What does the Bible say about Valentine’s Day?
Valentine’s Day on February 14 is celebrated in many countries around the world as a special day for love – generally romantic love – but also friendship. School children enjoy preparing cards and little candies or other treats for their classmates. Couples buy flowers and chocolates for their partners and often plan a special night out. For chocolate lovers, it might be their favorite day of the year!
But did you know that the original Valentine’s Day had nothing to do with romantic love? It was celebrated in honor of a man who gave his life for his faith. Let’s explore how Valentine’s Day began and how everyone can celebrate it. Valentine’s Day began about 400 years after the Bible was completed, but God’s Word does say a lot about love!
Christian quotes about Valentine’s Day
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
“Love is a gift of God.” Jack Hyles
“The happiness of married life depends upon making small sacrifices with readiness and cheerfulness.” John Selden
“The man who loves his wife above all else on earth gains the freedom and power to pursue other noble, but lesser, loves.” David Jeremiah
“To fully know and still fully love, is the primary aim of marriage.”
The origin of Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day goes all the way back to AD 496! That’s when Pope Gelasius I proclaimed it as a special day to honor a saint named Valentine (or Valentinus in Latin). Before AD 313, Christians in the Roman Empire were persecuted simply for believing in Jesus; they were often imprisoned and killed for their faith. A person executed because he or she was a Christian is called a martyr.
Two or three men named Valentine were martyred for their faith on February 14, but we don’t have much information on them. One was a priest in Rome; an ancient story says that after he was arrested, he bravely told the judge about Jesus and His miracles, so the judge called in his daughter, who was blind. Valentine laid his hands on the girl’s eyes and prayed, and she was healed! The judge immediately destroyed his pagan idols, fasted for three days, then received baptism as a Christian.
Later, Valentine was arrested again – this time for performing marriages! Emperor Claudius II (the Cruel) had proclaimed an end to marriages because he needed the young men for his army – he didn’t want them distracted by a wife. But Valentine knew that God ordained marriage and continued joining couples as man and wife. The emperor ordered Valentine to be beaten with clubs and beheaded on February 14, 270 outside Rome’s Flaminian Gate. He was buried close to where he died, just next to the Roman catacombs. About 70 years later, Pope Julius built a basilica over his grave.
Two other men named Valentine were martyred on February 14. One was a bishop (a leader of a group of churches) in central Italy, who was also killed outside Rome’s Flaminian Gate – some think he might be the same as the first Valentine. Another Valentine was a Christian in North Africa; since Pope Gelasius I was from Africa, this martyr may have had special meaning for him.
Did Valentine’s Day have links to a violent Roman festival called Lupercalia, when a dog and a goat were sacrificed in a cave to a pagan god to ward off the plague, war, bad crops, and infertility? Although Lupercalia was held on February 15 and may have even predated the founding of Rome, it had pretty much died out before 496. However, a few pagans were trying to revive the ancient ritual and were trying to get Christians to join in.
Pope Gelasius I banned Lupercalia for Christians as “an instrument of depravity,” “unholy blasphemy,” and a type of adultery against God. “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons.” If Gelasius was this horrified by Lupercalia, do you really think he’d try to twist it into a Christian holy day? The feast of Saint Valentine was a solemn day to honor a martyred saint – it had nothing to do with pagan debauchery.
So, when did Valentine’s Day become associated with love? Fast forward about 1000 years to the days of the poet Chaucer. In France and English during the Middle Ages, people considered mid-February to be when birds paired up for the mating season. In 1375, Chaucer wrote, “This was sent on Saint Valentine’s Day when every bird comes to choose his mate.”
In 1415, Charles, the French Duke of Orleans, wrote a love poem to his wife Bonne on Valentine’s Day while imprisoned in the Tower of London: “I am sick with love, my gentle Valentine.” Sadly, Charles remained imprisoned for 24 years, and his beloved Bonne died before he could return to France.
Several years later, King Henry V of England wanted to write a love poem to his new wife Catherine – a princess from France. But he wasn’t very poetic, so he hired a monk – John Lyndgate – to write it for him. After this, it became increasingly popular for husbands to present poems or affectionate letters, sometimes accompanied by small gifts, to their wives on Valentine’s Day. This eventually became an occasion for courting couples and even friends to exchange poems and gifts demonstrating their affection.
Should Christians celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Why not? For one thing, we could return to the original reason for Valentine’s Day and honor those throughout church history who have given their lives for their faith. We can set this day aside as a special day of prayer for our brothers and sisters persecuted for their faith in our world today. We should especially lift up the body of Christ in North Korea, Afghanistan, and other countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East – where over 4700 believers were killed for their faith in 2021.
