Archive for the ‘cooperative program’ Tag

Buy Your Love A Goat   4 comments

It’s the Open Book Blog Hop’s weekly meeting and this week, we’re focused on Valentine’s Day. If you want to join us …

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So yesterday was Valentines Day and we celebrated by going to a banquet to raise money for a youth group trip that our son participates in. If it weren’t for that, we might not have celebrated it at all.

Valentines, like so many holidays, became way too commercial for us. It feels like an extended commercial for brand-name product placement for candies, flowers, and jewelry. What a good reason to watch Netflix.

Then a friend posted on her Facebook that she didn’t know why Christians don’t get up in arms about the secularization and commercialization of Valentines Day the way they do about Easter and Christmas. I immediately thought — well, because Easter and Christmas are Christian holidays and Valentines isn’t, but then — well, I ran across an article reminding Christians that Valentines started out as a Catholic holiday. As a student of history, I looked at up and it actually started as a pre-Roman Catholic Church (therefore, early Christian) holiday.

St. Valentine (or Valentinus) was a priest and physician in 3rd century Rome. The Roman Catholic Church as we know it didn’t exist yet, though there was a Christian church in Rome. According to church tradition, Valentine was known for doing good deeds, caring for the poor, healing the sick. Arrested during a persecution of Christians, Valentine healed the magistrate’s blind daughter and the entire family was converted to Christianity. Upon hearing this, the emperor celebrated this miracle by beheading Valentine on February 14th.

Thus, Christians have commemorated this day in memory of Valentine’s life of selfless service and ministry.

I think Valentine might make my roll call of heroes, but please note something — St. Valentine’s Day had nothing at all to do with romantic couple love. Valentine’s Day and the original reason for remembering him placed the emphasis on love of neighbor … agape service love, not eros romantic love, or even phileo brotherly love. The romantic emphasis didn’t come about until the Middle Ages. It was heightened by 18th-century Romanticism and now exacerbated by modern Hollywood mythology and Western consumer culture.

Valentine’s Day should be reclaimed by Christians with a more holistic, trinitarian, agape understanding of love, rather than this narrow emphasis on romantic couple love. Remember, in Christian tradition, romantic love is not the highest love. “Greater love has no one than this, that we lay down our lives for our friends.”

We certainly should love and honor our spouses and significant others on Valentine’s Day, but we should only see this as one particular expression of the greater love that is agape love of neighbor.

Brad and I chose to give our money to the church to help with ministry or, as in the case of the banquet, to help with evangelism since our son and his friends will likely take some non-Christian friends along to the Christian youth conference they are attending in Anchorage in March. We don’t buy into the commercialism of the secularized holiday. The money we give to the church is distributed through the Cooperative Program to ministries in our community, in the state of Alaska, nationwide and internationally. We’re stingy with our ministry giving outside of that area, mainly because we have both given to “ministries” in the past that proved to be using most of the money to provide jobs for bureaucrats in the United States or that sent aid into countries where warlords resold it for huge profits. The Cooperative Program sends aid through missionaries who control the resource until it reaches the intended recipients and who also prioritize the gospel message over other “charities.”

We also donate our time at the Community Food Bank and Fairbanks Rescue Mission and contribute to Samaritan’s Purse and Heifer International . We donate the time all throughout the year, but Valentine’s is when we typically donate to Heifer, while Samaritans is usually around Thanksgiving. We’ve checked these organizations out and have found they are faith-based. Our primary consideration is always the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not say “Go into the world and feed them”, but “Go into the world and make disciples.” If an organization’s primary purpose is to feed people, they are doing a good thing, but they are not obeying Christ, so we don’t spend our limited resources on them.

Heifer and Samitans also meet our secondary requirement of “teaching people to fish” rather than just giving them rice. Yeah, there are times when rice is needed, but building water irrigation system or teaching people to farm and raise animals helps assure that they won’t need more rice in the future.

To us, the highest priority of love is to spread the gospel and to address physical needs in long-term sustainable ways.

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