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My Pagan Valentine

Why Christians Should Not Celebrate Valentine's Day


Most women who have ever been in my life became upset around the 14th of February because I didn't believe in St. Valentine's Day. I figured, (1) if I loved them, I shouldn't have to prove it and (2) being a robot and throwing money away just because Hallmark said we should is no way to do (1). The main problem with customs is they are customs, which is to say these rituals are so deeply embedded into our social DNA they rise to the standard of a religious obligation. Which is ironic considering I could talk most any woman I've been involved with into skipping church but skipping St. Valentine's Day was pure heresy. She would experience rejection. She would all but accuse me of lying when I refused to cooperate with this foolishness. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, of God or the bible involved in St. Valentine's Day, a seemingly benign distraction which actually tracks back to heinous pagan rituals.

The custom of sending lover's greetings on February 14 began with an ancient pagan celebration called The Feast of Lupercalia, "Wolf Festival," a pre-Roman blood rite honoring Lupercus, the god of shepherds. The celebration featured a lottery in which the names of young girls were written on slips of paper and placed into a vase. Young men would draw a girl's name from the jar, and the girl would be his sexual companion during the remaining year.

In 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius changed the name of the Lupercalia festival to St. Valentine's Day, and ordered a slight change in the lottery. Instead of the names of young women, the box would contain the names of saints. Both men and women were allowed to draw from the box, and the game was to emulate the ways of the saint they drew during the rest of the year. Not too surprisingly, this prudish version of Lupercalia proved unpopular, and by the fourteenth century they reverted back to the use of girls' names.

The feast included blood sacrifices of two male goats (representing fertility) and a dog (representing purification). Girls and young women would line up to receive lashes from whips made from the skins of the animal sacrifices to ensure fertility, prevent sterility and ease the pain of childbirth.

Paul's insistence that such ancient rituals no longer have any power [1 Cor. 9] have led pastors to tell me we are, therefore, free to emulate them; to use benign improvisations of these rites (St. Valentine's Day, Trick-Or-Treating) as agents of evangelism Which is faulty exegesis. Even though the Apostle Paul denied the power of pagan gods and rituals, even though he instructed his followers to not chastise the new Christians for eating the meat of idols, such selectively myopic interpretation of scripture misses the broader context: Paul himself never ate the meat of idols and Paul himself never included pagan rituals into his Christian belief. Just because Paul says these “gods” have no feet, have no real power, he is not endorsing our emulation of pagan rituals, behavior Paul condemns [I Cor. 10:20-21].

Rituals and practices designed, from their inception, to deny the holiness of God are inappropriate vehicles for evangelism. Some have argued that we’re just taking Satan's tools and turning them against him. By definition, Satan's tools are Satan's tools. By definition they are FOREVER condemned and ineligible for inclusion in worship to God.

It frustrates me that if, when asked why I don't participate in St. Valentine's Day, I said if I was a Muslim, people would accept that. Nobody demands long explanations of my Muslim friends. Their wives don't turn them inside out over this foolishness. But Christians, apparently, have no standards. And I am belittled, mocked, berated and dismissed as lazy or, worse, as someone who does not love. Churches having "sweetheart balls," and so forth are especially contemptible to me. Papering the fellowship halls with red and pink hearts is the height of ignorance. Why not build an altar to Baal while you're at it. I would like to respectfully disagree with pastors who endorse this heresy, but I can't be all that polite about it. There simply is no biblical defense for this practice. It is shameful and antichrist. We are a deceived people, led by pastors who either don't know better or who rigidly enforce the parts of the bible they like while crucifying Christ afresh with paper hearts.

I'm not all that bent about the paganism and religious aspects of this (though they are important to know). I just, flat out, think emotional blackmail is not love. My beloved sulking, refusing to speak to me, crying, experiencing rejection because I refuse to deal with this nonsense Is Not Love. If my love for her is so weak that she requires such Santa Claus-like external validation, our relationship is in serious trouble. I want to be with someone secure enough to not make demands of love, as true love makes no demands. Someone who knows herself and knows me and knows God and wants to please God more than she wants to please herself. I want to be with a grown-up: somebody who accepts me for me and accepts my conviction to not participate--even indirectly--in emulation of pagan rites that blaspheme the God I worship. Forcing me to participate in this idiocy Is Not Love. And, to me, it's really sad when a woman emotionally blackmails a guy into this nonsense. He's miserable, she knows it, she doesn't care. She's wallowing in self deception even as she undermines her relationship with him because he's marking this torture off on his calendar, February 14th becoming a dreadful obligation and a day when this woman loses her dang mind and acts like a pouty ten-year old.

There's certainly nothing wrong with giving your sweetheart a bouquet or a box of chocolates. But let's stop being lemmings, doing things because we've always done them. Let's understand the roots and origins of our customs and traditions and ask ourselves, truthfully, if these practices please God. I mean, we should demonstrate our love for one another every day. And if you want to designate a Sweethearts Day, there's certainly nothing wrong with that, either. But blindly following pagan tradition makes us obstinate and lazy and, ultimately, guilty of integrating paganism into our belief system. After all, waiting to Monday to give her those flowers would honor her and God. But she'll likely have a dang fit. Fellas--this is how we got tossed out of the garden in the first place.

Christopher J. Priest
13 February 2011