Secondly, love is always a wonderful thing for Christians to celebrate – our entire faith is built on love.
- “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1)
2. “By this the love of God was revealed in us, that God has sent His only Son into the world so that we may live through Him.” (1 John 4:9)
3. “God is love; whoever abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:16)
4. “. . . to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19)
5. Romans 14:1-5 “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. 5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.”
6. John 15:13 (ESV) “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
7. Ephesians 5:1 (KJV) “King James Version 5 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.”
Celebrating love, relationships, and marriage
Saint Valentine died because he united Christian couples in marriage, so this is an especially appropriate time for Christian couples to rejoice and celebrate their marital covenant. God ordained marriage from the beginning of creation (Genesis 2:18, 24) and is a picture of Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31-32) Married couples should make time for special dates together and exchange small mementos of their love for each other to keep the spark of romance alive – it’s so easy to get distracted with all the busyness of life and begin to take each other for granted. Valentine’s Day is a fun time to reawaken your love for each other.
But it is also a splendid day for good friends, for dating couples, and for the body of Christ to celebrate the gift of love for each other. It’s an exceptionally amazing day to remember God’s infinite and incomprehensible love for us and express our love for Him.
8. Genesis 2:18 (NIV) “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
9. Ephesians 5:31-32 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
10. Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
11. Song of Solomon 8:7 (NASB) “Many waters cannot quench love, Nor will rivers flood over it; If a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, It would be utterly despised.”
12. Song of Songs 4:10 “How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume more than any spice!”
13. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT) “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”
14. Song of Solomon 1:2 (KJV) “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.”
15. Song of Solomon 8:6 ” Put me over your heart and on your arm, never to be taken off. For love is as strong as death. Jealousy is as hard as the grave. Its bright light is like the light of fire, the very fire of the Lord.”
16. Colossians 3:14 “Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity.”
17. Genesis 2:24 “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.”
Remembering God’s love for Valentine’s Day
What are some ways we can rejoice in God’s love on Valentine’s Day? We can reflect His love toward others through acts of kindness – maybe something simple like letting someone in front of you in the grocery checkout, shoveling the sidewalk for your neighbor who’s been ill – just let the Holy Spirit guide you through the day on ways you can reflect God’s love. We remember God’s love for us when we forgive other people who have hurt or offended us – because in love God forgave us.
We remember God’s love for us through praise and worship. Throughout the day, in the car or at home, turn up the praise music and sing out your love for God.
One way to remember God’s love is to read through the four Gospels and ponder Jesus’ love in action – and follow His example! Everything Jesus did when He walked the earth He did in love. His love was honest – He wasn’t always “nice.” If people were in a mess, He would call them on it because true love leads people to redemption. But He spent His days and nights loving people – healing, feeding, and ministering to the thousands who followed Him, even when it meant not having time to eat or rest.
Loving as Jesus loved always means getting out of our comfort zone. It will cost us and stretch us. But that’s precisely why we’re here on earth. God’s greatest law is to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength – and the second greatest law is to love others as we love ourselves. (Mark 12: 28-31)
18. Romans 5:8 (KJV) “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
19. 1 John 4:16 “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
20. Ephesians 2:4-5 “But God is rich in mercy, and he loved us very much. 5 We were spiritually dead because of all we had done against him. But he gave us new life together with Christ. (You have been saved by God’s grace.)”
21. 1 John 4:19 “We love because God first loved us.”
22. Romans 8:38–39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
23. Lamentations 3:22-23 “We are still alive because the Lord’s faithful love never ends. 23 Every morning he shows it in new ways! You are so very true and loyal!”
24. Psalm 63:3 “for your love and kindness are better to me than life itself. How I praise you!”
25. Psalm 36:5-6 “Lord, your faithful love reaches to heaven, your faithfulness to the clouds. 6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your judgments like the deepest sea. Lord, you preserve people and animals.”
26. Isaiah 54:10 “The mountains may be taken away and the hills may shake, but My loving-kindness will not be taken from you. And My agreement of peace will not be shaken,” says the Lord who has loving-pity on you.”
27. Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV) “The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Bible Verses for Valentine’s Day cards
28. “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth . . . may you ever be intoxicated with her love.” (Proverbs 5:18-19)
29. “Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.” (Song of Songs 8:7)
30. “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:14)
31. “Walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant sacrificial offering to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)
32. “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34)
33. “By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
34. “I pray that they will all be one, just as You and I are one—as You are in Me, Father, and I am in You. And may they be in Us so that the world will believe You sent me.” (John 17:21)
35. “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.” (1 John 4:16)
36. “Beloved, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7)
37. “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12)
38. Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
39. Numbers 6:24-26 “The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
40. Song of Songs 1:2 “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth. Your expressions of love are better than wine.”
