Scriptural love for Valentine's Day

Jennifer Lee Preyss By Jennifer Lee Preyss

Feb. 9, 2018 at 4:30 p.m.
Updated Feb. 10, 2018 at 6 a.m.

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Chocolate hearts and merchandise adorned with "I love you" is prominently displayed on the shelves of stores everywhere, just in time for Valentine's Day.

It's the most romantic day of the year and one that started as a Catholic saintly feast day hundreds of years ago.

The Saints of Valentine, of which there were about a dozen, were martyred for events related to love.

Later, in the Middle Ages, poet Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare helped catapult the holiday to prominence, relating Valentine's Day to the mating season of birds.

The rest is chocolate-dipped history.

Today, St. Valentine is the patron saint of love, happy marriage and engaged couples.

Every religion around the world may not observe Valentine's Day, but many ancient religious texts speak and teach on love.

Here's what the world's top three religions say about love and marriage - just in time for Valentine's Day.

Christianity - The Bible

The word "love" is mentioned 319 times in the Old Testament of the Bible and 232 times in the New Testament (NIV).

The word translates from ancient languages, so it appears in specific contexts. Agapao love, from the Greek meaning "to be well pleased," is the greatest and most complex love mentioned in the Bible.

It's a special, divine love from God toward human beings and believers in particular. It is an enduring, unconditional love.

According to Ephesians 5:25-32, marriage should be modeled on this kind of love. As Christ loves the church, husbands are commanded to love their wives.

Perhaps the most well-known verses about love are 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking ." and 1 Corinthians 13:13, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

Judaism - The Torah/Tanach

The Tanach is the whole of Jewish scriptures, and the Torah is the five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Other books in the Tanach, such as the Song of Songs (Shir HaShirim), are considered "kodesh" or holy.

Song of Songs, a passionate love story written by King Solomon about a married, in-love couple, celebrates the union of a man and woman and tells the story of a woman preparing to marry her love. They both adore and desire the other.

Song of Solomon 7:10 says, "I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me."

Solomon's writings are thought to be layered with an overarching theme of God's love for his chosen people, the Jews.

When a Jewish marriage occurs, the Ketubah, or marriage contract, is signed, and it is often customary to include Proverbs 18:22, which says, "He who finds a wife has found good and earns the favor of God."

Islam - The Quran and Hadith

In the Quran, the word "hubb," which means "love," appears 69 times in a variety of contexts.

In the Hadith - the complementary text to the Quran and considered by Muslims as the word of Islam's prophet, Muhammad - there are mentions of what good marriage and best living practices should look like. Muhammad had at least a dozen wives, including a Jewish woman and a Coptic Christian who later accepted Islam.

One verse in the Hadith states, "The best of marriages are the easiest ones" (Abu Dawud, Sahih).

SOURCE: Sunnahonline.com; Biblegateway.com, chabad.org, torah.org, Britannica.com, Islam101.net


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