By Olatokunbo Odunuga
Good-day, my beloved friends. Today is 13 February is traditionally acknowledged as Valentine Day. I read a notice dated 29th January 2018 by R.J. Baker, bishop of Birmingham in Alabama that for the first time in 73 years, last year’s Valentine Day fell on Ash Wednesday. Hence Valentine Day should be shifted to 13th February 2018 or other ‘non-penitential’ day. In other words, it has no eternal veracity since it can be shifted for man’s convenience. And quoting the Oxford/Cambridge professor C. S. Lewis, “Whatever is not eternal is eternally useless”. From the antecedents, the observance of Valentine Day, by the way some people in the contemporary world do, provokes a moral question.
2.0 Valentine Day was initiated as a feast day to honour two or more noble men of distinction named Valentine, who were Christian martyrs. But the customs now associated with the day seem to originate from another age-old festival known as Lupercalia held yearly in Rome in February. This festival was in honour of Pan, the god of nature and Juno, the goddess of women and marriage. Over time, it has gradually degenerated into mischief. In 1980, a young female staff of about 17-18 in our office sent me a card titled, “Be My Valentine”. As I was naive and did not understand what it was all about, I just smiled and put the card away. It was later that the ‘smarter and more enlightened’ ones among my friends explained the underlays of the whole thing to me and they must have seen it as a missed opportunity. In essence, to them “eran lo nilu ailobe”, meaning, “the ram went scotfree in the village that has no knives”
3.0 Somefew years ago, an associate was sharing his experience on Valentine Days in two separate tertiary institutions he attended in the eastern part of this country in the eighties. In their College of Education, students-men and women-as soon it was dark enough, would assemble in an open field, stripped naked and proceed to run wild in immoral spree. Later, while he was in the University, it was not an open-field affair there but this time they were using the University Hall. Male and female would arrive fully-dressed, so that lecturers or outsiders would not suspect any questionable intention. But as soon as inside, they would remove everything that resembled clothing and embark on free-for-all–a 21st Century replica of what transpired in 1,500 B. C. in Exodus 32 :6, “…..The people sat down to a feast, which turned into an orgy of drinking and sex”-[Good News Bible]
4.0 Indeed there is nothing new under the sun; what has been will be again, and what has been done will be done again [Ecclesiastes 1 :9] in spite of over 3,500 years’ gap That was evil in action–obscene and objectionable. There was also a festival in another part of the country which appears as an off-shoot of Valentine Day termed, Olisaogbe. On a particular day of the year, any woman one encountered on the street was a prey, you were at liberty to have her, forcibly if necessary. This was another evil in action. Hence I have a bit of reservation when some churches promote or passionately identify with Valentine Day. But I want to state that from the point of view of our Lord Jesus, every day should be Lovers’ day, as He counseled us to love our neighbours as ourselves. You may search in your Bible for Christ’s command to love your neighbours as yourselves specially on February 14th or whichever Valentine Day but it will be in vain.
5.0 It also seems to me that something close to what our Lord termed the abomination of desolation in Matthew 24 :15; Mark 13 :14; Dan. 9: 27, 11: 3 is being brought into His temple (the church in the Christian age). I checked a few other versions of the Bible and they render the word, abomination as appalling sacriledge; idol, sacrilegious object; the horrible thing; desecrating sacriledge; desolating horror, etc. About 16 years ago, I personally saw a banner of a church service somewhere in Ikeja, Lagos inviting people to a special Sunday Service with one Sir Sina, an entertainer as the guest artist but I hope he would not have preached! You would probably have heard of instances over a decade ago when some churches brought TV sets into their auditorium to view soccer matches during the world cup competition on Sunday morning. The excuse given then was that it would not allow brethren to stay back at home. So God of Heaven would be set aside for about 90 minutes for the god of soccer to take temporary pre-eminence right inside the sanctuary.
6.0 The foregoing was not much different from what the pagan king of Syria Anthonicus Epiphanes did in about 165 B. C. when he defiled the Jewish temple, sacrificing pigs and compelling Jewish youth To commit fornication right inside the temple. To me, such T.V. “soccer exploits” inside the church auditorium was as detestable as the very saucers in which Jezebel mixed her cosmetics which were recently found among the ruins of Ahab’s Ivory house in Samaria. I’m beginning to see why Rama Krishna, a former President of India, an Hindu, remarked that Christians make extra-ordinary claims but live ordinary lives, quite unlike Jesus Christ whom he said he respected after studying His life from the scriptures. He went further to say that if the 2 percent who claimed to be Christians in India live like Jesus Christ lived, the remaining 98% non-Christian Indians would become Christians overnight