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Christians celebrate Easter and Christmas as religious holidays. In the United States, we find some religious significance in Thanksgiving and even Independence Day. Christianity Today, in its 27 year history, has devoted two dozen articles to the themes of Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving. Valentine's Day (even Saint Valentine's Day) is another matter. The pudgy Cupid, bow and arrow in hand, is obviously pagan. Cute, maybe, but pagan. We can make something religious of prayerful pilgrims or the birth of "one nation, under God." But a naked, overfed, flying imp? Or candy, flowers, and cards? The word "cute" cries to be said again. Valentine's Day is fun and cute: deathly cute. No wonder it is not considered a Christian holiday. No wonder Christian magazines never fail to have Easter essays, but rarely (if ever) rise to the challenge of Valentine's Day.

I am here to break the tradition. Valentine's Day is too, yes, cute for my taste. But I like what's behind it. The idea of that obese baby shooting arrows through hearts never appealed to me. Falling in love did. And does.

I admit at the outset that falling in love is a crazy thing. The kind of love we fall into—romantic love—is a boiling mix of the sensual and the spiritual. It can be ecstatic as well as heartbreaking. It is ardent and particular; that is, we find ourselves intensely attracted to one woman or man but not another. Psychologists say romantic love involves similar basic world views, or "senses of life," and "complementary differences." Not even the scientist fully understands it, though, and is inclined to agree with the sage that the "way of a man with a woman" is one of life's great wonders (Prov. 30:19). This much is clear: the romantic looks ...

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February 2001

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