1 Now as to the question you writ to me about; "whether it is best for a man not to marry?" 2 I answer, with regard to the licentious, it is best for a man, to have his wife; and for a woman to have her husband. 3 let the husband discharge his obligations to his wife: and likewise the wife to the husband. 4 the wife has not the right of her own person, but the husband: and so likewise the husband has not the right of his own person, but the wife. 5 don't desert one another, unless you mutually consent to retire for a time, to the solemnity of prayer; and then come together again, lest satan make an attempt upon your continency. 6 but as for the rest, I speak it by way of counsel, and not of command. 7 for I wish that all men were as I myself am: but every man hath his proper gift from God, some one way, and some another.
8 As to the unmarried and widows, I say, it is best for them to continue so, as I do. 9 but if they have not the gift, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to be in pain.
10 as to the married, I enjoin this rule, not as from my self, but from the Lord, that a woman should not leave her husband: 11 but if she has separated herself, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. 12 But as to the other cases, which were not decided by the Lord; I say, if any brother has a pagan wife, who likes to live with him, let him not put her away. 13 and if a woman has a pagan husband, who likes to live with her, let her not leave him. 14 for the unbelieving husband is christianiz'd by the believing wife, and the unbelieving wife is christianiz'd by the believing husband: else were your children heathens: whereas they are christians. 15 but if the infidel will separate, let him go: a brother or a sister is not inslaved in such cases. but God has called us to peace; for how do you know, 16 O wife, but you may save your husband? or how do you know, O man, but you may save your wife?
17 Whatever condition God has allotted to any man, let him go on in the same state he was in when he became a christian: this I give as a standing rule to all churches. 18 does a Jew turn Christian? let him not pretend to be uncircumcised: does a Gentile turn Christian? let him not become circumcised. 19 circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, in comparison of obeying the divine commands. 20 let every man continue in the same state he was in when he turn'd christian. 21 were you called being a slave? be not perplex'd about it; but if you can obtain your freedom, don't refuse it. 22 for the slave that turns christian, is the Lord's freedman: likewise, the freeman that becomes a convert is Christ's servant. 23 have you been redeemed from slavery? then, don't turn slaves. 24 brethren, let every man conscientiously continue in the state he was in when he was converted.
25 As to the case of celibacy, I have no positive instructions: yet my advice deserves to be regarded, as coming from one the divine favour has distinguished. 26 I think therefore it is best, considering the present distress, I say, it is best, for a single person to continue so still. 27 are you contracted to a wife? seek not to be disengag'd. are you disengag'd from your wife? don't look out for another; 28 not that it is a sin for you to marry; nor is it so if a virgin marry; but they that do, will be troubled for their relations, and that I would prevent. 29 This I say, brethren, because the time is coming, when they who have wives will be as those that have none; 30 and they that weep, as those that are unconcern'd; and they that rejoice, as those that do not; and they that buy, as those that have no possessions; 31 and they that possess this world, as those that can't make an ill use of it. for the scene of this world is continually shifting. I would have you free from anxiety.
32 the unmarried is religiously concerned, how he may please the Lord: 33 he that is married is worldly concern'd, how he may please his wife. 34 there is the same difference between a married woman and a virgin: the last is religiously concern'd to be holy, both in body and mind: but she that is married is taken up with worldly cares to please her husband. 35 And this I say for your particular advantage, not to lay any constraint upon you, but as that which is most suitable to a state of uninterrupted attendance upon religion.
36 if any man thinks it would be a reflexion upon his manhood to be a stale batchelor, and so ought to marry; let him follow his bent, he is at liberty, let such marry. 37 but he that has been steady in his purpose, and finds no necessity to alter it; if he is a master of his passion, and is heartily determin'd to keep his virginity, it is well. 38 so that he who marries, does well; but he who lives single, may have less trouble.
39 The wife is bound as long as her husband lives: but if her husbnd be dead, she is at liberty to be married, if she pleases; provided it be to a christian. 40 but she will be happier, if she remain a widow, in my opinion: and I think the divine spirit suggests the same.