Saint Valentines Day is once again upon us. But just who was the saint that put the "saint" in saint valentines day? In case you don't know the story (it is supposed to be a true story) there was, in ancient times, a law that soldiers were not allowed to marry. Family life would have been a distraction in wartime. Well, a Christian man, named Valentine, would perform underground marriages for fellow Christians in the army.
Fast forward to today. We celebrate this man today, or, more accurately, the love he epitomised. We give chocolates, roses, and Vermont Teddy Bears to our significant others, or, if we are children, we exchange valentine cards with our Platonic friends at school.
If we are celebrating love, it would certainly behoove to pause for a moment and reflect on what "wuv... twoo wuv" weely-er-really is.
Before doing that, I remind us all that the original lovers in question, as we said above, were Christians. This is important to remember because "love" is different for the Christian than for others. This is not to say that an atheist mom, say, does not love her children. I think she does.
So then, what is love exactly? How shall we define it? Well, Aristotle distinguished two different sorts of definition. The first is that of description. We may define X by saying what X is like. Alternatively, we may define X by giving the essence of X. Let us take a look at "love" from both of these standpoints.
When describing what love is like, certain key components are necessary. First, love is directed primarily towards others. It is not selfish. Second, love is sacrificial. You have to look out for number two! And for a healthy love, there really ought to be both grace (and mercy, which is different from grace) and truth.
This brings up the concept of a grace/truth relationship. In a grace/truth relationship, when one party wrongs the other, the other is to respond, in turn, with both grace and truth. The truth is to confront the first party with open acknowledgement of the wrong done. The grace is the forgiving and-so much as it is possible-forgetting. A truly deep and healthy relationship ought to operate on this program. It goes without saying that the first party will also be operating on said program and not take advantage of the second party because they know they can get away with it. Grace/truth in reality makes interpersonal sin more difficult, not less, to commit. Finally, if just grace, or just truth, is present without the counterbalance of the other, the relationship shall be out of kilter and not really work as it should.
But all of this is rather dry. Isn't love supposed to be dynamic? Indeed it is! And this brings us to the second sort of Aristotelian definition. What is the very essence of love qua love? In a word: Jesus.
Christian apologetics is all about religious proof. And God proves His love for us by sending Jesus. If you look up "love" in the dictionary you'll see a picture of the "Old Rugged Cross."
Some time ago, Jessica Simpson and her hubby talked about how much they were in love. By the by, being 'in love' is ridiculously over-rated. Shortly thereafter they got divorced! "The Beatles said all you need is love, then they broke up!" Popular music is, of course, filled with the tired cliches of love that moves mountains and the like. In reality, love appears rather shallow, at least, in the lifestyles of most of the rich in famous. And so, on that note, I leave you today with some lyrics from my favorite song. It is 'Love Song' by Third Day. I'm not a huge fan of Third Day, or CCM in general for that matter, but 'Love Song' is my favorite song. The person speaking, in the song, is Jesus Himself.
I've never swam the deepest ocean, but I walked upon the raging sea...
I've never climbed the highest mountain, but I marched the hill of Calvary...
Just to be with you I'd do anything.
There's no price I would not pay.
Just to be with you I'd give everything.
Yes I'd give my life away...
Just to be with you I've done everything.
There's no price I did not pay.
Just to be with you I've given everything.
Yes I gave my life away.
Just to be with you.
Just to be with you.