St. Valentine, a 3rd century Catholic priest, was beheaded for secretly marrying young lovers, against the orders of Claudius the II, who was worried that his fighting force would not be disciplined enough to fight off marauders if they were distracted with this thing called love. The date of the beheading was February 14. While in prison prior to his execution, he befriended a young girl at the behest of her parents, who he ended up tutoring, and just before his death (so the story goes), he sent her a letter and signed it, "Your Valentine."
In memory of his martyrdom, we buy chocolates, trade candy hearts, give teddy bears, and send sappy Hallmark cards to each other. A fitting tribute. But this, of course, is modernity's way of making light of solemn things. We've done it to Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween... why not Valentines?
But why this impulse to make light of solemn things? Because we feel the weight of existence on our shoulders. And because modernity doesn't have a saving story (its answer to our existence is found in science), we do what we can to lighten the load. Christmas was to be a mass for Christ; Easter, a celebration of the resurrection of a crucified innocent; Halloween, the remembrance of people who have died. But what do we have instead? Christmas tinsel, oversized elves, bunnies carrying baskets of colored eggs, and mounds of candy distributed to costumed children carrying pillow cases and yelling "Trick or Treat!"
It's no wonder, then, that when it comes to Holy Scripture (or any other ethic/philosophy/religion we claim), we pick and choose the messages we like and leave the rest behind. It's what we moderns do in the face of solemnity, in the face of the gravity of what it means to be alive. It's what we do to lighten the load.
So, in that spirit of lightness and levity, dear Reader: