Concerning Christian Marriage
1 Now concerning the things about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to touch#I.e., in a sexual sense a woman.” 2But because of sexual immorality, let each man have#I.e., in the sense of “have sexual relations with” his own wife and let each woman have her own husband. 3The husband must fulfill his obligation to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4The wife does not have authority over her own body, but her husband does. And likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but his wife does. 5Do not defraud one another, except perhaps by agreement, for a time, in order that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and then you should be together#Literally “at the same” again, lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self control. 6But I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7I wish all people could be like myself, but each one has his own gift from God, one in this way and another in that way.
8Now I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain as I am. 9But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with sexual desire.
10To the married I command—not I, but the Lord—a wife must not separate from her husband. 11But if indeed she does separate, she must remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.
12Now to the rest I say—not the Lord—if any brother has an unbelieving wife and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13And if any wife has an unbelieving husband and he consents to live with her, she must not divorce her husband. 14For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the brother, since otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. 15But if the unbeliever leaves, let him leave. The brother or the sister is not bound in such cases. But God has called us#Some manuscripts have “you” (plural) in 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?
17But to each one as the Lord has apportioned. As God has called each one, thus let him live—and thus I order in all the churches. 18Was anyone called after#*Here “after” is supplied as a component of the participle (“being circumcised”) which is understood as temporal being circumcised? He must not undo his circumcision. Was anyone called in uncircumcision? He must not become circumcised. 19Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. 20Each one in the calling in which he was called—in this he should remain. 21Were you called while a slave? Do not let it be a concern to you. But if indeed you are able to become free, rather make use of it. 22For the one who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedperson. Likewise the one who is called while free is a slave of Christ. 23You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24Each one in the situation in which he was called, brothers—in this he should remain with God.
Concerning the Unmarried
25Now concerning virgins I do not have a command from the Lord, but I am giving an opinion as one shown mercy by the Lord to be trustworthy. 26Therefore, I consider this to be good because of the impending distress, that it is good for a man to be thus. 27Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek release. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28But if you marry, you have not sinned, and if the virgin marries, she has not sinned. But such people will have affliction in the flesh, and I would spare you. 29But I say this, brothers: the time is shortened, that from now on even those who have wives should be as if they do not have wives, 30and those who weep as if they do not weep, and those who rejoice as if they do not rejoice, and those who buy as if they do not possess, 31and those who make use of the world as if they do not make full use of it. For the present form of this world is passing away.
32But I want you to be free from care. The unmarried person cares for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. 33But the one who is married cares for the things of the world, how he may please his wife, 34and he is divided. And the unmarried woman or the virgin cares for the things of the Lord, in order that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But the married woman cares for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 35Now I am saying this for your own benefit, not that I may put a restriction on you, but to promote appropriate and devoted service to the Lord without distraction.
36But if anyone thinks he is behaving dishonorably concerning his virgin, if she is past her prime#Or “if his passions are strong” (it is not clear in context whether this term refers to the man or to the woman) and it ought to be thus, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin. Let them marry. 37But he who stands firm in his heart, not having necessity, but has authority concerning his own will, and has decided this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin, he will do well. 38So then, the one who marries#Or perhaps “the one who gives in marriage” his own virgin does well, and the one who does not marry her will do better.
39A wife is bound for as long a time as her husband lives. But if her husband dies#Literally “falls asleep”, she is free to marry whomever she wishes, only in the Lord. 40But she is happier if she remains thus, according to my opinion—and I think I have the Spirit of God.