Valentine: What it means to the church
Although instituted in honour of a saint, said to have expressed true love through making a sacrifice, Valentine’s Day is now observed by all and sundry. It is a day set aside to show love to others. As another Valentine’s Day approaches on February 14, how do the churches plan to celebrate it? What is the best way to observe this yearly event that has found its way into the Christian Calendar? What does Valentine mean to the church, and their plan for it? CHRIS IREKAMBA and ISAAC TAIWO report.
(Rev. Dr. Sunny Faith Ugbah, Bishop, Church of God Mission Inc. Akwa Ibom Bishopric, Uyo)
The best way to celebrate Valentine is to remember the love of God. The Bible says, ‘for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…’ It is a time of giving. Unfortunately, however, it has become a promiscuous kind of thing. But it should be a time of giving, because if you look at the origin of Valentine, it was about the priest, who actually showed sincere love to humanity. Valentine reminds us of the gift of God to mankind and true love of God in our hearts. That we have to also love the way God loves. God loves unconditionally and sacrificially, as He loves till the very end. His kind of love is without any string attached to it.
We are creatures of His love, and not of hatred. A Christian should love anybody, irrespective of the person’s background or attitude, because that is the seed God has planted in us. So, that is what we are propagating to our people during the Valentine period. We are using this period to bring our people together and teach them genuine love. We are bringing vulnerable people, especially the youths, together to teach them how they should love genuinely like God. If you want to condemn something, you should start by first showing people the original version of it. We intend to teach teenagers/youths how to love genuinely.
In the world today, the kind of love being practised is: “I give you one, and take two from you.” When people of the world show you love, they expect a reward from you in return. But we should love unconditionally because God has demonstrated how best we should love our fellow human beings. When we do that, we are actually planting a seed. If we can engage the youths with this kind of mindset, I think that will make them to be properly focused and not be part of the evil that is happening now. We are also planning something for couples, but they are not the most vulnerable, when it comes to this aspect of Valentine.
‘Every Church Should Take Advantage Of The Message Of Valentine’
(The Rt. Rev. (Dr.) Peter Ogunmuyiwa, Bishop of the African Church, Diocese of the North and Abuja)
VALENTINE is about a man, who showed love sometime ago. Here was a man, who really identified with the downtrodden people in his own time. That demonstration has become a culture all over the world. If Valentine is premised on that sincere love, then the type of love that we’re expected to share during Valentine is like that of God’s, which Christians call ‘agape’ love. It is a period people should identify with the poor and share whatever they have with the less privileged in the society. That is the type of love expected to be demonstrated at this occasion.
Of course, the essence of the church is love, as Jesus Christ Himself is love. So, Christianity is about love and life itself is about love. Saint Valentine, who demonstrated and started this message of love, was teaching us that hatred should not be encouraged, and that every aspect of hatred in our lives should be jettisoned. And so, we should demonstrate love and preach love. Valentine is a very good day to reflect on our lives, whether we are really exhibiting the traits, which are expected of us by our Creator and our Saviour Jesus Christ. And if we are falling short of the expectation of Valentine, then we should use the occasion to rekindle that love in our hearts.
Every church should take advantage of the message of Valentine. It is not compulsory or mandatory, but for the fact that the church is built around love. Instead of allowing the devil or the world to hijack or manipulate our children, it is not out of place for a church to also organise a seminar and bring members together. This will prevent them from preoccupying themselves with sinful activities on Valentine’s Day.
The seminar could be on marriage or relationship, something that can edify the body of Christ. Going to the beach or recreational centres is not out of it, because we cannot restrict ourselves all the time to the four corners of the church building. So, there are times, when the youths or couples should be taken out, especially to places they love. There, you can still speak on such topics as marriage or healthy relationship with the members and thereafter you share drinks together. That is also part of it. You can make the occasion spiritual, something that will glorify God, instead of doing things that will glorify the devil.
On this day, we have a programme for the youths in the evening, aimed at capturing their minds and then, we shall talk about relationship. I know we live in the world, but we are not part of the evil going on, and there are certain things that are done in the world, which as a church, we can help to shape. I think if the world is celebrating Valentine, the church should take advantage of it.
