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Valentine’s Day: How Churches Plan To Monitor Excesses Of Youths

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February 14 of every year is one day that is celebrated with much fanfare all over the world. The mere mention of the word ‘Valentine’ elicits different responses and feelings from different people, but in the main, it is synonymous with romance and love. History has it that it was on this very day, around 278A.D. that a Catholic priest in Rome, by name Valentine, in the days of Emperor Claudius II, was executed for defying the Emperor’s authority on marriage. That singular action earned Valentine a saint after his demise. Ever since, a lot of myth has been woven round the circumstances that brought about what is presently known as Valentine’s Day. And though the day has come to stay, there is a consensus that it is being abused, as people’s perception of the whole thing is a far cry from what actually happened originally. In Nigeria, some churches are joining in the celebration by organising various activities for their youths to mark the day. But have the church leaders put in place checks to ensure that these young ones don’t celebrate Valentine the way of the world, which has been roundly condemned as being amoral because of its excesses? Is this the best way to remember the sacrifice and what St. Valentine died for? CHRIS IREKAMBA reports.

Archbishop Adewale Martins

Archbishop Adewale Martins

‘If Occasion Is Used Positively, It Will Develop Proper Relationship’
(His Grace, Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of Lagos)
VALENTINE’S Day is the traditional day of focusing on love, sacrifice, loyalty and friendship and these are good values and virtues created by God. So, I think it is a great thing for the church to celebrate Valentine. But apart from celebrating love and friendship among human beings, it also ought to lift our minds beyond the human elements of these values. It should lift our minds to recognise the fact that, in the first instance, God is love, and anyone who lives in love, lives in Him and, therefore, God’s love for us should also come up strongly in the celebration of Valentine. That love of God will also lead us to reciprocate by worshipping and adoring Him, as well as be the kind of children that He wants us to be. On both sides, it’s worth celebrating Valentine’s Day. The aspect of knowing that it is friendship with God and God’s love for us is also worth celebrating.

Anything that is managed by human beings is sometimes abused and that is why it is important for religious leaders to continue to let young people know the true meaning of this celebration. If a person celebrates Valentine and it leads to sin in terms of sexual misconduct, then obviously that is an abuse of Valentine and the idea behind the celebration.

We recognise that Valentine came as result of somebody offering himself for the good of the next person. So, if Valentine is now being used as a way of mutually exploiting each other and using each other for personal benefits, then that is obviously out of it. What needs to be done is to redirect the minds of young people and, indeed, not only young people, because even those that are not so young can also abuse Valentine. We have to constantly redirect young people’s minds towards the right attitude in celebrating Valentine. Unfortunately, we discover that a good number of advertisements and promotions done at this time often tend to lead young people and others to sexual celebration rather than being based upon good values, self-giving, genuine concern and care for others. So, young people’s minds are being corrupt by many advertisers at this period. It is the very opposite of what Valentine stands for. I think we just need to constantly and continually redirect people’s minds to the true celebration of Valentine’s Day, rather than allow it to lead them into sin and immorality, which lead them away from God. We should use it as a positive value to develop proper relationship that will give proper dignity to the man or woman that is concerned in the relationship.

Love that is based on just one-day affair is certainly not true love, which is said to be enduring. True love sacrifices, gives and offers rather than take. It used to be a daily affair. I think the idea of having one day set apart is just to help redirect people’s minds to use the opportunity to do something different from the habitual relationship and for husbands and wives to spice up their love life; for them to do something extra and improve the love they have for each other.

‘Church Leadership Must Monitor, Regulate Activities Of Their Members’

Archbishop (Dr.) Olanrewaju OBEMBE

Archbishop (Dr.) Olanrewaju OBEMBE

(Charismatic Cardinal Olanrewaju Obembe, Archbishop of El-Shaddai Bible Church, Ikoyi, Lagos.
ANYTHING that will promote goodwill and love, expression of love in whatever dimension must be encouraged. So, the church is a product of God’s love and we must continue to express spiritual love. Love, the Bible says, must be without dissimulation, which means without hypocrisy. There’s need on church’s part and God’s people to reach out in a way that is genuine. It shouldn’t just be superficial or carnal love only, but all of that must be expressed.

