Friday, February 14, 2014

Thoughts about Love and Marriage on the Feast Day of Saint Valentine

Instead of a formal essay, I thought I'd just collect some thoughts on love and marriage for this feast day which has evolved into a celebration of human connection.

--The feast day of Saint Valentine is one of those strange feast days, a feast day that's more popular in the general culture than it is in the church culture that pays attention to saints and their days. 

--To me, this feast day is essentially a manufactured holiday, yet another one, designed to make us feel like we must spend gobs and gobs of money to demonstrate our love.

--Every day, ideally, should be Valentine's Day, a day in which we try to remind our loved ones how much we care--and not by buying flowers, dinners out, candy, and jewelry.  We show that we love by our actions:  our care, our putting our own needs in the backseat, our concern, our gentle touch, our loving remarks.

--It's hard to be a Christian today, and to avoid the question of whether or not homosexuals should be able to marry. My favorite conservative columnist, David Brooks, said it better than I can.  In a New York Times column in 2003, he says, "We shouldn't just allow gay marriage. We should insist on gay marriage. We should regard it as scandalous that two people could claim to love each other and not want to sanctify their love with marriage and fidelity."

--Does your church tradition see marriage as a sacrament?  You might be saying, "Sacrament?  My church uses no such language.  What is a sacrament anyway?"  A sacrament is an "outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible Grace" (as the Anglican Book of Common Prayer describes a sacrament).

--I think Martin Luther went too far in deciding that marriage wouldn't be a sacrament in the Lutheran church. Nothing has ever helped me understand the nature of God's love better than my marriage, except, perhaps, the love of my parents for me.

--I've often thought that marriage at its best is sacramental:  it demonstrates to me in a way that few other things can how deeply God loves me.  If my spouse's love for me is but a pale shadow of the way God loves me, then I am rich in love indeed.

So, as we begin the mad rush to Valentine's Day, let us take a moment to remember the gift of being able to love each other.  Let us remember God, who first loved us, and who will love us long after all other love falls away.

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