Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

In the winter of 1929 a small group of gangsters, under the authority of the infamous Al Capone executed members of a rival gang. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre will go down in history as a day when evil triumphed in Chicago.

On the 80th anniversary of the massacre, St. Valentine’s Day and the structure of marriage in our nation lays ambushed by evil. Let me explain.

Valentine’s day has historically been a fun time for my wife and myself. We have often celebrated the occasion with a special dinner and sometimes a short respite in a resort-like setting. In contrast, this year I spent the entire day before the holiday in and around a hospital emergency room waiting for my wife of 32 years to be examined and treated for bronchitis. What a way to welcome in the year’s most romantic holiday!

While the rest of the world continued with their seasonal celebrations, I was thankful for the sense of security, contentment, and commitment my wife and I have experienced over the years. I was shocked by how infrequently deep romantic love was depicted on television and in print this year. It seemed to me that stories like Romeo and Juliet were supplanted by appeals for Robert and “Hoochie Mama.”

Overt sexuality was pushed in the name of modernity - not the kind of romance that leads to fidelity, trust, and marriage. Yes, diamonds and jewelry of all types were peddled and a few classic movies were rebroadcast. To my shock, the US Greeting Card Association reports that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year, worldwide. This makes the day the second largest “card-sending” holiday of the year – topped only by Christmas.

Let me restate some thing obvious to folks over 40. The skill to maintain long term, romantic relationships is failing in this generation. In fact, the media seems to be sold on painting true romance as fleeting and unpredictable - like the relationships depicted on the afternoon soap operas or paper backed novels.

In January 2007, the New York Times took the campaign a step further by carrying a front-page story with the headline “51% of Women Are Now Living Without a Spouse.” The article proclaimed that this was a first for America. The report was misleading because it did not account for women whose husbands were serving in the military or who were married but living apart for some reason.


Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.