We should not say it is a worldly celebration. After all, Christmas was not originally from the scripture, but today, it has become a spiritual celebration. So, you can change the orientation of people by bringing them from that pagan thought and then introducing something spiritual to it. That is when people will know that you can add a spiritual dimension to every situation. If we refuse to do something about it, then it means we are handing over world affairs into the devil’s hands. God is the Creator of the world and everything therein.
‘We’ve Taught Our Members To See Every Day As Valentine’s Day’
(Rev. Isaac Adeyemi, Senior Pastor, Embrace International Assembly, Ikorodu, Lagos)
I WOULD think that the best way to celebrate Valentine is to take your wife along with you, find a place to sit and enjoy yourself. For me, Valentine is everyday, and I show love to my wife everyday.
In fact, the issue of Valentine has not crossed my mind, because for me, everyday is Valentine’s Day. And we’ve taught our members here to see everyday as Valentine’s Day, when they are expected to express love to their loved ones. So, your love for your wife or husband is demonstrated on a daily basis, because God’s love is never-ending.
My ultimate this year is to live in the spirit by looking at what Christ has commanded us and acting on it. Valentine is not part of what the scripture commanded. We are just trying to copy men in the world. But we must not make it our area of specialty or think if we don’t do Valentine this year, the world will collapse. No, the world won’t collapse.
‘It Is A Day We Remind Ourselves Of How Much We Care For One Another’
(Dr. El-Miram Akinwande, Spiritual Mother, El Rabboni He Evangelical Ministry Ebenezer Praying Band Church, C and S, Aguda, Surulere, Lagos)
VALENTINE, in my own opinion, is a day of love. It is a day to show love to one another. It is a day we remind ourselves how much we care for one another and what we mean to one another. It is also a day that was spent in the past to start long-lasting love and friendship, as well as other good relationships. I have instances of a couple that met on Valentine’s Day. They went for a dinner to celebrate Valentine, and today, they are happily married, blessed with a fine boy.
To us as Christians, Valentine is a period to forget the past and do away with hatred and establish perfect love. It is a time to pray as Christians and nurture our relationship in a godly manner. We can borrow examples from the Bible. For instance, the relationship between Jethro, Moses’ father in-law, who because of the cordial relationship between both of them gave counsel to Moses, which the latter imbibed.
As Christians, we must not celebrate Valentine in an ungodly way that would lead to disaster. Valentine should be celebrated in a Biblical way. Our plans for the celebration of Valentine this season include bringing the youth together to know one another and celebrating the season in a godly manner.
We will also hold a programme we organise for women in Mosan Okunola at this period to establish the women wing of Christian Association of Nigeria. We celebrated love among ourselves, irrespective of the fact that we came from different churches.
‘As Christians This Is An Opportunity To Care For The Needy’
(Rt. Rev (Dr.) Praises Omole, Dean, St. Francis of Assisi Theological College, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Wusasa, Kaduna State)
VALENTINE is not generally celebrated. However, we can trace it to Saint Valentine, who was a canonised saint in the Catholic Church. He stood for love.
The world today has a wrong and ungodly perspective of love and at this time of Valentine, promotes and celebrates promiscuity. But if we must celebrate it at all as Christians, we are to celebrate it in the right path of love, which is called “agape” love (God’s kind of love). And John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world and He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe in Him, would not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Therefore, Christians do not celebrate it in a carnal or selfish manner, but base the celebration on sacrificial way by putting others first.It is not the sinful way the world celebrates it in the name of boyfriend and girlfriend, committing immorality by way of ungodly love, which from the Biblical point of view is not love, but ‘lust.’
Valentine to Christians is an opportunity to care for the needy, the less privileged, to look for those who have lacked care and identify with them.It could also be regarded as a time to actualise the place of true love between a husband and wife. It is an opportunity for the minister of God to talk about genuine love in the home, intimating the husband, to what extent he should love the wife, and the wife the magnitude of love she should have for the husband.
