As trivial as it might seem compared to “real” holidays like Christmas and Easter, Valentine’s Day can be alternately exciting and terrifying. Although several years of marriage have given me a new perspective on relationships and this particular holiday, I remember well the weirdness of being single on Valentine’s Day: if you’re in a relationship, it prompts all sorts of deep and difficult questions about love and commitment; and if you’re not in a romantic relationship, Valentine’s Day is at best an annoyance to be skipped past and forgotten as quickly as possible.
But whether you’re enjoying your 40th year of marriage or are planning to stay home and watch the NBA Dunk Contest by yourself this Saturday, it’s still worth taking a few minutes to consider the Bible’s teachings about love and relationships. One of the most thoughtful Christian writers I know on this topic is Blaine Smith of Nehemiah Ministries. Here are two essays that will get you thinking this Valentine’s Day:
- Is God a Matchmaker? Written with singles in mind, this essay tackles an oft-repeated but somewhat dubious claim: that God has picked out one perfect person for you to marry. So are you supposed to sit back and wait for God to bring that person into your life—and how would you even recognize the “right” person? Blaine finds the message behind this idea a bit troubling, and has some good suggestions for singles intimidated by the prospect of finding Mr. or Mrs. Right.
- The Compassion Factor: what does real love look like? It doesn’t always bear much resemblance to the love on display in books, movies, and popular culture. If our expectations about love are unrealistic, we risk failing to recognize it when it appears.
Both of these essays are from Blaine’s book Should I Get Married?, which despite the title is not just for couples considering marriage; it’s a good all-around book about Biblical relationships and romantic love. Enjoy—and have a good Valentine’s Day!