Now about the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to live a celibate life.
But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.
The husband should not deprive his wife of sexual intimacy, which is her right as a married woman, nor should the wife deprive her husband.
The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband also gives authority over his body to his wife.
So do not deprive each other of sexual relations. The only exception to this rule would be the agreement of both husband and wife to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time, so they can give themselves more completely to prayer. Afterward they should come together again so that Satan won't be able to tempt them because of their lack of self-control.
This is only my suggestion. It's not meant to be an absolute rule.
I wish everyone could get along without marrying, just as I do. But we are not all the same. God gives some the gift of marriage, and to others he gives the gift of singleness.
Now I say to those who aren't married and to widows -- it's better to stay unmarried, just as I am.
But if they can't control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It's better to marry than to burn with lust.
Now, for those who are married I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. a A wife must not leave her husband.
But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else go back to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.
Now, I will speak to the rest of you, though I do not have a direct command from the Lord. If a Christian man b has a wife who is an unbeliever and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her.
And if a Christian woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him.
For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not have a godly influence, but now they are set apart for him.
(But if the husband or wife who isn't a Christian insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the Christian husband or wife is not required to stay with them, for God wants his children to live in peace.)
You wives must remember that your husbands might be converted because of you. And you husbands must remember that your wives might be converted because of you.
You must accept whatever situation the Lord has put you in, and continue on as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches.
For instance, a man who was circumcised before he became a believer should not try to reverse it. And the man who was uncircumcised when he became a believer should not be circumcised now.
For it makes no difference whether or not a man has been circumcised. The important thing is to keep God's commandments.
You should continue on as you were when God called you.
Are you a slave? Don't let that worry you -- but if you get a chance to be free, take it.
And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, the Lord has now set you free from the awful power of sin. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ.
God purchased you at a high price. Don't be enslaved by the world. c24
So, dear brothers and sisters, d whatever situation you were in when you became a believer, stay there in your new relationship with God.
Now, about the young women who are not yet married. I do not have a command from the Lord for them. But the Lord in his kindness has given me wisdom that can be trusted, and I will share it with you.
Because of the present crisis, e I think it is best to remain just as you are.
If you have a wife, do not end the marriage. If you do not have a wife, do not get married.
But if you do get married, it is not a sin. And if a young woman gets married, it is not a sin. However, I am trying to spare you the extra problems that come with marriage.
Now let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short, so husbands should not let marriage be their major concern.
Happiness or sadness or wealth should not keep anyone from doing God's work.
Those in frequent contact with the things of the world should make good use of them without becoming attached to them, for this world and all it contains will pass away.
In everything you do, I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord's work and thinking how to please him.
But a married man can't do that so well. He has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife.
His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be more devoted to the Lord in body and in spirit, while the married woman must be concerned about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband.
I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.
But if a man thinks he ought to marry his fiance because he has trouble controlling his passions and time is passing, it is all right; it is not a sin. Let them marry.
But if he has decided firmly not to marry and there is no urgency and he can control his passion, he does well not to marry.
So the person who marries does well, and the person who doesn't marry does even better.
A wife is married to her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies, she is free to marry whomever she wishes, but this must be a marriage acceptable to the Lord. f40
But in my opinion it will be better for her if she doesn't marry again, and I think I am giving you counsel from God's Spirit when I say this.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)