Principles of Marriage
1 About the things you wrote: "It is good for a man not to have relations with a woman." 2 But because of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. 3 A husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband. 4 A wife does not have authority over her own body, but her husband does. Equally, a husband does not have authority over his own body, but his wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another-except when you agree, for a time, to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again; otherwise, Satan may tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7 I wish that all people were just like me. But each has his own gift from God, one this and another that.
A Word to the Unmarried
8 I say to the unmarried and to widows: It is good for them if they remain as I am. 9 But if they do not have self-control, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with desire.
About Married People
10 I command the married-not I, but the Lord-a wife is not to leave her husband. 11 But if she does leave, she must remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband-and a husband is not to leave his wife. 12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has an unbelieving wife, and she is willing to live with him, he must not leave her. 13 Also, if any woman has an unbelieving husband, and he is willing to live with her, she must not leave her husband. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the Christian husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let him leave. A brother or a sister is not bound in such cases. God has called you to peace. 16 For you, wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? Or you, husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?
Various Situations of Life
17 However, each one must live his life in the situation the Lord assigned when God called him. This is what I command in all the churches. 18 Was anyone already circumcised when he was called? He should not undo his circumcision. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? He should not get circumcised. 19 Circumcision does not matter and uncircumcision does not matter, but keeping God's commandments does. 20 Each person should remain in the life situation in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? It should not be a concern to you. But if you can become free, by all means take the opportunity. 22 For he who is called by the Lord as a slave is the Lord's freedman. Likewise he who is called as a free man is Christ's slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brothers, each person should remain with God in whatever situation he was called.
About the Unmarried and Widows
25 About virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I do give an opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy. 26 Therefore I consider this to be good because of the present distress: it is fine for a man to stay as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 However, if you do get married, you have not sinned, and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But such people will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you. 29 And I say this, brothers: the time is limited, so from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none, 30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, 31 and those who use the world as though they did not make full use of it. For this world in its current form is passing away.
32 I want you to be without concerns. An unmarried man is concerned about the things of the Lord-how he may please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the things of the world-how he may please his wife- 34 and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is concerned about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the things of the world-how she may please her husband. 35 Now I am saying this for your own benefit, not to put a restraint on you, but because of what is proper, and so that you may be devoted to the Lord without distraction.
36 But if any man thinks he is acting improperly toward his virgin, if she is past marriageable age, and so it must be, he can do what he wants. He is not sinning; they can get married. 37 But he who stands firm in his heart (who is under no compulsion, but has control over his own will) and has decided in his heart to keep his own virgin, will do well. 38 So then he who marries his virgin does well, but he who does not marry will do better.