Entertainment of Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Source: Adoboe, Justice Lee
By Justice Lee Adoboe
Discussions about myths, mysteries, and paganism (idolatry) that surround what has become the annual ritual of Valentine Day celebration will not go away especially as many are those Christians who would not tolerate the painting the day as a Christian festival.
The V-Day celebration, supposedly “meant for lovers” has become a huge commercial venture for businesses helping merchants to rake in so much profit, that some might wish everyday was Valentine.
In one year alone, consumers in the United States purchase 448 million dollars worth of candies to celebrate the holiday, out of which more than 345 million U.S dollars was spent on chocolates alone. (BibleStudy.org). The same website stated that e-commerce retailers expected to rack up about 650 million dollars selling food, candy, flowers and other Valentine's Day related goods just for a year.
“U.S. consumers, in 2009, spent an average of $102.50 on Valentine’s gifts and merchandise. Total spending on the holiday was expected to reach 14.7 billion dollars,” it added.
In all this, it is believed and not surprisingly that, men spend nearly TWICE the amount of money celebrating the holiday than women do. In Ghana, Government took a bold decision in 2007 to rebrand the day as Chocolate Day, so the world number two cocoa producer could get a share of whatever there was to share in the day-process of chocolate have not been the same again ever since.
So what is this celebration that has become so cost-involving that businesses are taking advantage of to maximize patronage and profit? ORIGIN(S)
Several stories are told by both adherents and non adherents about the origin of Valentine Day but most of these stories are interwoven and at the end of the day points to the fact that it is the world’s attempt to get lovers show affection to one another.
But adherents would like the world, and Christendom for that matter to believe the day was to honour the memory of a late Christian Saint, (probably a Catholic priest or Catholic priests )called Valentine.
There are several legends about at least seven different people named by scholars as St Valentine. Four of these Roman Catholic priests known around whom the Valentine Day myth revolves are have various stories told about them. One legend has it that Valentine was a Roman priest, who sickened and died in prison after being incarcerated for refusing to give up Christianity while another story said he was beheaded.
Another Valentine was said to have been killed for assisting Christians in their escape from the Roman prisons, while another Valentine was said to be a Roman priest of the third century, who married couples in secrecy, after Emperor Claudius II who had been planning a good future army was said to have banned marriage, since he thought single men were stronger and more focused soldiers. Then there is yet a fourth Valentine, who was Bishop of Terni, about whom there is very little known, and was believed to have died in Africa, defending his Christian faith.- Jax Appleby
(.http://jaxappleby.hubpages.com/hub/Valentines-Day-a-Christian-Holiday-or-a-Pagan-Celebration) (www.slate.com/articles/news.../the_shape_of_my_heart.html - Cached)
All these legends however concluded that the particular “saints” used in the Valentine apologia died or were killed on February 14.
“Whichever Valentine it was, he was imprisoned for his crimes, and legend has it, he sent a love letter to a young blind girl he fell in love with after she visited him in prison and he healed her by bringing back her sight. He signed his letter, “From your Valentine”, right before he was executed,” Jax Appleby stressed.
By the middle of the 18th century, friends and lovers began celebrating this day by exchanging notes of love and friendship, flowers, and sweets. Toward the end of the century, Valentine’s Day went commercial, and printed cards began replacing the handwritten notes, poems, flowers, and handmade tokens of love.
IS VALENTINE DAY A CHRISTIAN CELEBRATION?
According to Edward Gibbons, the legalization and institutionalizing of Christianity as the state religion of Rome by Constantine, 313 A.D also brought in its wake the entrance of many Roman pagan traditions and religious practices into the Church.
It is instructive to note that although Constantine had declared open support for Christianity throughout the Roman Empire, he himself remained the Pontifex Maximus of the Roman State religion until his death. It was just before he died in 337 AD that Constantine asked to be baptized.
