We’re coming up on Valentine’s Day. Our Father took me through a couple lessons that seem worth sharing and I’d like to go through one today if you’re game.
Let’s start with the name: Saint Valentine’s Day. Saint. Consider that: this is a religious holiday designated by the Catholic church to honor a canonized priest named Valentine. That’s what saints’ days are: days to honor saints, and all saints are ministers — people — whom miracles were done through. How does that turn into a holiday about romance? Well, in short: we have a real problem with history, but that’s for another post.
The Catholic legend goes that in the first 500 years after the Crucifixion there were a dozen Roman men named Valentine who were canonized. 6 are said to have died on or near February 14th. One of them, called Valentine of Terni, was imprisoned for proselytizing. In discussion with his pagan judge about Jesus the man challenged Valentine to show the power of God by curing his blind daughter, which Valentine did. The judge freed Valentine and all other Christian prisoners. But Valentine was arrested yet again for preaching and sentenced to death. On the day of his execution he left behind a note to the first judge’s daughter which he signed “Your Valentine”. Now that’s a powerful story, no question. It’s weird that it ended up making him the patron saint of lovers, though, right?
Patron saint, in case you’re not quite sure, means that this saint was so passionate about a subject that in death they are in Heaven praying powerfully for that subject. So like the patron saint of the lost means that minister is now in Heaven praying for guidance for the lost. Well, even if you somehow set aside the Scripture that explains why that’s hogwash — the dead are not in Heaven petitioning for anything; sorry, they’re not — the idea is preposterous that Valentine of Terni is up there praying for lovers. We have this guy confused, clearly. But you know what? I think that’s the absolutely perfect reason his day is set aside for romance and for Lovers, because being confused about each other is exactly what Loving relationships are about!
The apostle Peter — and you know how much I Love this man — speaks to exactly that in chapter 3 of his first epistle. Let’s go to 1 Peter 3:7:
“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered”
Oh, brothers, do we misunderstand that “weaker vessel” thing! In verse 1 he tells wives to be in subjection to their husbands, and the ladies get that one turned around, too! That’s why Peter wrote this whole epistle: people get all twisted up in how they are supposed to relate to each other, how to understand each other. So let’s unwind it, boys, because we are where it starts.
“Dwell with [your wives] according to knowledge… that your prayers be not hindered.” I wonder how many of my boys understand the weight of this. What Peter is saying here is fivefold:
- That you should live in the knowledge of the Word and how to be a man of Christ.
- That you should know your role, and hers, and His.
- That you should know your wife: that you should attempt to understand her and who she is.
- That you should make her a part of your life AND make yourself a part of hers.
- Moreover, failing to do all of the above will destroy your ability to pray.
Why would your prayer be destroyed? Because it means you are not living in His order, His Love. He gave commandment that husbands should lead their wives, honor their wives, live as one flesh with their wives, be a good example to their wives. To take the vows of marriage and then alienate your spouse, or to try to live your own life separate from her or apart from God, creates dischord in your home and puts you outside the natural order of life.
As men we do not have the luxury of doing for ourselves. We are the soldiers of Christ, slaves of the Lord, and we carry a title in His Kingdom. That title comes with a job description, and that job description is to be the living embodiment of the Father. 1 Peter 2:15-16 says it beautifully:
“For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.”
Peter knew something of this, because his every lesson with Christ was that although he could act freely, it was not his freedom to do other than God’s will. It isn’t ours, either. As men we are held to our responsibilities despite the many enticements this world had that would tell you otherwise. As a husband our liberty is further restricted: we serve Him and her now.
I know we buck against it. I know. I do, too. I tell myself it’s fine if I play video games for 4 hours a night and that she’s cool with it. I spend too long in the bathroom because I’m putzing around on my phone. I work late without considering her feelings about it. I get irritated if she talks too long about a subject I’m not interested in. I try to fix all her problems instead of listening to what she’s going through. I know what it is to be a husband today.
I have a very Loving and understanding wife who thinks she is fine with all of it. But that doesn’t mean I’m free to do any of it. There is no me apart from her, and I am commanded by the Lord Himself to recognize that. So are you. You are to lead your home as an example of how Christ would behave were He in your place, and never once did He disrespect His role, His title. Never once did He cast off a woman who needed Him. Do you think He’d treat your wife any worse?
If you aren’t living up to your role He spends every moment of your prayer life screaming at you to be a better husband and come back later. No request gets through, no commandment comes back until this first directive is followed. It doesn’t matter if you don’t “feel” it or if she’s being mean to you or if you feel like she’d hinder your enjoyment or you’d be bored. Love your wife. Live with her in knowledge.
We made a commitment to be a part of her life: to her and to our Lord we made it. Honor it. Do so properly and you will be amazed to see how trivial these huge blockades in your marriage truly are. Be a spiritual leader and she will fall to nature’s order behind you, and peace will return to your lives. That’s being in a right relationship. This Saint Valentine’s Day take a little extra time to recognize where you’ve fallen short and correct it.
Understand your wife, and let her understand you. Your very salvation depends on it.
Father, I am sorry for the ways in which I don’t live rightly, but in my failings as a husband I have the most pain. I ask, for myself and for any guys out there in the same boat, that You show us how to do better, to be better. In the name of Your Word, and my Brother, Jesus, I pray. Amen.