them.
He continued, “So, that is what we are propagating to our people during Valentine’s period. We are using this period to bring our people together and teach them, genuine love. We are bringing vulnerable people, especially the youths, together to teach them how they should love genuinely like God. If you want to condemn something, you should start by first showing people the original version of it. We intend to teach teenagers/youths how to love genuinely.
“In the world today, the kind of love being practised is ‘give you one, and take two from you.’ That’s give and take the game. When people of the world show you love, they expect a reward from you in return. Or worse still, they expect compensation in another form. But we should love unconditionally because God has demonstrated how best we should love our fellow human beings. When we do that, we are actually planting a seed. If we can engage the youths with this kind of mindset, I think that will make them properly focused and not be part of the evil that is happening now.”