Children As Saints

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“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #68

“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy” (1 Cor. 7:14).

The Corinthians had wanted to know whether unbelief on the part of a spouse was in itself grounds for divorce. Paul has replied no, provided that the unbelieving partner is pleased to be together with the Christian in a marriage as biblically defined. If the only thing that is wrong is the spouse’s failure to believe in Christ, then the couple should still remain together.

But isn’t it somehow a spiritual contaminant to have sex with a pagan? No, Paul argues. A Christian ought not to marry a non-Christian (2 Cor. 6:14), but once married to one, a Christian needs to be faithful to his vows regardless. That means being faithful to all the vows, including the sexual commitment. But sex is an activity that often results in children. What about the children? Won’t the offspring of a mixed marriage be outside the covenant? No, Paul replies again. In this regard, the new covenant is not like the old. In the old covenant, the unclean contaminated the clean (Haggai 2:13-14). Jesus reversed this order—He would make the unclean clean by coming in contact with it (Mark 5:25).

And this means that in a mixed marriage, when the wife conceives a child, that child is not unclean, but rather holy. The word for holy here is hagia—and this is striking because when word is applied to persons, it is almost always translated or rendered as saints. A child of at least one believing parent is a saint, and is to be treated as such.

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