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1 Corinthians 7:2

ESV But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.
NIV But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.
NASB But because of sexual immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.
CSB But because sexual immorality is so common, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman should have sexual relations with her own husband.
NLT But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.
KJV Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
NKJV Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.

What does 1 Corinthians 7:2 mean?

Paul is just beginning to answer a question from a letter sent to him by the church at Corinth. Apparently, some among them suggested it was better for a man never to have sex with a woman, even within marriage. Scholars suggest that the idea being presented was that Christians should never have sex for any reason. This seems to be a comment made in a prior letter, which Paul quotes in the prior verse (1 Corinthians 7:1). Paul will now explain why this is wrong and clarify God's will for sex within marriage.

He writes that each husband and wife should "have" each other. This, again, is a polite reference to sex and counters the earlier claim. Paul directly contradicts the idea that Christians who are married should not have sex. Why? The temptation to participate in sexual immorality is too strong, and the consequences of doing so are too dangerous (1 Corinthians 6:12–20).

Some misread this verse to imply that people should get married specifically for the purposes of having sex. Meaning, that people ought to actively seek marriage in order to have an outlet for sexual urges. That's not, at all, what this statement means. The difference is in the word "have," understood as a euphemism for sex. The Greek term is echetō, very different from the term zeteo, which Paul uses later (1 Corinthians 7:27) in reference to "seeking" something.

In other words, Paul's point in this specific instance is those already married should be having sex with his or her spouse in order to avoid sexual sin. This comment is not about marriage in general. Paul gives a specific answer to a specific question about whether married Christian couples should be having sex. He addresses marriage more broadly in other letters (Ephesians 5:22–33). Later in this chapter, Paul will take up the question of marriage in light of sexual temptations.

The Bible is consistently clear that God designed sex as a good thing within marriage, even before sin entered the world (Genesis 2:24). Only sexual immorality—as a corruption of that good gift (1 Timothy 4:4)—is condemned in Scripture.
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