The former pastor of the now disbanded Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Wash., said he believed the real St. Valentine would be "mortified" by what Feb. 14 has become. "Sadly, the holiday in his name completely ignores our Christian brother Valentine."
Driscoll explained said Valentine was allegedly Christian, and was canonized as saint by the Catholic Church. His name derived from "valens" a Latin word that means strong and powerful, reports The Christian Post.
"Around AD 498, Pope Gelasius chose February as the day for commemorating Valentine's life because that was the day he reportedly died as a Christian martyr around AD 270. That day proved to be serendipitous, as the medieval legend emerged that birds select their mates on February 14, thereby associating the day with romance and love," Driscoll said.
But Feb. 14 became closely associated with what Driscoll called the "Hefner-esque" day of Luperealia, a Roman fertility feast that occurred on Feb. 15, "a drunken naked crazy-fest not unlike modern-day Mardi Gras celebrations." This pagan festival was "dedicated to the god of partying, Faunus, and was marked by the usual frat-boy nonsense of naked guys running through the streets while crowds danced and drank heavily, and young singles enjoyed 'hooking up,'" Driscoll said.
"Once Saint Valentine became connected with the debauchery of Luperealia, his Christian influence on the holiday quickly waned; the two holidays essentially merged and the spirit of Luperealia remained but was renamed Valentine's Day," Driscoll maintains.
The minister noted that leftover pagan remnants of Luperealia still appear today in Valentine's Day imagery, such as the "winged pseudo-angel Cupid, who is the mythical son of the Roman goddess of love, Venus."
An estimated one billion Valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year, following Christmas, stated Driscoll.
Other legends note severe opposition Valentine faced when he was arrested for trying to convert people to faith in Christ, and was imprisoned for marrying Christian couples and helping Christians being persecuted by Emperor Claudius. When Valentine tried to convert Claudius, the emperor was furious and had him put to death, having demanded he give up his faith, according to Catholic Online.
"As a pastor, [Valentine] likely would have been mortified at much of what is done in the name of love to commemorate the day his head was chopped off because of this love for Jesus," Driscoll concluded.
Driscoll also included the notion that there may have been as many as three Christians named Valentine who were all martyred, thereby making it seemingly impossible to know which stories are true and to which men they apply.
Before Mars Hill Church, Driscoll founded Resurgence, a ministry that offered resources for Christian leaders. He is also the co-founder of the Acts 29 Network, which has planted hundreds of churches in the US and worldwide. In 2010, following a cataclysmic earthquake in Haiti, Pastor Mark helped found Churches Helping Churches. He also authored books, including A Call to Resurgence, Who Do You Think You Are, and Real Marriage. Additionally, he has written articles for CNN, Fox News and The Washington Post.