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Happy Valentines’ Day! I’m so happy you’re joining me today.
For the rest of February we’ll be discussing emotions, and love, and sexuality from a biblical perspective, because we want to help you train your children in the way he and she should go.
This includes how and why we celebrate Valentines’ Day itself. No doubt, some of you may not participate in this greeting card and candy holiday, and that is fine. But, for the rest of us, you’d better have a good reason for participating. Remember, we can’t accidentally glorify God. Even our celebrating needs to be purposeful.
But more on that in a minute.
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And, don’t forget, you can find a PDF copy of our Episode Notes at EvermindMinistries.com. Just look in the description.
Okay, so I was twenty-seven when I took ownership of my first class of impressionable sixth graders. Those twenty-three minds were a veritable blank canvas ready for my pedagogical feather to tickle their intellects and break up the ground of their mixed metaphors.
Everything progressed perfectly until Fate took a sick day during second semester.
One of my fellow elementary professors broke the news to me like this, she said:
“All of your students have to give a valentine to everyone else in their class.”
Even now, all these years later, I think my response was genius. I said,
“I’m sorry. I’m not a communist.”
I know that all sounded silly, but that’s actually what I said. It probably wasn’t as kind as it could have been, and even thought I played it off as a joke, I probably should have thought a little more before I spoke.
But, you see, it was my mom’s fault. She taught me never to subscribed to the idea that if I share my gum with one person, I have to share it with everyone else. It’s my gum. I can share it with whomever I wish. I can give it to my best friend and not share it with my best bully.
On the other hand, I could share it with my best bully in an attempt to heap proverbial coals on his head.
But, you see, how my mom communicated those equally valid, yet seemingly contradictory Truths to me as a child was viciously imperative. I believe my mom did it the right way, and I believe we all need to grapple with this.
We mustn’t be lazy in our communication. As we train our children we need to be as well-rounded and relevant as Scripture. And there are three deep, biblical truths that play into Valentines’ giving that our children need to hear.
- Biblically speaking, none of our children “deserve” a valentine, and neither do we parents. As sinners against an almighty God, we all deserve hell. Our children need to understand that. It goes a long way in helping them with discontentment and complaining. Laying this foundation will help us guide our children through the trauma of not receiving a Valentine from someone.
- According to the KJV’s rendering of Proverbs 18:24, children who don’t show themselves friendly are not going to have friends, and by extension, no one will want to give them valentines. This is biblical reality fleshed out in more than just Proverbs. Too many young people in our culture feel entitled. They think they deserve to be invited to birthday parties because they’re in the same class as the birthday girl. They deserve free education because they’re American. They deserve free healthcare because they’re sick. They deserve a Valentine because it’s Valentines’ Day, and that’s just what you do! And it doesn’t matter that they’re unkind to everyone they know, they feel the right to complain and get mad when no one gives them a paper heart.
- Our children must acknowledge that God commands us to love one another . . . even those who mistreat us. We’re to live every moment of our lives preferring others above ourselves in kindness, trying to out-do them in honor (Romans 12:10). Again, this too is a biblical reality that applies to Valentines’ Day.
And, no doubt we’ve shared these truths with our children at different times, but how do we teach our children the tension without inappropriately preaching one and capriciously ignoring the other?
This is similar to what we discussed in episode 21 “One Type of Advice to Avoid at All Costs.” It’s easy for us to swing to one extreme when we’re the one left holding an empty Valentine Shoe Box, and slide to the other side when we’re considering whether or not to give a card to that bully.
Our children need to be guided to the simultaneous understanding that they don’t deserve a valentine from anyone, but that God expects then to love everyone. I should love all the more, even though I may be loved less in return (II Corinthians 12:15).
When we communicate these dilemmas to our kids, they need to grapple with the tension. “Protecting” them by sanctimoniously declaring that everyone will receive a Valentine leads to immature kids formulating conclusions for themselves. And unfortunately, their conclusions are usually false.
- The bully gets mad when she doesn’t get a Valentine from everybody because daddy said people are “supposed” to give her a Valentine.
- But the cherub kid’s annoyed that he has to give a Valentine to someone who pushes him around at recess. Mom always told him that if he’s unkind, people won’t want to play with him. Why does he have to give Bully Girl a Valentine?!
The reality is that some parents needs to speak well-rounded Truth into both of their lives. The bully needs to understand that she is doubley-undeserving of a Valentine because she finds joy in sinning against God and hurting people. Proverbs lists out the bully’s fate in very picturesque detail. And though God has commanded kindness from the kids in her class, that doesn’t give her the right to reap love when she sows hate. She needs to be brought to a point of repentance for her sin and a desire to not only be kind on Red and Pink Day, but also to be kind the other days of the year.
On the other hand, sweet little Cherub Boy needs to have his Truth-antenna straightened as well. If he’s harboring bitterness or anger in his heart against Bully Girl, he needs to repent and show love to her instead. He should give Bully Girl a valentine because he realizes how much undeserved love and forgiveness he’s received from God, and not exact his vengeance on her by withholding a piece of candy.
Listen, I’m all about sixth graders giving valentines to each other. I find value in everyone receiving a Wal-Martian super-hero sentiment. But I also find value in that antagonizingly awkward kid or the abusively angry child not getting a valentine they haven’t earned.
Still, I find the most joy in parents who speak God’s Truth into the lives of children. I thrill when parents encourage kids to give valentines, not because “that’s what we do,” but because God commands that we love others as we would want to be loved, and that if we don’t receive even one Valentine in return, we can be joyful because we were able to be a blessing, and God is the source of our happiness.
And my eyes burn with delight when I see a parent making time to counsel an angry child about the reality of the carnage in his relationships with God and others.
So, by all means, encourage your kids to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but teach them to do it like a Christian, not a communist.
Please don’t forget about our Episode Notes linked in the description.
This episode was more geared for our younger kids, but our next episode is called : Teens and Dating: what God has to say about their crush. I hope you’ll join us regardless of the age of your kids, because these truths will apply to everything from puppy-love to crushes, from selfish lust to true love – regardless of the age.
And please make it a priority to Rate and Review, Subscribe and Share.
Our Heavenly Father offers everything we need to parent for life and godliness, and we look forward to discussing more of it with you next time.