Questions about Marriage
1Now I will answer the questions you asked in your letter. You asked, “Is it best for people not to marry?” 2Well, having your own husband or wife should keep you from doing something immoral. 3Husbands and wives should be fair with each other about having sex. 4A wife belongs to her husband instead of to herself, and a husband belongs to his wife instead of to himself. 5So don't refuse sex to each other, unless you agree not to have sex for a little while, in order to spend time in prayer. Then Satan won't be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6In my opinion that is what should be done, though I don't know of anything the Lord said about this matter. 7I wish all of you were like me, but God has given different gifts to each of us.
8My advice for the unmarried and for widows is that it is acceptable for them to remain single, just as I am. 9But if you don't have enough self-control, then go ahead and get married. After all, it is better to marry than to burn with desire.
10 I instruct married couples to stay together, and this is exactly what the Lord himself taught. A wife who leaves her husband 11should either stay single or go back to her husband. And a husband should not leave his wife.
12I don't know of anything else the Lord said about marriage. All I can do is to give you my own advice. If your wife isn't a follower of the Lord, but is willing to stay with you, don't divorce her. 13If your husband isn't a follower, but is willing to stay with you, don't divorce him. 14Your husband or wife who isn't a follower is made holy by having you as a partner. This also makes your children holy and keeps them from being unclean in God's sight.
15If your husband or wife isn't a follower of the Lord and decides to divorce you, then you should agree to it. You are no longer bound to that person. After all, God chose you and wants you to live at peace. 16And besides, how do you know if you will be able to save your husband or wife who isn't a follower?
The Greco-Roman world, like ours, was full of sexual adventurism and the confusion and destruction to which it leads. Already within the Corinthian church we’ve seen a kind of triumphant incest, and participation in religious prostitution; no wonder some were wondering if it was better just to do away with sex altogether. But to make sex itself dirty, or a means of controlling someone else, is just sin of a different sort. And trying to kill a desire God has lovingly planted within us, rather than expressing it in a godly way, is, at best, misguided. We were made for intimacy, and throughout Scripture, physical love within a faithful marital relationship is an image of the abiding passion God has for us, his people. God made both our bodies and our souls. Dividing them has disastrous results.
God’s love redeems us. It should be no surprise then, that loving fidelity within a spiritually divided marriage may also be a means of him effecting the redemption of the unbelieving partner. It may be, but that is up to the individual, upon whose decision even God himself waits. In any relationship, it’s worth remembering: I cannot save; I can only love.
O God who created my inmost being and knit me together in my mother’s womb, you have made me fearfully and wonderfully (Psalm 139:14). Grant that, in my most intimate relationships, I might act and live according to your design, and in imitation of the faithful love you have for me. I ask so that I may honor you, my God and Saviour. Amen.