Questions about marriage
1Now I will answer the questions that you asked in your letter. You asked, “Is it best for people not to marry?”#7.1 people not to marry: Or “married couples not to have sex”. 2Well, having your own husband or wife should keep you from doing something immoral. 3Husbands and wives should be fair with each other about having sex. 4A wife belongs to her husband instead of to herself, and a husband belongs to his wife instead of to himself. 5So don't refuse sex to each other, unless you agree not to have sex for a little while, in order to spend time in prayer. Then Satan won't be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6In my opinion that is what should be done, though I don't know of anything the Lord said about this matter. 7I wish that all of you were like me, but God has given different gifts to each of us.
8Here is my advice for people who have never been married and for widows. You should stay single, just as I am. 9But if you don't have enough self-control, then go ahead and get married. After all, it is better to marry than to burn with desire.#7.9 with desire: Or “in the flames of hell”.
10 # Matt 5.32; 19.9; Mark 10.11,12; Luke 16.18. I instruct married couples to stay together, and this is exactly what the Lord himself taught. A wife who leaves her husband 11should either stay single or go back to her husband. And a husband should not leave his wife.
12I don't know of anything else the Lord said about marriage. All I can do is to give you my own advice. If your wife isn't a follower of the Lord, but is willing to stay with you, don't divorce her. 13If your husband isn't a follower, but is willing to stay with you, don't divorce him. 14Your husband or wife who isn't a follower is made holy by having you as a partner. This also makes your children holy and keeps them from being unclean in God's sight.
15If your husband or wife isn't a follower of the Lord and decides to divorce you, then you should agree to it. You are no longer bound to that person. After all, God chose you and wants you to live at peace. 16And besides, how do you know if you will be able to save your husband or wife who isn't a follower?
Obeying the Lord at all times
17In every church I tell the people to stay as they were when the Lord Jesus chose them and God called them to be his own. Now I say the same thing to you. 18If you are already circumcised, don't try to change it. If you are not circumcised, don't get circumcised. 19Being circumcised or uncircumcised isn't really what matters. The important thing is to obey God's commands. 20So don't try to change what you were when God chose you. 21Are you a slave? Don't let that bother you. But if you can win your freedom, you should. 22When the Lord chooses slaves, they become his free people. And when he chooses free people, they become slaves of Christ. 23God paid a great price for you. So don't become slaves of anyone else. 24Stay what you were when God chose you.
25I don't know of anything that the Lord said about people who have never been married.#7.25 people who have never been married: Or “virgins”. But I will tell you what I think. And you can trust me, because the Lord has treated me with kindness. 26We are now going through hard times, and I think it is best for you to stay as you are. 27If you are married, stay married. If you are not married, don't try to get married. 28It isn't wrong to marry, even if you have never been married before. But those who marry will have a lot of trouble, and I want to protect you from that.
29My friends, what I mean is that the Lord will soon come,#7.29 the Lord will soon come: Or “there's not much time left” or “the time for decision comes quickly”. and it won't matter if you are married or not. 30It will be all the same if you are crying or laughing, or if you are buying or are completely broke. 31It won't make any difference how much good you are getting from this world or how much you like it. This world as we know it is now passing away.
32I want all of you to be free from worry. An unmarried man worries about how to please the Lord. 33But a married man has more worries. He must worry about the things of this world, because he wants to please his wife. 34So he is pulled in two directions. Unmarried women and women who have never been married#7.34 women who have never been married: Or “virgins”. worry only about pleasing the Lord, and they keep their bodies and minds pure. But a married woman worries about the things of this world, because she wants to please her husband. 35What I am saying is for your own good—it isn't to limit your freedom. I want to help you to live right and to love the Lord above all else.
36But suppose you are engaged to someone old enough to be married, and you want her so much that all you can think about is getting married. Then go ahead and marry.#7.36 But suppose you are engaged … go ahead and marry: Verses 36–38 may also be translated: 36 “If you feel that you are not treating your grown-up daughter right by keeping her from getting married, then let her marry. You won't be doing anything wrong. 37 But it is better to have self-control and make up your mind not to let your daughter get married. 38 It is all right for you to let her marry. But it is better if you don't let her marry at all.” There is nothing wrong with that. 37But it is better to have self-control and to make up your mind not to marry. 38It is perfectly all right to marry, but it is better not to get married at all.
39A wife should stay married to her husband until he dies. Then she is free to marry again, but only to a man who is a follower of the Lord. 40However, I think I am obeying God's Spirit when I say she would be happier to stay single.