1Now to deal with the questions you wrote about: “Is it good for a man to keep away from women?” 2Well, because of the danger of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3The husband should give his wife what she is entitled to in the marriage relationship, and the wife should do the same for her husband. 4The wife is not in charge of her own body, but her husband is; likewise, the husband is not in charge of his own body, but his wife is. 5Do not deprive each other, except for a limited time, by mutual agreement, and then only so as to have extra time for prayer; but afterwards, come together again. Otherwise, because of your lack of self-control, you may succumb to the Adversary’s temptation. 6I am giving you this as a suggestion, not as a command. 7Actually, I wish everyone were like me; but each has his own gift from God, one this, another that.
8Now to the single people and the widows I say that it is fine if they remain unmarried like me; 9but if they can’t exercise self-control, they should get married; because it is better to get married than to keep burning with sexual desire.
10To those who are married I have a command, and it is not from me but from the Lord: a woman is not to separate herself from her husband 11But if she does separate herself, she is to remain single or be reconciled with her husband. Also, a husband is not to leave his wife.
12To the rest I say — I, not the Lord: if any brother has a wife who is not a believer, and she is satisfied to go on living with him, he should not leave her. 13Also, if any woman has an unbelieving husband who is satisfied to go on living with her, she is not to leave him. 14For the unbelieving husband has been set aside for God by the wife, and the unbelieving wife has been set aside for God by the brother — otherwise your children would be “unclean,” but as it is, they are set aside for God. 15But if the unbelieving spouse separates himself, let him be separated. In circumstances like these, the brother or sister is not enslaved — God has called you to a life of peace. 16For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
17Only let each person live the life the Lord has assigned him and live it in the condition he was in when God called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the congregations. 18Was someone already circumcised when he was called? Then he should not try to remove the marks of his circumcision. Was someone uncircumcised when he was called? He shouldn’t undergo b’rit-milah. 19Being circumcised means nothing, and being uncircumcised means nothing; what does mean something is keeping God’s commandments. 20Each person should remain in the condition he was in when he was called.
21Were you a slave when you were called? Well, don’t let it bother you; although if you can gain your freedom, take advantage of the opportunity. 22For a person who was a slave when he was called is the Lord’s freedman; likewise, someone who was a free man when he was called is a slave of the Messiah. 23You were bought at a price, so do not become slaves of other human beings. 24Brothers, let each one remain with God in the condition in which he was called.
25Now the question about the unmarried: I do not have a command from the Lord, but I offer an opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is worthy to be trusted. 26I suppose that in a time of stress like the present it is good for a person to stay as he is. 27That means that if a man has a wife, he should not seek to be free of her; and if he is unmarried, he should not look for a wife. 28But if you marry you do not sin, and if a girl marries she does not sin. It is just that those who get married will have the normal problems of married life, and I would rather spare you. 29What I am saying, brothers, is that there is not much time left: from now on a man with a wife should live as if he had none — 30and those who are sad should live as if they weren’t, those who are happy as if they weren’t, 31and those who deal in worldly affairs as if not engrossed in them — because the present scheme of things in this world won’t last much longer. 32What I want is for you to be free of concern. An unmarried man concerns himself with the Lord’s affairs, 33with how to please the Lord; but the married man concerns himself with the world’s affairs, with how to please his wife; 34and he finds himself split. Likewise the woman who is no longer married or the girl who has never been married concerns herself with the Lord’s affairs, with how to be holy both physically and spiritually; but the married woman concerns herself with the world’s affairs, with how to please her husband. 35I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to put restrictions on you — I am simply concerned that you live in a proper manner and serve the Lord with undivided devotion.
36Now if a man thinks he is behaving dishonorably by treating his fiancée this way, and if there is strong sexual desire, so that marriage is what ought to happen; then let him do what he wants — he is not sinning: let them get married. 37But if a man has firmly made up his mind, being under no compulsion but having complete control over his will, if he has decided within himself to keep his fiancée a virgin, he will be doing well. 38So the man who marries his fiancée will do well, and the man who doesn’t marry will do better.
39A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives, but if the husband dies she is free to marry anyone she wishes, provided he is a believer in the Lord. 40However, in my opinion, she will be happier if she remains unmarried, and in saying this I think I have God’s Spirit.