Instruction on Marriage
1Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to abstain from sexual relations.#7:1 Or to live a celibate life; Greek reads It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.
3The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. 4The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.
5Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7But I wish everyone were single, just as I am. Yet each person has a special gift from God, of one kind or another.
8So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am. 9But if they can’t control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust.
10But for those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord.#7:10 See Matt 5:32; 19:9; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18. A wife must not leave her husband. 11But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.
12Now, I will speak to the rest of you, though I do not have a direct command from the Lord. If a fellow believer#7:12 Greek a brother. has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her. 13And if a believing woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him. 14For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband#7:14 Greek the brother. brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy. 15(But if the husband or wife who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the believing husband or wife#7:15a Greek the brother or sister. is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you#7:15b Some manuscripts read us. to live in peace.) 16Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you?
17Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches. 18For instance, a man who was circumcised before he became a believer should not try to reverse it. And the man who was uncircumcised when he became a believer should not be circumcised now. 19For it makes no difference whether or not a man has been circumcised. The important thing is to keep God’s commandments.
20Yes, each of you should remain as you were when God called you. 21Are you a slave? Don’t let that worry you—but if you get a chance to be free, take it. 22And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ. 23God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world.#7:23 Greek don’t become slaves of people. 24Each of you, dear brothers and sisters,#7:24 Greek brothers; also in 7:29. should remain as you were when God first called you.
25Now regarding your question about the young women who are not yet married. I do not have a command from the Lord for them. But the Lord in his mercy has given me wisdom that can be trusted, and I will share it with you. 26Because of the present crisis,#7:26 Or the pressures of life. I think it is best to remain as you are. 27If you have a wife, do not seek to end the marriage. If you do not have a wife, do not seek to get married. 28But if you do get married, it is not a sin. And if a young woman gets married, it is not a sin. However, those who get married at this time will have troubles, and I am trying to spare you those problems.
29But let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short. So from now on, those with wives should not focus only on their marriage. 30Those who weep or who rejoice or who buy things should not be absorbed by their weeping or their joy or their possessions. 31Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.
32I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. 33But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. 34His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband. 35I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.
36But if a man thinks that he’s treating his fiancée improperly and will inevitably give in to his passion, let him marry her as he wishes. It is not a sin. 37But if he has decided firmly not to marry and there is no urgency and he can control his passion, he does well not to marry. 38So the person who marries his fiancée does well, and the person who doesn’t marry does even better.
39A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but only if he loves the Lord.#7:39 Greek but only in the Lord. 40But in my opinion it would be better for her to stay single, and I think I am giving you counsel from God’s Spirit when I say this.