1 John 4:7-21 – “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” NASB
Have you ever stopped to think about God’s view of Eros love? How does God feel about romantic love? We have adopted a celebration focused on Love, physical, emotional, and romantic and it is called Valentine’s Day. Cupids are flying around and the exchange of flowers, chocolates, gifts, etc. all designed to elicit emotional responses from our partner, mate, or lover. It is a Big Deal and woe unto the man who forgets it.
But, how did Valentine’s Day evolve and become what it is today? It seems that it began around the legend of a mythical and obscure saint. In a short time of research, I discovered that there were more than one St. Valentine and the celebration has morphed into a pop culture phenomenon with the exchange of greeting cards, flowers, and confectionaries. It began in England and quickly took hold in the United States and much of the world.
February 14th was originally a feast day commemorating the death of a martyr but has become a celebration of Eros love. That is a giant leap. Some have suggested that it was adopted because 5th Century Pope Gelasius I abolished the ancient Roman fertility festival, Lupercalia (February 15th). Human sexual drive and the infatuation with Eros or Romantic Love may have driven people to mesh that with Valentine’s Day. What we do know is that “Volantynys Day” emerged in a romantic poem by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th Century and it has been with us since.
HOW SHOULD BELIEVERS APPROACH VALENTINE’S DAY?
I would say, celebrate it as purely as possible. Valentine was a saint and Eros are not Cupid’s domain it is God’s. Christians can and should unashamedly and exuberantly celebrate romantic love. We should prove to be the strongest guardians of God’s design for men and women (marriage). There are boundaries to be observed but God made Romantic Love for us to enjoy.
1 Timothy 6:17 concurs, Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”
Who is a greater romantic than God Himself?
BE DRUNK WITH LOVE…
Although the Bible places limits on many things and demands moderation, in the area of love we are enjoined to become inebriated. Sexual sin is pervasive and prevalent in today’s society and it has found inroads in the church. In the 60’s the term was ‘shacking up’ referring to couples living together and engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage. That was unacceptable among Christians but in much of today’s Christian world, it is not viewed with any condemnation or restriction.
When a couple engages in sexual intercourse, they become one flesh and are joined spiritually together. The Bible reveals how those sexual sins outside of marriage can become soul ties that can reach for generations and become heavy weights keeping us from the freedom of marital purity and damage our spirits and relationship with God.
But moving beyond the damage and danger of sexual perversion and sexual sin let’s focus on the Intoxication that God desires regarding Love.
Song of Solomon 5:1 – “…friends; drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers.”
Wow! Be drunk with Love! How many of you are drunk with love for your mate? How many are drunk with love for the LORD? It’s okay to be completely hopelessly in love with the person who is your soulmate for life.
The Wine of Love is permissible and encouraged.
Song of Solomon 1:2 – “May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine.”
Song of Solomon 4:10 – “How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine…”
Song of Solomon 2:4 – “He has brought me to his banquet hall, (literally the House of Wine) And his banner over me is love.”
Song of Solomon 7:2 – “And your mouth like the best wine!” “It goes down smoothly for my beloved, flowing gently through the lips of those who fall asleep.”
This is a picture of being totally enraptured and captivated by Love for your Lover, your Spouse, your Mate!
REKINDLE THE FLAME OF LOVE…
Tragically some married people have lost the fire and their taste for the Wine of Love. They take each other for granted and fail to work at kindling the spark that was once a raging fire inside. We need to walk back through the vineyards and see if the little foxes (cares of life) have spoiled those vines. We need to AWAKEN LOVE!
Song of Solomon 3:5 – “…awaken my love…”
Husbands you need to reread:
Song of Solomon 4:1-5 – “How beautiful you are, my darling, how beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves behind your veil; Your hair is like a flock of goats That have descended from Mount Gilead. 2 “Your teeth are like a flock of newly shorn ewes Which have come up from their washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them has lost her young. 3 “Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely. Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate Behind your veil. 4 “Your neck is like the tower of David Built with rows of stones, on which are hung a thousand shields, All the round shields of the mighty men. 5 “Your two breasts are like two fawns, Twins of a gazelle, which feed among the lilies.”
Don’t be prudish and fail to drink in the physical and spiritual beauty of your wife.
I also encourage you to reread:
Song of Solomon 7:1-4 – “How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince’s daughter! The curves of your hips are like jewels, The work of the hands of an artist. 2 “Your navel is like a round goblet Which never lacks mixed wine; Your belly is like a heap of wheat Fenced about with lilies. 3 “Your two breasts are like two fawns, Twins of a gazelle. 4 “Your neck is like a tower of ivory, your eyes like the pools in Heshbon by the gate of Bath-rabbim; Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon, which faces toward Damascus.”
Wives, I encourage you to read:
Song of Solomon 5:10-16 – “My beloved is dazzling and ruddy, Outstanding among ten thousand. 11 “His head is like gold, pure gold; His locks are like clusters of dates, And black as a raven. 12 “His eyes are like doves, beside streams of water, bathed in milk, and reposed in their setting. 13 “His cheeks are like a bed of balsam, Banks of sweet-scented herbs; His lips are lilies, Dripping with liquid myrrh. 14 “His hands are rods of gold Set with beryl; His abdomen is carved ivory Inlaid with sapphires. 15 “His legs are pillars of alabaster Set on pedestals of pure gold; His appearance is like Lebanon, Choice as the cedars. 16 “His mouth is full of sweetness. And he is wholly desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”
He may not look that way to anyone else, but it is okay for you to drink in his physical as well as spiritual attributes.
