1 Now I take up the matters about which you wrote me. It may be good thing for a man to remain unmarried; 2 but because of so much sexual immorality every man should have a wife of his own, and every woman a husband of her own. 3 The husband must always give his wife what is due her, and the wife too must do so for her husband. 4 The wife does not have the right to do as she pleases with her own body; the husband has his right to it. In the same way the husband does not have the right to do as he pleases with his own body; the wife has her right to it. 5 You husbands and wives must stop refusing each other what is due, unless you agree to do so just for awhile, so as to have plenty of time for prayer, and then to be together again, so as to keep Satan from tempting you because of your lack of self-control. 6 But I say this by way of concession, not by way of command. 7 However, I should like for everyone to be just as I am myself, yet each of us has his own special gift from God, one for one way, another for another.
8 To unmarried people and to widows I would say this: It would be a fine thing for them to remain single, as I am. 9 But if they do not practice self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to be burning in the fire of passion.
10 To the people already married I give this instruction -- no, not I but the Lord -- that a wife is not to leave her husband. 11 But if she does leave him, she must remain single, or better, be reconciled to her husband. I instruct the husband too not to divorce his wife. 12 To the rest of the people I myself would say -- though the Lord Himself has said nothing about it -- if a Christian has a wife that is not a believer and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her; 13 and a woman who has a husband that is not a believer, but he consents to live with her, must not divorce her husband. 14 For the unbelieving husband is consecrated by union with his wife and the unbelieving wife by union with her Christian husband, for otherwise your children would be unblessed, but in this way they are consecrated. 15 But if the unbelieving consort actually leaves, let the separation stand. In such cases the Christian husband or wife is not morally bound; God has called us to live in peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
17 Only, everybody must continue to live in the station which the Lord assigned to him, in that in which God called him. These are my orders in all the churches. 18 Has a man been called after he was circumcised? He must not try to change it. Has a man been called without being circumcised? He must not be circumcised. 19 Being circumcised or not being circumcised has no value, but keeping God's commands is important. 20 Everybody must remain in the station in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? Stop letting that annoy you. Yet, if you can win your freedom, take advantage of such an opportunity. 22 For the slave who has been called to union with the Lord is the Lord's freedman; in the same way the freeman who has been called is a slave of Christ. 23 You have been bought and actually paid for; stop becoming slaves to men. 24 Brothers, each one must continue close to God in the very station in which he was called.
25 About unmarried women I have no command from the Lord, but I will give you my opinion as of one who is trustworthy, since I have had mercy shown me by the Lord. 26 Now this is my opinion in the light of the present distress: That it is a good thing for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you married? Stop trying to get a divorce. Are you unmarried? Stop looking for a wife. 28 But if you do get married, you have not sinned in doing so. And if a girl gets married, she has not sinned in doing so. But those who do will have trouble in their earthly life, and I am trying to spare you this. 29 I mean this, brothers. The time has been cut short. For the future, men who have wives should live as though they had none, 30 and those that mourn as though they did not mourn, and those who are glad as though they were not glad, and those who buy as though they did not own a thing, 31 and those who are enjoying the world as though they were not entirely absorbed in it. For the outward order of this world is passing away.
32 I want you to be free from worldly worries. An unmarried man is concerned about the affairs of the Lord. 33 A married man is concerned about the affairs of the world, and how he can please his wife, and so his devotion is divided. 34 An unmarried woman or a girl is concerned about the affairs of the Lord, so as to be consecrated in body and spirit, but a married woman is concerned about the affairs of the world, and how she can please her husband. 35 It is for your welfare that I am saying this, not to put restraint on you, but to foster good order and to help you to an undivided devotion to the Lord.
36 Now if a father thinks that he is not doing the proper thing regarding his single daughter, if she is past the bloom of her youth, and she ought to do so, let him do what she desires; he commits no sin. Let the daughter and her suitor marry. 37 But the father who stands firm in his purpose, without having any necessity for doing so, and he has made the decision in his own heart to keep her single, will do what is right. 38 And so the man who gives his daughter in marriage does what is right, and yet the man who does not do so does even better.
39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she pleases, except that he must be a Christian. 40 But in my opinion she will be happier, if she remains as she is, and I think too that I have God's Spirit.