February 14, 2020

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I awoke today to a notification of a new article from my friend Jamie Glazov (The Glazov Gang) and Front Page Magazine. Glazov wrote for Valentine’s Day about why both Islamists and the radical Left hate the holiday. You can read Jamie’s article about the total unhinged hatred with which Valentine’s Day is approached by Iranian “morality” police, Pakistan’s Islamabad High Court, and others that put the kibosh on kissing. But he also points out that this phenomenon is a characteristic of the totalitarian Left.

“These totalist structures cannot survive in environments filled with love-seeking individuals who prioritize their own individual agency and devotion to other individual human beings over the collective and the state,” says Glazov. He provides examples from three seminal dystopian novels of the twentieth century, Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, George Orwell’s 1984, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. He also provides examples from the Weather Underground, Chairman Mao’s unisex clothing, and the convergence of Islam and the Left in places like Norway where Norwegian rape victims of Muslim migrants are advised to “cover up” and veil themselves by Leftist politicians.

Glazov concludes:

This day reminds us that we have a weapon, the most powerful arsenal on the face of the earth, in front of which despots and terrorists quiver and shake, and sprint from in horror into the shadows of darkness, desperately avoiding its piercing light.
That arsenal is love.
And no Maoist Red Guard or Saudi Islamo-Fascist cop ever stamped it out — no matter how much they beat and tortured their victims. And no ISIS Jihadist or Feminazi will ever succeed in suffocating it, no matter how ferociously they lust to disinfect man of who and what he is.
Love will prevail.

Glazov provides compelling political and teleological explanations for opposition to love. As a Christian, I think there is even a deeper explanation for the rage and hatred. I believe that the best and most selfless human love – whether romantic or brotherly – is a reflection of the Creator’s love for us. Just as sexuality and oneness in marriage symbolize “the union between Christ and His Church,” we can see in Valentine’s Day love a reflection of just how passionately and fiercely loved we are by God.

I am reminded my craggy-faced, gravelly-voiced, prone-to-wander man of God, friend Brennan Manning, declaring playfully and yet confidently and reverently that Jesus is the God that says to us, I am dying to meet you!

While Valentine’s Day is wonderful and sweet, with chocolate and flowers and, in the case of one Valentine’s Day gift my husband once gave me – a TomTom GPS so I wouldn’t get lost driving (s before smart phones!), it doesn’t take the feast day of St. Valentine to see a demonstration of God’s love.

This morning after I read Glazov’s article I tried to think of songs that depict God’s love to us in Jesus to post as my Valentine to all my Facebook and Twitter friends. I thought of two in particular.

The first is Cory Asbury’s “Reckless Love,” (2017, composed by Caleb Culver, Cory Asbury and Ran Jackson):

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ‘til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Asbury had to defend referring to God as “reckless.” Good grief! The lack of appreciation for symbolism and poetic imagery by those detractors smacks of Iranian morality police mentality to me! God’s reckless love “leaves the ninety-nine.” Picture the reckless love of a shepherd as he is so often portrayed – holding onto a tree branch with one hand and scooping up a sheep that has strayed from the way and is now in need of saving. I love the Creator of the Universe’s overwhelming, never-ending reckless love.

Picture as well the reckless love of a father for his prodigal son. Again, my old friend Brennan Manning said it should be called the story of the “Prodigal Father” — a prodigal, recklessly loving father. Jesus scandalized the crowd when He showed them how much the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob loved tax collectors and sinners. He told the story of a father who basically said “the heck with dignity, I see my son coming!” and hiked up his robes and ran to meet and embrace the hog-aroma infused wastrel of a boy “when he was still far off.”

Then there’s the bridge in the song:

There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me

I don’t know if Asbury and company are familiar with Francis Thompson, but the song calls to mind Thompson’s great love poem “The Hound of Heaven” in which God indeed “chases me down, fights ‘til I’m found.” Read this amazing account of God’s love and unwillingness to give up on us, as written by a God-haunted drug addict. (I just found a recording of it powerfully read by the great actor Richard Burton. Please, God, it touched Burton’s own soul.)

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.

Another song I thought of that describes God’s love is not as familiar as “Reckless Love” (ranked by Billboard as “the biggest Christian song in 2018!) unless you happen to be in The Salvation Army. “How Much More” was written by Salvation Army composers and Generals John Gowans and John Larsson. This song was in the musical Hosea (1969), the story of the prophet who was instructed by God to marry and love unconditionally a prostitute, and take her back as his wife and forgive her and love her in a covenant relationship even after she returned to prostitution. It reflected the beautiful love that God had for His people Israel, His bride, who had gone off to other gods, but whom He loved and wanted to return to Him.

Hosea says, “O Israel, return to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of inquity: . . . Say to Him, “Take away all inquity; Receive us graciously. . . for in You the fatherless finds mercy.” And God says, “I will heal their backsliding; I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him.”

The song “How Much More” compares the best of human love to God’s love:

If human hearts are often tender,
And human minds can pity know,
If human love is touched with splendor,
And human hands compassion show:

Then how much more shall God our Father
In love forgive, in love forgive!
Then how much more shall God our Father
Our wants supply, and none deny!

If men will often share their gladness,
If men respond when children cry,
If men can feel each other’s sadness,
Each other’s tears attempt to dry:

If sometimes men can live for others,
And sometimes give where gifts are spurned,
If sometimes treat their foes as brothers,
And love where love is not returned:

How much more! Tonight (by the time I get this posted on Juicy Ecumenism) after the chocolates are eaten, and the flowers are already clamoring for more water, how good it is to know that dinners and chocolate and diamonds are just material tokens of the richer splendor of our beloved’s love. And yet, how much more is the love of God our Father!


2 Responses to Happy Valentine’s Day!

  1. Vicki says:

    There can come a time when one wishes desperately for a physical token of a spouse’s love. Even just a spoken “I love you.” My spouse suffers from dementia, and the love we once shared has been a one-way street for years now. I try to remember the loving man I married – and I know it is the disease that makes it this way – but it still hurts. The pain and grief of going through this is ongoing; special occasions are particularly tough. And, sorry to say, I don’t feel that God has stepped away from the ninety-nine to come and rescue us as we are dangling over the cliff. Lovely songs (and I am a songwriter) – but sometimes it all seems like “just words.”

  2. Marilyn E White says:

    You nailed it! Beautiful.

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