God wants married lovers to experience deeply, and future lovers to anticipate, the full-orbed sensual and spiritual pleasure of erotically loving another embodied soul. His design is for this to occur within the safe chamber of marriage because forbidden intoxication can kill.
Proverbs 5:15-19 – “Drink water from your own cistern, And fresh water from your own well. 16 Should your springs be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be yours alone, And not for strangers with you. 18 Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love.”
God gives a warning in:
Proverbs 5:20-23 – “For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress, and embrace the bosom of a foreigner? 21 For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, And He watches all his paths. 22 His own iniquities will capture the wicked, and he will be held with the cords of his sin. 23 He will die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he will go astray.”
We have made Eros love something taboo to be talked about and enjoyed as Christians and that is not God’s desire, design, or plan. He forbids engaging in sex outside of marriage. Love is far more than physical but the physical is a part of God’s design. Paul instructs in 1 Corinthians 7:1-15 that we are not to deny each other the desired and required physical contact. This helps prevent the temptation to stray and drink from forbidden cisterns.
I AM MY BELOVED AND MY BELOVED IS MINE…
There is much more to the Song of Solomon than marital Eros. In it is woven the mystery of the Great Romance. God reveals this beautiful journey in:
Ephesians 5:31-32 – “For this cause, a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”
This romance of marriage, the oneness of the marital union, is descriptive of the Marriage of Christ and His Church, His Bride. In that relationship, we know the depth of the intoxication of Love and the power of becoming One.
Jesus said in John 15:7 – “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.”
The oneness and the power of abiding are revealed powerfully if you back up a few verses and read in John 15:4-11 – “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. 8 “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. 11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
John’s message is simple: God is love. God loves us. Because of God’s love for us, we should love one another. And if we don’t love one another, we can’t really love God. Got that? It’s a simple message, but it has the potential to have a profound impact on our community as well as upon the larger world in which we live. It’s a small idea, loving others because God loves us, but an idea that has life-changing and world-changing consequences.
I’m want to share a story, adapted from Hermann Hesse’s fairy tale, Augustus.
A young woman gave birth to her first child just a month after her husband had died in a tragic accident. She was from a caring and loving church. They were all concerned about her and they threw a great shower, providing her with all she’d need to care for his child. She named the boy Victor, after her deceased husband. After the shower, when all the guests had gone, Doc Burns, an eccentric old man who lived nearby, and who wasn’t really a doctor, stopped by. He said that he, too, had a gift for the young boy. But his gift was unique; he would grant the mother one wish for her son. The woman was to tell him of her wish before the son’s baptism the next Sunday. All that week the woman pondered. Finally, on the morning of the baptism, she decided to ask that all might love her son. Doc Burns granted the wish.
Everyone loved Victor as he grew up. All the children wanted to play with him; all the adults thought he was the most perfect child. Even when Victor responded to others with scorn and contempt, they still loved him. He graduated from high school and went on to a respected college, all the while living a life of ease. He was the life of the party. He drove a big car and wore fancy clothes. After college, he never worked very hard. “I collect horses, dogs, and women,” he often bragged. There were no pleasures he didn’t indulge in, and no vice he didn’t practice. Yet, everyone raved about him and the women couldn’t leave him alone. All the while his heart grew empty and his soul sicker. He became disgusted. He was tired of living.
One-night Victor had had enough. He went home and prepared to commit suicide. But before he could raise the glass of poison to his lips, Doc Burns stopped by. He was even older now and moved slower. Victor demanded to be left alone, but the good old man plopped himself down into a chair and began to talk. He confessed he was a part of the reason Victor was so miserable. He told him about his mother’s wish that her son be loved by all. “It was a foolish wish,” Doc Burns admitted. “Suppose I offer you another wish, make it anything you want, and I will fulfill it.” But be careful, the good Doc warned, “for wishes have a way of coming true.”
Victor didn’t think that Doc could give him anything that he didn’t already have, but the old man encouraged him to think about what truly made him happy. After much pondering, Victor said he wished for the old magic to be taken away and instead of being loved by everyone, he wished he could love everyone in the world. “That’s a good wish,” Doc Burns nodded in agreement, “it’ll bring you happiness.”
But Victor didn’t find happiness right away. Instead, without his great charm, he found friends disserting him, others retaliated for his past wrongs. He was even thrown into jail for a few months and when he was released, he was penniless, sick, and alone. He returned to his childhood home where he nursed his ailing mother, returning the love she’d once given him. He also took a job as a janitor in a school, where he not only cleaned the floors but loved the children. Finally, he met a young widow and married her, giving her and her children the love they needed. Poor in money, Victor became one of the richest men in the world. For he discovered that it is in loving, not in being loved, life can be lived to its fullness.
Francis of Assisi taught: “it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in loving that we are loved.” Go out and love the world! And remember, being loved isn’t nearly as important as loving others. Amen.
Never, never, never, give up on Love and never, never, never stop doing those little things that convey the depth of your love to your wife or husband. In the Marriage Union, we are reflecting on what it is for the Church to be One with Christ. We are demonstrating to our children and the world the depth of Love and the power of marital purity.
I pray that on this Valentine’s Day you will begin the journey of rekindling the flame of love for your husband or wife. I pray that you will allow the Holy Spirit to help you learn to Love other people. I pray that you will find a new awareness of God’s mercy, love, and grace and allow the Love of God to be shed abroad in your hearts through Christ Jesus and Love Him with your entire body, soul, strength, and spirit.
Do you know Jesus? Do you Love as He Loves? Do you want to know Him, and Love like Him?
God Bless you and HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!