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1 Corinthians 7Living Bible (TLB)

Now about those questions you asked in your last letter: my answer is that if you do not marry, it is good. But usually it is best to be married, each man having his own wife, and each woman having her own husband, because otherwise you might fall back into sin.

The man should give his wife all that is her right as a married woman, and the wife should do the same for her husband: for a girl who marries no longer has full right to her own body, for her husband then has his rights to it, too; and in the same way the husband no longer has full right to his own body, for it belongs also to his wife. So do not refuse these rights to each other. The only exception to this rule would be the agreement of both husband and wife to refrain from the rights of marriage for a limited time, so that they can give themselves more completely to prayer. Afterwards, they should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt them because of their lack of self-control.

I’m not saying you must marry, but you certainly may if you wish. 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 a husband or wife, and others he gives the gift of being able to stay happily unmarried. So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—better to stay unmarried if you can, just as I am. But if you can’t control yourselves, go ahead and marry. It is better to marry than to burn with lust.

10 Now, for those who are married I have a command, not just a suggestion. And it is not a command from me, for this is what the Lord himself has said: A wife must not leave her husband. 11 But if she is separated from him, let her remain single or else go back to him. And the husband must not divorce his wife.

12 Here I want to add some suggestions of my own. These are not direct commands from the Lord, but they seem right to me: If a Christian has a wife who is not a Christian, but she wants to stay with him anyway, he must not leave her or divorce her. 13 And if a Christian woman has a husband who isn’t a Christian, and he wants her to stay with him, she must not leave him. 14 For perhaps the husband who isn’t a Christian may become a Christian with the help of his Christian wife. And the wife who isn’t a Christian may become a Christian with the help of her Christian husband. Otherwise, if the family separates, the children might never come to know the Lord; whereas a united family may, in God’s plan, result in the children’s salvation.

15 But if the husband or wife who isn’t a Christian is eager to leave, it is permitted. In such cases the Christian husband or wife should not insist that the other stay, for God wants his children to live in peace and harmony. 16 For, after all, there is no assurance to you wives that your husbands will be converted if they stay; and the same may be said to you husbands concerning your wives.

17 But be sure in deciding these matters that you are living as God intended, marrying or not marrying in accordance with God’s direction and help, and accepting whatever situation God has put you into. This is my rule for all the churches.

18 For instance, a man who already has gone through the Jewish ceremony of circumcision before he became a Christian shouldn’t worry about it; and if he hasn’t been circumcised, he shouldn’t do it now. 19 For it doesn’t make any difference at all whether a Christian has gone through this ceremony or not. But it makes a lot of difference whether he is pleasing God and keeping God’s commandments. That is the important thing.

20 Usually a person should keep on with the work he was doing when God called him. 21 Are you a slave? Don’t let that worry you—but of course, if you get a chance to be free, take it. 22 If the Lord calls you, and you are a slave, remember that Christ has set you free from the awful power of sin; and if he has called you and you are free, remember that you are now a slave of Christ. 23 You have been bought and paid for by Christ, so you belong to him—be free now from all these earthly prides and fears.[a] 24 So, dear brothers, whatever situation a person is in when he becomes a Christian, let him stay there, for now the Lord is there to help him.

25 Now I will try to answer your other question. What about girls who are not yet married? Should they be permitted to do so? In answer to this question, I have no special command for them from the Lord. But the Lord in his kindness has given me wisdom that can be trusted, and I will be glad to tell you what I think.

26 Here is the problem: We Christians are facing great dangers to our lives at present. In times like these I think it is best for a person to remain unmarried. 27 Of course, if you already are married, don’t separate because of this. But if you aren’t, don’t rush into it at this time. 28 But if you men decide to go ahead anyway and get married now, it is all right; and if a girl gets married in times like these, it is no sin. However, marriage will bring extra problems that I wish you didn’t have to face right now.

29 The important thing to remember is that our remaining time is very short, and so are our opportunities for doing the Lord’s work.[b] For that reason those who have wives should stay as free as possible for the Lord;* 30 happiness or sadness or wealth should not keep anyone from doing God’s work. 31 Those in frequent contact with the exciting things the world offers should make good use of their opportunities without stopping to enjoy them; for the world in its present form will soon be gone.

32 In all you do, I want you to be free from worry. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. 33 But a married man can’t do that so well; he has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. 34 His interests are divided. It is the same with a girl who marries. She faces the same problem. A girl who is not married is anxious to please the Lord in all she is and does.[c] But a married woman must consider other things such as housekeeping and the likes and dislikes of her husband.

35 I am saying this to help you, not to try to keep you from marrying. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few other things as possible to distract your attention from him.

36 But if anyone feels he ought to marry because he has trouble controlling his passions, it is all right; it is not a sin; let him marry. 37 But if a man has the willpower not to marry and decides that he doesn’t need to and won’t, he has made a wise decision. 38 So the person who marries does well, and the person who doesn’t marry does even better.

39 The wife is part of her husband as long as he lives; if her husband dies, then she may marry again, but only if she marries a Christian. 40 But in my opinion she will be happier if she doesn’t marry again; and I think I am giving you counsel from God’s Spirit when I say this.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Corinthians 7:23 be free now from all these earthly prides and fears, literally, “become not bondservants of men.”
  2. 1 Corinthians 7:29 and so are our opportunities for doing the Lord’s work, implied. those who have wives should stay as free as possible for the Lord, literally, “those who have wives may be as though they didn’t.”
  3. 1 Corinthians 7:34 in all she is and does, literally, “pure in body and in spirit.”
Living Bible (TLB)

The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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