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Religious Reflections

Various views about Valentine's Day

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. I have heard many different reactions to that fact. Some, usually men, see the day as a day to assuage their guilt in relation to their wives or girlfriends. For some reason certain men seem almost embarrassed by the word "love." Women usually view the day as a time for renewing romance (at least that is their hope). Kids see the day as a time to get candy and cards from friends.

Men and boys tend to view the topic of love as a mushy, gushy emotional trap, as helpless to handle it as when confronted with a woman's tears.

Such emotions leave many men numb and speechless. Far better, they think, to get emotionally involved with a football game or a contest of physical strength.

Women, however, seem unafraid to venture where the strongest men hesitate to step. Words such as "I love you, and Be my Valentine" come about as easily to some men as a confession forced out by needles under the fingernails. Yet, women seem so eager to hear it and so willing to express it. And, truth be told, it really doesn't hurt as much as going to the dentist. Perhaps, if men could see that love is not a girlie, mushy, emotional weakness, they would be more willing to approach the topic. Let me suggest that Love is indeed a manly thing. Love is something that requires much more than emotion. It requires determination and strength. It requires a commitment on a level deeper than any other in life. It may even demand one's very life.

In the Bible we find these words describing love: This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. [10] This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. [11] Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:9-11).

Far from being the realm of weaklings and women, Love is the most powerful of forces. Real men will not shy from it, but learn to live in it and to share it. God has already shown us how tough it can be -- and how tender -- in Jesus Christ. Valentine's Day should not be a reminder of childhood misconceptions nor of adult guilt trips, but a remembrance of the power of love to create and maintain the deepest relationships.

As a final note, I would urge everyone to see the depth and power of love displayed on the big screen when the movie, The Passion of the Christ opens on Feb. 25. Young Life leader Tom Dekker has already written about how seeing that movie has changed his life. Many others who have seen the film previewed give the same report.

- Michael B. Hughes is pastor of the Sunnyside First Baptist Church.

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