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1 Corinthians 7

7
Marriage and its ideal
1Yes, my brethren, it is a good thing for both man and woman to be above all sexual intercourse. You wrote and asked me if that were good, and I answer yes. 2-3But marriage exists to prevent fornication. It is a step towards chastity. The ideal is to rise above all physical union of the sexes. Perfect chastity is a higher condition than the married state, and the intercourse of married persons, of husband and wife, is condoned and allowed, not commanded. I would that all men had reached the condition with regard to these questions that the spirit has conferred as a gift on me; but, as it is, we must have marriage, and those that are married must follow its rules. 4Husbands and wives, you are not masters of your own bodies. Each must do as the other has a right to demand in this important matter, 5-7and if by mutual consent you abstain from it altogether for a time, giving yourselves more thoroughly to prayer, and guarding against the entry of the spirit of evil through the avenue of indulgence, that is the best rule to observe.
Constancy in the truth
8-9Now whether married or unmarried, my advice is — remain as you were when God first called you into the truth. 10-13If married, do not seek separation. Husband and wife may not both be in the faith, nevertheless if the one to whom the truth has not yet come is agreeable to remain with the other, there should be no thought of separation. 14Both will be sanctified by the presence of the truth in the household, and likewise the children also, and who knows? probably the one that has faith will save the other. 15-16But if you were unmarried or widowed when the truth first came to you, then my advice is — do not change your state. Be as I am — and live a life of total abstinence from the claims of the body in this direction. But if this is beyond you, then marry; marriage is far better than unsuccessful efforts at this form of self-mastery. Now all this is only an expression of my own opinion, but the following is a commandment to all married persons. Let neither husband nor wife seek separation; or if they must be separated, let neither marry again whilst the other lives, but let them rather, if possible, be once more reconciled. That is the Lord's expressed command and no matter of opinion.
In other matters also
17Further, in other matters besides marriage, I enjoin the same rule as that which I have just explained. 18After the truth has come to you, make no outward change in your manner of life, that is to say, in such matters as the circumcision or uncircumcision. 19-20Let it not make the slightest difference what you were before you received the truth, for in the truth these differences are seen to be nothing, so remain as you always were in this matter. For the keeping of God's commandments is all that matters. 21Similarly, if you were a slave when called, do not seek to obtain manumission, but even prefer to continue in the old calling. 22-23You know now that you are Christ's freedman and bought out of slavery at a heavy price. That freedom is everything, for those that were of free birth when called are now the slaves of Christ. Let then neither bond nor free be in spirit the slaves of men; that is all the faith demands; 24in outward respects remain as you were.
Chastity a noble thing
25Some are married when called into the faith; some have had wives, but have put them away; some are unmarried, and have never been married and have on no occasion indulged the sexual impulse, but are virgins. 26To all these I repeat the same advice. Stay as you are, as you were before God called you; 27-28and this even applies to the last class, those who have never known sexual intercourse. To these I would give no definite command, and yet even here, I will give my opinion, and I will give it with the consciousness that in this matter I have been faithful myself, or rather that God in His infinite mercy has taken pity on the weakness of my flesh, and made me by His own power firm and trustworthy in the matter. Well, my opinion is that perfect chastity, abstention from marriage and all sexual intercourse is a noble thing in a man, 29-31and the reason of that is that the world is changing, the end of the old order is near, and the doom of the physical approaches. We are called to attend to something higher than marriage and its cares. The whole outward form and manner of the universe is changing and passing away. Marriages, feastings, funerals, business and worldly matters may continue, but the time is short. Rise above them, and be as if they were not, even though you take part in them. 32I would have you without such cares; 33and you know that a married man thinks of his wife 34and cares about his business and the world for her sake, whilst the unmarried man or woman who lives a virgin life is free to dedicate that life to the Lord. 35But of course, if such an one, who has never touched a woman, elect to marry, he does so with good conscience, sinning not; only such persons, whether male or female, will find that their physical appetite puts obstacles and trials in their way, the details of which I spare you. 36Of course, if a man is not certain in his own mind, if he has lingering regrets that he has never used this important function of mortal man, let him marry by all means, he does no wrong thereby. 37But if he is certain, if he has clearly determined that to live and die a virgin is for him the best course of all, then let him keep his resolution, and he will do well by it. 38It will be the best and greatest course of all, though he who marries may rightly be congratulated on so doing. 39Lastly, a wife of course is bound to her husband for his life-time only — if he dies, she is free to marry again, but let her second choice not be one of the heathen, but one who belongs to the faith. 40But, as I said before, I believe it to be better that she marry not again, but remain a widow, and in so saying I believe that my sense in this matter is governed by the Spirit of God.
