I was recently asked for my thoughts about a video that was posted on Facebook. The video makes the claim that true Christians don’t celebrate Valentines Day. I disagree!
Here is the video that I was asked to comment on:
The speaker, Daniel Macaraeg, is the Executive Assistant to the National Office Manager of the United Church of God in the Philippines. The United Church of God has its origins in the former World Wide Church of God founded by Herbert W. Armstrong. After Armstrong’s death in 1986, his successors recognized the errors in some of their formerly held doctrines and moved the organization towards more orthodox biblical teaching. In 1995 several member churches rejected this new direction and formed the United Church of God in an effort to return to their originally held (and problematic) doctrine. You can read more about this in the Wikipedia article:
United Church of God – Wikipedia
Here are the basic claims that Daniel Macaraeg makes about Valentine’s Day:
- It originated from grossly immoral pagan practices.
- It ignores God’s instructions about not following pagan ways.
- It promotes and encourages the wrong kind of love.
My Detailed Comments
Here is a breakdown of statements that Daniel Macaraeg makes and my detailed responses:
00:27 – “Let’s discuss”
What discussion? He’s the only one speaking.
00:47 – “Did you know that true Christians don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day?”
No, I didn’t “know” that, and you haven’t yet proved it.
00:59 – “Christ did not teach it, the early disciples did not observe it, and the people of God are not commanded anywhere in the Scriptures to observe and celebrate Valentine’s Day.”
Nobody I know believes that Christ taught Valentine’s Day or that the disciples observed it. Nobody I know thinks that God commanded it anywhere in the scriptures. We observe a number of holidays throughout the year that are not taught in the scriptures.
01:14 – “For sincere truth-seekers who would rather please God than follow what’s popular . . .”
This sets up a false choice.
01:37 – “Number 1: Valentine’s Day originated from grossly immoral pagan practices.”
This supposed origin of Valentine’s Day in the Roman practice of Lupercalia is NOT settled historical fact. The Wikipedia articles on Valentine’s Day and Lupercalia cast doubt on this idea.
03:47 – “the Roman Catholic Pope Gelasius I recast or “Christianized” Lupercalia in an effort to win over these pagans into Christianity.”
He states this, but provides no evidence. See the Wikipedia articles: Valentine’s Day, Lupercalia.
05:05 – “The martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church together with the celebration of Lupercalia”.
Valentine of Rome was a priest who was martyred in 269 AD and was added to the calendar of saints by Pope Gelasius I in 496 ad. This was the same pope who condemned Lupercalia.
05:38 – “2nd Reason: Celebrating Valentine’s Day ignores God’s instruction about not following pagan ways.”
I don’t know anyone who celebrates Valentine’s Day by following the pagan practices of Lupercalia. Do you?
Deuteronomy 12:29-32 and Leviticus 18:1-30 were written to ancient Israel and not directly to us. When we read the Bible we are eavesdropping on a conversation that God had with someone else. We must first understand what the passages meant to them in their actual context before we apply it to ourselves. No one that you or I know is currently living by each and every Old Testament commandment. No one I know who celebrates Valentine’s day is using it as a means of worshipping God.
He goes on to mention prohibited sexually immoral practices in Leviticus 18. None of this has a specific tie to Valentine’s Day. A husband and wife are free to be sexually intimate whether they are celebrating Valentine’s Day or not. Unmarried couples can and do celebrate Valentines Day without sexual immorality. Those who are sexually immoral are typically sexually immoral whether or not it is Valentine’s Day.
07:24 – “3rd Reason: Valentine’s day promotes the wrong kind of love.”
That this is his opinion does not make it fact. The Bible teaches clearly that God intends sexual intimacy for those who have entered into the covenant of marriage. Believers who are romantically involved, but not yet married should obey this teaching every day – not just on Valentine’s Day. Believers who are married are free to be sexually intimate – on Valentine’s Day or any other day.
09:18 – “Well, what’s wrong with giving chocolates, flowers, cards or jewelry to your wife on Valentine’s Day? . . .What’s wrong with all these things? Isn’t love taught in the scripture and is it not taught in the Bible?”
He goes on to state that the Bible talks about the highest form of love and he sets up a false choice between romantic love and godly love. It is actually possible to have and exhibit BOTH.
10:38 – “Christ even talks about loving our enemies. This is something we cannot find on Valentine’s Day.”
So what? Once I know that Jesus tells me to love my enemies, why do I need to find support for this command in Valentine’s Day?
10:44 – “True love is an ongoing thing. It’s a daily thing. It’s not just a one-day event that we remember in February.”
Who in their right mind imagines that true love is a one-day event? The speaker quotes the passage Romans 13:8 which stresses the importance of love. That in and of itself however says nothing about Valentine’s Day. It simply makes it clear that I should love on Valentine’s Day or any other day.
12:04 – “Knowing this you are now left with a choice. Choose TRUE, godly love – all the time. You don’t need Valentine’s Day in order to express your love. I hope you will make the right choice.”
Yes – I choose to demonstrate true godly love – all the time. I don’t NEED Valentine’s Day to express my love (no one needs Valentine’s Day to express their love), but I CHOOSE to continue to do so. I have chosen BOTH.
The Apostle Paul dealt with problems faced by believers who encountered the byproducts of pagan practices:
1 Corinthians 8-10 – Concerning Food Sacrificed To Idols.
Here Paul teaches that believers are free to consume meat even if it’s been sacrificed to idols as along as they don’t participate in idol temple worship or eat in the presence of:
- A fellow believer with a weak conscience who will feel emboldened to reconnect with idolatry by your actions.
- A non-believer who will interpret your behavior as an endorsement to pagan practices.
Either of these certainly can happen as we celebrate Valentine’s Day (or any other holiday for that matter) but, in my opinion, these occasions are the exception rather than the rule.
Romans 14 – The Weak and the Strong
Here Paul make a related point – encouraging believers with strong consciences not to pass judgment on those who have a weak conscience and vice-versa.
I don’t know of any followers of Jesus who have taken up any of the idolatrous practices associated with Lupercalia as a result of celebrating Valentine’s Day. For this reason, it is not a practice that worries me.