Instruction on Marriage
7 Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to abstain from sexual relations. 2 But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.
3 The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. 4 The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.
5 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. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7 But I wish everyone were single, just as I am. Yet each person has a special gift from God, of one kind or another.
8 So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am. 9 But if they can’t control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust.
10 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. 11 But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.
12 Now, I will speak to the rest of you, though I do not have a direct command from the Lord. If a fellow believer has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her. 13 And if a believing woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him. 14 For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy. 15 (But if the husband or wife who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the believing husband or wife is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.) 16 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?
17 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. 18 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. 19 For it makes no difference whether or not a man has been circumcised. The important thing is to keep God’s commandments.
20 Yes, each of you should remain as you were when God called you. 21 Are you a slave? Don’t let that worry you—but if you get a chance to be free, take it. 22 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. 23 God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world. 24 Each of you, dear brothers and sisters, should remain as you were when God first called you.
25 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. 26 Because of the present crisis, I think it is best to remain as you are. 27 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. 28 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 those problems.
29 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. 30 Those who weep or who rejoice or who buy things should not be absorbed by their weeping or their joy or their possessions. 31 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.
32 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. 33 But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. 34 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. 35 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.
36 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. 37 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. 38 So the person who marries his fiancée does well, and the person who doesn’t marry does even better.
39 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. 40 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.
Let me share a brief overview of this chapter that I read:
The questions about marriage and sexuality in this chapter are one of many topics that the people of Corinth brought to Paul’s attention in their letters. This is obviously a response to a previous letter that the people of Corinth had written him. Chapter 7 deals with the idea of Christian Liberty in the area of marital relations. This was an important topic; the Christian concept of marriage was one that needed to be established in the early church. Paul tries to do this throughout chapter 7. “It seems certain, at least, that some Christians regarded marriage as an absolute duty. Others considered the marriage state as an inferior moral condition, a weak concession to the flesh. Still others held that by accepting Christ all existing social relationships, including marriage, were dissolved. The Corinthian people were confused about marriage in relation to Christianity. Paul tries to cover this area by telling them about marriage, sex within marriage, celibacy, and other related subjects.
What I can personally speak to is the situation of a non-believer married to a believer, as Paul talks about in vs. 12-16. When my wife and I were married, I was definitely not a believer as I grew up aetheist, and my wife, who grew up in a Christian home, had experienced a time of falling away. A few years into our marriage, especially when our first child was born, she had a strong desire to get back on track with God, which she did. But this created incredible conflict in our marriage as you can imagine. Two very opposing spirits battling over our marriage. She stuck it out for a long time, living in a very tough marriage where her beliefs were certainly not respected in any way. I believe we would not be together anymore if I had not given in to the urging of the Holy Spirit 8 years into our marriage. It changed everything.
Even though a believing spouse can change the mind of a non-believer, I don’t think this is very typical and would not recommend going down that path. My challenge today is this: if you have children, pray every day that God will already prepare a believing spouse for them. Encourage them in the importance of being equally yoked and urge them to not compromise from that. My wife and I, although it worked out in the end, we are a rare exception I think. It was very, very hard. If you find yourself currently in this situation, just continue to pray and be that example, but do your best to live in peace as well. Ultimately, it was a lot of prayer of many people and the example of my wife that brought me to the Lord.
God today I just thank you for never giving up on me or anyone else. Thank you that all those years ago you spoke to my spirit and you saved me, and my marriage. Lord, you are so good and mighty! Thank you for 28 years of marriage, protect us God from the enemies attacks. In Jesus name, amen