It is true that the Qur'an does allow only for the man to marry from amongst the 'People of the Book'. Look at the verse of the Qur'an which explain the matter. 'Lawful unto you in marriage are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women amongst the people of the Book.' (H.Q. 5:5).
Why is it that the Qur'an disallowed the Muslim woman from marrying from the 'People of the Book'?
A little reflection will make it clear that, in not permitting the Muslim woman to marry from the 'People of the Book', the fact becomes evident that the Qur'an is, indeed, from Allah who is best aware of the needs and limitations of the woman. The lofty position that is accorded to woman by Islam is not given to her by any other religion. The rights which have been granted to her by Islam are also not few in number. In all the other religions, however, she is regarded only as the private belonging of her husband. As for Islam, it regards her as in possession of fully independent existence, personality, and of rights as well. This is while both the old and New Testament of the Bible consider her as the very cause of sin itself.
Without doubt, a Muslim woman who comes to the home of her husband as the wife of one amongst the people of the Book. She will be confined to the rights that are only allowed her by her husband. When compared with the rights that she has been provided by Islam, those which are granted by him will appear wholly insufficient and restrictive. Besides, he will never treat her with a consideration of the high status that Islam has conferred upon her. (Indeed, he is under no religious compulsion, whatsoever, to act likewise). Therefore, for such a one as her, brought up as she was in an Islamic environment, the treatment and consideration she receives in the home of her husband will all prove overbearing. Most of the privileges which she had earlier enjoyed will now be of no consequence. She will, therefore, find it difficult to get along well in the household.
The condition of a woman from among the people of the book who is brought to the Muslim home is quite different. She will be treated with even greater attention than in her own home. The privileges that she becomes entitled to here will be much higher than the ones with which she was favoured in her own home. She, thus, finds no difficulty in getting along with life in her husband's home.
As far as a Muslim is concerned, Allah and His messenger is more dear to him than his own self, wealth or family. This love is moreover related directly to his religion. To him, therefore, hearing Allah and his messenger being made the object of ridicule is more difficult than losing his own life. The Jews and Christians believe that the Prophet was an imposter. There are even those who describe him as the Anti-Christ. It is natural, therefore, for them to ridicule him and to show him in poor light. If a Muslim woman is taken in marriage by any amongst the 'People of the Book', her life with him in his household will be equivalent to life in Hell itself. There will be many remarks from his side and from the side of the other members of his family which insult the person of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). For, after all, it has become their religious obligation as well. Thus, she will never be able to carry forward her life with him.
However, this is not the case of the woman from among the 'People of the Book' who is brought, in marriage, to the Muslim home. She will never experience such humiliation in the name of her religion. For it is the religious obligation of the Muslim to respect and honour all the earlier messengers. Indeed, whenever the Muslim hears the name of Moses, who is revered by the Jewish woman, or of Jesus, who is revered by the Christian woman, being uttered, he himself makes the prayer, 'May peace be upon him'. They hear only the best talk about those whom they hold in reverence. Thus, her life with a Muslim is never a painful experience.
The marriage with women of the 'People of the Book' is only a permission that has been granted. It is possible to do so in an inevitable situation. Furthermore, those who really follow the Prophet, who had himself said, 'Marry a woman who is God-conscious', will naturally prefer believing women as their mates. They will prefer partners in religion to be their life partners as well.