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Directions concerning Marriage


Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is well for a man not to touch a woman.” 2But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6This I say by way of concession, not of command. 7I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind.

8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. 9But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

10 To the married I give this command—not I but the Lord—that the wife should not separate from her husband 11(but if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

12 To the rest I say—I and not the Lord—that if any believer has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you. 16Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.

The Life that the Lord Has Assigned

17 However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. This is my rule in all the churches. 18Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything. 20Let each of you remain in the condition in which you were called.

21 Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever. 22For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ. 23You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters. 24In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God.

The Unmarried and the Widows

25 Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are. 27Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a virgin marries, she does not sin. Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that. 29I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, 30and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, 31and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; 33but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, 34and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband. 35I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.

36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his fiancée, if his passions are strong, and so it has to be, let him marry as he wishes; it is no sin. Let them marry. 37But if someone stands firm in his resolve, being under no necessity but having his own desire under control, and has determined in his own mind to keep her as his fiancée, he will do well. 38So then, he who marries his fiancée does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.

39 A wife is bound as long as her husband lives. But if the husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, only in the Lord. 40But in my judgment she is more blessed if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.


28. But if thou shouldest even marry. As there was a danger of one’s thinking from the preceding statement, that he tempted God, if he knowingly and willingly bound himself to marriage, (as that would be to renounce his liberty,) he removes this scruple; for he gives liberty to widows to marry, and says, that those that marry do not sin. The word even also seems to be emphatic — to intimate, that even though there be no positive necessity urging to it, the unmarried are not prohibited from marrying whenever they may see fit.

And if a virgin marry Whether this is an amplification, or simply an illustration, this, in the first place, is beyond all controversy, that Paul designed to extend the liberty of marriage to all. Those who think that it is an amplification, are led to think so by this, that it seems to approach nearer to a fault, and is more open to reprehension, or at least has more occasion of shame, to loose the virgin girdle (as the ancients express themselves) than, upon the death of a husband, to enter into a second marriage. The argument then would be this: “If it is lawful for a virgin to marry, much more may widows.” I am rather of opinion, that he makes both equal in this way: “As it is allowable for a virgin, so is it for widows also.” For second marriages among the ancients were not without some mark of reproach, as they adorned those matrons, who had contented themselves with one marriage during their whole life, with a chaplet of chastity 420420     In accordance with this, Univira, (the wife of one husband,) is often found in ancient inscriptions as an epithet of honor. — Ed. — an honor that tended to reflect reproach upon those that had married repeatedly. And it is a well known saying of Valerius, 421421     “Autheur aneien;” — “An ancient author.” that “it betokens a legitimate excess 422422     “C’est a dire, coloree et reglee par les lois;” — “That is to say, colored over and regulated by the laws.” when a second marriage is desired.” The Apostle, therefore, makes virgins and widows alike as to liberty of marriage.

Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh. He frequently repeats the reason why he leans more to the side of celibacy in his exhortations, lest he should seem to prefer the one condition to the other on its own account, rather than on account of its consequences. He says, that there are many troubles that are connected with the married life, and that on that account he wishes all to be free from marriage, who desire to be exempt from troubles. When he says, that they will have trouble of the flesh, or in the flesh, he means, that the anxieties and distresses in which married persons are involved arise from the affairs of the world. The flesh, therefore, is taken here to mean the outward man. To spare means to indulge, or to wish them to be exempted from the troubles that are connected with marriage. “I am desirous to make provision for your infirmity, that you may not have trouble: now marriage brings with it many troubles. This is the reason why I should wish you not to require to marry — that you may be exempt from all its evils.” Do not, however, infer from this that Paul reckons marriage to be a necessary evil for those troubles of which he speaks do not arise so much from the nature of marriage, as from the corruption of it, for they are the fruits of original sin.

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