Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church (The Complete Eight Volumes in One). Amazon Kindle Edition, 2014.
Volume 2, Ante-Nicene Christianity A.D. 100-325, “Chapter 8. Christian life in Contrast with Pagan Corruption.” Sections 88-103, Loc. 16158-17158.
§ 99. The Christian Family.
Schaff asserts that the Christian faith considered family very differently from the world at large during late antiquity (Schaff 2014, Loc. 16825). Likewise the private virtues of Christianity can lead to public virtue. Schaff considers the Christian view of marriage to be so radically different than that of the broader society that celibacy may have been attractive to many. It could well have seemed easier than such a new marriage culture (Schaff 2014, Loc. 16830). Ideas such as chastity and fidelity were significant departures from Roman ideals. Schaff gives numerous examples of the honor accorded to women (Schaff 2014, Loc. 16845). At the same time, though, Schaff sees the elevation of celibacy to be excessive (Schaff 2014, Loc. 16850). This led to a devaluation of marriage. In the few writings we do have about marriage, the relationship of respect and a lifestyle of mutual prayer are seen as very important. The Christian unity in the marriage is of paramount importance (Schaff 2014, Loc. 16865). A religious solemnization of the marriage was common at an early time (Schaff 2014, Loc. 16875). Marriage between a Christian and an unbeliever was “unanimously condemned by the voice of the church in argreement with the Mosaic legislation, unless formed before conversion” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 16884). Remarriage, including of widows, was generally prohibited (Schaff 2014, Loc. 16894). Again, Schaff finds the elevation of celibacy to erode the dignity of marriage.
Schaff notes that among Christians children were considered to have great dignity and value. It was not appropriate for a parent to act as a tyrant, to abuse, or to expose children (Schaff 2014, Loc. 16923). These principles also moved many Christians to care for poor and orphaned children.