Question: What does Valentine’s Day have to do with Christian Supremacy?
…So is it dangerous to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day? Well, it can be…
Underneath the capitalist conspiracy to get us to pour out $19 billion (yes, I said billion with a b) this year on the mountains of red heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, jewelry, cards, and flowers that will be flying back and forth between lovers and friends, family members and co-workers, there is a long legacy of militarism, white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, elitism, ableism and Empire colluding with Christianity to co-opt our understanding of love and use it to subjugate our bodies and control our spirits.
As is the case with almost all of our Christian holidays, St. Valentine’s Day did not start with us. It started with an ancient people whose tradition was subsumed, sanitized, repackaged and rebranded as bonafide Christian while power and Christianity became more and more enmeshed. So if we omit the knowledge of the ancient Pagan fertility festival, Lupercalia, and start the story of St. Valentine’s Day in the 5th century with Pope Gelasius I, we ignore the underlying history of Christianity colluding with Empire and play right into the hands of Christian Supremacy…
One of the most dangerous narratives perpetuated at Valentine’s Day is the celebration and glorification of Romantic [heterosexual monogamous] Love. Modeled on a warped interpretation of Adam and Eve, recent Christian fundamentalist narratives of Romantic Love trot it out as sacred as if it had always been God’s plan for the foundation of Christian marriage and family. (Notions of monogamy and Romantic Love in marriage are only a couple hundred years old, for the record.)
While it can be fun (and powerful and familiar and normal) to play the beautiful princess in the ball gown or the stately knight on his majestic steed, if we invest our whole hearts in these fairytales we are not only deceiving ourselves onto a path of ensured feelings of inadequacy and heartbreak, we are perpetuating systems of oppression that are literally killing our people.
The assimilating fantasy of heteropatriarchy tells us that we must wait faithfully for our one true love to come, then we must give all of ourselves to each other, and with God’s promise and blessing conferred by the State and the Church, we will live “happily ever after” as man and wife. It teaches us that love [not struggle] conquers all, and it indoctrinates us with the death-dealing idea that Romantic [heterosexual monogamous] Love is the keystone of our happiness and fulfillment… and then, of course, without it, we must be less than whole, less than happy, less than enough.
For those us who are not white, not straight, not beautiful, not monogamous, not able-bodied, not young, not cis-gendered, not rich, or not willing to conform to the rigid boxes of identity that are assigned to us—which is pretty much everyone—we have to learn new legacies of love to follow because the ones we have been given through Christian supremacy and Empire are not contributing to our wholeness or our liberation.
The good news? The good news is that we have been finding our way to love and each other for a long, long time; we have a lot of role models and bright stars to follow on our way to freedom. We are each made in the image of the Divine, and we have a lot of knowing between us… and we have a lot of work to do, a lot of loving to do, so let’s get to it. Happy Valentine’s Day, Beloved!
11 Ways You Can Resist Christian Supremacy this Valentine’s Day:
1. Switch it up: if you often play the princess, why not try on the sword for a little while…
2. Don’t use expressions or images that perpetuate heteropatriarchal ideals of fixed gender roles, possession, submission, etc. (like “Be Mine” or “My Better Half”).
3. Instead of just saying “I love you” (as if love is this one universally understood feeling), be more specific about how you feel and what you “love” about the person you’re talking to.
4. Look into the pre-Christian origins of our holidays and incorporate them into how you move through the world as a knowledgeable human.
5. Resist the temptation to believe that you are not enough without a romantic partner. You are enough. Work on loving yourself first, it’s a commandment. (Matthew 22:36-39)
6. Make up your own version of a fairy tale that celebrates your liberation.
7. Better yet: learn the true story of an inspiring love and resilient life that stirs your heart and tell it to someone you love this Valentine’s Day.
8. Learn about the ways Romantic Love is used by Christian Supremacy to perpetuate systems of death. Resist it. Tell everyone.
9. Celebrate all kinds of love in your life this Valentine’s Day. Be creative about telling those you love how you feel about them.
10. Check out alternative Scriptures and Christian narratives about love that work against the violence of Christian Supremacy in collusion with systems of oppression.
11. Rather than prioritizing Romantic Love, center solidarity, which is love manifest in struggle with others. Give your time, gifts, and/or treasure to a person or organization that embodies the kind of love through justice that you want to see more in the world.