This is the time the minister should emphasise forgiveness in the home. Many couples have issues; to the extent they do not relate with one another any more. Pastors should take advantage of the season to talk on renewed love between husband and wife. It is a time to amplify general love between parents and their children and for every member of the family to love one another, as before, especially where there is established derailment in the true love in the home.
Ministers’ plans for the season differ from one another. When I was a Vicar, I usually organise programmes to commemorate Valentine for the youth, knowing full well that if we did not, they would look for any other ungodly way to celebrate it. I used to bring them together and invite a speaker to address them on true love. It was an opportunity to bring together bachelors and spinsters to intimate them on what true Christian love is all about. We taught singles how to make choices of future partners and what to look out for in their choices. We taught young girls that ‘not all that glitters are gold’ and that many men are wolves. We taught them the best way to celebrate Valentine.
We encouraged parents and children to bring gifts for somebody, for the less privileged, while the church also provided gifts, so that everybody in the church would go home with something at the end of the day.
‘As A Church, Our Love Should Be Constant’
(Rev. Roselyn Oduyemi, General Overseer, Bethel Ministries, Wonder City, Lagos)
WHAT we do is to talk about Christ’s love. God‘s love to mankind is the greatest one can think of. That Valentine is not in the Bible, and really, it has no spiritual meaning.
For us, everyday is Valentine, as we experience God’s love everyday. It is crazy the way the world has taken it. For some people, that is when they make a lot of money. So, it is purely business for them. It is a period for these people to sell roses and cakes. It is also when a lot of girls get pregnant and get deceived. What is this love they talk about anyway? This is a period most men lie and deceive women. It has no scriptural basis. In fact, I am going to talk about it today before the world will discuss it on Tuesday, and I’m going to tell people not to get carried away by that nonsense.
People should look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. The greatest love is the love God has for us. And the fact that He sent His Son to die for us, should make us can reach out to people, and not follow the world in the way and manner they are going about it. Husbands can give their wives gifts, but a real husband should be a blessing to his wife all the time. He should send her roses and gifts all the time, and not just one day in a year. Do you know that the devil capitalises on all this? So, as a church, we have no plans for Valentine and it has no meaning, as far as we are concerned.
As a church, our love for one another should be constant. We should show love to our neighbours, our community and it should be an everyday thing and not just once in a year kind of love. I think the church should be doing it everyday, so as to demonstrate the love of Christ.
The bottom line of what the world is celebrating is sex and nothing else. The young girls should not be carried away by the roses and by life. Fornication is fornication and adultery is adultery, just like wickedness is wickedness. They should concentrate on the love that God has for us. We can share with the people, the less privileged in the society. Valentine has to do with a lot of errors; we are talking about God’s kind of love. Valentine has to do with sexuality, they give gifts and what is the purpose of those gifts? What is the motive, but a kind of love that is worldly and sensual? A husband should show the wife love everyday and really demonstrate that he loves her. Valentine leads to sex.
‘We Focus On Family Teachings And The Type Of Love Expected In Homes’
(The Rt. Rev. Joshua Olukayode Adeogun, Bishop, Methodist Church, Diocese of Ereko)
IT is a social event to celebrate love, and that love starts from husband and wife and by extension from parents to their children, as well as from the boss to their workers. However, it is unfortunate that people of the world celebrate Valentine in an amorous manner, which is contrary to true and genuine love God expects from mankind. Christians, therefore, are expected to express God’s true love at this period to their neighbours, to bring joy to families in distress and to bring together those that have separated, as well as those on the verge of disintegration.
Christians are to express their love to serve as God’s agents to bring peace to the world and establish God’s love in homes. Christians are to manifest love to those who are lacking, cater for the needy and assist those that cannot pay their children’s school fees.
God completely opposes those using this period to express lust and swim in immorality, which attracts God’s terrible judgment.In our church, we do not have any specific plan to celebrate Valentine. However, we focus on how husbands should express genuine love to their wives and the wives reciprocating same today, preceding February 14.
We teach couples to renew their marriage covenant, which they entered into, when they went to the altar. We actually focus on family teachings and the type of love expected in homes and in godly families.