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Advice about Marriage
1Now, concerning the things that you wrote about: It’s good for men not to get married. 2But in order to avoid sexual sins, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.
3Husbands and wives should satisfy each other’s ⌞sexual⌟ needs. 4A wife doesn’t have authority over her own body, but her husband does. In the same way, a husband doesn’t have authority over his own body, but his wife does.
5Don’t withhold yourselves from each other unless you agree to do so for a set time to devote yourselves to prayer. Then you should get back together so that Satan doesn’t use your lack of self-control to tempt you. 6What I have just said is not meant as a command but as a suggestion. 7I would like everyone to be like me. However, each person has a special gift from God, and these gifts vary from person to person.
8I say to those who are not married, especially to widows: It is good for you to stay single like me. 9However, if you cannot control your desires, you should get married. It is better for you to marry than to burn ⌞with sexual desire⌟.
10I pass this command along (not really I, but the Lord): A wife shouldn’t leave her husband. 11If she does, she should stay single or make up with her husband. Likewise, a husband should not divorce his wife.
12I (not the Lord) say to the rest of you: If any Christian man is married to a woman who is an unbeliever, and she is willing to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13If any Christian woman is married to a man who is an unbeliever, and he is willing to live with her, she should not divorce her husband. 14Actually, the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and an unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise, their children would be unacceptable ⌞to God⌟, but now they are acceptable to him. 15But if the unbelieving partners leave, let them go. Under these circumstances a Christian man or Christian woman is not bound ⌞by a marriage vow⌟. God has called you to live in peace. 16How do you as a wife know whether you will save your husband? How do you as a husband know whether you will save your wife?
17Everyone should live the life that the Lord gave him when God called him. This is the guideline I use in every church.
18Any man who was already circumcised when he was called to be a Christian shouldn’t undo his circumcision. Any man who was uncircumcised when he was called to be a Christian shouldn’t get circumcised. 19Circumcision is nothing, and the lack of it is nothing. But keeping what God commands is everything. 20All people should stay as they were when they were called. 21Were you a slave when you were called? That shouldn’t bother you. However, if you have a chance to become free, take it. 22If the Lord called you when you were a slave, you are the Lord’s free person. In the same way, if you were free when you were called, you are Christ’s slave. 23You were bought for a price. Don’t become anyone’s slaves. 24Brothers and sisters, you should remain in whatever circumstances you were in when God called you. God is with you in those circumstances.
25Concerning virgins: Even though I don’t have any command from the Lord, I’ll give you my opinion. I’m a person to whom the Lord has shown mercy, so I can be trusted. 26Because of the present crisis I believe it is good for people to remain as they are. 27Do you have a wife? Don’t seek a divorce. Are you divorced from your wife? Don’t look for another one. 28But if you do get married, you have not sinned. If a virgin gets married, she has not sinned. However, these people will have trouble, and I would like to spare them from that.
29This is what I mean, brothers and sisters: The time has been shortened. While it lasts, those who are married should live as though they were not. 30Those who have eyes filled with tears should live as though they have no sorrow. Those who are happy should live as though there was nothing to be happy about. Those who buy something should live as though they didn’t own it. 31Those who use the things in this world should do so but not depend on them. It is clear that this world in its present form is passing away.
32So I don’t want you to have any concerns. An unmarried man is concerned about the things of the Lord, ⌞that is,⌟ about how he can please the Lord. 33But the married man is concerned about earthly things, ⌞that is,⌟ about how he can please his wife. 34His attention is divided.
An unmarried woman or a virgin is concerned about the Lord’s things so that she may be holy in body and in spirit. But the married woman is concerned about earthly things, ⌞that is,⌟ about how she can please her husband. 35I’m saying this for your benefit, not to restrict you. I’m showing you how to live a noble life of devotion to the Lord without being distracted by other things.
36No father would want to do the wrong thing when his virgin daughter is old enough to get married. If she wants to get married, he isn’t sinning by letting her get married. 37However, a father may have come to a decision about his daughter. If his decision is to keep her ⌞at home⌟ because she doesn’t want to get married, that’s fine. 38So it’s fine for a father to give his daughter in marriage, but the father who doesn’t give his daughter in marriage does even better.
39A married woman must remain with her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but only if the man is a Christian.#7:39 Or “only as the Lord guides her.” 40However, she will be more blessed if she stays as she is. That is my opinion, and I think that I, too, have God’s Spirit.