I know that a lot of people hate Valentine’s Day. And I understand that it’s too much pressure and too commercialized and they jack up the prices on flowers and you can’t get a reservation. All that.
But at the gym yesterday, women were talking about how V-day is “just for the kids” with their paper valentines and candy hearts. I groaned inside. Why must everything we do be for the kids? Doesn’t grown-up love deserve it’s own little nod, it’s own little snuggle, so to speak, without being taken over by SpongeBob and Disney princesses?
Maybe my attitude is shaped by preaching incarnation for a couple of decades now. But I’m thinking: we celebrate Love made flesh in Jesus Christ. Well, the closest I come to knowing that love, is through the love made flesh in my husband. As far as I can tell, that’s even scriptural. My husband’s face is the face of Love to me.
What’s wrong with a day to revel in that love? Here’s how I figure — and I completely understand that other people have totally different perspectives on this! But to me, the fleshly experience of love–from the taste of chocolate, to the scent of flowers, to the feeling of a lover’s lips– is as close as we’re going to get to the Kingdom of God until a whole lot of trumpets tune up at the same time and usher us over.
I’m with the guy in Proverbs: There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a maiden.
Let’s not be too politically correct about the order of that last phrase. I’m assuming that sometimes the maiden is having her way with the man. Let’s let the poet make a point.
All around us, love is reduced to the romantic gesture. Sex is trivialized into titillation. Yet Love is God’s greatest gift, and sexual love is one facet of that love. Doesn’t it follow that we, as people of faith, should be making a strong stand for the inherent beauty– and sacredness– of the sexual aspect of long-term committed love?
It’s not easy to keep a bond strong, year after year. Sometimes the bond falters and the spark needs a little rekindling. To me, Valentine’s Day is a nudge to put your Love on the front burner for a day.
Here’s a thought: what if the church was on the exuberant forefront proclaiming: Sex is a good gift of God, so go home and enjoy it!
When was the last time you preached that, or heard that preached? Is it too alienating to those who are single, or whose relationships are faltering?
Maybe it is. But I don’t think that’s why churches shy away from such pronouncements. I think it’s because churches are very uptight about sexual love.
Instead of celebrating God’s good gift, the church argues about “the rules” as they interpret them (which too often feature a prohibition against homosexuality) and potential consequences (teen pregnancy). It’s almost as if the church has forgotten why sexual love is so wonderful in the first place. Because it is. The Song of Solomon is with me on this.
I write about sexual abuse, which is all too common. It’s good to be reminded that sexuality is a positive thing, that eros is a legitimate form of love, and that flowers and candy are small ways to express love’s sweetness.
Valentine’s Day is a reminder to celebrate sexual love, and that’s not just for kids.