Commentary: Is Valentine's Day Really About Love?

St. Valentine's Day

Given 14-Feb-15; 11 minutes

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St. Valentine's Day is a shameless syncretism, an attempt to blend pagan rites with Christian observances. The practice started as a lewd, sensual festival in Rome. Lupercalia is an archaic rite connected with fertility, honoring Venus, the goddess of sexual love. The Roman Catholic Church, in an effort to attract pagan converts, began to attach 'Christian' significance, claiming that the purification of Mary occurred on February 14th. Saint Valentine of Rome was a priest imprisoned for performing weddings for Christian soldiers who had been forbidden to marry by the government of Rome. Protestants, who did not care for the worship of saints, were nevertheless pleased to blend the trappings of pagan culture with 'Christian' tradition. Sadly, every pagan rite practiced has been adopted and allegedly 'sanctified' by giving it religious significance, despite God's warning in Deuteronomy 12 not to mix the worship of God with pagan customs, lest one participate in demon worship.



Today, on God’s Sabbath, His people worship Him in spirit and in truth and in love, while in flagrant contrast, the world’s people celebrate their pagan holiday in flesh and in lies and in lust.

Sexual immorality has always been the essential ingredient in the observance of Saint Valentine’s Day. How did such a pagan celebration become so accepted in mainstream, professing Christianity?

The origins of Valentine’s Day predate Christianity. The Roman god Lupercusis is of the same origin as the Greek god Pan. The Phoenicians and Semites called him "Bal" or "Baal."

The original biblical name for "Saint Valentine" was "Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord," and he was the definitive dichotomy of a saint. He was totally against God’s way of love.

The birth date of Nimrod was believed to be January 6. His mother (according to custom) presented herself for purification 40 days later on February 15. According to secular history, Nimrod was a vicious murderer and abuser of women.

Centuries before the birth of Christ, pagan Rome celebrated February 15, beginning the evening before, on February 14, as a sensuous festival in honor of the idolatrous worship of Lupercus, the deified "hero-hunter of wolves."

The ancient Roman practice especially encouraged young people who were attracted to each other to indulge in licentious acts of sexual immorality. Roman church leaders in the 5th century AD eventually included the festival Lupercalia in the church due to the immense popularity of the holiday with the pagan Roman citizenry.

So many people had brought their pagan beliefs into the Roman church from the conquered pagan world that it was decided to include the holiday, except for the more extreme sensual observances. They sought to infuse into the festival of "Lupercalia" a Christian value by renaming it "Saint Valentine's Day."

We see this same type of infusion from the world today in the form of pagan holidays such as Groundhog Day, May Day and Halloween, and in celebrations of birthdays, and in mysticism through yoga techniques, astrology and spiritual mapping. All these and more have been syncretized into the lives of some members of the greater church of God.

The Valentine's Day of Roman days was less refined than its modern celebration. After the sacrifice of goats and a dog, the priests (called Luperci), traditionally ran, in two bands, a marked course around the city on this day, scantily dressed only in goatskin girdles and carrying strips of goat skin with which they struck women to take away their infertility. The strips bore the name februa, a word connected with februare, meaning: “to purify.” Therefore, the day was called Februatus, and the month, Februarius.

Lupercalia was, or became, connected with the legendary she-wolf (in Latin, lupus means wolf) who suckled Remus and Romulus, the traditional founders of Rome. “Wolf” was a synonym in Rome for a sexually available woman. So the day became connected with Venus, goddess of sexual “love.” Venus’ son Cupid also played an important part in this “love feast,” (or more appropriately, lust feast).

Roman mythology ascribes to mother and son the power to instill passion in people, and with their love potion they also had the power (supposedly) to make love cease.

Cupid is often portrayed shooting arrows into the hearts of his victims. Usually naked, winged and armed with a bow and arrow, cupids are still portrayed in modern times on Valentine cards, in theater décor, and so on. As can well be imagined, a lewd festival of sex and lustful love was popular with the masses of Rome, much as it is today. Maybe not as overtly sexual, but just as popular.

Once the Roman emperors embraced counterfeit “Christianity,” Roman church growth became explosive. In order to quickly “convert” the pagan populace, the church felt that it could not be too hard on prospective members. Some Roman church leaders reasoned that if Christianity was to conquer the world, it could best do so by relaxing the principles of the teachings of Christ the world perceived as much too rigid. Interestingly, that's exactly what the Worldwide Church of God did back in the '80s and '90s.

Another effective way of gaining members was to blend and incorporate popular pagan beliefs and practices with Christian ones. This is called syncretism. Seeing that the masses could not be persuaded to relinquish many of their superstitious customs, the attempt was made to add Christian concepts to the superstitious feasts. The historical development of the Roman church shows that for almost every pagan ceremony, some Christian rite was introduced.

The Roman populace could still go to their “love feast,” no longer dedicated to Venus, the goddess of love, but to the Virgin Mary and the saints. In AD 496, Pope Gelasius, bishop of Rome, officially "Christianized" the pagan Lupercalia by renaming it “St. Valentine’s Day,” and moving the day of observance from the 15th to the 14th of February. The attention of the masses on each February 14 was now to be centered on “Christian saints.” People could still draw lots for their “valentines,” but with the names of saints written on them instead.

But when the Protestants came on the scene, St. Valentine fell into the background since Protestants didn’t hold to the concept that saints are worthy of celebration and should not be worshipped. People went back to drawing the names of ordinary young men and women, choosing themselves partners for the celebration. Saints and Christianity had never become a major part of the festival. Cupid was still there. So were the arrowed hearts. Lots were drawn as chance directed. The day was still the original Roman day, and it was as popular and pagan as ever.

The origin of Valentine’s Day is not saintly or espoused in the Bible. In Deuteronomy 12:29-31, God warned ancient Israel that they were the people He chose to represent true religion. They were not to mix pagan customs with worshipping Him as the one true God:

Deuteronomy 12:29-31 When the Lord your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.' You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods.

In I Corinthians 10:19-21, the apostle Paul compares mixing paganism with Christianity to worshipping demons:

I Corinthians 10:19-21 "What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cups of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons."

This includes giving any of your time or interest to things of pagan origin.

Holidays like St. Valentine's Day continually secularize into icons of the world’s culture, creating a falsification of religion. Most people couldn't care less if its origins are in the Roman Lupercalia or early Roman church doctrines. It's this apathy about how to worship God, and the corresponding moral decay, that is the result of mixing Christianity with paganism.

Even some Christians who reject religious holidays with roots in paganism, like Christmas and Easter, see nothing wrong with holidays like New Year's Day, Valentine's Day and Halloween despite their pagan origin.

The faulty human reasoning goes like this: Christmas and Easter must be rejected because they are attempts to worship God with pagan customs. The other holidays, however, while they might have once been used to worship God, are now deemed completely secular. And since what God actually forbids is using pagan customs to worship Him, we are free to practice pagan worship customs if they are not now used for worship.

Yet this ignores the fact that God told the Israelites (in Deuteronomy 12:2-4) to completely eradicate all vestiges of pagan worship from their presence, not merely from their worship of Him. Moreover, our whole life is to be one of worshipping and honoring God in all we do.

The things we participate in should be seen in the context of bringing glory to Him. This does not mean we can't have fun. God wants us to enjoy life. But our fun is not to be independent of Him. All that we think, say and do should be to the glory of God, always honoring Him!

No true Christian in good conscience would want to be someone’s Valentine and he certainly wouldn’t wish someone a “Happy Valentine’s Day!” We must “speak the truth in love,” not lust. Jesus said that His followers would "worship the Father in spirit and truth," not in flesh and lust.