I have just been reading a book by Rodney Stark called the Triumph of Christianity. The book explains the growth of the church throughout history.
Something which surprised me is Stark says the early church was far more tolerant of mixed marriages than is the modern church. On the basis of statistical analysis of graves, he says that in the early church, there were far more women than men. The result was many women had to remain single, which made life impossible in the ancient world, or marry men who were not Christians.
Stark says the church leaders encouraged mixed marriage, because the husband would provide for their wife. They believed the husband would come to faith, and even if they did not, they and their children would be saved anyway. He says large numbers of men came to faith when they were influenced by a Christian wife.
The early church had faith the believer would influence the unbeliever, whereas the modern church assumes the unbeliever will influence the believer. We seem to have this the wrong way around.
Encouraging mixed marriages seems to be consistent with the scriptures, which urged young women to get married, except in times of tribulation. Paul said an unbelieving spouse might come to faith through the witness to the love of Jesus of their spouse (1 Cor 7:16). The passage promises that an unbelieving spouse will be saved through the faith of their believing spouse.
For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy (1 Cor 7:14).
This is another good promise.
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