As a Quaker, I do object to "holy days", days on which people assume they are called to be more holy than on other days. Just as Jesus taught us that dedication to speaking the truth at all times renders the use of oaths unnecessary, even dangerous, so a dedication to daily holiness makes holy days likewise superfluous. The Apostle Paul declares his despair over the Christians of Galatia who, he lamented, were observing "days and months and seasons and years" (Galatians 4:10) as a way of gaining Divine favor. Nevertheless, I do acknowledge that a day or days may be profitably set apart to remind people of important things, such as the founding of the American Republic (July 4th) on the basis that "all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Another such day, though not an official national holiday, is February 14th, known as St. Valentine's Day. There are several Valentines who were acknowledged as martyrs by the early Church. The first one was a certain "presbyter" or elder of the Church in Rome who, it is reported, was caught helping Christian couples to marry during a persecution under the Roman emperor Claudius II in 269 AD. For this crime, as well as helping Christians in other ways, he was condemned and executed. Thus, it is very appropriate to see Saint Valentine's Day not only as a time to celebrate romantic love but its highest expression in the Biblical and Christian understanding of marriage.

Large and influential segments of our nation have largely departed from a Christian worldview in several ways. Thankfully, helping the poor and marginalized is still popular, even with people who have otherwise succumbed to the siren song of Hedonism. So far, most of them seem naively ignorant that their philosophy is diametrically opposed to their devotion to helping the "less fit". But as regards sexuality, love, family and marriage their views and practices are much more consistent with the dictates of a materialistic worldview. Our culture is engulfed in darkness with regard to God's law regarding sexuality and marriage. Christians have a wonderful opportunity to serve as beacons of light in this darkness.

Jesus Christ defined marriage as a life-long union between one man and one woman, based on the original institution of marriage by God from the beginning of creation (Matthew 19:3-6Mark 10:2-9; referring back to Genesis 1:27 and 2:24). The truth is that man is made for woman and woman for man. Their differences are intended by God to form a complementary unit from which the children born of their union would learn to love and live fruitfully with people both like themselves and unlike. It is quite true that any two people, whether of the same gender or not, will tend to be different from each other. The differences between men and women, however, are of a higher order and much more profound. They are meant to be fully explored, enjoyed and adjusted to in the context of marriage.

Every human being is a world. In marriage, we are sent forth to explore a world that is different than our own, not only as an individual but as a man or a woman. That world, because of the Fall of our race long ago, will be fractured and imperfect, but even the ruins retain an abundance of the original glory of what was once Man and what was once Woman. As a man or a woman we, of course, know ourselves but it is in marriage that we are allowed to fully explore the world of the Other created by God for us. In fact, it is in exploring the world of our mate that we come to really know ourselves. It is in the contrasts as much as in the identities that we should delight. Professor Henry Higgins may ask, "Why can't a woman be more like a man?" but the wise man will shout, "Vive la difference!"

The world of your mate will take a lifetime to explore and still you will not come to the end of it. Around every corner there will be surprises. Your job is not to summarize and generalize what your spouse is or is not for they are a world under construction with elements of the old being taken up into the new. You play a vital role in what will finally emerge. What a privilege it is to be married, to be summoned to an explorer's paradise, an adventurer's dream! To decide that you know everything about your spouse and are disappointed in them means that your eyes have failed you, your heart has lost its courage and your spirit has lost its way. You are no longer discovering your spouse but a phantom world of your own making. Let God open your eyes to see the real person God gave you in marriage and you will be amazed.

I thank God for the wife God gave to me. I can testify that she is more mysterious and wonderful a world to explore today than I had ever imagined the day we were wed! I feel like I've only begun to know and enjoy the blessings God made when He created her and gave her to me in marriage.

Let us take the opportunity of this Valentine's Day to renew our vision of our mates, as vast and wonderful worlds under construction to be discovered afresh and explored with joy and hope for the rest of our lives.