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How to Embrace Valentine's Day

Photo of Debbie Wright Debbie Wright
4 min

February always brings in a faint hint of spring: longer days, nature stirring and then midway we hit Valentine’s Day. Christians can be cynical about the commercialisation and media hype over 14th February, and like many national days it invokes mixed feelings. So should we just ignore it or can we embrace the day and think how we can reach out to others?

It's a shame that our culture prizes romantic – eros love over any other type, when there are so many! Love is the only word we have in the English language to describe an infinite variety of relationships, emotions and actions that express it.  In comparison, the Greek and Latin languages boast a wealth of precise words that describe specific types of love, many of which the New Testament writers used.

  • Eros love refers to romantic or sexual love. The word doesn’t appear in Scripture but is inferred in Song of Solomon where the passionate love between a husband and wife is described.
  • Storge love is the love that unites and bonds families: the love between parents and children, husband and wives, siblings and wider family members. Paul warns that during the end-times, people will become so selfish that they will live without any sense of natural affection for their own family (2 Timothy 3:3).
  • Phileo love is expressly used in the Bible to describe the warmth and affinity shared by close friends, almost as if they were actual siblings. When Jesus was seen crying over the death of Lazarus, one witness pointed to the depth of Jesus’s love by using a derivative of the word phileo to exclaim, ‘See how he loved him!’ (John 11:36 NIV)
  • Last but not least is Agape love. This is the highest level of love the Bible describes. This form of love is everlasting, sacrificial and perfect. In the original Greek, agape is specifically used to describe God’s love for us: ‘God is love.’ (1 John 4:8 NIV)

    Agape in contrast to the other forms of love is not born out of emotions and feelings but from the will and as a choice. Agape requires faithfulness, commitment, and sacrifice without expecting anything in return. Christians in the early church were renowned for their love for one another, sharing their possessions, eating together and spending time in each other’s homes. Paul beautifully describes agape love when he writes to the Corinthian church.

‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record or wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.’ (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 NIV)

When three out of my four daughters were young teenagers, I noticed a despondency when Valentine’s Day approached, none of them (like their mother) ever received a mysterious envelope where the sender confessed their attraction and ‘undying love’. So, I decided to make it more positive and use it to celebrate our family love for each other.

I would write a card to each daughter with a short personal message alongside a small token gift. The tradition took off and now I send my mum, Godchildren and others a card sharing my love and appreciation for them, and sometimes I receive one back.

With a little forethought and planning we can make Valentine’s Day a celebration of all different types of love. Here are a few other suggestions to mark the day:

  1. Send a thank you letter or card to your church leader or headteacher of your children’s school – showing your appreciation for their leadership and commitment.
  2. Agape can also be described as a ‘love-feast’: host a meal or a coffee meet up and invite those on the margins of your church family or who are lonely or in need.
  3. Use the day as a catalyst to review your giving and causes you give to.
  4. Agape love is sacrificial and active: carve out time to spend with someone else, either visiting or helping with some jobs; cleaning, gardening, DIY and so on.
  5. 14th February often falls in half-term week: if you have school-aged children, plan the day together to put other’s first, bake cakes, pick up litter or invite neighbours around.

For some, Valentine’s Day will resurface painful or sad memories and a sense of loss and loneliness. Particularly for those who are newly single for whatever reason, like my mum who lost my dad last year after 60 years of marriage. But here is a chance for us to share God’s overwhelming comforting agape love.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.’ (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV)

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Written by

Debbie Wright

Debbie was a staff writer at Stewardship until 2022, having been responsible for creating online and offline content including Share Magazine, blogs, case studies, generosity and giving resources. Previously a Producer and Director for BBC Education and Science, she enjoys working on creative ideas to encourage people to live generous lives.

Debbie is a marmalade connoisseur and fair-weather birdwatcher and lives in London with her husband and youngest daughter of four girls. She is passionate about Local Church, Creation Care and Arts & Media, with a particular focus on supporting Christians working in the arts and media.