On managing the excesses, we know wherever there is no law or order, whatever that is not moderated will lead to excessiveness. So, church leadership must specifically place certain boundary that must not be crossed. The youths may want to express themselves, but the leaders must try and moderate them. Any expression that is absurd must, of course, be discarded. It must not be allowed. So, as much as possible, church leadership must do their best to regulate the activities of their members, though personal liberties must not be violated. There should be a balance, as anything done in excess will always lead to anarchy, will always lead to an aberration. So, we must deliberately regulate within the context of love those things that are unbecoming of those who profess Christ.

God is love and anything that will promote that love should be encouraged. However, I’m not talking about abstract love here, but genuine love. So, anything that will allow you to express good values to the other person, that makes you become a value conveyer, expressing genuine affection and not carnal one should be encouraged. When you consider it, the opposite of love is hate. So, loving somebody in a way that he/she is touched either financially, emotionally or otherwise should be supported.

Normally in our church, on Valentine Day, married couples see the occasion as an opportunity to strengthen marital relationships; the husband and wife coming together to express tangible love. We even organise some Bible quiz for them. For instance, we ask them some questions such as the husband’s or wife’s favourite dish, whether the husband or wife is an extrovert or introvert, the temperamental and behavioural pattern of the man or woman and things like that. We allow them to eat and sit together, share jokes together, we encourage them to do that on Valentine’s Day and I tell you it has helped to solidify relationships.

We are expected to show love to one another everyday, in fact, in the whole of 365 days in a year. Galatians 5:6, says “for in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love”. God expects us to show love always. We should walk in love, and when we do so, we are walking in God.

IFEACHO

IFEACHO

‘Valentine Celebration Has Nothing To Do With Christianity’
(Brother Godwin Ifeacho, Chairman, Executive Board of God’s Kingdom Society (GKS), Warri, Delta State)
FOR spiritual reasons, our Church is opposed to Valentine’s Day celebrations. It is contrary to Christian morality and is based on paganism. Valentine celebration has nothing to do with Christianity, as it was originally a pagan tradition celebrated every February by the Romans in the third century. Unfortunately, it is increasingly being seen as a Christian celebration.  The fact is that it was some of the churches, some centuries ago, in the name of Christianising the ancient pagan celebrations of the Feast of Lupercus, that changed the name to St. Valentine’s Day.  Christians are warned to keep away from pagan customs and practices, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. The Bible says, “Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen,  … For the customs of the people are vain…” (Jeremiah 10:2, 3)  And Christ told the Jews, their religious leaders in particular, “…Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” – Matthew 15:3. See also 1 John 2: 15-17.

It is unfortunate that Africans like copying the negative rather than the positive aspects of Western culture. This celebration is one that African countries ought to discourage, if not ban entirely, as it is an imported custom that debases Africa’s moral values. It also compounds the poverty crisis facing most African countries.

It is ungodly for unmarried people to be given the licence to hug and kiss one another in the streets or even engaging in sexual relations with each other.  Previous polls showed that several teenage students were “willing to have sex on Valentine’s Day, if their boyfriends asked”. The love the Scriptures enjoin us to have for one another is the one that moves us to keep the God’s commandments by not doing anything that could harm or injure another person. See John 14: 15, 23; Romans 13: 9,10.  Christ said, “Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets,” Matthew 7:12.  God’s love should be practised daily and not glamourised and debased on a particular day. – Psalm 106:3; Mark 12: 28-31.

People should avoid dissolute behavior, especially in this age, when many lives are being lost to several Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) such as genital herpes, HIV/AIDS, trichomoniasis and viral hepatitis among others.  Early this month, health officials in Texas confirmed a case of Zika virus infection transmitted through sex, and not by mosquito bite. The virus, which is typically spread by mosquitoes, is suspected of causing thousands of birth defects in Brazil.  (See MedicineNet.com, February 10, 2016.)

Already, several governments around the world are battling to contain the scourge of teenage pregnancies. It is, therefore, sheer Vanity Fair for anyone to be promoting a celebration that encourages sexual promiscuity, which God abhors. – 1 Corinthians 6: 9,10 and Romans 1: 32.

Sexual intimacies should be within the context of marriage union. This is vital for the health and continued growth of every society. St. Paul warned, “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints …For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” (Ephesians 5: 3-5). In these perilous times, people should be sober and give themselves to godliness and enjoy God’s favour, and not wallow in debauchery and licentiousness.  The Bible says,  “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:13, 14)
Those promoting Valentine’s Day celebrations do not have the wellbeing of the people at heart.  They are only interested in the monetary gains they reap from it. It is advisable that governments, institutions and people of goodwill should, instead channel their energies towards encouraging abstinence and fidelity in marriages in order to protect millions around the world, who are being exposed to physical and emotional trauma due to sexually transmitted diseases, abortions, unrealised expectations, and so on.

