Valentine’s Day and the Unending Love of God

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
February 14, 2020

For Christians, even a cursory glance at the day’s headlines will leave us with but one conclusion: the world is lost and confused.

That reality is especially evident on a day like Valentine’s Day, where the culture reveals just how much it has lost when it comes to the reality of love.

A walk down the greeting card aisle at your local drugstore will confront you with the inanest statements intended to communicate the most profound human affection and commitment. These greeting cards represent but a symbol of a larger cultural anemia and distortion of love. At the same time, however, even in a fallen and confused world, every single human being knows that he or she needs love and that every single person—in one way or another—is meant to give love.

Love has always been the language of Christianity. After all, one of the shortest yet most profound statements in the Bible is revelation that God is love. This means that we only come to know what love is like when we come to know who God is—love has an ontological referent in the God who is our creator, sustainer, and redeemer. Whatever God is, that is love.

Throughout the Bible, Christians read of different expressions of love between human beings, especially husbands and wives. We see examples of sentimentality as well as romance. Yet these two dimensions or expressions of love pale in comparison to the biblical themes of love as the loving kindness, steadfastness, and covenant fidelity of the God who never changes.

The Bible also reveals that in our sinfulness, humanity loves the wrong things—we can even love the right things wrongly. Indeed, often the center of idolatry isn’t loving something inherently sinful but something inherently good.

Biblically defined love, however, is a self-giving, sacrificial love. We know this because of the person and work of Jesus Christ and what he said to his disciples during his earthly ministry. Jesus described to his disciples the love for which there is no greater love, namely, the love that leads a person to lay his or her life down for others—the love that we see in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins.

Thus, because God is love, we learn through Christ that his love abounds with mercy, grace, and unfathomable forgiveness. We see a love defined by substitutionary atonement as Christ died in our place to pay the price for our rebellion against God. God’s love establishes the glorious truth that we are justified by faith alone through the merits of Christ alone.

In contrast to this love, Christians cannot help but to grieve at the larger cultural conversations about the nature of love. When we look at the entire state of marriage, civilization has subverted this divine institution, making it about self-fulfillment and redefining who can be married. Moreover, the culture has insisted that romance can be separated from covenant fidelity—that sexual intimacy can be sundered from the institution of marriage between one man and one woman.

This reality certainly explains the brokenness in the world, but Christians also can find glimmers of hope, even in Valentine’s Day. This day reminds us that even human sin fails to extinguish all the virtues God implanted within creation and in humanity. We are made in God’s image. Even the Fall, which is described in Genesis three, does not subvert nor dismantle the image of God in each and every person.

The love, therefore, celebrated on Valentine’s Day is certainly an imperfect and inadequate love. It is certainly superficial and often unfaithful. At the same time, it points to a yearning in the human heart for a love that doesn’t fail; for a love that endures; for a love eternally real.

Do Christians believe in romantic love? Certainly—but it is a romantic love defined and protected by a biblical worldview that presses us towards the institution and covenant of marriage. Is love emotional? Of course, but Christians must not believe that the essence of love is found in subjective emotions that are subject to change. Love is, because of who God is, meant to be enduring, forbearing. It is not fleeting nor fickle.

God has not left the world in the dark about the image of love. He has given us his word and described in 1 Corinthians 13 the biblical character of what love is: Patient and kind. Love does not envy nor boast. It is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way nor is it irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

That love described by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit and preserved for us in the Scriptures so that we might not merely know the character of love, but the character of God.

This is the kind of love God wants us to know and to exude in our own lives. It is the kind of love Christians are called to display towards the world. We proclaim a love that never ends. We stand upon this love because of who God is and all that he has revealed about himself to us in Christ. His love has no beginning. It has no end.

His love is spectacular. Indeed, what could be more astounding than this kind of love: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Love doesn’t come from nowhere. Its source is in the one true God. Love is bound up in the glorious mystery of the inter-Trinitarian love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This love was poured out in creation and wonderfully manifested in the sacrifice of Christ.

So, even on this Valentine’s Day, Christians see the longing and yearnings of the human heart for love. What the culture offers is not love. What Christians carry, however, is the gospel of true, pure, and perfect love, namely, the love of God for a lost and dying world.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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