I now deal with the subjects mentioned in your letter. It is well for a man to abstain altogether from marriage.
But because there is so much fornication every man should have a wife of his own, and every woman should have a husband.
Let a man pay his wife her due, and let a woman also pay her husband his.
A married woman is not mistress of her own person: her husband has certain rights. In the same way a married man is not master of his own person: his wife has certain rights.
Do not refuse one another, unless perhaps it is just for a time and by mutual consent, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer and may then associate again; lest the Adversary begin to tempt you because of your deficiency in self-control.
Thus much in the way of concession, not of command.
Yet I would that everybody lived as I do; but each of us has his own special gift from God--one in one direction and one in another.
But I tell the unmarried, and women who are widows, that it is well for them to remain as I am.
If, however, they cannot maintain self-control, by all means let them marry; for marriage is better than the fever of passion.
But to those already married my instructions are--yet not mine, but the Lord's--that a wife is not to leave her husband;
or if she has already left him, let her either remain as she is or be reconciled to him; and that a husband is not to send away his wife.
To the rest it is I who speak--not the Lord. If a brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, let him not send her away.
And a woman who has an unbelieving husband--if he consents to live with her, let her not separate from him.
For, in such cases, the unbelieving husband has become--and is--holy through union with a Christian woman, and the unbelieving wife is holy through union with a Christian brother. Otherwise your children would be unholy, but in reality they have a place among God's people.
If, however, the unbeliever is determined to leave, let him or her do so. Under such circumstances the Christian man or woman is no slave; God has called us to live lives of peace.
For what assurance have you, O woman, as to whether you will save your husband? Or what assurance have you, O man, as to whether you will save your wife?
Only, whatever be the condition in life which the Lord has assigned to each individual--and whatever the condition in which he was living when God called him--in that let him continue.
This is what I command in all the Churches. Was any one already circumcised when called? Let him not have recourse to the surgeons. Was any one uncircumcised when called? Let him remain uncircumcised.
Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing: obedience to God's commandments is everything.
Whatever be the condition in life in which a man was, when he was called, in that let him continue.
Were you a slave when God called you? Let not that weigh on your mind. And yet if you can get your freedom, take advantage of the opportunity.
For a Christian, if he was a slave when called, is the Lord's freed man, and in the same way a free man, if called, becomes the slave of Christ.
You have all been redeemed at infinite cost: do not become slaves to men.
Where each one stood when he was called, there, brethren, let him still stand--close to God.
Concerning unmarried women I have no command to give you from the Lord; but I offer you my opinion, which is that of a man who, through the Lord's mercy, is deserving of your confidence.
I think then that, taking into consideration the distress which is now upon us, it is well for a man to remain as he is.
Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to get free. Are you free from the marriage bond? Do not seek for a wife.
Yet if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a maiden marries, she has not sinned. Such people, however, will have outward trouble. But I am for sparing you.
Yet of this I warn you, brethren: the time has been shortened--so that henceforth those who have wives should be as though they had none,
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,
and those who use the world as not using it to the full. For the world as it now exists is passing away.
And I would have you free from worldly anxiety. An unmarried man concerns himself with the Lord's business--how he shall please the Lord;
but a married man concerns himself with the business of the world--how he shall please his wife.
There is a difference too between a married and an unmarried woman. She who is unmarried concerns herself with the Lord's business--that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but the married woman concerns herself with the business of the world--how she shall please her husband.
Thus much I say in your own interest; not to lay a trap for you, but to help towards what is becoming, and enable you to wait on the Lord without distraction.
If, however, a father thinks he is acting unbecomingly towards his still unmarried daughter if she be past the bloom of her youth, and so the matter is urgent, let him do what she desires; he commits no sin; she and her suitor should be allowed to marry.
But if a father stands firm in his resolve, being free from all external constraint and having a legal right to act as he pleases, and in his own mind has come to the decision to keep his daughter unmarried, he will do well.
So that he who gives his daughter in marriage does well, and yet he who does not give her in marriage will do better.
A woman is bound to her husband during the whole period that he lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to marry whom she will, provided that he is a Christian.
But in my judgement, her state is a more enviable one if she remains as she is; and I also think that I have the Spirit of God.