Every year, as February 14 approaches, retailers bring out mountains of candy in heart shaped containers, bakeries display heart shaped cakes and cookies, florists gear up for higher volume, and card shops display rows of Valentine cards.
Should Christians celebrate Valentine’s Day? Should we participate in all the commercialism surrounding it? Shouldn’t we express our love and appreciation to our spouses every day of the year and not just on Valentine’s Day?
Dennis Rainy explains “Why Romance Is Important.” He states that “Romance is not the foundation of a marriage. It is the fire in the fireplace—the warmth and security of a relationship that says, ‘We may have struggles, but I love you, and everything is okay.’" Furthermore, Rainy claims that “We ought to make romance a part of our everyday diet in our marriage relationship. Look at what the Bible speaks of in Proverbs 5:18-19: ‘…and rejoice in the wife of your youth, as a loving hind and graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times. Be exhilarated always with her love.’”
Rainy says that this type of romance is what sets a marriage apart from just a friendship. Our spouse should be our best friend, but marriage goes way beyond friendship. In marriage, he points out, “we share a marriage bed together, and we dream thoughts and exchange intimacies that are shared with nobody else on this planet. That's what God intended, we believe, in the marriage.”
I believe that sharing this vision for marriage is just as key a part of the gospel message of redemption as telling people of the path to the cross of Jesus Christ. In Him, our marriages find their greatest fulfillment. And, as we read in Ephesians 5, marriage is not only to be a model of Christ’s union with the church, but our bond as husbands and wives is to be patterned after that union.
As Rainy points out,
Romantic love is a part of God's character. He made us in His image, and He gave us emotions. Just as He woos us to follow after Him and express our love for Him, so a husband and wife attempt to win each other's affections. We believe husbands and wives are modeling what God is up to as He pursues individuals.
February 7 was the start of “National Marriage Week,” which puts the spotlight on efforts to strengthen marriage, reduce the divorce rate, and build a stronger marriage culture. The National Marriage Week website includes statements from the floor of Congress and photos of U.S. Congressional Representatives and Senators at the launch of the first National Marriage Week in 2012.
But this year, there have been no statements from Congress or photo-ops for U.S. Senators and Representatives. A lot has happened since February 2012. Not only did the president come out in support of same-sex marriage just before Mother’s Day, he was re-elected on a party platform that endorsed “marriage equality” for same-sex marriage as a national policy.
Is the national sentiment moving toward accepting same-sex marriage as the “new normal?” Will card companies start making cards for homosexual and lesbian partners to send to each other on Valentine’s Day? Perhaps some already have.
But regardless of how much acceptance there appears to be for the “marriage equality” of same-sex marriage, or for accepting homosexual behaviors based on the unfounded belief that “they are born that way,” we cannot give up our efforts to defend God’s plan for marriage between a man and a woman.
If this were just a matter of considering the “evidence,” the case for exclusive conjugal marriage between a man and a woman would win hands down. Why Marriage Matters: 30 Conclusions from the Social Sciences, summarizes just some of the evidence that shows that marriage is better for children who thrive more in stable homes with a father and mother; it decreases the likelihood of families being in poverty; and marriage is associated with better health, lower rates of injury, illness, and disability for both men and women. And for all those bachelors who are hesitant to make that final commitment to the bonds of marriage, the evidence also shows that married men have longer life expectancies than do otherwise similar singles.
Clearly, the rational arguments for “the historic understanding of marriage as a conjugal relationship—a union of man and a woman at every level (mind, heart, and body), inherently oriented to family life” far outweigh any argument for same sex marriage as Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George show in their new book, What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense. But then, those who argue for same-sex marriage often aren’t inclined toward rational arguments. Instead, they too often resort to shouting down their opponents or defaming them with charges of bigotry and hate-speech.
This should not surprise us. As Romans 1 explains, there will always be those who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness”—those who have “exchanged the truth of God for the lie.”
Back to the question: Should we celebrate Valentine’s Day?
As Christians, not only can we remember on this day God’s greatest romance—that of Christ’s sacrificial love for His bride, the church. We can also celebrate the benefits of marriage as part of His design to help us stay healthy, raise children who are well-adjusted and thriving, and bring economic prosperity to our households.
And as for those who think they can find the benefits of marriage outside of the marriage commitment, you should consider the evidence, for “it just ain’t so.”