Valentine’s Day for single Christians
If you’re single, you might dread Valentine’s Day as a reminder of what you don’t have. But you can turn that around and celebrate what you do have. You might not be married or have a romantic interest, but you probably have good friends to hang out with, you probably have a church family that supports you, and you probably have a family that cherishes you. Even if none of that is true for you, you always have God – the lover of your soul.
So, what can you do if you’re single on Valentine’s Day? Maybe you could host a little party at your apartment – or your church – for other single friends. You could make it a potluck, and everyone could bring little Valentine treats to share, play fun games, and have a sharing time of how God’s love has been special to you in the past year.
If you don’t have any other single friends or family available, make it a day of celebrating God’s love for you and your love for God. It’s okay to treat yourself to something special – like those chocolates! Meditate on how God loves you with an everlasting love, and His compassion and devotion for you are unending. Spend time reading God’s Word about His love for you and journaling what that means to you and ways you can express your love for Him and share it with others. Check out the ideas below for honoring God on Valentine’s Day.
41. Philippians 4:19 (ESV) “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
42. Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
43. 1 Corinthians 10:31 “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all things for the glory of God.”
44. 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 “I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.”
45. 1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Ways to honor God on Valentine’s Day
List all the ways God shows His love for you. You might include things like a beautiful sunrise, the birds singing outside, your health, His Word, your family and friends, your salvation. You can do this with your children, family members, or friends – you might want to write these on hearts and display them somewhere.
Honor God through serving or giving. You might want to volunteer at a food bank, babysit for a young couple, donate to a Christian organization serving the persecuted church, visit a local nursing home with treats for the elderly, or visit your elderly widowed neighbors or church friends with a small treat.
Write a love letter to God.
Spend time in worship and praise.
46. James 1:17 “Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God. He is the One Who made all light. He does not change. No shadow is made by His turning.”
47. James 4:8 “Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.”
48. Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
49. Matthew 22:37 “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Love stories in the Bible
The Book of Ruth is a beautiful love story beginning with Ruth’s love for her mother-in-law Naomi. Ruth’s husband died, and Naomi had also lost her husband and both her sons. The two women were all alone in the world, but Ruth pledged her love to Naomi and stayed with her. Naomi was bitter, but Ruth’s love, respect, and diligence in working to provide food ministered to Naomi. Soon after, Ruth met Boaz, Naomi’s relative, who heard about Ruth’s care for Naomi – this moved him, and he was kind to Ruth – providing for her. Eventually, they married – Boaz became Ruth’s “redeemer – and they had a son, Obed, who was the grandfather of King David and an ancestor of Jesus.
The story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and her husband Joseph is a winsome tale of two young people whose faith and obedience to God got them through a rough patch. We can read their story in Matthew 1 & 2 and Luke 1 & 2. Joseph and Mary were betrothed to each other, which, in that day probably meant a marriage contract had been made, and Joseph had given Mary’s father a “bride price.” But they had not yet begun living together. When Mary became pregnant, Joseph knew he wasn’t the father and assumed she had been unfaithful. He must have been heartbroken, yet in his grief, he still showed kindness to Mary by planning a quiet “divorce,” rather than making a public spectacle of her – which might have meant death by stoning for Mary. Then God’s angel intervened, revealing to Joseph that Mary was pregnant by God’s Holy Spirit and would give birth to the Messiah. From that moment on, Joseph tenderly cared for and protected Mary and the baby Jesus and obeyed the instructions of God through His angel messenger.
Another beautiful love story is in Luke 1, about Mary’s relative Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah, a priest. This godly couple had been married for a long time but could not conceive. Then when Zechariah was in the temple, an angel told him that Elizabeth would have a son and to name him John. Zechariah was incredulous because Elizabeth was past childbearing age, but Elizabeth did become pregnant! Their son was John the Baptist. God rewarded their enduring love for each other and their love and obedience to Him.
50. Ruth 3:10–11 “The Lord bless you, my daughter!” Boaz exclaimed. “You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before, for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor. 11 Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman.”
God calls all Christians to love Him with all their heart, soul, and mind and to love others as they love themselves. Valentine’s Day is a beautiful time to find tangible ways to do that. Be creative in ways to express your love to God and revel in His love for you. If you are married, have fun together and rejoice in your relationship. Everyone can honor God and His great love for us and seek out ways to minister to people who might have recently lost a loved one – be a Ruth! Remember to celebrate the love you are blessed with – God’s love, family love, friend’s love, church family love, and romantic love.