7
Marriage and celibacy
1Now, about what you wrote: "It’s good for a man not to have sex with a woman." 2Each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband because of sexual immorality. 3The husband should meet his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should do the same for her husband. 4The wife doesn’t have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband doesn’t have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5Don’t refuse to meet each other’s needs unless you both agree for a short period of time to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come back together again so that Satan might not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6I’m saying this to give you permission; it’s not a command. 7I wish all people were like me, but each has a particular gift from God: one has this gift, and another has that one.
8I’m telling those who are single and widows that it’s good for them to stay single like me. 9But if they can’t control themselves, they should get married, because it’s better to marry than to burn with passion. 10I’m passing on the Lord’s command to those who are married: A wife shouldn’t leave her husband, 11but if she does leave him, then she should stay single or be reconciled to her husband. And a man shouldn’t divorce his wife.
12I’m telling everyone else (the Lord didn’t say this specifically): If a believer has a wife who doesn’t believe, and she agrees to live with him, then he shouldn’t divorce her. 13If a woman has a husband who doesn’t believe and he agrees to live with her, then she shouldn’t divorce him. 14The husband who doesn’t believe belongs to God because of his wife, and the wife who doesn’t believe belongs to God because of her husband. Otherwise, your children would be contaminated by the world, but now they are spiritually set apart. 15But if a spouse who doesn’t believe chooses to leave, then let them leave. The brother or sister isn’t tied down in these circumstances. God has called you to peace. 16How do you know as a wife if you will save your husband? Or how do you know as a husband if you will save your wife?
17Nevertheless, each person should live the kind of life that the Lord assigned when he called each one. This is what I teach in all the churches. 18If someone was circumcised when called, he shouldn’t try to reverse it. If someone wasn’t circumcised when he was called, he shouldn’t be circumcised. 19Circumcision is nothing; not being circumcised is nothing. What matters is keeping God’s commandments. 20Each person should stay in the situation they were in when they were called. 21If you were a slave when you were called, don’t let it bother you. But if you are actually able to be free, take advantage of the opportunity. 22Anyone who was a slave when they were called by the Lord has the status of being the Lord’s free person. In the same way, anyone who was a free person when they were called is Christ’s slave. 23You were bought and paid for. Don’t become slaves of people. 24So then, brothers and sisters, each of you should stay with God in the situation you were in when you were called.
25I don’t have a command from the Lord about people who have never been married,#Or virgins but I’ll give you my opinion as someone you can trust because of the Lord’s mercy. 26So I think this advice is good because of the present crisis: Stay as you are. 27If you are married, don’t get a divorce. If you are divorced, don’t try to find a spouse. 28But if you do marry, you haven’t sinned; and if someone who hasn’t been married gets married, they haven’t sinned. But married people will have a hard time, and I’m trying to spare you that. 29This is what I’m saying, brothers and sisters: The time has drawn short. From now on, those who have wives should be like people who don’t have them. 30Those who are sad should be like people who aren’t crying. Those who are happy should be like people who aren’t happy. Those who buy something should be like people who don’t have possessions. 31Those who use the world should be like people who aren’t preoccupied with it, because this world in its present form is passing away.
32I want you to be free from concerns. A man who isn’t married is concerned about the Lord’s concerns—how he can please the Lord. 33But a married man is concerned about the world’s concerns—how he can please his wife. 34His attention is divided. A woman who isn’t married or who is a virgin is concerned about the Lord’s concerns so that she can be dedicated to God in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the world’s concerns—how she can please her husband. 35I’m saying this for your own advantage. It’s not to restrict you but rather to promote effective and consistent service to the Lord without distraction.
36If someone thinks he is acting inappropriately toward an unmarried woman whom he knows, and if he has strong feelings and it seems like the right thing to do, he should do what he wants—he’s not sinning—they should get married. 37But if a man stands firm in his decision, and doesn’t feel the pressure, but has his own will under control, he does right if he decides in his own heart not to marry the woman. 38Therefore, the one who marries the unmarried woman does right, and the one who doesn’t get married will do even better. 39A woman is obligated to stay in her marriage as long as her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry whomever she wants, only it should be a believer in the Lord. 40But in my opinion, she will be happier if she stays the way she is. And I think that I have God’s Spirit too.
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