1 Corinthians 7 MSG/NIV - Online Parallel Bible

 
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1 Now, getting down to the questions you asked in your letter to me. First, Is it a good thing to have sexual relations? 1 Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.
2 Certainly - but only within a certain context. It's good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. 2 But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.
3 The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality - the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.
4 Marriage is not a place to "stand up for your rights." Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out. 4 The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.
5 Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period of time if you both agree to it, and if it's for the purposes of prayer and fasting - but only for such times. Then come back together again. Satan has an ingenious way of tempting us when we least expect it. 5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
6 I'm not, understand, commanding these periods of abstinence - only providing my best counsel if you should choose them. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command.
7 Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me - a simpler life in many ways! But celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others. 7 I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.
8 I do, though, tell the unmarried and widows that singleness might well be the best thing for them, as it has been for me. 8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.
9 But if they can't manage their desires and emotions, they should by all means go ahead and get married. The difficulties of marriage are preferable by far to a sexually tortured life as a single. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
10 And if you are married, stay married. This is the Master's command, not mine. 10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband.
11 If a wife should leave her husband, she must either remain single or else come back and make things right with him. And a husband has no right to get rid of his wife. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.
12 For the rest of you who are in mixed marriages - Christian married to nonChristian - we have no explicit command from the Master. So this is what you must do. If you are a man with a wife who is not a believer but who still wants to live with you, hold on to her. 12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her.
13 If you are a woman with a husband who is not a believer but he wants to live with you, hold on to him. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.
14 The unbelieving husband shares to an extent in the holiness of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is likewise touched by the holiness of her husband. Otherwise, your children would be left out; as it is, they also are included in the spiritual purposes of God. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
15 On the other hand, if the unbelieving spouse walks out, you've got to let him or her go. You don't have to hold on desperately. God has called us to make the best of it, as peacefully as we can. 15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.
16 You never know, wife: The way you handle this might bring your husband not only back to you but to God. You never know, husband: The way you handle this might bring your wife not only back to you but to God. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
17 And don't be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God's place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life. Don't think I'm being harder on you than on the others. I give this same counsel in all the churches. 17 Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.
18 Were you Jewish at the time God called you? Don't try to remove the evidence. Were you non-Jewish at the time of your call? Don't become a Jew. 18 Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised.
19 Being Jewish isn't the point. The really important thing is obeying God's call, following his commands. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts.
20 Stay where you were when God called your name. 20 Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him.
21 Were you a slave? Slavery is no roadblock to obeying and believing. I don't mean you're stuck and can't leave. If you have a chance at freedom, go ahead and take it. 21 Were you a slave when you were called? Don't let it trouble you--although if you can gain your freedom, do so.
22 I'm simply trying to point out that under your new Master you're going to experience a marvelous freedom you would never have dreamed of. On the other hand, if you were free when Christ called you, you'll experience a delightful "enslavement to God" you would never have dreamed of. 22 For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord's freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ's slave.
23 All of you, slave and free both, were once held hostage in a sinful society. Then a huge sum was paid out for your ransom. So please don't, out of old habit, slip back into being or doing what everyone else tells you. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.
24 Friends, stay where you were called to be. God is there. Hold the high ground with him at your side. 24 Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to.
25 The Master did not give explicit direction regarding virgins, but as one much experienced in the mercy of the Master and loyal to him all the way, you can trust my counsel. 25 Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy.
26 Because of the current pressures on us from all sides, I think it would probably be best to stay just as you are. 26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are.
27 Are you married? Stay married. Are you unmarried? Don't get married. 27 Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife.
28 But there's certainly no sin in getting married, whether you're a virgin or not. All I am saying is that when you marry, you take on additional stress in an already stressful time, and I want to spare you if possible. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
29 I do want to point out, friends, that time is of the essence. There is no time to waste, so don't complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple - in marriage, 29 What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none;
30 grief, joy, whatever. Even in ordinary things - your daily routines of shopping, and so on. 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep;
31 Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out. 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
32 I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When you're unmarried, you're free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. 32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs--how he can please the Lord.
33 Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world--how he can please his wife--
34 leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God. 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world--how she can please her husband.
35 I'm trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for you, not make things harder. All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
36 If a man has a woman friend to whom he is loyal but never intended to marry, having decided to serve God as a "single," and then changes his mind, deciding he should marry her, he should go ahead and marry. It's no sin; it's not even a "step down" from celibacy, as some say. 36 If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married.
37 On the other hand, if a man is comfortable in his decision for a single life in service to God and it's entirely his own conviction and not imposed on him by others, he ought to stick with it. 37 But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin--this man also does the right thing.
38 Marriage is spiritually and morally right and not inferior to singleness in any way, although as I indicated earlier, because of the times we live in, I do have pastoral reasons for encouraging singleness. 38 So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does even better.
39 A wife must stay with her husband as long as he lives. If he dies, she is free to marry anyone she chooses. She will, of course, want to marry a believer and have the blessing of the Master. 39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.
40 By now you know that I think she'll be better off staying single. The Master, in my opinion, thinks so, too. 40 In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is--and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.