The Question About Marriage
1Now let me address the things you wrote to me about. Some of you are saying, “It’s good for a man not to sleep with a woman,” as if that were more spiritual. 2But since you can’t control yourselves, this is leading to sexual sin. So each man should sleep with his own wife and each woman should sleep with her own husband. 3A husband should satisfy his wife’s needs, and a wife should satisfy her husband’s needs. 4The wife’s body doesn’t belong only to her; it also belongs to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body doesn’t belong only to him; it also belongs to his wife. 5Don’t deprive each other. You could agree not to have sexual relations for a while if you really needed time to pray. But after that, you should go back to having sexual relations. Otherwise, Satan will tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6(I’m giving you permission to do this; I’m not telling you that you should.) 7I wish all of you were single like me. But each person has their own gift from God. One has the gift of being happily married, and another has the gift of being happily single.
8I think it would be good if those of you who aren’t married or who are widowed could stay single like me. 9But if you couldn’t control yourselves, then you should get married. It’s better to get married than to burn with desire.
10But as for those who are married, I need to give you a command that comes directly from the Lord Jesus, not from me: A wife must not leave her husband. 11If she does, she must stay unmarried or else go back to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.
12I know that some of the rest of you are in a complicated situation. We don’t have a direct command from the Lord about that, but let me offer some advice. If a brother has a wife who isn’t a believer, he shouldn’t divorce her if she’s willing to live with him. 13In the same way, if a woman has a husband who isn’t a believer, she shouldn’t divorce him if he’s willing to live with her. 14An unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and an unbelieving wife is made holy through her believing husband. If that weren’t true, your children wouldn’t be clean. But since it is true, they are holy.
15But if the unbeliever wants to leave, let them go. In that case, the believer isn’t bound to them. God wants us to live in peace. 16Wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? Husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?
Stay as You Were When God Chose You
17But each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them. Stay as you were when God chose you. That’s the rule I tell people to follow in all the churches. 18If a man was already circumcised when he was called, then he shouldn’t become uncircumcised. If he was uncircumcised when he was called, then he shouldn’t be circumcised. 19Being circumcised means nothing and being uncircumcised means nothing. Doing what God commands is what matters. 20Each of you should stay as you were when God chose you.
21Were you a slave when God called you? Don’t let that trouble you, although if you can gain your freedom, you should do that. 22Someone who was a slave when the Lord called them is now serving the Lord as a free person. But it’s just as true that someone who was free when God called them is now a slave of Christ. 23You were bought with a price, so don’t become slaves of human beings. 24Brothers and sisters, each person should stay as they were when God called them, knowing that God will be with them in that situation.
Advice for Those Who Are Engaged
25Now let me speak to those who are engaged. I don’t have a direct command from the Lord for you. But I’d like to give my opinion as someone who, by the Lord’s mercy, can be trusted. 26Times are difficult right now, so I think it’s good for a man to stay as he is. 27Are you engaged to a woman? Then don’t break the engagement. Are you not engaged to anyone? Then don’t look for a wife. 28But if you do marry someone, you haven’t sinned. And if a woman marries her fiancé, she hasn’t sinned. But those who do marry will have many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you from those.
29What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on, those who have a husband or wife should live as if they didn’t have one. 30Those who are mourning should live as if they weren’t, and those who are rejoicing should live as if they weren’t. Those who buy something should live as if it weren’t theirs to keep, 31and those who use the things of this world shouldn’t 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 things of the Lord. He wants to know how he can please the Lord. 33But a married man is concerned about the things of this world. He wants to know how he can please his wife. 34So he’s pulled in two directions. An unmarried or single woman is concerned about the things of the Lord. She wants to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the things of this world. She wants to know how she can please her husband. 35I’m saying these things for your own good. I’m not trying to hold you back. I want you to be free to live in a right way and devote yourselves completely to the Lord.
36Suppose someone is worried that he’s not acting honorably toward his fiancée. Suppose his desires are too strong, and he feels that he should marry her. He should do as he wants. That wouldn’t be a sin. They should get married. 37But suppose a man has made up his mind not to marry his fiancée. He has no compelling need to get married; he’s able to control himself. If that’s what he has decided, then he’s also doing the right thing. 38So then, the man who marries his fiancée is doing the right thing, but the man who doesn’t marry his fiancée is doing an even better thing.
39A woman has to stay married to her husband for as long as he lives. If he dies, she’s free to marry anyone she wants. But the man she marries must belong to the Lord. 40In my opinion, she’s happier if she stays single. I say that as someone who has the Spirit of God too.