by John Greene
On the surface, Valentine’s Day is a wonderful and romantic occasion for husband and wife to express their love for one another. Clearly, the holiday is of commercial importance for business in modern society. Is this celebration harmless and innocent, or rooted in something else?
Clearly, Christians are admonished to love one another, most importantly and primarily through ‘agape’ or brotherly love. (Matthew 5:43-48, 6:24-25; John 14:21-24, 15:9-17; 1 John 4:7-10; Romans 12:10; Hebrews 13:1) Like most Christianized celebrations, Christians have the Roman Catholic Church ‘to thank’ for this celebration. The holiday reportedly honors one or more early Christian martyrs with the name Valentine. This was reportedly established by Pope Gelasius I in 496, when the celebration Lupercalia was abolished, but historical evidence shows that Gelasius was attempting a measure of reform, and so established ‘Candlemas’ in place of Lupercalia. This mass morphed with other creative religious practices over the ages, including reintroducing vestiges of Lupercalia.
English author Geoffrey Chaucer associated the celebration with romantic love and the rest seems to be history through English Imperialism. All of this is in line with the adaptive nature of Roman Catholicism, as history demonstrates continually the movement of incorporating paganism wholesale into Christianity to make it a ‘global religion.’ This was originally pioneered by Constantine (Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus) when the Roman emperor hijacked Christianity in a move to unite the empire.
Traditions of ancient Rome know Lupercalia as a fertility rite in honor of ‘pastoral deities,’ which was generally observed February 13-15. On this occasion, along with a variety of rituals including animal sacrifice, running down the streets naked under animal skins and the seemingly innocent act of putting the names of young women into a box to have them drawn by men as chance directed. Don’t you see this innocent pair matching within current Valentine rituals, especially among our children in the schools? The Lupercalia festival was also in honor of Lupa, the wolf that suckled the infant orphans, Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. All of this explains the name of the pagan festival. Lupercalia translates to “Wolf Festival.”
Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays comments: “Everywhere that Christians came into power they immediately adapted the holidays and customs of the people to their own creed. Now it was a simple matter to call the day that this drawing took place St. Valentine’s Day” and further, “To Christianize the heathen practice of picking lots for sweethearts, all that was needed was to replace the names of the girls with names of saints and to have the young people emulate the particular virtues of whatever saint they drew. Incidentally, this custom is not dead today and is still observed in some religious orders. It was always more fun, of course, to pick a girl’s rather than a saint’s name. Consequently, by at least the fourteenth century the custom had reverted to its original form” (pp. 50-51).
As an aside, we have an important matter to bring up about the word ‘pastor’ and its origins. In researching these pastoral deities like Pan (or cultural equals), the god of shepherds and flocks, these ‘pastoral gods’ are easily linked through paganism into Catholicism, along with adaptation of the word ‘pastor’ as a shepherd. Through the use of semantics or word study, links exist that attach the origins of this word directly through Catholicism and paganism. While most of ‘Protestant Christianity’ is firmly rooted in this title and role as a ‘shepherd of the flock,’ this is clearly a tradition of man rooted through paganism, which should be a troubling matter to all disciples of the Messiah, which by their very nature seek only the truth of YHWH! The role of a pastor is in truth, not a shepherd, but a role that has been copied directly from Rome. How much better to address one another as brothers in Messiah, as first century disciples did, in line with our equality in the Messiah. Any hierarchy of man, beyond spiritual elders as ‘overseers,’ seeking to protect the purity of the sanctified gathering or congregation of YHWH should be avoided.
There exists a distinct relationship between special days that honor pagan gods with saints of Catholic renown. The ancient Romans worshiped gods and goddesses involved with every aspect of life. Jupiter, the chief of the gods, was the deity of rain and storms, while his wife, Juno, was the goddess of womanhood, and so it goes through various cultures and world powers.
First century disciples considered themselves set apart from the world, those that religion often calls out as ‘saints.’ These ‘holy ones’ are reported to have had ‘exemplary faith.’ In some Bible translations, the Apostle Paul greets the church at Philippi as ‘all the saints in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 1:1) However, it wasn’t long before ‘saints’ in the Roman tradition began to take on the meaning of a special class of martyrs or performers of heroic virtue. In essence, they worshiped the divine gifts that these ‘saints’ exhibited, blending this with local death cults that offered prayers to the dead. All of this was designed to make a global integration into ‘Christianity’ easier for the world and more advantageous for the state. Over the age, the Roman Catholic Church has canonized saints for various purposes, which help to bolster the godhood of the ‘Virgin Mary.’
Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness? And what fellowship has light with darkness? And what agreement has Messiah with Beliyaʽal? Or what part does a believer have with an unbeliever? And what union has the Dwelling Place of Elohim with idols? For you are a Dwelling Place of the living Elohim, as Elohim has said, ‘I shall dwell in them and walk among them, and I shall be their Elohim, and they shall be My people.’ Therefore, ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says YHWH, and do not touch what is unclean, and I shall receive you. And I shall be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ says YHWH the Almighty.” – 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, ISR98 (Isaiah 52:11; Ezekiel 20:34, 41)
The Bible does not approve of praying to the dead, to ‘saints’ or to anyone but the Heavenly Father. He warned ancient Israel, the people He originally chose as His people, not to mix pagan customs with worshiping Him as their Elohim. (Deuteronomy 7:25-26, 12:29-32; Exodus 20:3-5) Only the Messiah ascended to Heaven as a perfect sacrifice and He alone is our Mediator and High Priest. (John 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16; Hebrews 7:25)
“Therefore, my beloved ones, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men, judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Messiah? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Messiah? Because there is one bread, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
Look at Yisra’ĕl [Israel] after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the offerings sharers in the altar? What then do I say? That an idol is of any value? Or that which is offered to idols is of any value? No, but what the gentiles offer they offer to demons and not to Elohim, and I do not wish you to become sharers with demons. You are not able to drink the cup of the Master and the cup of demons, you are not able to partake of the table of the Master and of the table of demons.” – 1 Corinthians 10:14-21, ISR98
In the same sense, the Master laid out reality for all His disciples: “No one is able to serve two masters, for either he shall hate the one and love the other, or else he shall cleave to the one and despise the other. You are not able to serve Elohim and mammon.” – Matthew 6:24, ISR98
When all of this is distilled into the simplest of all truth, the words of Yahshua [Jesus] the Messiah capture the truth about where each disciple must stand. You can only have one master. You choose your master based on the choices that you make and through your lifestyle. Knowing this truth isn’t about being a party pooper or a killjoy. What you do and say is the physical life fruit of your trust in your Heavenly Father, the Word of the Master and whole of teaching centered in Bible truth. You have every day of the year to honor and cherish your loved ones, including building special memories, without adding the filth of paganism. (“Filling Your Life with Truth Instead of Deception“; “Bible Truth About Death“)