In honor of Valentinus–the Patron Saint of Valentine’s Day–it seems only proper to examine motivations of the heart today. While there are many slightly different takes on what the true story behind the man sainted on February 14 may be, one thing remains, he was sainted. And to be sainted is to die for one’s faith–martyrdom–amongst other things.
Why would anyone die for something unless they believed it and loved it with all their heart?
Each of the varying accounts holds that Valentinus [his true Latin name] was executed for trying to convert Emperor Claudius [Gothicus] in the mid-to-late 200’s. He may or may not have secretly married Christian couples who were being persecuted by the Roman government [and therefore unable to marry publicly]. So the fact that his Saint Day connotes romantic love today is believed to have little to do with his actual life.
However, true love–whether for faith or friend or family or marriage–is truly love because of the motivation of the heart. And motivation is key to developing character. How love is expressed may outwardly depend on the culture. But inwardly, what motivates love is one of those universal needs that transcends culture.
In each culture we write from, people long to be loved–at least at some point in their lives they do or did. Perhaps they’re now jaded. Perhaps they’ve lost their one true love and are satisfied to wait out eternity to be with them again. Perhaps they enjoy familial love, or have never really known it but want to. Perhaps they mistake physical passions for the choice of lifelong love.
Whichever circumstance our characters find themselves in, we must probe the motivations of their love lives. Who do they love? In what way? Why? Or why not? The love motivation question list should go deep, and outwardly, our culture investigation should go deeper still, getting to the heart of character.