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1Corinthians  ◦   Chapter 7

1Now in answer to the questions you asked me in your letter: Is it good for a man not to marry?2Since sin has so perverted human sexuality, and sensual temptations are so strong, every man should have his own wife, and every woman her own husband.3The marriage bed is sacred — a place each seeks to please the other in the physical culmination of other-centered love and mutual service.4In the marriage bed, the wife surrenders her body to her husband, and the husband–his body to his wife. Thus they selflessly become one in love.5Do not refuse to share your body with your spouse, except by mutual agreement and for a short time devoted to meditation and prayer. But then join yourselves to each other again in the bonds of marital love, and thus shut the door to Satan's temptations which may arise due to your lack of self-control.6I am not commanding periods of abstinence, but conceding that they may be beneficial at times.7I wish everyone was like me and could devote all their energy into distributing the Remedy, but not everyone is cut out to be single. Some serve God more effectively when married, others are better suited to be single.

8To the unmarried and widows who are content to be single: My recommendation is to stay single and be like me in devoting your full energy toward distributing the Remedy.9But if single life causes restlessness, discontent and loss of self-control, then by all means, marry. It is much better to marry and find contentment than to burn with discontent and passion.

10To the married, the Lord has given this instruction: A wife must not leave her faithful and loving husband.11But if she does, she must live as a single person — unmarried — or else be reunited with her husband. And a husband must not divorce a faithful and loving wife.

12To the rest, I give this instruction (this is my counsel, not the Lord's): If a brother in the church has a wife who doesn't believe in Christ, but she lives agreeably with him, he must not divorce her.13If a Christian woman has a husband who does not believe in Christ, but he lives agreeably with her, she must not divorce him.14For if they live agreeably, the marriage functions within the sacred blessing that God designed, and the unbelieving partner experiences the joy of this sanctified union and the Spirit's presence in the home. If it were not this way, their children would be filled with unclean ideas, attitudes and motives, but as it is–they are filled with holy thoughts, ideas, and example.

15But if the unbelieving spouse leaves, respect their freedom and let them go. A believer respects the free choices of others and would not seek to bind an unwilling spouse to themself–it is God's design that we live in peace.16How you handle this will have an impact on your spouse. If you reveal God's love and grace, you never know what influence it will have–perhaps even leading your spouse to a saving relationship with God.

17Regardless of what your spouse does, recognize your role in God's plan and fulfill your responsibilities in God's cause to the best of your ability. Your value to God is not determined by whether your spouse stays or leaves. This is the counsel I give all the churches.18If a man was a circumcised Jew when he accepted the Remedy to sin and was called to be a member of God's treatment team, he should not deny who he is and try to become uncircumcised. If a man was an uncircumcised Gentile when he accepted the Remedy to sin and was called to be a member of God's treatment team, he should not deny who he is and become circumcised.19Nationality means nothing! What matters is whether one has partaken of the Remedy to selfishness and sin, has God's law of love written on the heart, and lives in harmony with God and his methods.20God needs members of his treatment team in all walks of life, so minister the truth about God, and his Remedy to sin, in whatever station you are.21If you accepted God's Remedy while a slave, don't be discouraged by your situation. Of course, gain your freedom if you can, but if you can't, then represent God's truth where you are.22For even though a slave to a human master, once you have partaken of God's Remedy to sin–your mind, heart and character were set free to love as Jesus loves! And the ones who were free when they partook of God's Remedy became bound by love to Christ's service.23It cost God infinitely to procure your freedom from the domination of selfishness and sin, so don't let your hearts become bound to any master other than Christ.24Church family, every one of you should remain loyal to God and fulfill their call to reveal God’s kingdom of love in whatever situation you find yourselves.

25Regarding those who are single, I have not been given any direction from the Lord, but will share my personal opinion as one who — by the Lord's mercy — has your best interest at heart and is therefore trustworthy:26Because of the present crisis the church is facing, it is my opinion that it would be best for you to remain as you are.27If you are married, do not seek a divorce; and if you are single–don't look for a spouse.28If you do marry, you have not sinned, but marriage brings many new stressors and responsibilities (such as children); and given the current crisis the church is facing, I want to spare you as many problems as possible.

29What I want you to understand is that we have a mission, and the time to complete it is limited, so don't let your spouse distract you from fulfilling God's purpose for your life–30don’t get stuck in grief, but realize that when we have fulfilled our mission, Christ will return and grief will turn to joy. If you are happy in this world, then open your eyes to God’s reality and become unhappy with the world; use your resources to fulfill God’s mission — not indulge self — 31and don't get engrossed or preoccupied with the world's entertainment, politics or agendas, because the world as we know it will soon be gone.

32I want you to be free from the worries, stresses and anxieties of this world, so that you can be most effective in God's cause. A single man can focus all his energies on fulfilling the Lord's work,33but a married man has responsibilities to his wife and family,34and his energies are divided. An unmarried woman can focus all her energies on fulfilling the Lord's work and devote her entire self to God's cause, but a married woman has responsibilities to her husband and family.35I am not placing any restrictions upon you, but sharing this wisdom for your good, so that you may decide how to live your lives completely devoted to the Lord.

36If anyone is engaged to a woman who is past her prime, but worries that his actions toward her have been indecent and is convinced that he should marry her, then by all means, he should do so. He is not sinning, and they should marry.37But the man who is convinced that the marriage would be a mistake, and, under no external pressure, freely decides — with a clear conscience and self-governance — not to marry the woman, this man also does the right thing.38So then, he who marries the woman does right, but he who does not marry her does even better.

39A married woman is not free to be with another man as long as her husband is alive, but if her husband dies, she is free to marry any man she chooses. Of course, as a believer, she can only experience the unity God designed for marriage if the man she marries is a believer.40But in my opinion, she would be happier if she stayed single. And this counsel, which leaves each person free to decide for themself, is in harmony with the Spirit of God.