‘We Encourage Young Ones To Socialise In A Healthy Manner’
(Rt. Rev. Oluranti Odubogun, Bishop, Diocese of Ife, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Osun State)
IT should be celebrated in a godly manner. We encourage the young ones to observe the Valentine period by coming together, listening to good advice about how boys and girls and men and women can have a very healthy interface, which will help them to dwell in unity. They socialise in a healthy manner that is devoid of immorality in every sense of the word.

How to manage the excesses? One, such excesses come from people, who would take the advantage of love being in the air. People could get excited in a violent manner and in the process follow their minds, which lead them to nowhere. So, we must encourage the young ones that they must have positive healthy relationship. Men must understand that they also cannot afford to play around, because all kinds of regrettable things come around, which in a number of ways are impossible to remedy. So, it is a time to encourage boys and girls to have healthy, positive relationship and social interaction that are godly.

‘Advocating Use Of Condom During Valentine, Essence Is Destroyed’
(His Grace, Most Revd. Emmanuel Josiah Udofia, Primate of the African Church/President, Christian Council of Nigeria)
WELL, we don’t observe that in our church and personally, I don’t like what people are doing and calling it Valentine.

For instance, a few days ago, I read it in the papers that you have to use condom during the period, but if Valentine is like that, then it’s not worth calling it Valentine any more. When you say people should use condom during the period, you’ve destroyed the essence.

The kind of Valentine celebration that will be acceptable to God should be one that will encourage chastity, holiness, righteous living and loving one another with pure heart. If you love somebody and in the course of that you have sex with her, you have destroyed that person. You are an enemy to that person, although you may say otherwise, but that is hatred. You are being wicked to that person, because if you allow that ‘thing’ to be there, that person will become pregnant and of course, become useless.

Aside that, killer diseases are everywhere. So, the kind of Valentine I would like people to talk about is one that encourages genuine love towards one another. Anything that leads to sinfulness or encourages youths to mess up their lives should not be celebrated or encouraged at all.

Adeyemi

Adeyemi

‘Church Can Have A Programme For Youths Where They Are Taught God’s Word’
(Isaac Adeyemi, Host Pastor, Embrace International Assembly, Ikorodu, Lagos)
VALENTINE is a celebration observed on February 14th of every year, and it is celebrated all over the world. Records have it that this day and its celebration are named after St. Valentine, a Roman priest, who showed exceptional love to the people around him, during his lifetime. One of such acts was his involvement in encouraging and helping soldiers get married at that time, when marriage was prohibited for them, so that they could concentrate on their jobs. This cost him his freedom.

Amazingly, the judge on his case, Asterius, had a blind daughter. He went ahead by faith and love to heal this girl in spite of the circumstances. The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius’ daughter, which he ended by signing it, “from your Valentine.”  This probably informs the romantic idea attached to Valentine celebration.

We find that today, Valentine is mostly celebrated as a purely romantic event. It is viewed as a day for lovers to hang out, be together, exchange romantic gifts and even have sexual intercourse! This cuts across both married and unmarried couples.

Many of our youths today see it particularly as a day set aside for the highest form of immorality and other indecent and sinful acts. This ought not to be. Every day is a day the Lord has made, and none should be intended to bring dishonour to His name.

It is a good thing to show love to one another. However, everything must be done in moderation and in accordance to God’s standard. There is no day that should pass without us showing love to the people around us. This should not be limited to one’s lover alone, neither should it be restricted to a particular day. There is nothing wrong with setting apart a day to commemorate love. However, one’s show of love should not be on only Valentine’s Day or to one’s lover alone.

If we look round us today, so many people are in need of love, and it becomes a sin, when you neglect such people or wait till a particular day to show them love. Our show of love can be done in so many ways and should be done always, as long as we have the ability.

The church also has a role to play in all of this. We should constantly remind our people of Christ’s love for us and His command to also extend this love to the world. The Bible says: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another,” John‬ ‭13:34-35‬ ‭NKJV‬‬.

The Church should be actively involved in charitable works with the full involvement of its members. Also on a day like this, the Church can have a programme for the youths, where they have lots of fun, and are taught God’s word and allowed to share godly love among themselves, as well as to the world out there.


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