By Fern Horst
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, that day in February when love is celebrated. I have to admit that some years Valentine’s Day has seemed more like a day of mourning than a day of celebration as I remembered a romantic love that was lost, or perhaps that hadn’t materialized.
We long to celebrate love because we feel that in many ways love completes and fulfills us. But what is it about love that does this?
Our society has pretty well convinced us that sexual satisfaction, otherwise known as “Eros” in the Greek text of the Bible, defines love. And yet those who pursue sex for this purpose are some of the emptiest people I know. The kind of love that fulfills us is unconditional love, called “Agape”. It is the True Love with which God loves us, and with which God asks us to love each other. True love is not romantic or sexual love (Eros), though God intended for romance to be carried out within the context of True Love (Agape).
I’m afraid that far too often Valentine’s Day is a celebration of Eros without Agape, of self-satisfaction rather than of true love. Eros without Agape is not love, and is about getting rather than giving.
True Love, the kind of love we should be celebrating whether Eros accompanies it or not, is about giving rather than getting. We are most complete when we have accepted God’s love for us and are in turn conduits of God’s love to others. We are most fulfilled when we are pouring out to others what God has poured into us, not when we are demanding or expecting or even just simply wishing for human love. Succumbing to the feelings of “I deserve to be loved, too” depletes us of the sense of completeness our oneness with God has already established.
So, how should we celebrate Valentine’s Day if we don’t have romantic love to celebrate? Consider these words of our LORD*:
- “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” 1
- “I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you.” 2
- “You will be called Sought After.” 3
- “You are precious and honored in my sight.” 4
- “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” 4
Do these words which describe the love God has for us inspire you to celebrate? The best way to celebrate His love is to turn around and give it to someone else. There are many who are longing for True Love, for unconditional love, and we can have the privilege of multiplying love many times over. This kind of love is not exclusive between two people, but can be shared freely, not with just one but with many!
It is true that there is something wonderful about romantic love (Eros); none of us can deny that. However, hard as it may be to believe, Agape is the better of the two and is not limited just to those who are “in love”. It is sad that we have come to value Eros above Agape; it is a distorted, twisted view of love that does this. I challenge you, and myself, to acquire God’s perspective of which kind of love is the most valuable, to realize that this most valuable love is available to everyone, and to spend this Valentine’s Day celebrating Agape, that love with which God loves us so completely, and with which we find so much fulfillment in giving to others. Perhaps someday God will also give you Eros with one exclusive person, that exhilirating love that feels so wonderful; but if not, you’re not the poor deprived person society would have you believe you are. You are already complete in the arms of True Love! Take time to celebrate!