In a matter of days we celebrate Valentine’s Day by sending a card to the love of our life, buying flowers, chocolates, ‘candy’ or a host of other things to ‘prove’ our love for our one true love. Some people hate the rampant commercialism whilst others among us go along for the ride. I myself think that any custom that provokes us to keep the flame of love alive has got to be a good one. But how did it all start?
The history of Valentine’s Day is shrouded in mystery. Some say it has its origins in an ancient Roman custom associated with youthful expression of love. Valentine’s Day is derived from the name of St Valentine who was a devout Christian living during the reign of Emperor Claudius II. Claudius the Cruel was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military campaigns.
Claudius believed that the reason that Roman men did not want to leave their loves, or families, in order to go to war was the power of love and marriage. As a result, Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome. This was a crazy idea, but if you look at some of the crazy ideas being enacted in our parliaments like the so-called redefinition of marriage, it shows that we are sadly following in the footsteps of the mad emperors of old.
True marriage is all about complementarity. Just like a table is different to a chair, men and women are different and unique in their own way. You can no more redefine marriage than you can redefine the wonderful utility of having tables and chairs to eat family dinner. Fancy banning marriage? Sadly, the days of crazy emperors are still being enacted in the 21st century,
Anyway, back to Valentine’s day. Valentine and Marius, who were the equivalent of modern-day priests or Christian ministers, refused to obey this unjust and ridiculous edict. Valentine, and others with him, continued to aid their fellow Christian martyrs and secretly married couples who wanted to pledge their troth in marriage.
For this act of kindness Valentine was put in prison and ultimately cruelly executed. Tradition tells us that while in prison he prayed for the prison guard’s daughter who was healed of blindness. Many other young people came to the goal to visit Valentine. Some threw flowers and notes up to his window.
They wanted Valentine to know they were thankful that he would risk his life to marry them and accept their vows of love. On the day that he died, February 14, 268 AD, Valentine left a note of love and encouragement for the jailor’s daughter in her new found faith, signed simply, ‘Your Valentine’. The rest is history.
Now 1 billion valentine’s cards are exchanged with words of love and encouragement around the world. Sometimes the simplest encouragements in life have been paid for by others at great cost and often through the shedding of blood of someone’s precious life.
What’s this got to do with being a good father?
The greatest thing you can do for your children, as a father, is love your wife – ‘your beloved’. Children need love more than food!
If you are a man, you have a destiny to be the love leader in your family. You don’t need an excuse to send a love note of appreciation to the wife of your youth, but Valentine’s Day this Thursday 14 February gives you an opportunity to put your love into action.
Two things to do this week.
Get a card or do something special for your wife in readiness for Valentine’s Day. She deserves it. Raising children and running a household is hard work.
Secondly, at the dinner table tell the story of Valentine’s Day to your children. They need to hear it from you. More importantly they need to see the story of Valentine and his heroic sacrifice of love in you every day of the year.
Yours for more Valentines