One of these traditions, he said brought into the church was the fertility celebration known as the Lupercalia: “Yet the vestiges of superstition were not absolutely obliterated, and the festival of Lupercalia, whose origin had preceded the foundation of Rome was still celebrated under the reign of Anthemius’ (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire-Edward Gibbons, Chapter 36, Part 3). Twenty-four years after the death of Emperor Anthemius a "christianized" form of the festival of Lupercalia was officially adopted by the church as a day to honor a saint - St. Valentine: The above is then evidence enough that like other forms of Romanism found in Christianity today, Valentine was also the paganish practice of Lupercalia smuggled into Christianity under the guise of honouring a so-called patron saint of lovers. "As far back as 496 A.D., (Catholic) Pope Gelasius changed Lupercalia on February 15 to St. Valentine's Day on February 14." (Customs and Holidays Around the World by Lavinia Dobler). "Early Christians were happier with the idea of a holiday honoring the saint of romantic causes than with one recognizing a pagan festival. In 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius named February 14 in honor of St. Valentine as the patron saint of lovers. " (How Valentine's Day Works (http://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/holidays/valentine3.htm) Meanwhile, the Lupercalia festival, in part was meant to honour Lupa, the she-wolf which (according to legend) nursed the infant orphans Romulus and Remus, believed to have founded the city of Rome in 753 BC. It was also to honour Pan, the Greek equivalent of Lupercus, the Roman god of shepherds.
CHRISTIAN SKEPTICISM OVER VALENTINE DAY Most of the common questions asked by skeptics about the Valentine Day celebration come from Christians, although it is true that Moslems and some moralists are officially opposed to it. Arguments by the various Christian groups are based on purely scriptural principles and practices during Valentine celebration. In the first place, the three common symbols associated with Valentine celebration are deeply rooted in idolatry. The Red Roses: These were said to be the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Red is also a color that signifies strong feelings. Doves: These are also symbols of loyalty and love because they mate for life and share the care of their babies. Cupid: In Roman mythology, Cupid is the god of desire, affection and erotic love. Today, Cupid is frequently shown shooting his bow to inspire romantic love. (This highlights the type of love being promoted by the Valentine idea-to be discussed fully later). Valentine Heart: It is unclear where the familiar heart shape originated. One possibility involves the now-extinct North African plant silphium. The city-state of Cyrene had a lucrative trade in the plant, which looks just like the heart shape used today. Though mostly used for seasoning, it was also used for birth control. (http://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/holidays/valentine3.htm) For the heart image in Valentine, which unfortunately has become the deception the whole world has come to believe as the symbol of the heart, OtisAbi writes that: “For many centuries the strangled bow was the symbol of love, for Cupid (or eros) used a bow to make two people fall in love with each other. And with a little deductive reasoning you will find out that the bow that shoots the arrows through the hearts of its victims has been replaced with a loving heart.”( http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=334). That particular heart shape as other writers have explained is just the shape of Cupid’s bow, hence the symbol of cupid shooting arrows into people’s hearts. (There are several other explanations for that shape of heart, but one thing is certain, that is not the shape of the human heart. For Christians, the mere fact that all these four symbols are related to idol worship in the Roman and Greek mythologies forbids them from participating. For instance in an article under the heading, “CHRISTIANS SHOULD NOT CELEBRATE VALENTINE'S DAY” in September 2007 which appears on http://testallthings.blogspot.com/2007/09/christians-should-not-celebrate.html, argues among other things that : “February 14 was an old celebration to Juno Februata, the Roman goddess of sexual passion, the pagan feast day Lupercalia was a fertility rite and celebration of superstitious Romans and Lupercus, the Roman god after which the holiday is named, was the pagan god of fertility.” For these reasons, the publishers “Test All Things” encouraged Christians not to celebrate Valentine Day. In addition to the above, the site also stated that the pagan feast day Lupercalia was a fertility rite and celebration of superstitious Romans, and Lupercus, the Roman god after which the holiday is named, was the pagan god of fertility.
