People have a love-hate relationship with Valentine’s Day.
Some people love Valentine’s Day. They love it because they enjoy giving or receiving gifts, they want to celebrate their relationship, or they just “love love.”
Some people hate it. Perhaps they feel it over-commercializes love, it’s cliché, it puts them under too much pressure to live up to expectations, or it leaves them disappointed because their expectations aren’t met. And, of course, a lot of people simply have no one to celebrate it with. Valentine’s Day serves to remind them of that fact, turning a happy holiday into something sad.
It doesn’t have to be that way. If Valentine’s Day really is the holiday of love, then Christians should be the experts on how to celebrate it. After all, we are supposed to be known for how we love each other (John 13:35). It is our defining trait. However, real love has little to do with Hallmark holidays or dutifully keeping the candy heart companies in business. Grand gestures made once per year don’t prove you love someone; in fact, if that’s the only time you show them love, it might be evidence that you don’t truly love them at all.
If that’s not love, what is?
The Bible gives a detailed “love is” definition in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. It says that “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
You might notice that doesn’t mention fuzzy feelings or a magical connection between two people. You don’t live this out by putting on a big show once a year; it’s more about making daily sacrifices. Maybe that seems less exciting, but it is more fulfilling. It is the best way for us all to live together, and it is something you can do whether you are in a romantic relationship or not.
So, here’s a thought: what would Valentine’s Day look like if we centered it on the real definition of love?
How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day
There are many, many things you can do to show your love to someone—whether they are your spouse, the person you are dating, a friend, a family member, or a neighbor. Here are just a few ideas of how you can actively love someone on Valentine’s Day:
- Being patient when your spouse takes too long to get ready (1 Corinthians 13:4).
- Not arrogantly insisting that everything has to be done your way (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
- Choosing kindness and not getting irritated when your roommate gets on your nerves (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
- Striving to not envy others who have a loved one to celebrate with (1 Corinthians 13:4). This might mean logging off social media for a few days. Or, you can choose to be happy for your friends, rejoicing with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15).
- The flip side of that would be not boasting about how great your Valentine’s Day date was in order to make others envious (1 Corinthians 13:4). Speaking well of your spouse and offering words of affirmation is one thing (Proverbs 31:28-29); trying to influence outsiders into thinking that your relationship is “perfect” is another (James 3:14).
- Fleeing from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), even if that means not spending Valentine’s Day alone together until after you are married.
- Believing and hoping that all things—including your relationship status—will work out for good, because you trust that God is in control (1 Corinthians 13:7; Romans 8:28).
- Listening to and seeking to understand your wife instead of arguing or invalidating her feelings (1 Peter 3:7; James 1:19).
- Lovingly telling your friend a hard truth (Ephesians 4:15; Proverbs 27:5-6).
- Selflessly serving your neighbors and looking out for their interests (Philippians 2:3-4).
Maybe loving your significant other on Valentine’s Day means that you do buy the heart-shaped cards and chocolates, because that is what they prefer. That’s fine. Go ahead and sacrificially serve them that way. And then just do all these other things the other 364 days of the year.