Instruction on Marriage
Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to abstain from sexual relations. 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 fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives
authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.
Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time
so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t
be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command.
But I wish everyone were single, just as I am. Yet each person has a special gift from God, of one kind or another.
So 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.
But for those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not
leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled 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
has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her. And if a
Christian woman has a husband who is not a believer 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 be holy, but now they are holy.
(But if the husband or wife who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the Christian
husband or wife is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.) Don’t you wives realize
that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved
because of you?
Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain 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.
Yes, each of you should remain 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, you are now free
in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ. God paid a high price for
you, so don’t be enslaved by the world. Each of you, dear brothers and sisters, should remain as you were when
God first called you.
Now regarding your question 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 mercy has given me wisdom that can be trusted, and I will share it with you. Because of the present
crisis, I think it is best to remain as you are. If you have a wife, do not seek to end the marriage. If you do not
have a wife, do not seek to 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, those who get married at this time will have troubles, and I am trying to spare you
But let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short. So from now on, those with
wives should not focus only on their marriage. Those who weep or who rejoice or who buy things should not be absorbed
by their weeping or their joy or their possessions. Those who use the things of the world should not become
attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.
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 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 devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think 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 that he’s treating his fiancée improperly and will inevitably give in to his passion, let him marry
her as he wishes. It is not a sin. 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 his fiancée does well, and the person who doesn’t
marry does even better.
A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes,
but only if he loves the Lord. But in my opinion it would be better for her to stay single, and I think I am giving
you counsel from God’s Spirit when I say this.