At Christmas, Christian thinkers generally do a good job of encouraging us to see past the veneer of commercialism and hedonism to reflect deeply on the theological meaning of the holiday. Similarly, on Valentine’s Day, we would do well to look past the shallow sentimentalism and bad quality candy, to spend some time reflecting deeply on the theological significance of this holiday.
Properly understood, Valentine’s Day is the ultimate counter-cultural expression. As a 3rd century priest in the Roman empire, St. Valentine performed church weddings against an edict of Emperor Claudias, who had forbidden marriages on the assumption that unmarried soldiers made better fights. St. Valentine was ultimately martyred for disrupting the culture’s idolatry with the gospel.