1 Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.
3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.
4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
6 But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment.
This letter was not written with normal conditions of life in view. Two things contributed to the abnormal state of affairs in Corinth. One was their recent conversion from paganism; the other was their imminent persecution by pagans. These two things created abnormal conditions. As a result, a letter had been written to Paul asking his advice on specific questions. Therefore, when Paul writes the advice found in this chapter, he is not treating the general subject of marriage. He is giving advice concerning marriage under certain emergencies which had arisen in Corinth. He is not saying here is what is right or wrong, but what is wise under prevailing conditions. — Laurin, page 120
I include Laurin’s quote (above) because it’s a common view I’ve heard before. It makes sense, but I’m not sure I agree with it (or that I disagree with it). All Scripture was written “under prevailing conditions,” and to discount it on that basis leaves us with very little to guide us.
render (v.3) = the discharge of an obligation
does not have authority (v.4) — In this case, over one’s own body, either to withhold sex or to have sex outside of marriage.
for a time (v.5) — abstention must be 1) by mutual consent; 2) temporary; and 3) to devote energy to prayer
fasting (v.5) — not in the original manuscripts
permission (v.6) = lit. “joint opinion,” “concession” — referring to what he just said in verse 5.
Paul is not less inspired here (v.6) than he is elsewhere. He is not stepping out of character as an inspired writer. He is as much inspired at this point as at others. What he is saying is that his advice to marry or to stay unmarried is not to be considered as a divine command. Everyone is to act according to his own conscience. — Laurin, page 124.
This was not by commandment but by permission, and just because you are able to be happy in the single state, do not make your personal experience a rule for others, do not make your own ideas the measuring stick and the only rule and guide for everyone else who may be differently constituted in temperament than you are. — DeHaan, page 73