Debbie Salter Goodwin
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. We have made it a day for sharing cards, chocolate, flowers, and making expensive dining reservations. Clearly, retail has driven the way we celebrate Valentine’s Day. However, it didn’t start with fancy chocolates and Hallmark cards. Some say it started with a beheading! It is this story of Valentine, a Roman priest in the time of Claudius the Cruel, that reminds me what we should be celebrating. While the story of St. Valentine is veiled in legend, there is truth buried in it. Here’s the story that compels me.
Claudius the II had a war to fight and needed undistracted young men to build his invincible army and claim victory. Claudius concluded that single men made better soldiers than married men because married men took their worries for family into battle. Being the self-serving emperor that he was, he signed an edict preventing young men to marry so they could be sent to war.
The priest, Valentine, answered to his God before he answered to his culture. He
continued marrying young, engaged couples, not to defy his emperor; but to obey His God. For ignoring the Emperor’s edict, he was arrested, tortured, and sentenced to death.
Here is where history may turn to legend. While Valentine waited for his execution, he met the jailor’s blind daughter. The jailor, understanding that Valentine was an educated man, asked Valentine to teach his daughter, who was considered uneducable on two accounts: she was a woman and she was blind.
As the story goes, Valentine prayed for the young woman’s healing; and God answered his prayer. On the last day of Valentine’s life, he left a note for the jailor’s daughter which simply read, “From your Valentine.”
And so, we send cards with variations of the same sentiment.
But remember what put Valentine in prison: his unswerving commitment to marriage. He paid dearly for that belief. He lived up to his name for Valentine comes from the Latin word valens which means worthy, strong, powerful.
We need some Valentines today who stand strong for marriage. Even singles don’t want a world without the marriages that gave them life. Marriage has been under attack in every century. While there are new enemies, it is an old war.
This year on Valentine’s Day, I will remember Valentine’s beheading for the sake of marriage. I will renew my commitment to the communication, partnership, co-submission, oneflesh unity, and confidence in God’s design for marriage. I will love more, forgive more, and protect more.
And I will pray that it will not take another Valentine to protect what God created.