While we are concerned with relatively trivial matters like the war in Iraq, the presidential elections, and the price of gasoline, the government of Saudi Arabia is concerned with a terrible foreign custom that threatens to corrupt their youth. This custom has its origin in a foreign religion and is a clear threat to old-fashioned family values and even their long-cherished marriage customs.
I refer, of course, to the deadly peril that is Saint Valentine’s Day.
The danger to their way of life is apparently so serious that flower shop owners have been forbidden from selling all red items, including red roses and wrapping paper. Yes, the Saudis are attempting to abolish a PRIMARY COLOR for a week. (AFAIK, they did not dare to forbid the sale of chocolate. That would result in revolution.)
From their perspective, it makes sense. St. Valentine’s Day is not much of a Christian holiday, but the religious police over there probably fear that if young people celebrate the day of a Christian martyr by sending flowers to their lovers, that pretty soon their youth will be showing their faces to complete strangers, wearing clothing with colors, wanting to choose their own marriage partners, singing love songs in harmony, and otherwise abandoning their religion. The Proverb is true that says, “The wicked flee when none pursue.” Yes, the slope to Christendom is deceptive and slippery.
Beside, the various forms of the story would cause a fun-hating, authority-loving Moslem of the Saudi Arabian type to shake with fear. In one version of the story, St. Valentine performs marriages secretly in violation of the Emperor’s orders. (The Emperor thought married men would not want to be in the army, so he thought he would forbid marriage and keep them single.) The idea that marriage is between two people without government interference is revolutionary in that country. Next thing you know, the couples will want to decide for themselves who to marry (you know, the way it is described in Genesis 2), and it probably won’t be their first cousin. To keep this terrible idea from taking root, the Saudi religious police actually forbid men and women from having any sort of relationships outside of marriage. They make it very difficult for a young couple to fall in love, and so a couple enters marriage as strangers, unless they were related by blood before their marriage.
Another problem with St. Valentine’s Day in Saudi Arabia is practical. If you are a polygamist, the chocolate bill could be phenomenal, and the day would be fraught with peril.
I mean, which wife do you take out for a romantic getaway? I asked this question to my kids. The younger ones said, “Why not take them all out together?” To which the older one said “No… Baaaaaaaaad idea.” It was then suggested that the polygamist husband take the youngest, cutest one out, and leave the rest behind. After some discussion, it was agreed that this would cause nothing but trouble in the harem. Then someone suggested that the senior wife should get taken out. Then it was suggested that the husband take each wife out on a separate date. (Who gets to go first in that scenario?) None of these approaches seems very satisfactory, which is why, at it’s root, Valentine’s Day only works in a monogamous setting.
Yes, it makes perfect sense,from their point of view, for the Saudis to oppose Valentine’s Day, which is why it makes perfect sense to ridicule the Saudi government, while praying that their country would be freed from the oppressive idolatry of Islam.