III. Answers to the Corinthians’ Questions A. Marriage and Virginity[Z] CHAPTER 7 7 Advice to the Married. [A] 1Now in regard to the matters about which you wrote: “It is a good thing for a man not to touch a woman,”[B] 2but because of cases of immorality every man should have his own wife, and every woman her own husband. 3The husband should fulfill his duty toward his wife, and likewise the wife toward her husband. 4A wife does not have authority over her own body, but rather her husband, and similarly a husband does not have authority over his own body, but rather his wife. 5Do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer, but then return to one another, so that Satan may not tempt you through your lack of self–control. 6This I say by way of concession,[C] however, not as a command. 7Indeed, I wish everyone to be as I am, but each has a particular gift from God,[D] one of one kind and one of another. 8[E] Now to the unmarried and to widows, I say: it is a good thing for them to remain as they are, as I do, 9but if they cannot exercise self–control they should marry, for it is better to marry than to be on fire. 10To the married, however, I give this instruction (not I, but the Lord):[F] A wife should not separate from her husband 11—and if she does separate she must either remain single or become reconciled to her husband—and a husband should not divorce his wife. 12To the rest[G] I say (not the Lord): if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she is willing to go on living with him, he should not divorce her; 13and if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he is willing to go on living with her, she should not divorce her husband. 14For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through the brother. Otherwise your children would be unclean, whereas in fact they are holy. 15If the unbeliever separates,[H] however, let him separate. The brother or sister is not bound in such cases; God has called you to peace. 16For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband; or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? The Life That the Lord Has Assigned. [I] 17Only, everyone should live as the Lord has assigned, just as God called each one. I give this order in all the churches. 18Was someone called after he had been circumcised? He should not try to undo his circumcision. Was an uncircumcised person called? He should not be circumcised. 19Circumcision means nothing, and uncircumcision means nothing; what matters is keeping God’s commandments. 20Everyone should remain in the state in which he was called. 21Were you a slave when you were called? Do not be concerned but, even if you can gain your freedom, make the most of it. 22For the slave called in the Lord is a freed person in the Lord, just as the free person who has been called is a slave of Christ. 23You have been purchased at a price. Do not become slaves to human beings. 24Brothers, everyone should continue before God in the state in which he was called. Advice to Virgins and Widows. 25Now in regard to virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord,[J] but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26So this is what I think best because of the present distress: that it is a good thing for a person to remain as he is. 27Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek a separation. Are you free of a wife? Then do not look for a wife. 28If you marry, however, you do not sin, nor does an unmarried woman sin if she marries; but such people will experience affliction in their earthly life, and I would like to spare you that. 29[K] I tell you, brothers, the time is running out. From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, 30those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, 31those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away. 32I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. 33But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, 34and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 35I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction. 36[L] If anyone thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, and if a critical moment has come[M] and so it has to be, let him do as he wishes. He is committing no sin; let them get married. 37The one who stands firm in his resolve, however, who is not under compulsion but has power over his own will, and has made up his mind to keep his virgin, will be doing well. 38So then, the one who marries his virgin does well; the one who does not marry her will do better. 39[N] A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whomever she wishes, provided that it be in the Lord. 40She is more blessed, though, in my opinion, if she remains as she is, and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.
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