“Love is of God, while lust is of man; therefore we will only celebrate love scripturally. It is highly esteemed among men, so it must be an abomination to God (Luke 16:15).We are totally committed against spiritual adultery by worldly associations (James 4:4).God condemns customs of other gods to be an abomination to Him (Ezekiel 8:1-18),” it argued. Not to make this write-up too long and the subject of love would be discussed briefly and then concluded. As seen from above, the whole theme of LOVE being idolized in the celebration of Valentine is based on EROS, which is just one of the types of love there are. There are FOUR not three types of love identified in Greek where the erotic love Valentine glorifies comes from These are Eros, Agape, Phileo and Storge. Quickly, as a mind refresher, “Agape love is God's kind of love. It is seeking the welfare and betterment of another regardless of how we feel. Agape does not have the primary meaning of feelings or affection. Jesus displayed it when he went to the cross and died for you and me regardless of how He felt.” This can be seen in Mt. 26:39; Mk. 14:36; Lk. 22:41-43; Jn. 18:11. In various scriptures Christians are told to Agape their enemies. “Phileo love is a love of the affections. It is delighting to be in the presence of another, a warm feeling that comes and goes with intensity. The Bible encourages it but it is never a direct command. “Storge is the natural bond between mother and infant, father, children, and kin. William Barclay states, "We cannot help loving our kith and kin; blood is thicker than water" (N.T. Words, 1974). “Eros Love : A word that was not actually used in the New Testament but was alluded to. It meant physical passion; its gratification and fulfillment. The Greek word is probably not used in the New Testament because the origin of the word came from the mythical god Eros, the god of love. It is inferred in many scriptures and is the only kind of love that God restricts to a one-man, one-woman relationship within the bounds of marriage (Heb. 13:4; Song 1:13; 4:5-6; 7:7-9; 8:10; 1 Cor. 7:25; Eph. 5:31).”-( http://paxvobisca.tripod.com/literature/fourLoves.html) Now, the question is can the church whose doctrine and history come from the Holy Bible embrace a practice based on Eros, which the Bible itself shied away from? Certainly, one must begin to understand the purpose of Martin Luther’s protestation against Church of the day, which led to a section of the church being called Protestants. Why did the protestant/Reformist movements leave the Church of old, and would it be right for today’s church founded on the protestants/Reformist, Pentecostal and charismatic faiths to go back into practices that their forebears departed from? CONCLUSION At best, Valentine Day has been shown to be a worldly/ pagan tradition embraced by the Church of Rome which must not be tolerated in the Church of Christ at all. Romans 12 tells us “Do not be conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewal of your minds.” When Jacob departed from his uncle/father-in-law, Laban had cause to pursue Jacob when he realized one of his gods had been missing. And now, though thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou sore longedst after thy father's house, yet wherefore hast thou stolen my gods? Genesis 31: 30. Fortunately Jacob was not the one who “stole” the god of Laban, but Rachael, for whom Jacob labored for 14 years. “Now Rachel had taken the images, and put them in the camel's furniture, and sat upon them. And Laban searched the entire tent, but found them not,” Gen 31: 34. If we as protestants/Pentecostals/Charismatic and reformists “rebelled” against and came out of Romanism, why do we carry with us their gods? One must know that while the Christian Church believes in the supremacy of scripture, Romanism believes in and extols Papal infallibility. In Romanism, the Pope speaks ex-cathedra For that reason, when Pope Gelasius in 496 AD instituted the Valentine celebration, acting from the Papal seat, it was infallible. But the Papal infallibility was at the core of Martin Luther’s revolt, and the reformation. In Deuteronomy 12: 29 to 31 God warned Israel fervently not to worship Him the way the nations in Canaan worshiped their gods, “for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods.” There is evidence that Israel did not heed this warning and suffered for it right in the wilderness: “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth,” Revelations 2: 14-16 Valentine: modern Baal Peor sent to seduce and beguile the Church of Christ “While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the LORD’s anger burned against them. “The LORD said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the LORD, so that the LORD’s fierce anger may turn away from Israel.” “So Moses said to Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death those of your people who have yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor.” Numbers 25:1-4. “But that is Old Testament!” one may argue, but Paul said these things happened to them, “as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.” 1Corinthians 10: 11 Paul the apostle urged the church of Corinth that “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers,… what fellowship can light have with darkness? …What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 1What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God…Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. 2 Corinthians 6:14-17. He went on to instruct them firmly to: Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord's jealousy? Are we stronger than he? 1 Corinthians 10:14 -22 But Christianity is not about the law, but freedom in Christ!, one might argue, but scripture went further to state that: Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is constructive. …. Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it." If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if anyone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience' sake-- the other man's conscience, I mean, not yours. Liberal theologians argue for contextualization of such celebrations in order to reach out to the unreached. But the superior argument is whether Bible teaches that. We have compromised Christian values in many ways, and 2 Thimoty 4:3&4 warns: “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
Oh! That the leadership of today’s church shall live up to our calling and stand boldly in the face of all opposition to resist the worldliness and Romanism that has taken centre-stage in the midst of God’s people. “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom,” Songs of Solomon 2:15. As recalling a passage in scripture quoted a year ago under the heading, “Every idol is an idol,” “Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 1 Corinthians 10:7-10. Every idol is an idol whether it bears English, Greek, Roman or local African name. Beware of the Nicholaitans. Why should one stop attending Akornedi festival or Dayi festival or Dente or Nogokpo cult Ogoni cult and Voodoo festivals or all other pagan festivals in Ghana and Africa because of my faith in Christ, but be encouraged by the Church to spend time marking an imported Roman and Greek pagan festival against the tenets of scripture? God forbid.