1Now I want to deal with the things you wrote me about.
Some of you say, "It is good for a man not to have sex with a woman." 2But since there is so much sexual sin, each man should have his own wife. And each woman should have her own husband. 3A husband should satisfy his wife's sexual needs. And a wife should satisfy her husband's sexual needs.
4The wife's body does not belong only to her. It also belongs to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong only to him. It also belongs to his wife. 5You shouldn't stop giving yourselves to each other except when you both agree to do so. And that should be only to give yourselves time to pray for a while. Then you should come together again. In that way, Satan will not tempt you when you can't control yourselves.
6I say those things to you as my advice, not as a command. 7I wish all of you were like me. But you each have your own gift from God. One has this gift. Another has that.
8I speak to those who are not married. I also speak to widows. It is good for you to stay single like me. 9But if you can't control yourselves, you should get married. It is better to get married than to burn with sexual longing.
10I give a command to those who are married. It is a direct command from the Lord, not from me. A wife must not leave her husband. 11But if she does, she must not get married again. Or she can go back to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.
12I also have something to say to everyone else. It is from me, not a direct command from the Lord. Suppose a brother has a wife who is not a believer. If she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13And suppose a woman has a husband who is not a believer. If he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14The unbelieving husband has been made holy through his wife. The unbelieving wife has been made holy through her believing husband. If that were not the case, your children would not be pure and clean. But as it is, they are holy.
15If the unbeliever leaves, let that person go. In that case, a believing man or woman does not have to stay married. God wants us to live in peace. 16Wife, how do you know if you can save your husband? Husband, how do you know if you can save your wife?
17But each of you should remain in the place in life that the Lord has given you. Stay as you were when God chose you. That's the rule all the churches must follow.
18Was a man already circumcised when God chose him? Then he should not become uncircumcised. Was he uncircumcised when God chose him? Then he should not be circumcised. 19Being circumcised means nothing. Being uncircumcised means nothing. Doing what God commands is what counts.
20Each of you should stay as you were when God chose you.
21Were you a slave when God chose you? Don't let it trouble you. But if you can get your master to set you free, do it. 22Those who were slaves when the Lord chose them are now the Lord's free people. Those who were free when God chose them are now slaves of Christ. 23Christ has paid the price for you. Don't become slaves of human beings.
24Brothers and sisters, you are accountable to God. So all of you should stay as you were when God chose you.
25Now I want to say something about virgins. I have no direct command from the Lord. But I give my opinion. Because of the Lord's mercy, I give it as one who can be trusted.
26Times are hard for you right now. So I think it's good for you to stay as you are. 27Are you married? Then don't get a divorce. Are you single? Then don't look for a wife. 28But if you get married, you have not sinned. And if a virgin gets married, she has not sinned. But those who get married will have many troubles in this life. I want to save you from that.
29Brothers and sisters, what I mean is that the time is short. From now on, those who have a husband or wife should live as if they did not. 30Those who are sad should live as if they were not. Those who are happy should live as if they were not. Those who buy something should live as if it were not theirs to keep. 31Those who use the things of the world should not become all wrapped up in them. The world as it now exists is passing away.
32I don't want you to have anything to worry about. A single man is concerned about the Lord's matters. He wants to know how he can please the Lord. 33But a married man is concerned about the matters of this world. He wants to know how he can please his wife. 34His concerns pull him in two directions.
A single woman or a virgin is concerned about the Lord's matters. She wants to serve the Lord with both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the matters of this world. She wants to know how she can please her husband.
35I'm saying those things for your own good. I'm not trying to hold you back. I want you to be free to live in a way that is right. I want you to give yourselves completely to the Lord.
36Suppose a man thinks he is not acting properly toward the virgin he has promised to marry. Suppose she is getting old, and he feels that he should marry her. He should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married.
37But suppose the man has decided not to marry the virgin. And suppose he has no compelling need to get married and can control himself. If he has made up his mind not to get married, he also does the right thing.
38So then, the man who marries the virgin does the right thing. But the man who doesn't marry her does an even better thing.
39A woman has to stay married to her husband as long as he lives. If he dies, she is free to marry anyone she wants to. But the one she marries must belong to the Lord. 40In my opinion, she is happier if she stays single. And I also think that I am led by the Spirit of God in saying that.