Problems concerning Marriage
7 1 Now, getting down to the questions you asked in your letter to me. First, Is it a good thing to have sexual relations? 2 Certainly - but only within a certain context. It's good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. 3 The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality - the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. 4 Marriage is not a place to "stand up for your rights." Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out. 5 Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period of time if you both agree to it, and if it's for the purposes of prayer and fasting - but only for such times. Then come back together again. Satan has an ingenious way of tempting us when we least expect it. 6 I'm not, understand, commanding these periods of abstinence - only providing my best counsel if you should choose them. 7 Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me - a simpler life in many ways! But celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others. 8 I do, though, tell the unmarried and widows that singleness might well be the best thing for them, as it has been for me. 9 But if they can't manage their desires and emotions, they should by all means go ahead and get married. The difficulties of marriage are preferable by far to a sexually tortured life as a single.
10 And if you are married, stay married. This is the Master's command, not mine. 11 If a wife should leave her husband, she must either remain single or else come back and make things right with him. And a husband has no right to get rid of his wife. 12 For the rest of you who are in mixed marriages - Christian married to nonChristian - we have no explicit command from the Master. So this is what you must do. If you are a man with a wife who is not a believer but who still wants to live with you, hold on to her. 13 If you are a woman with a husband who is not a believer but he wants to live with you, hold on to him. 14 The unbelieving husband shares to an extent in the holiness of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is likewise touched by the holiness of her husband. Otherwise, your children would be left out; as it is, they also are included in the spiritual purposes of God. 15 On the other hand, if the unbelieving spouse walks out, you've got to let him or her go. You don't have to hold on desperately. God has called us to make the best of it, as peacefully as we can. 16 You never know, wife: The way you handle this might bring your husband not only back to you but to God. You never know, husband: The way you handle this might bring your wife not only back to you but to God.
17 And don't be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God's place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life. Don't think I'm being harder on you than on the others. I give this same counsel in all the churches. 18 Were you Jewish at the time God called you? Don't try to remove the evidence. Were you non-Jewish at the time of your call? Don't become a Jew. 19 Being Jewish isn't the point. The really important thing is obeying God's call, following his commands.